Being Needy is Not a Fault—
It’s a Design

When someone is struggling or suffering, they can sometimes be hesitant to reach out for help. They may feel like their burdens would inconvenience someone else, or that their problems aren’t severe enough to involve another person. I know I have a repulsion to my own particular neediness. I’d much rather wade through my struggles and figure out a way through the surf than ask for someone to lend a helping hand. For some reason, we imagine our neediness as a character flaw or as Christian immaturity. We believe we should be more independent than we actually are, and therefore condemn our neediness as sinful.

Unfortunately, the embers of these beliefs can be fanned by experiences we’ve had. Maybe someone wrote us off when we’ve asked for help in the past. Perhaps church leadership treated us harshly when we confided our problems to them. It could be that someone said they would help us, but then got busy with their own life and neglected to follow through. Whatever the case may be, many of us despise our neediness. We don't want to rely on other people for help or wisdom. We hate being needy because it makes us vulnerable to rejection and disappointment. Asking for help exposes us, our problems, and our desperate inability. Needing something from someone squeezes a confession of insufficiency: I cannot do it alone.  
It’s not easy to ask for help. We spend a lot of time hiding our neediness because we are afraid of what people will think. Speaking personally, on most days I am happy to give help and reluctant to ask for it. For me, being needy is a sign of weakness, and, given a choice, I prefer to appear strong or at least competent.
– Ed Welch, Side by Side
Neediness is Not a Sin. It’s a Design
If you feel your neediness on a regular basis, know that you are in good company. All of us are needy, all of the time—we're just too busy being "independent" to realize it.  We easily forget that neediness is inherent. Take a high-level view of the concept by starting with our neediness in the sight of God. Think back to the garden of Eden and all that Adam required from the Lord to live. Everything Adam had, he was given. Everything he possessed—even his very body and breath—came from God (Genesis 2:7). This truth hasn't changed since the fall.

Think about it: what do you have at this moment that God did not give to you? Take away all the comfort of your possessions, and you'd still be 100% reliant upon the Lord for sustenance. Take away your need of food and drink, and you'd still be 100% reliant upon the Lord for oxygen to breathe. And even the oxygen man can create in a lab requires materials from other created things to fabricate. There's no kidding ourselves: we are utterly dependent upon Someone else for all the things, all the time.

Man's reliance upon God is a healthy relational construct, not an annoying character flaw. Our neediness is forged out of God’s good design (Genesis 1:31) and is meant to foster fellowship, faithfulness, and fruitfulness. In that sense, dependence upon God and interdependence upon each other is a blessed design meant for our good and God's glory. 
Neediness in an Individualistic Culture
Where the waters become murky is when we take the concept of neediness and place it into trending cultural mindsets, which sell images of successful, independent tycoons who seem to have the world eating out of their hands (Psalm 49:16-17). Picture-perfect achievers can trick us into believing the only way to experience abundant life is through "manifesting" your full potential and ambitions to fruition.

In this false gospel, there is no room for dependence—only independence. There is no room for neediness—only the relentless, individualistic pursuit of personal wants. You get what you want if you work hard for it and no one is going to give you a hand-out or a hand-up so dream big and climb high and believe you can and you will. Not only is this mantra devastating for those who literally live in complete and utter dependence upon someone else for their very breath and sustenance, it finds absolutely no biblical basis in the Scriptures (Psalm 85:12, John 3:27, James 1:17, James 3:14-16). Writer Jen Oshman comments,  
“…this faith in self only makes sense for a certain population in a certain context. How many people across history and across the globe can 'believe you’re capable of making changes to become whatever kind of person you want to be'? It’s a cruel joke to say to the disabled, to the poor, to the oppressed, 'you’ve got to decide right now that you can be whoever you want to be and achieve whatever you want to achieve'.
We may admit this approach isn’t compatible with following Christ, but our skewed, functional beliefs about the “good, need-free life” is something many Christians find themselves tripping over. Let's face it: when I imagine my "best life now", it typically doesn't account for suffering, natural disasters, accidents, and all of the ways I'll require help from others for my problems. Take away the concept of our inherent, humble neediness, and we’ll find the makings of merciless mini-messiahs infatuated with their tiny kingdoms. In these instances, pride is the root of the aversion to neediness, and it can only be uprooted through godly sorrow and biblical repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).
God knew that even though Adam and Eve were perfect people living in perfect relationship with him, they could not figure out life on their own. They were created to be dependent. God had to explain who they were and what they were to do with their lives. They did not need this help because they were sinners. They needed help because they were human.
– Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands
Neediness is Not the Same as Laziness
It may be that those who wrestle with their neediness are afraid their calls for help will be viewed as laziness. It's important to recognize the difference between needing help because of a diligent concern for a genuine problem and demanding help because of a refusal to take responsibility. One is wisdom, the other is foolishness (Proverbs 6:6, Proverbs 6:9, Proverbs 26:15, Proverbs 31:27).

