John Fuller: Today we’re going to hear more from Dr. Kathy Koch about what our core needs are and how to fulfill those in appropriate ways. And last time, Dr. Koch described her own childhood struggle of being “too tall” . . .
Dr. Kathy Koch: My mom and dad enrolled me in tap dance class and ballet class. (Jim Daly: That’s amazing!) And I went from being, you know, really too tall to being the center of the back row, (laughter) a position that I decided was high honor because only the tallest girl was allowed to be there. And I became coordinated. And I had belonging there. They didn’t tease me for my height. My identity was, I’m a dancer. My security – I can trust my mom and I can trust myself because I’m no longer clumsy, and I feel safe inside of my own skin. I had a purpose to become a dancer. Competence – I’m a dancer. That one decision for me to cry out and my mom and dad to be solution-focused changed everything for me at the age of 6.
End of Excerpt
John: This is Focus on the Family with Focus president and author Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us today. I’m John Fuller.
Jim: John, we had a great conversation last time with Kathy about how God specifically designed us with holes. (Chuckling). Everybody’s going, “What?!” Those are the areas of need that we have as human beings created in God’s image. He did this. He put these needs in us, I think, for interdependence so we would have relationship, and we would do what we can, humanly speaking, to meet each others needs in that way. In a healthy way.
The problem, of course, is that we often try to fill those needs with the wrong things. For example, we think we need to be happier or more successful. But the real need is for security, not those other things. So, we become materialistic to try to meet that need.
As human beings living in a fallen world, we may chafe at this idea that we’re needy, or that God’s the only one that can fulfill our needs. That strikes right at our pride…
Jim: … and challenges the false sense of self-sufficiency that so many people have. But you know what? We can rely upon something even better. Matthew 6:33 simply said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” I think Proverbs 3:5 and 6 is another area – not to lean on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. These are great promises.
And I’m looking forward to the rest of our discussion with Dr. Kathy Koch today.
John: Yeah. She is the founder and president of Celebrate Kids and the co-founder of Ignite the Family. A former professor and schoolteacher. She’s passionate about helping us understand who we are in Christ and living well.
And we had a great conversation last time, Jim, and I’ll encourage our friends to stop by the website for the app, the download, the link to the YouTube episode. We’ve got it all there. And of course, we also have the book that Kathy has written that is really fundamental to the conversation. It’s called, Five to Thrive: How to Determine if Your Core Needs Are Being Met (And What To Do When They’re Not) Again, stop by the website to get your copy. It’s focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Kathy, welcome back to Focus.
Kathy: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here.
Jim: As we start, uh, we need to give our listeners a quick overview of what we talked about last time. Uh, you identified five core needs that your book is based upon. And we covered two of them last time. Uh, describe all five and a quick summary of security and identity, which we covered last time.
Kathy: Sure. So, uh, security – who can I trust? Our security should be placed and people who are trustworthy. Um, that would be God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, um, people who have proven themselves to be responsible, dependable, truth talkers, and then our own selves, in addition to but not instead of that because I agree with the scripture from Proverbs that we don’t want to lean on our own understanding. But I also want us to grow up and mature and have, um, the ability to respond to the Holy Spirit inside of ourselves so that we can be doing right, even if no one is watching, if you will.
Kathy: So that’s security. And then that leads to identity. Who am I? Not, who was I? Not, who do I want to be? But do we have a complete, honest, um, accurate understanding of who we are? Identity controls behavior.
So, it’s really important that we know who we are. Not who does mom say we are, not who a husband wishes we were, but who are we? And do we walk with integrity in that? It’s rooted in security – no security, no identity.
Kathy: When we have our security and identity then we can develop our belonging, which is, who wants me? Does anyone know that I’m alive? Who can I hang out with? Belonging. We all have a need wired into us by God for community, for connection, for relationship. This is what drives us to healthy relationships, is that inner need. There’s no, um, weakness to admit that we have that need. It’s wired into us by God. And then purpose – why am I alive? Why did God bother making me? (Laughter) And I believe that it’s rooted in our security, identity and belonging. We were created to serve people. If we know our identity and our strength and our passion and we have a security and trustworthiness and people we can depend upon to help us grow, then we will discover our purpose. And then that leads to competence. What do I do well?
