Here is a free youth group lesson on Purpose.

Bible: 1 Samuel 16-20; Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6

Bottom Line: When you let go of what you think your life should be, then you can discover God’s purpose for your life.

Enjoy the lesson!

– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…

ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP – Save 92% on $2,400 worth of youth group lessons, Bible studies, games, events & more. Only available through April 25!


Say: Today’s message is all about how God has better plans for you than you can imagine, would ever expect, or probably think you deserve.

Let’s kick off our time together with a game!


Game Supplies:

You need 3 wrapped gifts:

  • Smallest gift: Wrapped poorly but holding the gift with the highest value. Gift ideas: $5 gift card, bracelet, $5 off next youth event or retreat, a bag of fancy candies
  • Medium-sized gift: Wrapped like a typical gift. Gift ideas: I.O.U. a trip to Dairy Queen or actual Ice Cream coupon, four-dollar bills taped to the inside of the box, a pair of new crazy socks, Hershey’s bar (or other flat candy bars) taped to the inside of the box, so it feels like an empty box
  • Largest gift: Wrapped beautifully with the gift of the smallest value (but not just junk). Fill with: Pebbles (to sound like Legos), dollar bag or box of candies, 4 quarters taped to the inside of the box


The goal of the game is to have the most correct guesses of what is inside the 3 gifts. 

I need three volunteers.

Choose three students to come to the front.

You can have two of the volunteers leave the room while one of them is guessing what is in the box, so they can’t cheat.

You can also have the volunteers close their eyes and cover their ears.

Your job will be to look at each gift, pick it up and shake it, then try to guess what is inside each box.

The person who guesses the most gifts correctly wins the best gift.

Online Version: Choose and announce your three volunteers. 
*This is for those still doing online youth group.

You can deliver or mail the gifts to the students’ homes who win, so you should choose students whose address you know or can easily obtain!

Your job will be to watch closely as I pick up each gift and listen while I shake it.

Then you will guess what is inside each gift after I have shown you all three gifts.

The person who guesses what the most gifts are wins the game. 

Both Versions: Leader, start by opening or handing the first student the smallest gift.

Online Version: Lift each gift and shake it.

Both Versions: Let each volunteer guess what s/he thinks is in all three gift boxes.

The student who guesses the most gifts correctly will get first place (smallest gift), the person with the next most correct guesses gets the middle gift, and the person in last place gets the large gift.

If no one guesses any gifts correctly, you should make up reasons why each student will get a gift just for playing

For example… Mandy gets the smallest gift because she just had her birthday. 

Trevor gets the largest gift because he has a large, compassionate heart. 

Kylie gets the middle gift because she’s a middle child, etc.

Online Version: Let the volunteer winners know how they’ll be receiving their gift (front porch or through the mail).

The game shows us that even when things look like they are what we want the most – like the largest, most beautiful gift – what we might really want or need could come in packaging we wouldn’t expect.

Sometimes we need to let go of our expectations so we can have what God thinks is best for us.

In-Person: Have the volunteers take their gifts and have a seat.


Today’s Bible passage was written by David who went through some really tough situations.

He spent much of his young life alone taking care of sheep because he was the youngest of the Jesse’s eight sons.

One day while he was tending sheep, his whole life changed… except that it didn’t… at least not right away.

The king of the Israelites, King Saul, had chosen to disobey a direct order from God regarding a specific battle. 

(This was a symptom of Saul’s rebellious, selfish, and stubborn heart condition.)

God rejected Saul as Israel’s leader. 

God didn’t reject Saul because he made one mistake but because Saul made decision after decision to be selfish and stubborn, rebelling against God and showing Him that Saul could no longer be trusted as ruler over His people.

Saul thought he had gotten away with rejecting God’s command, but God sent His priest, Samuel, to tell Saul that he was rejected as king of God’s people.

Then God sent Samuel to Jesse’s house to anoint (choose) the next king of Israel.

Samuel had an idea of what a king should look like, but God used this encounter to help Samuel let go of his expectations to see the plans God had for His people’s future leader.

We can read about the lesson he learned in 1 Samuel 16 starting in verse 6:

When Samuel first saw Jesse’s eldest son, he “thought, ‘Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!’”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Samuel tested all seven of David’s older brothers, sure that each one must be the one God wanted him to anoint as the next king, but none of them were chosen by God.

“Then Samuel asked, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’

‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse replied. ‘But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.’

‘Send for him at once,’ Samuel said. ‘We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.’

So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.

And the Lord said, ‘This is the one; anoint him.’

So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.

Say: Samuel didn’t take David with him to go overthrow King Saul. 

He left David at home, knowing that he was anointed to be the next king of Israel, and David went back to the fields and continued to tend his father’s sheep.

We aren’t sure how long he remained at home, but because he was well-known for being a talented harp player, eventually he was recruited to play the harp for King Saul.

Let’s stop for a moment of perspective. 

This is the king David knew he would be replacing, yet he went and served this king trusting God to take care of him and keep His word.

David was sent to play the harp because King Saul had a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.

Why do you think King Saul was afraid and depressed?

Allow for answers.

While King Saul went to go fight a battle against the Philistines, David was “on leave” from his duties as a harpist.

