Here’s a youth ministry lesson on Pride, based on Luke 18:9-14.

The main point: Pride puts ourselves in the center of everything instead of God.

It includes a fun opening game game involving zombies and brains (oh yes) to setup the message.


Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

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Youth Group Lesson on Pride


Bible: Luke 18:9-14

Bottom Line:  Pride puts ourselves in the center of everything instead of God.


DISCLAIMER: While this game is meant to be played in fun, please use discretion as to whether or not a game about “zombies” is a good fit for your youth group.


  • Large amounts of cooked spaghetti in a big bucket
  • Sheets of paper
  • Markers

Set the game boundaries and explain that no-one can go out of bounds.

Pick two youth to be “zombies”.

The rest of the group are the “townspeople”.

The townspeople will be given a few minutes to spread out while the zombies get their ‘brains’ from the center of the field.  (‘Brains’ are cooked spaghetti.)

Zombies can only walk on one leg while dragging their other leg, and they will chase the townspeople with the brains.

If a townsperson gets touched by the ‘Brains’, they become a zombie also.

The game is over when there is only one townsperson.

This game can be played as long as needed and you can choose zombies for the game and just gather up the brains to reuse! (The grosser the better).


Today, we are going to take a look at “pride”, which is a word that can have different meanings to different people.

What are some instances in which pride is considered a ‘good thing’?

What does pride look like when it has crossed the line into being a ‘bad thing’?

Listen to this quote from CS Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.”

Pride turns rotten when it involves comparing yourself to others and finding that you think that you are better than others.

Can you think of a time when you looked down on someone else or you were happy when they failed?

Share a personal example from your life when pride showed itself in you in a negative way. 

Today, you are going to help us bring our scripture to life.

I need two volunteers (Leader, be sure to choose very animated youth for this task).

I will read the parable from Jesus and one of you will be the Pharisee, a religious leader in Jesus’ day, and the other will be a tax collector.

As I read the parable, each of you just act out the parts of the parable that apply to you and make us think!

Read Luke 18:9-14 from the Message to add some character!

Thank you, Pharisee and Tax Collector!

It can be very tempting to compare yourself to others.

Let’s be honest: Who in here hasn’t looked at someone else and thought “I’m glad I’m not THAT person”.

And it can be super easy to fall into that type of thinking when you are trying to live as a Christian because you don’t have to look too far to find all kinds of people who are messing things up, right?

The tax collector in Jesus’s time was considered the worst of the worst.

Can you think of a profession today that if you ask someone what they do for a living that they don’t want to answer because of the eye rolls that they will get?

Ask the group to share some of these jobs. 

And the Pharisee was supposed to the one who was close to God, right?

Yet, what do we see in this parable?

The Pharisee is looking DOWN on the tax collector.

The Pharisee is judging the tax collector for whatever reasons and then patting himself on the back.

And then what does the Pharisee do?

He is praying and it’s like he is reminding God of all the awesome things that he does….for God, of course?

Or is he doing it for God?

Do you think it is possible to ‘do all the right things’ and not ‘get it right’ with God?

That is pride.

See, God knows our hearts.

He KNOWS what ‘makes us tick’.

He knows if you are saying one thing and doing another.

He knows if you are just going through the motions.


He isn’t fooled by what you do.

Think on that….

This parable of Jesus probably upset the religious leaders.

It was really a ‘mic drop’ from Jesus, though, because he meant for them to be upset.

He was making a very important point.

God isn’t playing and we can’t play God.

And pride is that ugly part of us that wants to ‘look good’ and then look down on others.

Just look at the tax collector: What did he do right?

The tax collector saw that he was flawed and humbled himself before God.

See, we sometimes forget that NONE of us are perfect.

Maybe you are watching some of your friends or acquaintances at school or even in this group doing things that you know wouldn’t make God happy.

But ask yourself this: Are you secretly judging them rather than praying for them?

Are you measuring yourself to their failures?

Because we truly can lose sight of God when we measure ourselves by what we think we see in others.

Why? Because we miss the own mess in our own lives.

God isn’t playing and we can’t play God.

As you leave to go to your small groups, there are pieces of paper and pens scattered around this room and I want you to take a few minutes to write out a ‘Tax collector’ prayer to God.

What does that mean?

The tax collector KNEW that he needed God.

The tax collector humbled himself before God and didn’t pray to be seen….he just poured out his heart to God.

Write out a very simple prayer to God from your heart.

Take that prayer with you to your group and with you throughout this week.

Let it remind you in those times when you might want to compare yourself with others that it doesn’t matter what they think.

The only opinion that truly matters is the only person who really knows you: God.

Give the students time to write out their prayers and be available to pray with them as needed. 


Give the group a chance to share their prayers written on the papers, but only if they feel led.

Share a time recently when you felt prideful or better than someone.

Share a time when you felt judged as ‘less than’ by someone and how it made you feel.

Why do you think that pride is such a challenge for Christians?

How can we help one another not to compare ourselves to others?


End lesson.

Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…

2024 BACK TO SCHOOL BUNDLE – Save 76% on $426 worth of youth ministry lessons and games for back to school and beyond. Order thru July 25 & get an additional $300 bonus!

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3 Replies to “Youth Group Lesson on Pride”

  1. Hulda
    • July 18, 2023

    This is a great lesson.
    Any suggestions on how to alter the game so as not to use the Zombie theme. It seems like a fun game but as the disclaimer states, it wouldn’t be appropriate for my youth group. Any help is appreciated.

  2. Norahrachael
    • August 28, 2023

    True , we should drop the pride out of us

  3. Mishelle Blunt
    • September 13, 2023

    I don’t get the point of the game. Lesson is good, but don’t see the connection with game and lesson.


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