And one of the things that’s so important about that by intro is that I don’t need your competencies, because I’m not you. And you don’t need mine because you’re not me. I need the competencies I need to fulfill my purpose.
Kathy: Which is why we have to stop comparing ourselves to everybody and judging, and then we’re never content because I’m not as good as or as fast as or as bright as… No. Be who you were created to be so you can fulfill your purpose in the gifts that you have by your creator ’cause God is good.
Jim: Something that sounds so simple but gets so complicated in this life. You know, that’s why the Scripture warns us not to be jealous and all those other things.
But Kathy, let me – let me back up one bit before we move forward. And, um, you know, oftentimes in the Christian community, we look at some of the sciences, particularly psychology, and we’re like, “Uh, some of it sounds like psychobabble, you know?” And we get that. And with that psychobabble, we would agree. But so often, um, the sciences are actually buttressing the Scripture. And that’s what’s exciting for me, is that it doesn’t make it, uh, inconsistent. What I see is consistency. But speak to that issue where, you know, if we’re back in our college psychology classes and we’re thinking of Maslow or…
Jim: … some of the other – Freud and those kinds of things. There are elements that are probably accurate in what they had to say. But again, uh, from a Christian perspective, we’re revealing – we’re finding these things out as to how God has wired the human brain, right?
Kathy: Absolutely. You know, when I was a professor, I used to teach those secular views, if you will. And they were so incomplete. Like, I would teach them, and I would have to teach them; they were in the textbooks, if you will. And yet I knew that, there’s something wrong here. And sometimes, they had the order wrong. They’d put identity first.
Kathy: No, you have to have security first. That’s why being a believer changes everything because then you have a security that’s rooted in someone you can totally trust in all circumstances. So, I think it’s often incomplete versus complete. And often, the secular model of the psychology might be very self-sufficient. And this is where, back in my day, I was teaching and thinking, “Whoa. This makes me really nervous.” And, you know, to God be the glory. He said, “Kathy, open my Word.”
Kathy: And it changed everything for me and allowed me to take some very good research and add, if you will, the biblical truth to it and examine it from God’s perspective. And then when he revealed to a group of us that we’re created by God with these needs….
Kathy: So, he has to be the one to fill them.
Jim: Yes. I mean, that’s it. I love that simple premise. Uh, we’re created in God’s image.
Jim: When you start any vocation from that perspective, I don’t care if you’re the electrician, the plumber or the Ph.D. in physics trying to discover His secrets. When you start with the idea that we’re made in his image, it changes how you approach life.
Kathy: It does. And he is security, and he has security. He is identity, and he has identity. His name is I am.
Jim: Right! (laughter)
Kathy: He is belonging, the triune God. He has belonging, right? He has purpose. He is purpose. He has competence. He’s very good at being God. And he can be our competence, absolutely.
Jim: Yeah, I mean, that – he fulfills it all.
Jim: And that’s – boy, that’s the appeal. If you don’t know the Lord, call us. We’d love to talk to you more…
Jim: …About why we believe. It is not insane to believe the creator of the universe created you.
Kathy: Amen! And I also want to encourage all of us to be discipled in the ways of God. I regret, as I say in my book, how long I knew God and plateaued there, just happy I’m a believer, not understanding how much more of God I needed to lean into.
Kathy: …For the completeness that he would bring to my life that changes everything.
Jim: Yeah. All right. Let’s get into No. 3. The third need that you’ve identified is belonging, as you said a moment ago. Kind of the question, who wants me? And I’m sure most people understand the value of relationships and community. I think there’s a resurgence, a reawakening of that. Um, but what do you say to the person who communicates (laughter), just leave me alone?
Jim: Very independent, pioneer spirit. We get that a lot out in the West here in the United States, but, uh, the leave-me-alone attitude.
Kathy: I wonder if that’s a false security. And I wonder if they’ve taken that to the extreme as their identity. You know, “I’m a loner, and I’m capable and I don’t need anybody.” We were created for community. You cannot deny that. We were created – we’re better off with accountability, with responsibility, with the joy that comes from serving others.
