Teens are surrounded by decisions at seemingly every turn and those decisions seem to come with higher and higher consequences.
The world that teenagers live in can be incredibly unforgiving and decisions that seem of little importance to a youth can turn out to have life changing results.
As a young person, I made a ton of stupid decisions:
- At 12 years old, I drank half a bottle of liquor, passed out on my friends’ front yard, and had to go to the ER.
- When I had my driving permit at 14 years old, my mom let me drive a friend home who didn’t have a permit or license. She totalled my mom’s Toyota Corolla. We then lied about what happened saying that I was driving and another car ran us off the road.
- I got 22 traffic/speeding tickets from the age of 18-22 years old (at the cost of thousands of dollars).
- On a number of occasions (2-3 times), I didn’t pay the speeding ticket, a warrant was posted for my arrest, and as a result I went to jail. Spending the night in jail is a horrible experience.
- I had sex multiple times with multiple partners before getting married.
Oh it feels so strange being so vulnerable. It’s really nerve wracking publicly sharing my failures for the world to see.
But I’m not perfect. I made a lot of really bad decisions when I was young. And the ones I shared with you are just the short list. I could keep going.
I’ve got three kids of my own – ages 15, 13 and 11. They make better decisions than I did when I was their age. Something I can only give God the credit for. I didn’t come into a relationship with Jesus until I was 19. Maybe if I did earlier, some of those decisions would have been different.
For the most part, I am open and honest with my kids about the stupid decisions I made when I was young. I think that’s important. I want them to know I didn’t have it all together (and still don’t). The most important thing I can do is rely on God for wisdom.
As you begin preparing this lesson with the students in your ministry, you might want to share some of the bad decisions you made as a teenager. Talk about the consequences of those decisions. Students need to know you’re not perfect too.
You might also want to share some of the good decisions you made with God’s guidance, and the consequences of those decisions.
The more vulnerable and open you are…the more real this lesson will be for your students.
– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON DECISIONS
Written by Tiffany Hollums
Bible: Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Message
Bottom Line: Let God guide you in making tough decisions: you don’t have to walk alone.
Signs posted on the wall saying “Count me in”, “No way” and “Meh”.
OPENING GAME: MEH
In a Game Announcer voice, say: This is the game of tough choices and not so tough choices.
This is the game of ‘Meh’.
‘Meh’ is a word that is “used when one simply does not care”.
Today, I will read off some decisions and you will go to the sign that matches how you would feel about this decision.
“Stand up in the cafeteria and sing the ABC song.”
“Drink milk that has been left out for a week.”
“The store is running a buy one, get one free on hair color: want to dye your hair bright pink?”
“Test every flavor of baby food in the store.”
“Run through a field of thorn bushes.”
“Wear your dad’s clothes for a week.”
Come up on your own other examples of embarrassing decisions for this game.
Share a story from your own life in which a small decision you made as a teenager had big consequences—try to think of a funny and light story if you have one.
We make tons of decisions every single day.
Hopefully, none of them are as silly as the ones that were in our game today, but your lives are full of decisions aren’t they?
What are some of the decisions that you’ve had to make the past year?
Give the youth time to answer.
Here’s the crazy thing about this time in your lives: do you know how many adults look back at decisions that they made when they were your age that they think – “Wow, that was stupid” or “I wish that I hadn’t done that”?
Some of these make great stories, but there are some decisions that stick with us.
Share another example from your life (or someone you know) of decisions that you made that you didn’t realize the full consequences of the decision until it was too late.
Here is a little secret: sometimes when your parents or the adults in your life freak out about decisions that you have made or worry about decisions that you might make, sometimes it is because they have lived that…they’ve ‘got the t-shirt’ of that decision and they love you and don’t want you to make the same decision.
What is the answer?
How do you know what decisions to make or not make?
Ask someone to read Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Message:
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.”
God wants to help us make decisions.
And it starts when we walk with him in making the small decisions.
Do you tell the truth even if it I hurts or do you tell a small lie?
Do you speak the truth or do you act like you didn’t see it?
It is the small decisions that really do matter.
It’s in that picture that you send on Snapchat or the post that you write.
It’s in the ways that you treat others when you don’t think anyone is looking or seeing.
But here is the truth: You see. You hear. You know.
And God does.
See, making your paths straight means walking with God when the roads are easy, because as the decisions get tougher, which they will, He is right there with you.
And when there are those times that you don’t know what to do: He is there with you too.
Think about the decisions that you might be facing today: maybe you are wondering if you should hang out with certain people or choose one way or another.
Ask God to help you to know what you should do.
Share about how you listen for God’s guidance in making decisions or an example of a time in which God helped you to make a decision.
I wish that I could give you “The 3 Steps to Hearing God’s voice” but honestly, it is about listening and seeing if you sense God leading.
Here is the one thing that I can tell you: God won’t lead you to make a decision that goes against who you know God to be.
He won’t lead you to be dishonest or unkind.
God’s path is straight.
Now don’t hear me saying that God’s path is easy, because sometimes God’s way is really tough.
It can be lonely.
But what I do know is that when you walk with God: you are not alone.
God is with you.
And once you make one decisions with God, hearing the next time is usually clearer.
Take a moment to think about a decision that you are facing.
Ask God right now to guide you.
To help you to know what His path is and to guide you.
God doesn’t expect you to have all the answers….the scripture today even says not to trust in your own understanding.
Ask God for his wisdom.
And then honestly ask yourself: What would it look like to listen for God’s voice in all you do?
Keep your ears, eyes, and heart open.
God never meant for us to try to do life all on our own.
Walk with God.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What are some of the tough decisions that teenagers have to make?
What are some of the consequences you have seen from others’ decisions?
Share about a time that you made a decision that had tough consequences.
Give each person a chance to share a decision that they need the group to pray with them about.
How does it make you feel to know that God never meant for us to walk alone or on our own strength?