Use this free youth group lesson to teach students the importance of God’s idea of leadership is very different from the world’s idea of leadership.


– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

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Youth Group Lesson on Leadership


Bible: Daniel 1

Bottom Line: God’s idea of leadership is very different from the world’s idea of leadership.

OPENING GAME – Lego Battle


3 Lego Sets (try to find sets that could be complicated but doable in about 15 minutes)


Divide the group into 3 teams.

Give each team a Lego set.

Your challenge is to put this Lego set together in the shortest amount of time.

Everyone must participate and no pieces can be left out of the Lego creation.

Give the teams time to complete the structure and then have a fun Lego judging time. 

Adult leader Tips: 

Observe how teams work together as they build.

Resist the urge to step in to help the groups and remind any adult leaders to also resist intervening.

Give the groups time to struggle (if needed) and watch for leaders and also quiet leaders.

Keep watch for youth who show leadership skills and note how they get the others on their team to participate.

Watch to see which youth stay to the end to help and clean.

Display the completed sets and have a completion ‘ceremony’.


In your group talk about these questions:

How did we work together as a team?

What different roles did people on the team seem to take?

Who was a vocal leader?

Who followed directions?

What was the most challenging part of this task?

What would you do differently next time?

TEACH – Leadership

The world is looking for leaders.

What are the qualities that you think great leaders possess?

Name some great leaders.

What made or makes them great leaders?

Write down their answers for the group to see. 

Share observations that you made as your watched the teams try to put together their lego sets. 

Try not to single anyone out, but be sure to note if obvious leaders emerged and help the group to reflect on how this happened?

Were there any leaders that seemed to emerge in this activity?

How did they lead you?

Activities like this are very interesting because you notice that people seem to take on different roles.

There are those who are very vocal and loud.

But there are also quiet leaders.

The ones who might not say much, but will be the last one there finishing the job.

Did you notice, because I did, the ones who stayed to help clean up after the rest of the group left?


Leadership is a skill that the world really does value.

Yet, the way that the world defines a leader can be very different from the way that God defines a leader.

The world says that to be a leader, you have to be first and the best.

And that sometimes to ‘get to the top’ you have to do things that might go against your conscience.

What are some other ways that you see that the world defines leadership?

Today, the world is looking for leaders.

But more importantly, God is looking for leaders.

Leaders who don’t lead like the world might expect.

We are going to read about some young leaders in the Bible.

They faced major challenges and made some major decisions.

And they had to go against the flow in some amazing ways.

Read Daniel 1. 

Daniel and his friends were the best of the best from Israelite families and now they were in a foreign land.

They had been chosen to join this 3 year ‘training’ and to eventually be in the king’s service.

Yet, Daniel seemed to be very clear about who and whose he was.

He belonged to God.

What were some of the decisions that Daniel and his friends made?

Why do you think that it was important for them to take these stands?

Daniel was young, and yet he knew that he was different.

In a good way.

In a “God way”.

And Daniel wanted it to be obvious that it was God that set him and the others apart.

They didn’t eat what everyone else ate.

The Bible says that he didn’t want to be ‘defiled’ by what the king was eating.

Daniel had the courage to stand up and challenge the leaders.

Daniel belonged to God and he wanted that to be obvious.

And God gave Daniel understanding and knowledge.

Think about people at your school.

Who are the leaders?

And I’m not talking about the people who THINK that they are leaders, but the people that others listen to.

Are they positive leaders?

Why are they leaders?

Why do others listen to them?

These are really important questions that sometimes we don’t take the time to ask, right?

Now, imagine that Daniel were to come to your school and live out a similar challenge?

What would people think about him?

Would you have the strength to join him?

Maybe it wouldn’t be that Daniel only ate vegetables or refused the food from the ‘king’s table’, but think in modern terms, what might Daniel refuse to do?

Would he hang out with your friends?

Tell the same jokes?

Listen to your music?

Go to the same places on the weekend?

Or would he refuse to do those things because they were going to weaken him?

See, what Daniel and his friends knew was that they couldn’t be like everyone else.

They were different.

They led.

Today as we watch the news and everything seems to be about choosing a leader, these are important questions to consider.

What makes a great leader?

What makes people follow that leader?

And how can you become the kind of leader God wants?

Imagine that you decide to make the commitments like Daniel made.

You have choices that you must make about what you eat, wear, and do.

Do those things make a difference?

To Daniel they did because they said something about who he was.

It was about identity for Daniel and the choices he made were very purposeful.

He wanted everyone in Babylon to know that He belonged to God.

And God blessed Daniel and his friends.

God is looking for “Daniels” today.

Young leaders who are not afraid to be different, but in a good way.

Leaders who don’t just go along with the crowd.

Leaders who won’t compromise who they are to ‘fit in’.

Ask yourself this: In what ways are you tempted to just fit in?

Why not take a stand and decided to stand out?

Make a conscious decision about what you put in your body, what you do with your time, what you watch, or how you speak.

Imagine if Daniel had Twitter or Instagram: What would his feed look like?

Now ask yourself this question:  when others look at you, do they see a leader or someone trying to fit in?

It is a very tough question, but one that I want you to consider very honestly.

Who are you living to please?

God or everyone else?

What changes do you need to make starting today to be the kind of leader God wants you to be?

Because Daniel didn’t wait until he was ‘older’, but knew that God was calling him even as a young man to be different.

And God is calling you to the same.

Pray and ask God what things you need to ‘not defile’ yourself with and how you could live as Daniel lived.

Close in prayer.


Who would you consider to be some of the greatest leaders and why?

In what ways are youth today challenged to ‘fit in’?

What are some things that you thought of today that you could give up in order to be like Daniel?

How could you be a leader at your school?  In your youth group?  With your frie nds?

What is holding you back from really being a leader?


End lesson.

Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…

TWO YEAR YOUTH BUNDLE – Save 90% on 2 years of youth ministry teaching series, 9 months of youth Bible studies and 64 games. Only available through Wednesday, May 22!

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8 Replies to “Youth Group Lesson on Leadership”

  1. juliana Thomas
    • April 19, 2016

    I love these lesson plans!

    Reply 1 Response
    1. Nick Diliberto
      • April 24, 2016


  2. Jacob
    • June 3, 2017

    Hmn. Inspiring, I will share with others

    Reply 1 Response
    1. Becky Forkel
      • June 4, 2017

      That’s great! Thank you. 🙂

  3. Vickie Scott
    • January 17, 2019

    Wonderful lesson. Easy to teach and understand.

    Reply 1 Response
    1. Kristy Preston
      • January 20, 2019

      Thanks Vickie, we are happy to know you guys are finding these lessons very useful.

  4. Wario Taro
    • May 6, 2022

    I really appreciated your efforts on Godly youth leadership and like the contents of your teaching. Would you please help me with material on this lesson.

  5. Anna Johnson
    • June 24, 2022

    This was an excellent example of the early examples of Daniels anointing to lead God’s people during the occupation of the Babylonians. I loved the connection to leadership to youth. Thank you so much for making this lesson available. It helped me to reach kids as young as 3rd.


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