Um, we were created to leave the world a better place. You know, Ephesians 2:10 declares that we should walk in the gifts that we have. That means that we serve with them, that we look for opportunities to be a blessing to others. Yeah, I think – and I’m – I’m independent. And do you know what? I’ve had three knee surgeries. The first knee surgery was God’s gift to me because I had to learn to ask for help.
Kathy: And it changed me. Radically. I could not go to the grocery store, for Pete’s sake.
Kathy: And I had to decide, OK, shoot, I guess I’m weak and I need help. No, I wasn’t weak. I had knee surgery.
Jim: (Laughter) Right.
Kathy: My identity was, “I had knee surgery. And, you know, help me.” And then I found out, of course, who my true friends were. Uh, so we are created for relationship. It really does matter. We leave the world a better place when we leave a bit of ourselves with others, right?
Jim: Kathy, let me ask this – maybe selfishly because I’m a man – is that oftentimes men are labeled as the loners. You – you hear about that. You know, we’re not – I guess some would say maybe we’re not wired for community. Um, I don’t think that’s true. But I think a lot of men fall back on that excuse. You know, we don’t have a lot of friends, typically, just in the general stereotype. We may have one good friend. But I think the stats are pretty dismal that 60, 70% of men say they really don’t have a close friend. Why do we have more of that independent, isolated attitude with males?
Kathy: It’s a fair question. You know, God makes us differently. I think, um – I think there are women who don’t need as many friends as some women. I think it has to do with introverted, extroverted, whether we’re self-smart or people smart, you know, self-smart…
Jim: So, temperament and wiring.
Kathy: I think temperament, wiring. Self-smart people think deeply inside of themselves and don’t have as much of a need to share with others. Um, men have as many feelings as women have, but men don’t have emotional vocabulary. Women do. We have a thesaurus for emotion.
Jim: (Laughter) Yeah, right!
Kathy: And so, it’s harder for men to – whether with another man or with a woman, even a spouse, a wife – it’s harder to, um, declare how I’m feeling. And that can mean – that can make me feel like I’ve isolated. But you know what, Jim? We all need community because God created us for a relationship. We know that… relationship with him so that we would want relationship with others, if I can put it that way.
So, I think there are men who crave more and need to respond to that. If your identity is, I’m lonely. If your identity is, I don’t feel known. If your identity is those kinds of things, then recognize that and look to repair.
Kathy: And what’s the rest of you? Are you creative, outgoing, a quick thinker, mathematical? Do you like golf? What’s the rest of your identity? And then you find your belonging and people who have something in common with you. So, I wonder if that lack of belonging is sometimes rooted in an incomplete or unhealthy identity?
Jim: Yeah, and I think it’s more the – the issue of being comfortable being alone or being without that relationship that we’re quite content as men to say, “OK, that’s all right, just who I am.” And we don’t really hunger for the relationships that actually make us better.
Kathy: Right. Right.
John: That iron-sharpening-iron kind of thing that is written about in Proverbs.
John: Yeah, this is Focus on the Family. And our guest today is Dr. Kathy Koch. And, uh, we’re talking about the concepts in her book Five To Thrive: How To Determine If Your Core Needs Are Being Met (And What To Do When They’re Not).
Call us for your copy and if you can, make a donation while you have us.
We also have a summary of these five concepts online. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. And online we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Dr. Kathy, I’m thinking about social media. And, you know, some people are fulfilled there. They chatter all day long and probably spend way too much time in that medium. Others are super lonely, even though they’re in there. I mean, the loneliness index, I think as they’ve kept at the last 20, 30 years, is as high as it’s ever been right now. Yet we’re still, like, really connected through social media.
What it says to me is this is not a real connection. This isn’t the way God wired us for connection to provide a tweet. He wants us to have interaction. There’s something biochemically that happens to us when we’re actually communicating eyeball to eyeball, hearing each other, um, embracing each other, that kind of thing. Speak to the loneliness when we try to answer that question, who wants me, in the social media context, where, oh, the answer’s nobody.
Kathy: It’s well-stated. You know, I’m all over social media. There’s nothing inherently horrible in it unless I’m trying to meet my need for belonging, there.
Jim: Right! So, you got to know that’s not the reason to go there.
