Here is a free lesson on Labels, based on 1 Samuel 16:7
This lesson will help students understand that we are more than the labels that we or others give to us.
-Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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Youth Group Lesson on Labels
Bible: 1 Samuel 16:7
Bottom Line: We are so much more than the labels that we or others give to us.
We all label others whether we want to admit it or not.
To prepare your heart for this lesson, though, you need to really ask God: What are the labels that I give to others that I need to be aware of in my own life?
As leaders, it can be very tempting to try to quickly figure out who are the students that are leaders? Who are the troublemakers?
We do it with parents of students: Are they the high maintenance parent or the trustworthy parent?
Yet, before we can ask the youth to examine the way that they label others, we must honestly ask ourselves: Am I part of the problem?
Today’s scripture is a not so gentle reminder that God often chooses the ones that we tend to overlook.
Samuel was a leader and even he would have passed over David.
Samuel thought that he found the next king based on who was the strongest, oldest, etc.
We do the same thing in ministry, don’t we?
When the seniors graduate, we begin to wonder who will be the next set of leaders.
Let this lesson be a reminder to see others as God sees them – at their heart.
Because it would be a true tragedy to skip over the ‘Davids’ in our midst because we are looking and labeling on our own.
No one person can be summed up with a simple category, yet we attempt to define others and ourselves in these simplistic and one dimensional labels every single day.
As leaders, we must first be aware of the tendency to label others and quickly try to ‘sum them up’ and also be a gentle and loving voice to the students we serve because God sees their heart.
He sees so much more than the things that the world is choosing to define them by.
And God also sees those things in them that they are simply blind to because of the ways that they have chosen to let others label them.
Our prayer is that through this lesson, students will see that God does see the richness of each and every person and that He has such amazing things planned for every person if they simply allow Him to be the one who defines who they are in Him.
And God wants to give us new labels that He gives from seeing who we really are.
OPENING GAME – Label Mania
Label Sticker sheets (1 sheet per student)
Pens/markers (1 per student)
Large roll of paper or post it pad on a stand
Cardstock with ‘God’s labels’ – words written on each piece and extra cardstock to write more.
*Note the list of the labels that is in the teaching part of the lesson and write these labels one per cardstock paper, but feel free to add prayerfully other labels that would fit your group.
Say: For today’s game, I need your help.
Each of you will have a sheet of stickers and a pen.
I will give you about 5 minutes to fill this page with the labels that we give to ourselves and to others.
What am I talking about?
Well, when I was a teenager, I labeled myself as _____________ (fill in the blank). And I labeled others with these words: _________(fill in the blank).
Your labels can be serious or funny even, but write one ‘label’ per label and you will use these for the game.
Give the students 5 minutes to make their labels. Be sure to walk around and help those who might struggle and give them funny labels to add!
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
Say: Now that you’ve written down your labels on your labels (J), everyone get ready because we are going to play a game called “Label Mania” and it will be just as crazy as it sounds. When I say “Go”, you will run with your label sheet and try to stick a label on another person.
Of course it goes without saying, but maybe it still needs to be said, that these labels should not be placed on someone else in any place that a bathing suit would cover, ok?
Also, avoid violently placing your label as we do have a lesson afterwards.
Once all of your labels are gone, you can still play by taking off the labels that are on you and placing them on someone else.
I will call “time” when I think that we are close to total mania!
Say “Go” and let the mayhem begin.
End the game when you can tell the mania is truly setting in.
Tell the youth to keep their labels on them and have a seat.
TEACH – Youth Group Lesson on Labels
Now that we have experienced true labeling mania, let’s look at some of these labels.
I am going to have each of you come up, read all of the labels that are stuck on you, and place them on the large pad of paper.
Ask for a volunteer each time and have them come and place all of their labels on the pad for all to see.
Some of these labels are funny, but some of these are really harsh, right?
Are there other labels that you would add that you know people use to label others?
Add these label to the post it paper.
Labels are real.
And the hurt that some of these labels inflict is real too.
Raise your hand if you’ve been labeled in a way that hurt you.
Now ask yourself, have you labeled others in ways that hurt them?
Why do you think labeling others is so common?
Give students a chance to think and share about this, as it will give some good insights into the cultures that they are living in at school.
Here’s the sad thing – labeling others is nothing new.
Share about the labels that used to be around when you were a teenager. For some youth ministers of a ‘certain age’, using a clip from The Breakfast Club or Clueless movies might be great to use here.
The Bible is full of stories in which others quickly labeled someone and God showed that he had other ideas.
Take the story of King David, for example.
King David was THE king that the Jewish people would point to hundreds of years after his life as THE king; yet, he wasn’t anyone’s first choice.
Hey, he was WAY down on the list as he had older brothers who were perfect candidates.
So when God told the prophet, Samuel, to go and anoint the king from the sons of Jesse, Samuel went down the list of 7 seven brothers and God said these words to Samuel when he thought he’d found the king in one son who really impressed him:
Read 1 Samuel 16:7
One by one, Jesse’s sons came until there were none left and Samuel still hadn’t found the king.
He asked if there were any other sons and Jesse says “Well, the baby is out in the fields’ as if David wasn’t even o the radar with Jesse as a possibility.
But God had chosen David when no one, not even David’s dad had ever considered him.
Maybe you are a “David” – the one everyone underestimates.
This scripture is a reminder to you that God sees your heart.
And God just doesn’t see us as the world sees us, does he?
It’s as if God is saying “throw these labels out the window” because he sees our heart.
Share a personal story about someone you’ve seen in ministry who was underestimated or a ‘misfit’ who God saw something awesome in them.
And here is the important thing to remember about how God sees us: He labels us by our heart.
And by ‘the heart’ it really does seem like this is just a way of saying that God sees who we truly are at our depth.
And not the person that we fear others will see.
No, God sees the amazing potential in us.
When we might look in the mirror and see words like “the shy one” or “the popular one”…. God sees things such as “the one who loves others greatly” or “leader”.
Around the room are more of the labels with new words on them that I pray might be new for you.
Labels that could only come from God who loves you.
Child of God
Friend to the friendless
Say: Can you think of other labels that God might give to us?
Write these labels down as well and place these labels around the area where you are speaking.
Please add labels that you prayerfully feel are applicable to your group.
I want you to take some quiet time and I will lead us in a prayer in which we ask God how he sees us.
For some of you, these words might be slow coming.
But know this, God sees amazing things in each and every one of you.
And for some of you, it might take a Samuel, someone who loves God and listens to God, to remind you that you are NOT forgotten.
To remind you that God does have great plans for you that will absolutely amaze you.
I pray that each of you might get a small glimpse today of what God sees when he looks at your heart.
Pray a prayer such as:
God, you see our hearts.
You also see those labels that we have allowed ourselves to hear and think are true from others.
But it is YOUR opinion that matters most.
So, erase those labels we might have on us that don’t come from you.
And help us to let you write new labels on us.
Say: As you leave, please come forward to choose a new label or write your own to take with you.
And remember, God sees the heart.
He sees you and He loves you.
Close in prayer.
Leader: Be available to help youth find or write labels that God would give them, as some youth will have a tough time with this.
This would be a great time to pray with them and share with them the beautiful and amazing things that you see in them.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What are some of the labels that people give to others at your school and in society today?
What are the labels that others give you or even that you give to yourself?
What label did you choose or write that you feel comes from God about you today?
Where can you put this label to help be a reminder to you about how God sees you?
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