If you’ve ever been tossed about by your wants and needs, this post will resonate with you. It not only shows the grounds our wants and needs germinate from, it suggests a beneficial way of responding to them.

What I Want and What I Need

This post explains the sources of our wants and needs and how we should handle them. Click To Tweet

What I want and what I need
Why is there always a rift between you?
Why be so diametric to each other?
Why can’t you sort yourselves out?
Why not reach a compromise?
How difficult can that really be?

I know your contentions are intrinsic
Stemming from the flesh-spirit dichotomy
But your tussles are making me schizophrenic
I feel like I’m about to lose my mind
I’ll find a way out, yes, I will
I can’t have you two tearing me apart

If I could only give up one of you
Make the right choice and stick with it
I’d have the peace I crave and deserve
But knowing myself, a pipe dream that is
Still, something definitely’s got to give
Your endless bickering needs to cease

What I need, durability is on your side
Plus you’re sure to bless me more
So you stay on top and call the shots
What I want, you make me feel good
Open my mind to endless possibilities
I’ll fly with you whenever life seems drab

Told you we could work this out
An accord it is and you better behave
What I want, my fanciful genius
What I need, my pragmatic faithful
With two of you it’s a win-win ride
As I journey along on my pilgrimage

Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2016

(Related: Intimacy with God)

This poem explores the inner conflict generated by our wants and needs. Click To Tweet


Hope you enjoyed reading this poem and that you identify somewhat with its theme. As is my custom, I’d like to briefly elucidate on it. But let me say first off that what I’m about to share is what works for me when it comes to resolving flesh-spirit conflicts. I would love everyone to know the Lord Jesus personally and see if they find the stuff here efficacious too in their walk with Him. Now let me take it from the top as those in the performing arts would say.

I find that, sometimes, what I want is not what I need. I said sometimes, praise God, because in spite of my human weaknesses and limited vision, there are times my body and my spirit are in agreement, otherwise I’d have destroyed myself long ago. For instance, when I’ve worked too hard, everything within me starts screaming, “You need to stop now. You need to rest!” But those moments of harmony are not the subject of this poem.


What I want is shaped by the kind of person I am; the environment I’ve grown up in; what I’ve been exposed to in my interactions with others, through the media, etc. What I want may, therefore, be informed by vanity and other sentiments. It may arise from aspirations that I consider legitimate or deserving but which are contrary to what God wants for me now. It is a flesh thing.

What I need, on the other hand, is accurate in pinpointing what will work best for me and help me in the programme of God for my life. It may not appeal to my sense of pride (or dignity if you will), it may not make me happy and it may not meet public approval. It is a spirit thing. It is the will of God for my life.

What I want is a flesh thing but what I need is a spirit thing: God's will for my life. Click To Tweet

I know that other people have these contentions too and sometimes, they can get quite intense, especially when the great issues of life come up, e.g. career choice, marriage and call into ministry. This is more so when we have deeply entrenched desires that are dissonant from what God is pointing to. The plan of God is that as we renew our minds with His word and eschew negative influences, as we learn to be led by His Spirit (which makes no meaning except we are submitting to His leading), there will be greater congruence between what we want and what we need.

(Related: I Want to do Your Will)

This is what Phillipians 2:13 is talking about.

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (King James Version).

For a better understanding, let’s see this in some newer translations.

“God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes” (Common English Bible).

“because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose” (Good News Translation).

“because God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him” (New Century Version).

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (New Living Translation).

Praise God, He is working! And I’m becoming more conformed to His will. I hope you are too.


Yet for me as a writer, what I want can be a rich source of inspiration. As an individual, it can show me diverse sides of a matter. While exploring it, I do need to have enough presence of mind, though, to ensure I don’t get carried away and when a decision needs to be made, that I don’t let “my fanciful genius” obscure my vision of what ought to be done.


Let me illustrate with the two versions of the illustration I prepared for this post. The image (close to this paragraph and used in the feature graphic) is “what I need”. The other one (higher up) is “what I want”. Look at how flashy it is, how dazzling with an array of colours! It’s very pretty, isn’t it? But I realise that as stunning as it looks, it does not convey the message quite as well as the latter image. The mutedness of the colours on that one and the white text ensure that even those who are reading with phones get the message without straining their eyes. While I love beautiful graphics, my chief concern is the message and anything that enhances its reception is preferred.