Furthermore, when we look at the early days of the church, we find a Spirit-filled community which gladly attended to the needs of one another. Their wise one-another care was an interdependent model fueled by Christ’s love:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need. With one accord they continued to meet daily in the temple courts and to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47

In those days, it was wise to communicate your need and wise to allow someone to help you with it. Neediness in the context of community wasn't an option for early believers—it was one of the defining qualities of Christian perseverance during hostile persecution. Caring for one another. Serving one another's needs. Their selfless deeds were the most beautiful dramatization of the eye telling the hand, "We belong together. I have need of you. You have need of me. Together, we have need of God who will supply all our needs according to the riches of Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 12:21, Philippians 4:19).
Not a Last Resort in Problem Solving
Asking for help from other people is not an action of last resort for shamed Christians. In fact, it ought to be one of the very first reflexes triggered by our humble responses to problems, second only to prayer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth…The Christ is his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.”

Bonhoeffer recognized God’s design for Christian community was to “meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.” Neediness in the context of Christian community is a requirement if we’re to benefit from the full ministry of the Holy Spirit. If we conceal our neediness, we shield ourselves from the graces God would grant us through the partaking of fellowship with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24-25). Rejecting our needy condition shuts off the tap to biblical comforts and divine solutions. What help is it to receive the slow drip when the full flow has already been commissioned by Christ for our benefit?

We need someone outside of us—someone who has the Spirit of Christ—to bolster our faith in our moments of despair (Romans 10:17). Someone to pray for us when we are cornered by unbelief (James 5:16). Someone to proclaim God’s promises over us when we feel adrift in the storm (1 Thessalonians 5:14). These are prescriptions we cannot always give to ourselves. We cannot handle the medicines as doctor and patient. They must come from another believer and we need not feel ashamed for it to be so.
Man's reliance upon God is a healthy relational construct, not an annoying character flaw. Our neediness is forged out of God’s good design and is meant to foster fellowship, faithfulness, and fruitfulness. In that sense, dependence upon God and interdependence upon each other is a blessed design meant for our good and God's glory. 
Helps for the Reluctantly Needy
This article is as much as an exhortation to my own heart as it is to those who are reading it. I will be the first to admit that asking for support is not always a natural reflex. But I can say that after years of maturing and learning, it’s becoming easier in particular areas. If you find yourself also reluctantly needy, I’d like to offer some helps that may give you the courage to embrace your dependance upon God and others more readily, and not just for the life’s gut-wrenching problems, but for the daily struggles as well:

• Share this article with a friend and start a dialog about being “needy buddies.” Having someone already assigned to be your go-to person for prayer requests, panicked phone calls, or hands-on help can take some of the fears of rejection out of the equation. If you do this, however, set some parameters that might be helpful in ensuring this function of the friendship remains a help, and not a hinderance, to each of you.

• Read the book, Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Ed Welch. This book covers the depths of our neediness as humans, and outlines why needy people are the most needed people when it comes to helping others in wisdom and love.

• Study Bible verses that touch on the topics of helping others, identity, pride, humility, community, fear, and trust in God as you get to the heart of your apprehensions about neediness.

• If your reluctance to neediness stems from a previous trauma or painful past, you might consider working through those challenges with a certified biblical counselor, church Pastor, or a mature, Bible-believing mentor who can help you face those hurts and walk you through the healing process. A great book to explore for this situation is Putting the Past In Its Place: Moving Forward in Freedom and Forgiveness by Stephen Viars. 

I am fully aware there are forms of unhealthy neediness. As with all of God's good creation, sin mars the original design. We live in days where brokenness is magnified and good things are sorely distorted. However, this is not the kind of neediness I am writing about. The encouragements I share in this article are meant for the person who tends to operate in their own strength and is hesitant to reach out to the body of Christ for help.

Can I Seek Community Without Feeling Needy? from CCEF on Vimeo.

Dr. Ed Welch - Do we really need help? from CCEF on Vimeo.

*Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission. Keep in mind that I link to these resources because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. This does not affect the cost of the resource, and the decision is yours whether you choose to purchase them from my link or not. Thanks for your support!
Christine M. Chappell
Author/Writer/Speaker
Christine Chappell is the author of Clean Home, Messy Heart, the host of The Hope + Help Project podcast, and is a guest contributor at Desiring God. She writes frequently about motherhood, sin, and sorrow at her blog, has completed biblical counseling certificates with the Institute for Biblical Counseling & Discipleship, and is currently pursuing certification with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.
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