Here’s a free youth group Bible lesson on the power of words, based on Proverbs 18:21; James 1:19; Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 16:24

The lesson’s big idea: Your words hold the power of life or death. 

Includes a fun upfront game to open up the lesson.


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Bible Verses: Proverbs 18:21; James 1:19; Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 16:24

Bottom Line: Your words hold the power of life or death.


Game Supplies:

  • 3 Tubes of toothpaste
  • Paper plates
  • Assorted tools (such as spoons, toothpicks, butter knives, funnel, etc)

Game Setup: None 

How to Play the Game: 

Call up three volunteers and hand each one a paper plate and a tube of toothpaste. The game’s objective is to see who can squeeze out all the toothpaste in their tube the fastest. But wait! Once they’ve finished squeezing it all out, tell them there’s more. They must see who can stuff all the toothpaste back into the tube the fastest. Prepare for a mess. Encourage the rest of the students to cheer the others on. 


  • Which of these tasks was easier: squeezing out the toothpaste or putting it back in? Why?
  • Were you able to get every bit of the toothpaste back into your tube?

Of course not. 

Our words are just like this. 


Let’s talk briefly about the game we just played. 

Squeezing out a tube of toothpaste is a silly, fun, and messy game. 

But I want that tube of toothpaste to represent something bigger to you. 

That tube of toothpaste represents the words that we speak. 

It’s easy to speak words. 

Did you know it’s estimated that people speak up to 16,000 words per day on average?

I’m sure we all know people who can double or triple that! 

On average, people speak around 150 words per minute when conversing.

We are created to communicate. 

People speak in a variety of ways. 

They speak with their mouth. 

They speak with their fingers by typing out text messages or letters. 

They speak with their body language in the ways they roll their eyes or shrug their shoulders. 

And they can even speak with their hands through sign language. 

It’s easy to have something to say. 

We all have an opinion. 

We all have thoughts. 

We all have something we want to tell another person. 

Our words flow out easily, like how simple it is to squeeze out an entire tube of toothpaste. 

But how much harder is it to take back the words we wish we hadn’t said?

It’s like trying to stuff that icky, messy toothpaste back into the tube it came out of. 

It’s nearly impossible. 

And even if you can get some of the toothpaste back into the tube methodically, there’s absolutely no way you can get it all back in there.

Our words are like that, too. 

Once they’re spoken, there is absolutely no way to take them back. 

Proverbs 18:21 has this strong reminder for us:

21 The tongue can bring death or life;
    those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

Our tongues are powerful. The words that we speak can bring death or life to someone. 

Have you ever taken the time to consider what that means? 

Every word that you say impacts someone’s life in some way. 

It either tears their heart apart with the damage you’ve said or builds their heart back together with encouragement.

A careless word spoken in gossip, anger, or frustration can easily become the thing someone never forgets. 

You know that because we all have had those words spoken to us by someone else, and it’s so difficult to forget them. 

So, what do we do about our mouths? 

Here are a few thoughts…

1. Think before you speak.

Anger, frustration, and hurt all cause our tongues to be quick to interject into the conversation exactly how we’re feeling or what we’re thinking. 

Situations that trigger those emotions can be overwhelming, and we can feel the need to respond quickly through our words.

James 1:19 has this caution for us:

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

This is a challenging instruction. 

I don’t know about you, but I often think about what I plan to respond or say, even before the other person finishes talking!

Being quick to talk is human nature. 

Being quick to listen takes work and patience. 

You won’t achieve this skill overnight, but it is important to strive towards it.

Before you speak, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Why do I want to say this? 
  • What do I hope to accomplish by saying this? 
  • Will these words encourage someone’s heart, or will they rip it apart? 
  • Are these words I will be glad I squeezed out like toothpaste? 
  • Or will I regret them, having to try and scramble to stuff all the toothpaste back into the tube?

If you’re having a moment of intense emotion—maybe anger, frustration, or sadness—take a moment away.

Excuse yourself from the room or conversation and do something to calm your emotions. 

Maybe it’s taking a walk, listening to some music, praying, talking to God, or journaling. 

Once you’ve had a moment to process why you feel a certain way, return to the conversation to speak.

Understanding why you’re feeling the way you do before spewing ugly words from your mouth that will only cause more hurt and anger is important.

Proverbs 15:1 says this:

A gentle answer deflects anger,
    but harsh words make tempers flare.

Take time to think about how you can respond before you speak. 

2. Encourage and uplift others with your words.

Your words can be used to encourage and uplift others.

Read Proverbs 16:24

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Imagine that – our words can be like honey, bringing sweetness and healing to others. 

This is a powerful reminder of the positive force our words can be.

Think about the last time someone spoke encouraging words to you. 

How did it make you feel? 

Now, think about the last time you encouraged someone else. 

The ripple effect of positive words can be astounding. Our speech has the power to uplift, inspire, and bring hope.

As you go about your week, remember that your words carry weight.

In a world that sometimes feels heavy, let’s be the light through the words we speak.

Encourage one another, build each other up, and let’s create an atmosphere of positivity that reflects the love of Christ.

3. Take time to apologize. 

Inevitably, we will all say things that we wish we hadn’t. 

Inevitably, we will all spew anger from our mouths, and we will regret the words we spoke. 

I’m sure right now, every single one of you in this room can think of a time when you said something you still regret to this day. 

