Christian Book Club

Book Review: Gotta Have It!

by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, Review by Donna Totey


I love the line on the back of this book, “Tame your inner two-year-old.” To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to pick up this book and tame that inner two-year-old! I somehow knew that this book would change the way I look at my habits. Especially when I read the subtitle, Freedom from wanting everything right here, right now. There’s a kind of comfort in holding onto our emotional security blankets and I was reluctant to give mine up.

Dr. Jantz describes all the things that we never get enough of–an activity, food, behavior–as “excessities.” As a reward for ourselves, these things make us feel better, at least temporarily. For many of us, life can be hard and excessities can surely ease the discomforts of a rough day or a strained relationship. But the problem is that it masks our real need, the true comfort of a close relationship with God.

The first section of Gotta Have It! describes the “Power of Wants.” In most of us, we often confuse needs with wants. Dr. Jantz states that “once a desire has been categorized as a need, we’re pretty resourceful at finding a way to fill it–even when our methods are addictive, damaging, or hurtful.” We also feel we have a “right” to fill that need.

Dr. Jantz lists some things in our lives that can be “excessities.” The list surprised me. Of course I expected things like alcohol and drugs, maybe even food to be on the list. But caffeine! Then there’s electronics (ouch!), shopping, work, hobbies, among others.

Just when I was about to lose heart, Section Two lists what our real needs are. Dr. Jantz gently leads the reader through some of our major needs–comfort, reassurance, security, validation and control. I think anyone can identify with one or more of these needs. To pinpoint your specific needs is the first step in overcoming your love of and reliance on your excessities.

Then he finishes by pointing to God and all the things He can provide for us that help us lean on Him and not on excessities. Things like patience, endurance, contentment and many others. Dr. Jantz explains that our true fulfilment can only come from our relationship with God. We need to seek him to fill our true needs.

Possibly the best parts of this book are the “Planting Seeds” sections at the end of each chapter. The questions in these sections help the reader look at his or her own life and work through the principles described in each chapter. I felt that these sections led me through the process of examining my excessities, my needs and the different personal ways God can provide for me.

When I finished the book, I realized that the whole process wasn’t painful like I thought it would be! Instead of reluctantly letting go of my emotional security blankets, I felt excited to embrace the freedom God provides for us from our excessities. Dr. Jantz is so gentle and understanding in his explanations that he made it really easy to look at myself.

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