The 7 Needs of Mountain Climbers

Updated: May 9



Do you marvel at the accomplishments of others?


Does climbing to the top of a mountain, let alone Mount Everest, like Sir Edmund Hillary, leave you doubting and wondering how did he do that? Was it his faith in God, his faith in himself, what drove him to the top?


Could understanding how mountain climbers do what they do, be as simple as looking in their backpack?


The other day, talking with my bride, we were joking around about an upcoming trip, wondering what to pack. Then we remembered that great backseat car game, “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to bring my toothbrush, does anyone want to go with me?” Did you play that game on long trips? Maybe on the bus going to camp? It certainly would make time fly by.


What do you think Sir Edmund, the first human to ascend to the top of Mount Everest, the tallest peak on the planet, took with him? Can you hear him playing that “car game” as he traversed each peak?


“When I climb mount Everest, I’m going to take my TV, my laptop and my phone. …”


Why are you laughing?


Of course, he would only take what he needs, not what he wants.


What would Sir Edmunds list look like?

  • Air – We usually die after 3 minutes without Air and the Air is thin up there

  • Water – We usually die after 3 days without water

  • Food – We usually die after 8-12 weeks without food

Think about being at the top of the world without the basic biological needs,

your thoughts would not be about the summit. Your need to survive would take over.

You better plan to survive!


What else might be in that backpack?

  • A Weapon - Snow Leopards and Himalayan Black Bears live on Everest

  • Strong, Tested Rope – It would be a shame to fall because of a bad rope

  • Communication – Being alone, you need to be able to ask for help

Does it make sense to go all that way to be killed by an animal or a fall, if you survived the animals and the fall how do you get help?

You better plan for safety and security!


Is that it? what about ...?

  • Pictures of family and loved ones – it gets lonely

  • Notes of encouragement from peers – It can be easy to give up

  • Pictures of mentors and heroes – Someone else did this

We’re humans. The six to ten week climb to the top of Mount Everest is a lonely journey.

You will need encouragement!


The backpack is getting full (and heavy) Did you forget something?

  • Books – Exercise your brain. Use it or Lose it!

  • Games – The monotony might kill you

  • A Journal – Writing is as much for you as it is for others

The silence of isolation can be so loud that it drowns out every thing.

You should plan to keep busy, focused and mindful!


Is that it? Do you know where you are going? How to get there? What About ...

  • Maps – Knowing the road ahead always helps keep things calm

  • Compass – East, West, North or South. Where is that mountain?

  • A Bible – Meditation leads to order and calm

If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? Not knowing brings anxiety and chaos. It is only when we walk with God, finding the peace that surpasses understanding that we truly find calm.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail!


Wow, that’s a lot of stuff! Do you really NEED it all. YES!


By planning, faith, encouragement, and perseverance, now you are ready to conquer that peak. What do you find? The NEW YOU!


“But those who trust the LORD will find new strength.

They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings;

they will walk and run without getting tired.”

- Isaiah 40:30 CEV

The 7 Needs


“God Blesses Us Not for Ourselves, God Blesses Us so that We May Bless Others!”

- Pastor Rowdy Van Horn


It seems like decades since Pastor Rowdy Van Horn first spoke those words at my church. That simple understanding back in 2016 changed my life forever, helping me to recognize the power of helping others. Pastor Rowdy talked about what was at the heart of our desire to help, recognition of others or serving others? From that day forward, my focus has been to help others whenever possible.


The other day, sitting in a bible study class discussing the Seven Mountain Strategy in the body of Christ, it occurred to me that this powerful strategy seemed to be more of a group strategy, than a plan focusing on helping individuals. We were learning that as Christian’s we should resist playing “hide and Seek”; you know, hiding in our sanctuaries from the things of the World while we seek God.


In our discussion, the strategy reminded me of a tactical move you might see in a movie about Patton or the armies of Judah. This realization took me back to my corporate mountain climbing days when we were focused solely on our competition and how to “take them down”. Focusing on tearing something down never worked for me. It was only when we were building something or someone up that we found victory.


Thinking about helping individuals climb the Seven Mountains took my thoughts back to Pastor Rowdy's message explaining the power of helping others. This message was one of a seven-part series he called the “I Needs”.


The series was loosly based on the teachings of the American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, who created “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs”, the theory of psychological health centered on satisfying instinctive human needs in order of importance, culminating in self-actualization. Pastor Rowdy had taken Maslow’s five basic human needs and added two Christian steps. order and sanctification. The key takeaway for understanding these basic needs, is if the first one has not been met, the rest don’t matter, the steps are ordered and each one must be met before proceeding.

Over the years, it was these messages that God used to form my steps with Him.


As my path with God led me to help others in their recovery from abuse, addiction, and the ravages of self-inflicted hurt like rage, dependency and lust, God showed me the power of Pastor Rowdy’s teaching.


While we all want everyone to be righteous (right with God), it’s not that easy if you don’t have food to eat, water to drink or air to breath. Just like that mountain climber, if our basic needs are not met, who cares about the mountain!


God’s Universal Law of Empowerment


It is usually the small things we do that are a real blessing. Something as simple as a smile can make someone’s day. Too often we think we need to do something grand to help. Is that desire for grandeur driven by someone else’s needs or our longing to be noticed?


“Even through such simple acts as telling the truth, being kind,

and encouraging others, we bring a smile to God's face.”

- Rick Warren


Think about the last time someone did something kind for you. Was it epic? Did the ground shake, clouds open and choirs sing? Probably not. For me, it is usually a kind word, a gesture as simple as a pat on the back or a smile. So, it is with encouragement, we help others with loving words that help them to see who God wants them to be.


Don’t we climb mountains one step at a time? With every step, our confidence grows, and we are emboldened to take another step. Positive, empowering affirmation of someone’s strengths builds their confidence. Over time, it is that confidence that empowers us to climb that mountain!


Isn’t it up to those that made it to the top to reach back and help someone else climb the mountain? How does that work? Is it as simple as telling others how we did it? No. If all we needed to do is to instruct others in the how’s, the mountain tops would be covered in educated Christian warriors.


God made each one of us unique, with our own strengths and weaknesses. With that, the only way someone can help us, is to first understand our needs. Encouraging us at the level we need encouragement. What works for others doesn’t always work for us.


When you have success, look back for those who might be struggling. When you see the struggle, don’t assume you know what is wrong. If my years helping others in recovery have taught me anything, it is that people who are hurting are really good at hiding the hurt. They might be crying on the outside, and when you ask what’s wrong, they might even tell you something. Chances are that what they tell you is NOT what is wrong. Most times, they don’t know themselves.


For me, the seven needs have become a guidebook for helping others up the mountain. It usually starts with the first questions, “How’s it going? Do you need anything?” Their answer will not always be accurate. That is when we need to dig deeper with empathy, not condemnation.


Just as Christ Jesus taught His disciples the last time they shared food, we must first learn how to be a servant of others. Being a servant of others starts with understanding their individual needs and where they are on the mountain.


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