Kathy: Right, no, the need for belonging is legitimate. And it’s going to be met with, um, true accountability, responsibility, intimacy, knowing each other, um, sharing values, sharing ideas, um, hanging out, iron sharpening iron. You know, I obviously love that verse.
Social media is an add-on to that. And I think one of the reasons that it can create a loneliness is we can fake it to make it there. And so, we flip our identity in different groups. And we flip our identity when we’re posting about different things. And we see inconsistency in people. They’re desperately trying to fit in and figure it out. And it breaks you because you can’t be all things to all people in that way, nor should you try to be, if that makes sense.
Jim: It does. I’m thinking, you know, my kids have friends. I’m interacting with teens. My heart breaks for them.
Jim: And I’m thinking of this specific question of who wants me because some are desperately asking that question. And I guess for the parents, particularly, of that teen that they’re worried about that he’s not – or she’s not – connecting, and she’s struggling with the answer to that question. Because they’re not looking for it in their relationship with their parents. They kind of take that one for granted. Course you want me, you’re my mom and dad.
Kathy: Mm-hm. Mm-hm.
Jim: But nobody else wants me. And they go into their bedroom. And they are lost. Speak to both parts of that equation, the parents who are trying to help and then the loneliness of that teenager’s heart.
Kathy: Way to ask easy questions, Jim! Um, you know, I actually – kids tell me all the time and teens tell me, “Dr. Kathy, my parents love me. They have to. They don’t have a choice …
Jim: (Laughing) Right!
Kathy: … I wish they liked me.”
Kathy: “I wish they’d liked me.”
Jim: OK, let’s press on that for a minute…
John: Yeah, what does that mean?
Jim: …For the parent, what does that mean to really like your kid in a language that they get, that they receive?
Kathy: Absolutely, you know, they – I don’t – I don’t think they mind that I’m in my bedroom because it gives them the space to do their thing.
Kathy: …You know, dad never takes me on errands anymore. I’ve actually had some children tell me that they don’t like that their mom has groceries delivered because they don’t get to go on the grocery run with mom…
Jim: (Laughing) Wow!
Kathy: … Anymore and talk in the car. Now, I’m – if I’m a busy mom, like, I think grocery delivery must be amazing for those moms.
Kathy: But I think from the child’s perspective, they miss out on those opportunities just to hang out together and to have just unique conversations about what’s going on in life. So, the board game and the hike in the woods and the, you know, basketball free throws, I mean, good, old-fashioned play and hanging out. And I think we say to our son, “Come on, I need you in the living room.” It’s called the living room. Let’s live in the living room!
Jim: Without a TV! (laughter)
Kathy: Yeah, you know, so let’s hang out. And let’s use the web and research together. And let’s, you know, discover some groups on social media that we can both be in because we like state parks and there’s a really cool Colorado State Park group or whatever.
So, it’s not, you know, to ban them from using it. But it’s to maybe – I’m kind of rambling – but teach them how to use it well at the same time that you say, “No, I want you. You are my son. You are my daughter. I miss you. Let’s have a conversation.”
John: And I think I’ve shared this before, but there was a time when one of my kids was about 17 and distant.
John: You know, I’m giving the words, but they’re falling off. There’s no engagement. And God just told me, “You are the parent. You’ve got to go pursue this child …
John: … You have to reach out. You have to be the one that initiates. Don’t let them define the terms of the relationship.” And I’m glad that he spoke that to me ’cause I – I really needed to hear that and kind of get the momentum going.
Kathy: Mm-hm. You know, let me add that kids like to talk in the dark. And we’ve talked about this on this show before.
Jim: (Laughing) Right! So true.
Kathy: They like to talk in the dark because they don’t want to see our faces when they know that they’re going to disappoint us. They love talking in the car when we’re running errands …
John: Side by side, yeah.
Kathy: … Because again, they’re – they’re captured, and the eye contact isn’t as essential or even possible. So, we do need to press in. And we need to say, “No, I value you, and I want you with me.” At the same time, if I could say this, we need to make sure that parents don’t try to get their need for belonging met in their children.
Jim: Wow, that’s huge.
Kathy: That’s extremely unhealthy. So, men and women need other men and women to hang out with and to know them. And then the child is the bonus, if you will.