You might wanna take a cue from that. Whenever there’s a divergence between what you want and what you need, go for what you need. It will serve you better. Except of course you’re looking for a temporary high, in which case once gravity comes into play, you’ll find yourself plummeting to much regret. Thank you for taking the time to read this through and be richly blessed of the Lord in Jesus’ name.

Related: I Want to Join the Parade, Lord!)





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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.


  • ononso akwueke

    I really identify with this poem in my life. I never wanted mass communication but God knew I needed it so he blocked all efforts of me trying to run away. Emm sometimes I don’t want lectures so God increased my conscience by 10 so if I dare miss I might die of guilt , because I need it

  • Chinwe Odionye

    Honestly what i wanted is money but i have realised that what i need most now is God.

  • Ekechukwu Nkechi

    I love this, it really speaks to me. i’m gonna keep this poem for life.t Thank u so much.

  • A gatekeeper recognizes when a gate is open and the strongman,Jesus says,come in.This, one of many opening is welcoming the family of God.

    Glory to God

  • Eze Benjamin Oduma

    Working in tandem with the standards of God is a sure way of knowing when what is wanted may be needful, no matter how uninterested we may appear towards what we need, it is still indispensable for our well-being. Thank you ma.

  • Obetta Collins Odinakachukwu

    what i want…. but what exactly do i want?

  • chidiogo Georginah

    This is food for thought

  • Akwolu Chiamaka MaryAnn

    Wants are Good quite alright, But I’ll rather go with the things I would not survive with if taking away from me. And these things I can’t do without are my needs. I may want a gold wristwatch and silver necklaces, but imagine having them and yet being a squatter in someone’s apartment. it makes no sense to me. Wants are good, needs are best.

    • Edith Ohaja

      You’re right but sometimes, the wants may be so loud we may not hear the needs or they disguise themselves as needs and fool the undiscerning. Bless you, my dear, in Jesus’ name.

  • Chike Chiemela Elizabeth

    True! Getting what we need which is being subjected to the will of the Holy Spirit is more beneficial for the spirit and for the flesh. The flesh will end up in benefitting from the glory revealed in our spirit.

  • emekaobi ijeoma rita

    i feel like this poem is trying to tell me something

  • walter nkemakonam onukwue

    Reading this poem, i remembered my high school days when the concepts were differentiated in economics class.. i think we re so moved by the wants that we don’t even look at the needs

  • Ike faustina uchechukwu

    we all want the good things of life,money and other things, but we have not really considered what we actually need so i guess we should ask God to help us so that we should actually know our need

  • Charles Emmanuella

    To be happy in life, we all must learn the difference between what we want and what we need . Most of the time we are carried away by the things we want and miss the things we really need.

  • Ugwu Patience

    What happens when what you want corresponds with what you need? It happened to me.I have always loved mass communication & today am studying mass communication. I thinks God still work that way

  • Wow! I love this poem. Truly, sometimes in life, the things we want are contradictory to what we need. It only takes God’s grace to understand this and go for what we need.

    • Edith Ohaja

      Yes, it does, my dear! If we buy into the worldly idea that the heart wants what it wants, implying that we must let our wants prevail, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment, frustration and misery.

  • Okoye chidi

    We al wnt al d gud tins in life bt i tink wat we should wnt more in our life is christ Jesus


    This is a very nice poem. A lot of us most times confuse “what we want for what we need.” But I’ve learnt that what we want and what we need are not the same. “Need” is immediate while “want” can come later.i.e, it’s secondary, not really necessary at the moment. Before, I used to think I need pleasure, but I’ve come to really realize that all I need now is treasure not pleasure. And that, only JESUS can give. Thank you ma, for blessing my soul with this poem. I truly enjoyed it. Well done and more of God’s grace to you!

  • Henrietta Okoye

    I have always wanted to be a very rich and well known actress but all I need right now is God that will qualify me to be what I want to be… From the explanations above I know want and need is just like setting your priorities with need at the top followed by want

    • Edith Ohaja

      You’re right. I pray for God’s guidance as you choose what to seek after in Jesus’ name.

