How The Hierarchy Of Needs Shift During A Pandemic, with Dr. Derwin Gray

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

When people’s lives are upended, it has a tendency to shift their focus of priorities. It turns out that there’s one crucial thing that can bring fulfillment despite one’s circumstances. In the final episode of a series with NFL player, pastor, and author Dr. Derwin Gray, he and the Amens discuss where to bring your attention in a time of crisis.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back everyone. We're just having this great conversation with our friend-
Tana Amen: [inaudible 00:00:56].
Dr Daniel Amen: ... Pastor Derwin Gray, former NFL player. He has written a number of books, has a new book, The Good Life, coming out June 2nd. We just feel like he's ministering to us and we're grateful to share it with you. I was thinking during the last episode about Maslow's hierarchy of needs in a pandemic that the first need is safety and it's food and shelter.
Tana Amen: Shelter.
Dr Daniel Amen: And so many people are feeling the foundation of their psychological security threatened. But they don't know that the time Maslow was writing his hierarchy of needs, that Viktor Frankl was working on something called logotherapy, which is basically meaning and purpose. Viktor Frankl ended up in a Nazi concentration camp and he found that even when people did not have their basic-
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:02:13].
Dr Daniel Amen: ... security needs met, it wasn't safe, they didn't have food, they didn't have clothing, that if they had purpose, if there was some deep meaning in their life that typically involved other people, that they were more likely to survive and thrive than the people who had lost meaning.
Tana Amen: Purposeful people live an average of 11 years longer anyways.
Dr Daniel Amen: How do you see that, Derwin, play out in your ministry?
Pr Derwin Gray: This reminds me of Matthew chapter six verses 21 through 34 when Jesus is saying, "Look at the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, God provides for them." Life is more than just food, water, and clothing. And yes, food is important, water's important, clothing is important, but I think there's a double beautiful meaning in that because in verse 33 Jesus says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and all his righteousness and these things will be added to you." So think about this. Life, food, water, clothes, Jesus is the bread of life. He's the living water and he will clothe you in your robes of righteousness. So Jesus himself is the one who meets the need so that we can participate in his purpose.
Pr Derwin Gray: And I do agree with Dr. Frankl in that there's something about purpose, and when you have purpose, it's like gravity. It pulls you back. It pulls you through. Gravity, as you guys know, when you jump, you come back. So purpose in the midst of whatever circumstances going on, brings you back. What greater purpose could there be than this? Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. And the beautiful thing about that purpose that Jesus communicated is that that can happen anytime, anywhere, through any type of context. And so what we do is we build our lives on achieving accomplishment and this and that, and that's why in my realm of the NFL, when a lot of guys get done playing, they feel like their purpose is done because they thought their purpose was to play football.
Pr Derwin Gray: No, that's what you do. That's not your purpose. Purpose is bigger than simply doing something to get a paycheck or win a ring. The purpose is how do I leverage my life so that others can love God so that I can love my neighbor as I love myself. Purpose is how do I make someone else's life better as a result of mine?
Dr Daniel Amen: During this really hard time, loneliness is a monster issue and many people don't know that loneliness is actually a risk factor for dementia. It's a risk factor for depression. It's a risk factor for suicide. I think that church can play a huge role. I'm friends with Pastor Miles McPherson, who's the senior pastor and founder of the Rock, also another NFL player. And he said they're just busier now. And they've been, and you had told us that online attendance has gone up 400%, which totally makes sense. So two questions, how can the church better serve people during the pandemic? Because this isn't just going away. And how can people lean into their churches to get the support they need?
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:06:31] and how can some of us lean in better to give more support?
Pr Derwin Gray: Yeah, totally. So the first thing that I would say is not only has our online viewership grown, but our online small groups have grown like [crosstalk 00:06:48] small groups are exploding.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Pr Derwin Gray: People want to connect. And then a lot of times... so think about this. To go to a small group at someone's house, you got to get in a car. So let's say you're a mom and you've worked, you're single and you got kids. And then, okay, so I want to go to a small group-
Dr Daniel Amen: I'm not single.
Tana Amen: No, no, no. My reason for not getting involved in a regular Bible study has been because it's so difficult to get the homework, the food, all these things together. It's on my to do list and I can't seem to get to it.
Pr Derwin Gray: And so what we found, and this was even before the pandemic, is that people are willing to have community like this. Now it's not the full thing, but it's something and there are ways to enhance that. But even before the pandemic, community was very important to us, the church is not a weekend rock show with a guy or girl who speaks well. Church is a family that's [crosstalk 00:08:01]. And so we want to be that type of community, but it's also important that people trust God and learn how to build relationships and community. But our Zoom groups are just flourishing and growing.
Dr Daniel Amen: That's really awesome. We're going to have to stop in just a minute. But if you had one word of encouragement for the people listening, what might that be? And again, they can find out about the new book at And I just encourage, and they can also attend services online at
Pr Derwin Gray: Correct. Yep. We do livestream every Sunday. We've got YouTube, Roku, Apple channel, Facebook. You can find us for sure. For sure. And we would love to have you view. You know doc, what I would say is this by way of [inaudible 00:09:13]. All of us are taking, quote unquote, 'a test', let's just call it the ACT test. And we have to score perfect to enter into the life experience that we want. Well, all of us take the tests and we all fell miserably. We feel like we're not enough. We feel like we're unworthy, we feel like it's over. But Jesus comes to take the test for us. He lives a sinless, perfect life because we couldn't, he dies for us on a cross for our sins and he rises again so that we actually can share his life, and from all eternity Jesus is our enough.
Pr Derwin Gray: It's true I'm not enough, but Jesus is my enough. So it's okay. And the more I think about him being enough, the more I'm changed. So when I get off of pre... When I occupy my mind with him being enough for me instead of me not being enough, it's amazing how my life flourishes, how I experience the good life and happiness. That I can say, "You know what, I'm not enough. But Jesus is my enough and the more I see that he's my enough, the healthier I become."
Tana Amen: I agree completely.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, thank you so much my friend. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Pr Derwin Gray: Yes, I love you guys. You guys are awesome and I appreciate your years of counsel and just your friendship. And Tana, I look forward to getting your new book. I want an autograph copy.
Tana Amen: Well, I would love to have you read it and tell me what you think if you don't mind.
Pr Derwin Gray: I would love to do that.
Tana Amen: Awesome.
Pr Derwin Gray: I would love to.
Tana Amen: And I just have to tell you, I'm so glad you didn't listen to the nonsense about how you should not be up speaking because you are an amazing speaker. You are compelling and you're motivating.
Pr Derwin Gray: Thank you.
Dr Daniel Amen: And I think you and I are talking on Friday.
Pr Derwin Gray: Yes. We're.
Dr Daniel Amen: We're talking on something for the church. So I'll see you then and I look forward to it.
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