I once heard it said that “security is perhaps the greatest of all human longings.” At first, I balked at this statement thinking that love was the greatest of all human longings. But having contemplated this topic more in depth, I’ve concluded that being loved brings us security, meaning that security is the underlying longing. Not only do I believe it is the underlying longing behind love, but I believe it is the underlying longing behind most, if not all, of what we do.
If you’ve read some of my articles, then you know that I’ve made the claim that the motivation behind everything we do is the achievement of happiness. You may be wondering how this claim meshes with my new claim that the longing for security is the underlying motivator behind everything we do. Here’s my answer: The drive for security and happiness are one in the same drive. When we feel secure, we feel happy; when we feel happy, we feel secure.
In a previous article titled The Biggest Hindrance to Your Happiness, I claimed that the greatest barrier to our happiness is settling for something temporary when we’ve been offered something eternal. One of the ways in which we settle for something temporary is when we put our trust in things which aren’t bulletproof. In other words, we settle for finding security in people and things which, given a certain set of circumstances, may come through for us, but given a different set of circumstances, they will fail us.
In this article, I’ll be sharing five of the places where Americans attempt to find security and then I’ll share the place where I’ve been attempting to find security based upon my successes and failures chasing these other five things.
Since money is the biggest form of currency in this country, many Americans attempt to find security in stockpiling lots of money. Having lots of money can give us a feeling of security because we have hope that its purchasing power will enable us to meet our needs.
How much security does money really offer us? When the government is stable and the economy is going well, money offers us a pretty good amount of security. But what would happen if the government collapsed? Our pieces of paper that say $10 and $20 on them would be absolutely worthless. Even if all our currency was distributed in gold and silver coins, those coins are only worth something because someone ascribed valued to them. Think about it…gold, silver, bronze, copper, and platinum are nothing more than rocks someone pulled out the ground. They only have value because they are in high demand. If people no longer cared to obtain those rocks, then they’d no longer be valuable.
If money’s not the answer, then what is the answer? Is it to buy a bunch of stuff with all the money we have? Let’s take a look.
2. Material Possessions
A great way to diversify your portfolio is to trade some of your money, which is all one currency, for material possessions which are a diversity of currencies. If the government collapses and your money becomes worthless, then maybe some of your stuff might be worth something. Maybe it would bring you more security than your money.
The level of security your material possessions bring depends on its usefulness to you and other people. For example, if you have a vehicle which is powered by gasoline, but you can’t buy gasoline to run it, then it’s going to be completely useless. Or if you have a house with a leaky roof, then it’s going to be pretty useless. Once again, the only reason your stuff has any value is because you and other people have ascribed value to it. Things aren’t ascribed value simply because they’re valuable; they’re ascribed value because someone is willing to trade a certain amount of currency for them.
Under certain circumstances, material possessions can provide us with security. But when faced with a different set of circumstances, they will inevitably fail us.
Another place many Americans find security is in their jobs. They wake up every morning with no concerns about whether they’re going to be able to work that day. And as a result, they continue to see and expect a consistent paycheck to hit their bank accounts every two weeks.
But what happens when we have a JC Penny or Sears episode on our hands? How secure do you think employees of these two retail stores are feeling right now? As long as everything is going well for the company you work for, you’ll find security in your job. But when the circumstances change and it appears you may not have a job tomorrow, you’re going to find much less security in your job.
4. Other People
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t care what other people think about them, at least to some degree. When our relationships are going well, we can find a lot of security in what other people think about us.
But what happens when even just one person out of your entire social network says something hurtful to you. Don’t you feel like everyone hates you? You may receive 1,000 compliments from other people, but those compliments only provide you security as long as you don’t receive any criticism. Even just one piece of criticism or one bad relationship can completely rock your world.
Once again, this place of finding security is going to fail us because all humans are sinful and therefore will hurt us from time to time.
5. Personal Skill Sets
Many people, especially guys, are guilty of finding security in their abilities. It’s not always as overt as finding security in how much weight they can bench press, but that’s a great example of a place where people may find security. Some people find it in how much weight they can lift while others find it in their carpentry skills, project management skills, athletic skills, or knowledge retention skills.
Our skills don’t fail us as long as we remain young and healthy. But what happens as we get older and lose the ability to bench press hundreds of pounds? Or what happens if we get hurt? All of a sudden we lose the security we found in our skills because we either no longer have them or we can no longer utilize them in the same capacity.
Our skills may be working for us now, but inevitably, we’re going to lose the ability to do all the things we do. If we live long enough, we’re probably going to be pretty useless when it comes to doing much of anything.
Where I’m Learning to Find My Security
The problem we face with attempting to find security in all these things, as well as a host of other things in this world, is that they’re all going to fail us at one point or another. There’s no silver bullet answer for us…or is there?
I’ve been down the path of trying to find security in all five of the areas I mentioned above. As long as I had those things, I felt secure. But there have been times when I’ve lost those things. Where was I to put my trust at that point? Was I to put it in more of the same stuff?
Personally, I have found so much more security in God than I’ve found in any of the things he’s created. According to the Bible, which I believe to be God’s means of communicating with us, he reminds us that birds don’t sow, reap, or stockpile any food, yet he meets their needs every single day. After giving us this reminder, he then proceeds to ask: Are you not more valuable to him than them?
Finding security in God is different than finding security in any of the stuff he has created because he will never fail us. Certainly there will be times where we don’t get what we want. We may lose all our money. We may lose all our stuff. We may lose our jobs. We may be rejected by other people. And we will get old one day. But that doesn’t mean God is failing us. Maybe in the midst of all the pain we experience in losing those things, God is trying to show us that those things can’t give us the security for which we long. But instead, when we place our trust in him, our longing, hungry souls will be satisfied.
I recognize it takes a lot of faith to put our trust in God, especially since we can’t even see him and don’t have sufficient evidence to claim with 100 percent confidence he exists. However, I’d argue that it takes just as much, if not more, faith to put our trust in all of his created stuff, since we know it will fail us, than it does to put our trust in him. I’d encourage you to stew on that thought for a little while.
Do you attempt to find security in any of the five things I’ve presented in this article? What other things do you or the people around you look to in an attempt to find security? Have you found any other bulletproof answers?
 John N. Oswalt, The Bible among the Myths (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), location 676, Kindle eBook.
 For a lengthier discussion on this topic, see Jon Acuff, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Do Work That Matters (Brentwood, TN: Lampo Press, 2013), 153.
 See Matthew 6:25-34.