  • ononso akwueke

    There’s always this confusion that comes when we want to determine what we want and need . its all about setting one’s priorities straight and of course God’s grace.

  • Okeleke loveth

    Lord please may ur will alone be done in my life. I do not need what I want but what I really need which is Your divine plan for my life

  • Onwusonye Promise

    What I need pursues my establishment. But what I want pursues my immediate satisfaction. Sometimes it seems that what I want is more powerful than what I need. What I want usually makes me immortified. Thanks for the nice piece.

  • Dike Gerald Osinachi

    Why do two of them overly contrast each other. Because of our inclinations. What I need is always right but may seem painful. What I want is always catchy but it is not satisfying. I wish to ever choose what I need. Do you?

  • This poem is one that everybody can relate to. Truly, the two themes ( What I want and What I need ), sometimes can be quite confusing if one dosen’t ake time to really think about it as you adviced. Most people go for want instead of need that is essential and that one can’t live without. I’m grateful to my JSS 2 Home-Economics teacher who thought me the difference between these words.

  • Adonu Ifeanyichukwu B

    These are two conflicting problems many people encounter at some point in their lives. However, making the right choice is the most important thing in the end. This poem is really inspiring .

    • Edith Ohaja

      Glory to God. He can help us make the right choices if we let Him. You are highly blessed, Ifeanyichukwu, in Jesus’ name.

  • The in-born insatiability in all humans has a driving force towards wants. However, God is pretty much aware of this and knows what is best for us therefore only gives us what we need. Looking at the glass as half empty instead of half full is driven by how well we understand God’s ways. I am glad that I always look at the glass as half full and grab any little thing that God gives me with a smile. What a lovely poem.

  • okoh daniel

    There is need to find inner peace as a human being and that cannot be done without bringing God into the picture to be able to sync life well and the two will keep clashing unless it is found

  • Eze Chinyere

    Thanks a lot for this advice, ma! I love the way you made use of graphics to illustrate the difference between a want and a need. Wants are vain things, things of the flesh. Needs however, are very important and beneficial to us. It goes beyond the flesh into fulfilling God’s will in our lives. I really learned from this!

  • Abugu Chinazom

    On my part, the struggle is reallll, trying to make choices, setting my priorities and all that.
    Somehow, I still find my way out!
    I wait until my wants become needs( till I need them urgently), before I make my choices.

  • Amarachi Deborah Ugwu

    Seriously differentiating between my want and need mostimes is a problem. It only takes critical thinking for me to know what i actually need and what i just want. This poem clarifies it. Well done ma

  • Umoru Sadia

    I’ve always been caught in a dilemma between what I want and what I need. The truth is that sometimes, what we want is not always what we need. What we want is not always what is best for us. Therefore, it is best to seek direction from the holy spirit to always direct us to what we need. This poem clarifies it. Very interesting poem

  • Anyadubalu Oluchi Maryrose

    Thank you so much ma for i have finally learnt how to differenciate between the two. What I need and what I want.


    What we need are usually the things of high importance to us that are really needed for our survival while what we want always come out of the desire to feel belonged and own trending things. what we want also often come from the insatiable nature of man. Although we need discipline to get what we need with our available resources and if the resources is in excess then we can get what we what.What we want although not bad but what we need needs to be put ahead.

  • Ibe Chinwe Cynthia

    Settling or getting a balance between one’s needs and wants can be tough. Sadly, there usually aren’t enough resources to take care of both of them side by side, then arises the need for a table of preference. The truth is that deep down everyone knows what tops their table of preference, that’s why no matter the amount of needs or wants a person has, he or she would know how to survive with limited resources.

  • Ajibo Lovelyn Onyedikachi

    I have come to understand from this poem that what I want may not actually be what I need. Lord, may only your will be done in my life.




    In economics, we are taught that human wants are insatiable and most times, people usually go for their wants over their needs. this is maybe because our wants are usually flashy and full of colours and we end up falling for it. but our needs on the other hand seem less glamorous but it is more important and is usually of the spirit. to be a complete person, it is important to for us to balance our needs and wants and fulfil our needs before our wants.

  • Henry

    As human, it is natural to want. Our needs are those pertinent things that shapes our life, but we always want and focus on it than needs. To draw a line between both depends on our sincerity because at times, we decieve ourselves. Thank you.