I want you to think of the person you said those words to, or maybe it was someone you said words about behind their back. 

Picture them in your mind. 

After you’ve pictured them and thought about what you’ve said that hurt them, I have one question for you.

What will you do about it? 

We’ve already figured out that once words are out of our mouths, it’s impossible to stuff them back in and erase them completely. 

But there are things we can do to make amends.

Now, it’s important to talk about the people you spoke mean words to, but you feel like they deserved it. 

We all have people in our lives who have hurt us, and we’ve reacted by trying to hurt them back.

This isn’t easy to hear, but it’s important to remember that just because someone’s words have hurt us, it does not give us the excuse or the right to hurt someone back. 

That’s so hard when we’re thinking about someone who is our enemy and has broken our hearts with the things they’ve said.

But just because they bled on you from their own wounds doesn’t mean your wounds must bleed back on them or anyone else. 

Now understand that I’m not saying you must make amends with this person and become their best friend. 

In some cases, that’s not a healthy situation. 

However, taking the time to say, “I’m sorry,” can remove that weight of guilt from your own heart and shoulders. 

So, how can you make amends today?

It could be as simple as going to someone you love whom you know you’ve hurt and saying, “I’m sorry for how I treated you and the things I’ve said.” 

And then make conscious efforts not to speak like that again.

None of us are perfect, and we’ll all continue to make mistakes, but true repentance is about changed behavior, not just a quick “I’m sorry.”

It could be about sending a text or letter to someone you hurt who you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Or it’s about going to the person you shared gossip with, sharing things you know you shouldn’t have about someone else, and apologizing for doing so.

Explain to them that it was not fair or right for you to say such mean things about someone behind their back. 

Whatever it looks like for you today, how will you make amends?

Surround yourself with people who you know will challenge you with what you say.

If you constantly surround yourself with friends who are quick to gossip and lie about others, make fun of others, or even bully others, you will find that those things become habits in your life as well.

Think of someone that you know who tends to be on the quieter side. 

Maybe they don’t participate in gossip conversations at school or in youth group. 

Think of ways you could spend time with them this week and invest in a relationship with them.

Or maybe you can’t think of anyone, and that’s okay, too. 

Spend time praying and asking God to bring people into your life who will challenge you to speak words of life, not of death. 

Maybe you can find a mentor who will check in and ask you how you’ve been doing with your words. 

Maybe there’s even a friend in your life now who you can challenge together to speak words of life, not death. 

If you have a best friend, and the two of you struggle with gossiping or speaking badly of others, flip the script and begin to challenge one another to speak life instead.

You could pick other topics of conversation to discuss. 

You could set boundaries on the topics you approach together. 

Challenge and encourage each other to become people who think before speaking and share Jesus in their words.

4. Finally, watch what goes into your mind.

The things that go in will inevitably always come out, whether you realize it or not. 

If you spend a lot of time watching TV shows or movies where characters cuss or speak in anger, those phrases and lines will stay inside your head and heart, and in a moment of anger yourself, they will come out. 

I know there have been so many times in my own life where I have said something shocking and been like, “Where did that come from?!” 

I realized it was an influence of something I’d watched or listened to.

What kind of music are you listening to? 

Our minds hold this incredible ability to memorize thousands of song lyrics at any given time. 

What are the words you are filling your mind with every day? 

If they are explicit, curse words that drag people down, those are the kinds of things that will eventually begin pouring out of your own mouth. 

Watch the things you are pouring into your mind. 

Evaluate the books, movies, music, and social media you are filling your heart and mind with. 

It may be time for a change.

Maybe it’s time to start listening to worship music on the school bus. 

Maybe it’s time to start memorizing verses about our tongues, like some of the ones we read earlier.

And in the moments when it’s easier to watch a bad movie, spend some time praying or reading your Bible.

Our words have the power of life or death for someone else. 

This is not something to be taken lightly. 

How will you use that power?

Let’s pray.

  1. How have someone’s words hurt you in the past? How long ago was it? 
  2. How have your words wounded and hurt someone else? (Leaders, be prepared to share your own personal story.)
  3. Has someone ever encouraged you with their words? Who was it and what did they say?
  4. Who can you encourage or uplift this week?
  5. Why is it sometimes difficult to use our words to encourage & uplift others rather than tearing them down?

[End Lesson]

Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…

2024 SUMMER BUNDLE – Save 78% on $450 worth of youth ministry lessons and games for the summer and beyond!

Want another free lesson? Check out this…

Youth group lesson on Peter Walking on Water


  1. Elizabeth Lattimore
    • December 20, 2023

    Powerful topics!
    Thank you so much for making your lessons free.

  2. Marvel G. Masmila
    • January 20, 2024

    Wonderful, powerful and very useful topic for everyone, specially in youth group bible study, more power to those who use this method of teaching Godbless you all and me God use you more in His ministry!!!!

  3. Mamie Cherry
    • January 27, 2024

    I really appreciate the free lessons. They have helped me out tremendously. Thank you and I pray that God continues to bless you.

  4. Sami Haddad
    • April 6, 2024

    Excellent Resource to help teach the Youth Christian topics. Appreciate that you made them free and online.

  5. Lourdes
    • April 20, 2024

    Gracias por hacerla gratis Bendiciones es una gran lección en la cual debemos meditar continuamente.

  6. Quaniece Giyton
    • April 24, 2024

    Thank you for this amazing real life lesson! It is a blessing!


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