Jim: No, that’s really good!
Jim: Kathy, I was intrigued by your chapter on purpose, moving from the, who wants me, to the, why am I alive? I think this is a great question. And boy, you answer it differently from 15 to 20 to 25. Hopefully by about 25 you’re figuring this out and hopefully in that Christian context, the why am I alive, what purpose.
You address the problem of negativity in today’s culture. We’ve hit on that. And you quoted someone that you observed who said this, “This generation doesn’t have anything to live for because they don’t believe anything is worth dying for.” That is a powerful statement. Um, why that observation? Why is it true?
Kathy: You know, passion — passion motivates us to get up in the morning. Passion motivates us to pursue truth. Passion motivates us to – to learn something so that we can, again, contribute back to that belonging component, which precedes purpose, if you will. Yeah, absolutely. So, the inaccurate identity, the inconsistencies, the trying to be all things to all people, the – just the messy messages that they’re hearing, the lies, the – the lack of truth is so confusing to them.
Jim: And what is worth dying for? I mean, that’s an interesting concept. And it’s not something we want anybody to do.
Jim: But, you know, you look at the Founding Fathers. They laid it on the line.
Jim: They wanted freedom. They wanted freedom of religious expression. They wanted to be free from the monarchy. They didn’t feel they should be paying taxes to them, et cetera. They obviously felt those were things worth dying for. What about today?
Kathy: You know, so what are our values? And what are we raising children and teens to believe matters, right? Christ, evangelism, discipleship, um, rescuing the disenfranchised, you know, what is it? What is our purpose? Why am I alive? We’re alive to serve. We’re alive to glorify God through who we are and not just what we do, which is why character is so important. Um, we’re alive to leave the world a better place through the gifts that we’ve been given, which we’re not going to do if we keep lusting after somebody else’s gifts.
Kathy: We’re not. We reject ourselves because we’re not as good as or – no, it’s not about competition. You were created for such a time as this with this identity, you know, chatty Cathy, whatever! (Laughter)
Kathy: You know, be that to the glory of God. So, do we help our people understand who they are, who they’ve been called to serve so that they will want to wake up every day and do it?
Jim: And that is good. I mean, and to me this is one of the core things that you need your teenagers to really think about and to try to enter these dialogues about why you’re created, what is your purpose in a very thoughtful way, not in a demeaning way. And as my wife Jean would say to me, “Jim, don’t answer the question when you ask it.”
Kathy: Oh, shoot! (LAUGHTER)
Jim: So, Troy, what’s your purpose? Can I give you a few ideas? (Laughter) That is a bad habit I got! (Laughter)
Kathy: Yeah, you know, and it’s – no, it’s so good. And I – you know, I tell young people – they don’t like this, and I don’t really care – but I tell young people that your purpose is for some obedience ’cause that glorifies God. And learning all that you can and all the ways that you can, again, to the glory of God. I would say that if they’re believers.
So, for children and teens, childhood causes adulthood. Childhood leads to something. You’re not – you’re still a child! Revel in that. And allow yourself to be a child who’s learning and dreaming of the tomorrows. And then we as the mature adults provide direction. We’re the compass that points due north. And we say, “I’ve noticed this about you. I wonder if you might want to pursue this as a hobby,” or, “You know, I’ve noticed that you ask a lot of questions about weather. You know, the weatherman, let’s invite him over for lunch. He goes to our church. Let’s have a conversation (Laughter) and just find out what his background is.”
Because kids are confused and they’re wanting – it’s not all about career. It’s about relationship…
Jim: That’s interesting.
Kathy: … It’s my purpose to be a good person, a righteous Christ follower. And will I be a good wife or husband, if marriage is in my future? Will I be a good mom or dad? It’s not about just career, although that’s, of course, a big passion of the parent is to launch them into something.
Jim: Okay, Kathy — we’ve got to get to #5 here at the end — competence. The competence factor. This can make people feel a little uncomfortable because, you know, especially in Christian circles, if you feel really gifted at something – mathematics, science, whatever it might be – sometimes you have to downplay our ability because it’s more humble, I guess.
First of all, talk about competence in that context. What is arrogance and what is competence? And I guess maybe that’s the question.