  • Queen

    We should know what our needs and want are. We can do without our wants but cant do without our needs.

  • Sometimes we misplace our wants with our needs. Wants are things not really necessary in our lives. It will do us good to differentiate this. Nice poem ma

  • Nwele Euphemia Uzoamaka

    Its not easy making the right choice between ones want and need, but if one is able to identify the need from the want, then thats one step ahead.
    An Educative poem

  • Nwankwo Amanda

    It’s mandatory for us to always get our priorities right, we should learn to alsways differentiate our wants from our needs

  • Nwankwo Gift

    It’s better to get what you need than what you want. But we are humans what we want will keep pushing but what we need is the most important. It’s really a difficult decision to make but certainly we have to choose one. Nice observation Ma.

  • Chukwuemeka ifunanya Abigail.

    What I want and what I need is really conflicting each other, but u know what I need is more beneficial to my well being so I guess I will strive to get what I need more and be content if I have the luxury of getting some of what I want.

  • Amana Sharon Umola

    The ability to differentiate between what I need and what I want is indeed a crucial thing to do because it will help one to set priorities right

  • Amana Sharon Umola

    Priorities should be set straight cause trying to decipher between what you want and what you need is indeed conflicting. Pursuing what you need is indeed more crucial than chasing wants.

  • judith

    At this point of my life, what i want is a nice closet of nice dresses….Lol compared to what i need! first, God and a load full of books; very thoughtful of you to write this.

  • Paschal Odigonma Victoria

    There’s is always this clash with what we need and what we want in our everyday lives. Most times when we focus more on what we need than what we want the outcome is always better than the latter.

  • Ekwuagana Fabian Ikechukwu

    Inspiring, so many don’t even know what they really need, it takes the grace of God. I love this poem like no body’s business.

  • defavourbrown

    Human wants can be so limitless. Sometimes I really get confused about choosing what I need from what I want. But I know from this poem that what I want is flashier than want I need.

    Thanks, Mma.

  • Eze Chioma

    This is a problem we all face everyday, how to differentiate our wants from our needs. However, as my father will always say, having a scale of prefence will go a long way to help you easily make decisions .

  • Eze Chioma Uzoamaka

    This is a problem we all face everyday, how to differentiate our wants from our needs. However, as my father will always say, having a scale of prefence will go a long way to help you easily make decisions

  • Paul-kayode praise c

    From the poem, I’ve been able to understand that our needs are long lasting solutions, but our wants are merely desires based on temporary emotions or lusts..Great piece MA !

  • egbo Rita Somtochukwu

    Thank you Ma for pointing out this issue, some place what they want above to what they need. The wants can be gotten at the right time so far the money is there to accommodate it. The need is unlimited, which is what we should have at all times. We should learn to place this side by side and what comes first especially in building our future. Well said Ma and may God continually bless you richly!

  • Arene Ifeyinwa Ketochukwu

    It is vital to differentiate our needs from our wants in order to make sound decisions in life.

  • Oshana Oyaku Endurance

    Sometimes we find it hard to choose between our wants and needs. But if we learn how to manage this two demanding fellows very well, it will go a long way in helping us while we continue our earthly journey.

  • Both are the two conflicting ados of our lives but if we can just let God arrange them in a more classified and orderly manner, they won’t conflict each other.

  • Eze martins Tochukwu

    My need and my want sometimes it is a very tough fight between this two, “How difficult can that really be?
    I know your contentions are intrinsic
    Stemming from the flesh-spirit dichotomy”
    Between this two, I always want to satisfy my need but some times my want do take over of me even when I don’t need it.

  • Okoli Ezinne

    Just learnt the clear difference from what I want and what I need, thank you ma for sharing this lovely piece.

  • Akarule Adaeze Goodness

    Aunty, u just reminded me of vivid memories. In economics back in secondary school, we where taught about table of preference, and bluntly told that the needs are greater, basic needs like air, water, food, clothing, shelter etc, where emphasized upon. The wants where said to come later when there is excess money at hand.

  • Ejiofor Emmanuel

    The dichotomy between the two is a strong one, it is capable of making you angry when you can’t come to conclusion of which one to go for. We should go for needs first for it is primary.
    Nice lines

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