We live in a world where a good deed is the perfect photo op for our next Instagram or Facebook post.
This promotes serving others while at the same time asking, “What’s in it for me?”
Jesus’ life was completely counter-culture to this idea – he taught “the greatest honor and authority is reserved for the one with the heart of a servant.”
Use this free lesson, based on Matthew 20:25-28, to teach preteens that as they love and serve God, they will love and serve others.
– Nick Diliberto
PRETEEN MINISTRY LESSON ON SERVING OTHERS
Bible: Matthew 20:25-28; Matthew 23:11-12 (NLT)
Bottom Line: As we love and serve God, we will love and serve others.
- Pack of 100 popsicle sticks
- 2 quart-sized mason jars (no lid)
- Pen and paper (one per team)
- Painter’s tape
OPENING GAME: WORD DROP
Divide students into two teams of equal size and have them form single file lines.
Use painter’s tape to create a line on the floor in front of both teams.
Place a mason jar on the line in front of each team.
Use a Sharpie to write the letters of the alphabet, one on each popsicle stick, twice.
You will need two sets of “alphabet popsicle sticks.”
Give one set of alphabet popsicle sticks to each team.
Each team will distribute the sticks to the members of their team until they have all been handed out – it doesn’t matter how many each person is holding.
Also, give each team a piece of paper and a pen.
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
Ask: Raise your hand if you have ever played Words with Friends, Scrabble, or any other type of word game.
We’re about to find out how many of you are good at making words out of a bunch of random letters.
When I say GO, you will take turns, one-at-a-time stepping up to your team’s jar, holding a popsicle stick at your nose, and trying to drop it into your jar.
If the popsicle stick falls on the floor, then you can’t use it for the rest of the game.
Every popsicle stick you drop into your jar becomes a letter you can use for the next portion of the game.
Next, each team will take their team’s popsicle sticks out of their jar, grab their pen and paper and get in a huddle.
You will have two minutes to make as many words as possible from your lettered sticks and write them down.
You can create 2-letter words, names, places, abbreviations – any word you can make using your popsicle sticks.
You can only use the letters that you have on the sticks, and you can’t double any of the letters.
At the end of the two minutes, have each team count their words – you can also have each team read them out loud to decide if they are valid.
The team with the most words – WINS!
You did a great job doing what I asked you to do in our game – awesome!
Ask: Have you ever been asked to do something, by a parent, teacher, or friend, and the first you think is – What’s in it for me? Give me an example.
Allow a few responses from students.
Here’s an example that maybe you can relate to:
Your mom gives you a few chores to do: take out the trash, clean up your room, wash the dishes, etc.
So, you wonder – will she pay me to do this? I wonder if she will let me download that game I’ve wanted?
It’s almost like we are willing to help others if they will do something for us.
Today, we’re talking about the opposite of that attitude – we’re talking about serving others.
Serving is not about what people can do for you; it’s all about what you can do for others.
It demonstrates humility and putting other’s needs above your own.
And it doesn’t require any special talents or abilities.
Each of us has something we can give to others.
Serving others can be as simple as holding the door open for someone or cleaning up a mess that someone else has made.
Serving can take a little more effort – like giving up your time to help someone move or handing out food in a homeless shelter.
Sometimes people give and serve “seasonally.”
Think about this: how many people buy toys and gifts for children at Christmastime, but don’t give any other time of the year?
And sometimes people serve others when people join together as a community – for example when a neighborhood family’s house burns down, and they lose everything, often everyone will pitch in and help in their time of need.
But, the elderly woman who needs someone to mow her yard is just as important.
The point is everyone can and should serve each other.
Jesus demonstrated the importance of serving others while he was on the earth – in fact, it’s the reason he came in the first place.
Read Matthew 20:25-28.
“Kings and those with great authority in this world rule oppressively over their subjects, like tyrants. But this is not your calling. You will lead by a completely different model.
The greatest one among you will live as the one who is called to serve others because the greatest honor and authority is reserved for the one with the heart of a servant.
For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served by everyone, but to serve everyone, and to give his life in exchange for the salvation of many.”
In the world, the lesser serves the greater.
People who are wealthy hire others to wait on them and do things they don’t want to do or think they should have to do because they can afford not to do it.
Sometimes, those who have money or power treat people who only have a little like they are better than them.
But, here’s what the Bible says.
Read Matthew 23:11-12.
The greatest among you must be a servant.
But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
I believe the real test of whether we are servants is that we don’t mind being treated like servants.
It’s easy to serve others when they treat us nice, but what about serving others who are not appreciative or don’t care about your time or effort.
In a world where people snap pictures of good deeds to “inspire” others on social media, God is asking us to serve others just because we love and serve him.
Jesus didn’t pitch in to look good.
He didn’t serve people because he was looking for the perfect Facebook pic to post.
He served others because it was the core of who he was.
As we love God and serve Him, we will love and serve others – they go hand in hand.
It’s impossible to love God, but dislike others.
Or serve God, but not have a desire to help those all around you.
This week I want to encourage you to look for opportunities to serve each other.
Whether you ever get recognition or praise from others, serve because you love God and you serve him.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Is it easier for you to be kind and serve those you know (like family and friends) or total strangers? Why?
- Do you think it’s a part of our human nature to want to do things for others?
- How did Jesus demonstrate a servant’s heart in how he interacted with others?
- Tell me about someone in your life who serves other people with a selfless attitude. What motivates them to act that way? (Is it their love for God? A personal mission or feeling of responsibility?)
- Why do people do acts of service to get recognition? What is the reward for doing things to get credit?
- How would the world change if people cared more about others than for themselves?
- Think of one way you can serve other people by using your gifts and talents. Share it with the group.
- How can you encourage and lead those around you to live less selflessly and care more about others?
- How do loving God and loving others go together? Can you do one without the other?
- As a group, brainstorm ideas of how you can serve within the church. How can you serve the community?