Why people do what they do?

In part three of this series, I hope we can be better worshipers and leaders through understanding  Worship and Psychology .

First and foremost, our mindset must be theologically saturated through a living relationship with God’s word and His presence. This is a foundational prerequisite and it gives us a glimpse of heaven’s perspective.

Next, since we lead people,  we must develop empathy for those we are leading in order to become good shepherds. Hence this study.

Personal development superstar Tony Robbins teaches a framework that identifies Six Human Needs and believes everyone is—or can be—motivated by their desire to fulfill these needs.

Consider these when thinking within your worship context.

Ask the question, “What need or needs does our experience of worship meet for the people we are serving?”

Six Human Needs

List adapted from Successnet.org

1. Certainty/Comfort. We all want comfort. And much of this comfort comes from certainty. Of course there is no absolute certainty, but we want certainty the car will start, the water will flow from the tap when we turn it on and the currency we use will hold its value.

2. Variety. At the same time we want certainty, we also crave variety. Paradoxically, there needs to be enough uncertainty to provide spice and adventure in our lives.

3. Significance. Deep down, we all want to be important. We want our life to have meaning and significance. No one wants to think his or her life didn’t matter.

4. Connection/Love. Love is what it’s all about. We want to feel part of a community. We want to be cared for and cared about.

These first four needs Robbins says are needs of the personality. He classifies the last two as spiritual needs.

5. Growth. There could be some people who say they don’t want to grow, but they are more likely fearful of doing so—or perhaps not doing so. To become better, to improve our skills, to stretch and excel may be more evident in some than others, but it’s there.

6. Contribution. The desire to contribute something of value—to help others, to make the world a better place than we found it, is in all of us.     

Application for Worship Contexts

I found this list enlightening as I reflected on my own internal motivations.

First, consider which ones seem the most significant to you personally.

Next, examine what you do to fulfill the needs of others. This could be a game-changer in what and how you do what you do.

It could also make a difference in the way you describe and explain what happens in your worship contexts.

Two examples for worship leading.

1. Certainty. This can work out on multiple levels. One is predictability.

People respond positively to familiar surroundings, familiar songs and a leadership style that is familiar. This increases the experience of comfort in your service. So elements of predictability, repeated rituals, and honored traditions let people know “this is how we do this things here.” This helps your congregation feel secure.

That’s good and meets a basic need. However, too much of a good thing is not so good which leads to the need for …

2. Variety or uncertainty. This should give us a pragmatic rationale for introducing new songs, new expressions of the arts, or some element that is fresh and unexpected.

It can be as simple as doing a familiar song in a fresh arrangement.

Try varying the dynamics and tonal quality of the songs on the set so everything doesn’t sound the same all the time.

I like slammin crunchy guitars with 8th note delay, but by the third song, change it up.

Don’t be all slam, all the time.

Neither be all emo, all the time.

Nor be all middle of the road, all the time.

In church world it’s easy to get stuck in a rut because we think “that’s how our people are, that’s what they like and respond to” but this is only partially true.

Be intentional, plan for variety, and you will more fully meet the needs of your people.


These Six Human Needs are so fundamental and universal they offer insight into many aspects of worship ministry. We may unpack more down the road.

By the way, to hear Tony Robbins teaching in his own words, check out this TED talk, or this appearance on Oprah’s Lifeclass. Filter these ideas through the truth of the gospel and God’s word.

The truth will set you free!

My “connect the dots” question for you:

How do these needs apply to worship leadership in your ministry context?