Kathy: Wow, well, competence is being able to do what I’ve been called to do, which is why it follows purpose. If I know why I was created, why am I alive, then I will be motivated to discover the competence that allows me to be successful.
And if I find out that I have a particular competence of creative writing or mathematical brilliance or
debating without anger, then that competence can back up to discovering a purpose in a way that I could serve in the community or in the church or even within my family.
Jim: Right, a vocational or volunteer role.
Kathy: Absolutely, right. So, competence is an ability to do what I’ve been called to do. You know, arrogance is thinking that my ability is more important than yours and that I have more of it. No, and there’s no place for that. I get that. The culture screams of that. Social media screams of that. It’s one of the reasons that we’re never content because we can always see somebody else who has something more that we think we need. We don’t need what they have. We need our competence given to us by God. He is our competence. He teaches it. And, yeah, absolutely. I could go on and on.
Jim: No, that is so good. And we’re going to touch on this one lightly. But people need to get the book. Let me end with this one. There were – again, in that context of being content in who God has created in you. There are things about yourself in the past that you didn’t like, um – your height, your clumsiness, we talked a bit about that yesterday. But today you see them as strengths. These are things that can work for you. Describe what they are beyond, you know, those things and how they’ve turned into your strengths.
Kathy: Yeah, you know, well, let me share this, spelling doesn’t come naturally to me.
Jim: Thank you (laughter).
Kathy: I’m, you know – thank you, yeah, you know, I’m logic smart. I want the rules to work. I – you know, the letter C gets in the way. We really don’t need it. Um, the silent K, how ridiculous is that?
So – but I’m an author (Laughter) of six books and I have an earned Ph.D. in reading. You lead with your strengths. I think one of the most important things about competence is… I mean, yeah, know the challenge so that you don’t hurt yourself or others with it and surround yourself with help. So, members of my staff proofread my work. And I travel with a misspellers dictionary so I could find the word the way I think it should be spelled. And it’ll tell me how to spell it.
Kathy: So, competence isn’t perfection. That’s a lie from the devil. Competence is an ability that you need. And you always lead with your strengths.
Kathy: And you make sure that the weaknesses don’t get in the way. I think that’s what I want people to hear.
Jim: Kathy, this has been a rich conversation that’s given me and so many of the listeners a lot to think about. Uh, things to pray about, too, frankly. And as… I so appreciate your passion and heart to help people live godly and healthy lives the way we were designed to do it. And that’s what I love – it’s that illumination of how this all fits together, the way we’re wired, the way we behave, those things that shape us. Thank you for this great book, Five To Thrive: How to Determine If Your Core Needs Are Being Met (And What To Do When They’re Not).
And the good thing is here, everybody, this is all rooted in your relationship with Christ. And it’s not that psychobabble that we talk about, but it’s understanding the wiring that’s there, that scientists can see. But then wrapping that idea that we’re made in God’s image around it all. And that’s what I love. Thank you for equipping us to have a conversation that is deep and, uh, you know, very helpful to everybody, including ourselves and those around us.
Kathy: You’re very welcome. It’s truly a joy to participate with you at Focus.
John: Well, we do encourage you to get a copy of this great book from Dr. Kathy Koch. It’s called Five To Thrive: How To Determine If Your Core Needs Are Being Met (And What To Do When They’re Not). We’ve only really been able to touch on these points a little bit. The book is much more in-depth. And it’s gonna be very helpful for you as an individual or as a spouse or as a parent or all three of those roles. It’ll help you really grow. And, uh, we have the book online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Jim: And John, as always, uh, just make a gift of any amount, we’ll get the book to you. If you can’t afford it, we believe in the content that Dr. Kathy’s put together. If you can’t afford it, just get a hold of us. We’ll trust others will cover the costs.
John: Yeah, we are listener-supported. A monthly pledge makes a big difference. A one-time gift of any amount really does help. And so please, donate as you can.
And coming up tomorrow you’ll hear one woman’s powerful story about being rescued from abortion.
Mrs. Christine Bennett: And she looked her in the eyes and said, “Do you want to have this baby?” And my mom said, “Yes. Yes.” And she said, “Then God is gonna give you the strength to have this baby.”