David’s father sent him to take provisions to his brothers who were soldiers in the same battle, and David proved himself to be a brave warrior by killing a HUGE enemy of the Israelite army.

Does anyone remember what that enemy’s name was?

Allow for answers. (Goliath)

Another piece of trivia, does anyone remember how tall Goliath was?  

Allow for answers. (9 feet tall)

I think children’s ministry teachers teach us Goliath’s height because it’s the thing that makes him feel like a giant to children.

It is likely that David was a teenager at this time, not a little boy as we were taught when we were little.

Often David’s story is told as though he was a shepherd boy who killed Goliath then became king, but there was a LOT of time that passed between the time he was anointed king, killing Goliath, and actually becoming king.

Knowing more of his backstory, what do you think gave David the courage to fight Goliath?

Allow for answers.

After David defeated Goliath, the Israelite army defeated the Philistine army.

David continued to help King Saul by being his armor-bearer, playing the harp for him, and fighting battles for him as a soldier, but he was not allowed to return home. 

David was such an amazing warrior that King Saul became envious of him, ended up wanting to kill him, and tried repeatedly to do just that.

David made a good friend named Jonathan, but David had to leave him because he happened to be the king’s son.

David had to flee from King Saul to save his own life and leave his friend, Jonathan, as a result.

Also, David’s wife, Saul’s daughter, Michal, was taken from him and given to another man.

He spent many, many years running for his life and hiding from King Saul because the king was intent on killing him.

Many amazing things happened in David’s life, but those things were mixed with even more hard things than I have already listed.

David could have never imagined the amazing things that would happen when he was a shepherd boy all alone watching over his father’s sheep.

If he had blown Samuel off as a crazy old man, ignored King Saul’s need for help during his dark times, and just stayed with the sheep as he had been expected to do, he would have missed out on a lot of adventures… and the hard things, too.

He had some great perspective even though he endured so many hard things. 

He said in Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will work out His plans for my life – for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me.”

Though we don’t know for sure when David wrote this psalm, what reasons does he have to say these words with such confidence?

Allow for answers.

God had proven Himself faithful to David over and over. 

If David wrote this as a teenager, he could have been thinking of God’s faithfulness to protect him and his sheep from lions and bears.

If David wrote this as a young man, he could have been thinking of God’s faithfulness to give him the strength to defeat Goliath or protect him from King Saul’s envy and wrath.

No matter what you have gone through in your life, God is not done with you, yet. 

This is not all there is.

Whether you feel stuck in a field alone and without purpose, an enemy is trying to keep you down, your fear is trying to silence you, or you are waiting for something good to happen, just know…He DOES have plans for you.

He will complete what He has started in your life.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

God doesn’t leave His work unfinished or His purposes for us hidden.

Use the waiting time wisely as David did. 

Write some songs, learn an instrument, or become a fighter, but whatever you do, don’t give up hope.

This is a great time to break into our small groups and discuss what we’ve covered today.

Let’s pray together.

Leader, pray or have one of your volunteers or students pray to close then break into small groups (or Zoom breakout rooms).


  1. What is something that stood out to you from this lesson?
  2. What is something you learned that was new today or something you were reminded of about God in this lesson?
  3. What did you learn about David that you never knew before today?
  4. What is something you admire about David?
  5. Who is someone you know in your life who has been through tough times but still trusts God as David did? (No need to name names; just share their faith story.)
  6. If you feel like you are stuck in the field, avoiding an enemy, or just waiting to figure out what God has planned for you, share what this lesson makes you think about or feel.
  7. What does it take to feel confident that God really has a plan for your life?
  8. Without naming names, think of someone who needs to know they are meant for more. 
  9. What could you do to share this message with that person this week?

End lesson.

Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…

ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP – Save 92% on $2,400 worth of youth group lessons, Bible studies, games, events & more. Only available through April 25!


  1. Elizabeth Villegas
    • September 21, 2021

    This is brilliantly thought out and written. Thank you so much, for I too have learned something new about this story. Keep up the good work. May God bless you, continue to use you in this amazing way and don’t give up the faith.

    Reply 2 Response
    1. ARIANA
      • December 5, 2021

      amazing lesson defanently teaching.

    2. ARIANA
      • December 5, 2021

      amazing lesson defanently teaching.

  2. Paul Abbott
    • October 2, 2021

    Great lesson!

  3. Sharon w STEELE
    • October 20, 2021

    Looking forward to sharing this lesson with our Youth at church. This is a great reminder that God’s plan is always right.

  4. Ben Kinchin
    • November 3, 2021

    Wow! What a great reminder that we have purpose! Praise the Lord!

    • December 5, 2021

    amazing lesson defanently teaching.thanks

  6. Dinah Rose Rita
    • May 28, 2022


  7. Rev Teyong Daniel
    • June 8, 2022

    Thanks i love it and i will teach my Youth Ministry.

  8. Andrea
    • April 12, 2023

    Absolutely amazing! I know my students will be blessed by this. Thank you so much for sharing and continuing to inspire us all.

  9. Michael Love - Nigeria
    • February 26, 2024

    a very Thoughtful Lesson


Leave a Comment