Our weaknesses provide the perfect opportunity for God’s strength to be shown in our lives.

Sometimes students can only see all of the things they can’t do, but we have the opportunity to show them what God can do when they turn to Him for help.

Use this youth group lesson to teach students that they can depend on God’s strength, knowing that His power is evident when they are weak.

– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON STRENGTH

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

Written by: Carrie Busch

Bible: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 1 Corinthians 1:27

Bottom Line: We can depend on God’s strength, knowing that His power is evident when we are weak.

OPENING GAME: ARM WRESTLING TOURNEY

Today, we’re going to have a good old-fashioned arm-wrestling competition. 

This game will emphasize the cultural definition of “strength” that we will discuss in today’s lesson.

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Pair students up with someone who appears to be of similar strength – boys against boys and girls against girls.

Decide how many rounds you’d like to play and what format you will use.

For example: Best two out of three or a tournament where the winners of each round then arm wrestle each other until one is left.

Have students who are not participating cheer for the other students. 

For a fun twist, blindfold one student and then choose another student that they will arm wrestle. 

After the game is over, if the blindfolded student loses allow them to guess who they arm wrestled against. 

If they guess correctly, then they win the match and will continue to play blindfolded, until they lose and can’t correctly guess who they arm wrestled against.

Once the students have finished, have them take out their Bibles and return to their seats for the lesson.

TEACH

Say: Your strength and determination surprised me!

Whether or not your opponent appeared to be stronger than you, you still tried your best.

Even in your weakness, you were strong – that’s what we call a “paradox.”

The Bible is filled with paradoxes.

A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory but, upon further inspection, reveals a deeper truth.

Let me give you an example.

If I said, “I was all alone in a room full of people,” how is this statement a contradiction?

Well, we know that one can’t be alone and surrounded by people at the same time.

So, then, how does this statement reveal a deeper truth?

The statement actually means that I felt alone… I felt different… even though people surrounded me. 

Have you ever felt lonely even though you weren’t physically alone?

If so, then you understand this paradox.

Now, let’s talk about a few paradoxes in the Bible.

Don’t worry – this will all make sense in a minute. 

“The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Wow. It looks like the Bible is filled with paradoxes that demand our understanding.

Let’s take a closer look at the first paradox that I read to you.

“The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”

How is it possible for the last to be first? 

What deeper concept is God trying to teach us through this statement?

Here, the Bible is addressing the concept of humility and service. 

In other words, Jesus taught that we should put ourselves last (as humble servants), not by put ourselves first (out of pride and selfishness).

Let’s go over the next paradox: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Uh…. What?

Does anyone have an idea what this could mean? 

How is it possible to find and lose your life at the same time?

Well, Jesus is comparing a worldly life versus the abundant life that we can have in him.

In other words, if you have Jesus, and if you give up your fleshly desires to follow him, then you will find true life.

You will lose your worldly life, and you will gain abundant eternal life.

Okay – last paradox.

I’m going to let you try this one: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Ask: First, how is this a contradictory statement? In other words, how does this go against our beliefs about blessings?

Now, what does this verse mean? 

What do you learn about giving from this statement?

Allow a few responses from students after each question.

Now, that we’ve got the idea, I want to get to our topic.

Today’s topic is “strength.”

But before we can talk about biblical strength, we need to discuss how we define strength both personally and culturally.

Ask:How can you tell that someone is strong? (allow students to explore different types of strength – physical, mental, emotional)

What are some behaviors that our society would call “weak”?

What is your definition of true strength?

Allow a few responses from students after each question.

Okay, now that we’ve thrown around some of our different perspectives on what constitutes “true strength,” let’s take a look at the Bible.

And remember what we have learned about paradoxes…

Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. 

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Let’s read this one more time, keeping in mind that Paul’s writing contains a paradox.

We don’t know what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” actually was.

It could have been a physical or mental issue that tormented him, or it could even refer to the persecution that he suffered as a result of proclaiming the gospel message.

Either way, Paul had an issue that he wanted God to remove.

However, God told him that he would not do so and that His “power is made perfect in weakness.”

So, what does that mean?

God’s definition of strength, in the life of the believer, is complete dependence on Him.

In fact, if we read the last two verses, we see that Paul concludes that his weakness is a good thing!

That’s certainly a paradox!

How can Paul be weak and strong at the same time?

Well, in our weaknessGod’s strength is revealed!

This means that our cultural and personal perspectives on strength are probably way off base.

We find His strength in our weakness.

In other words, it’s not our strength at all, but God’s, which is displayed.

Let’s look at one more verse. 

Read 1 Corinthians 1:27.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.

Here again, we see that God places value on the weak servant.

There is freedom in knowing that you don’t have to find the strength within yourself, but rather that God wants to use your weakness for His glory.

And it’s liberating to understand that God doesn’t want you to handle everything on your own.

He is glorified when you give up trying to keep it all together by yourself and, instead, admit your weakness and give your life to Him.

Close in prayer.

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How was your original definition of strength different from the one in the Bible?
  2. How is spiritual strength different from personal strength?
  3. In what ways do you rely on your own strength to get you through tough situations?
  4. Do you know someone who models biblical strength? If so, explain how you see this concept reflected in their life.
  5. What are some challenges to living in complete dependence on God?
  6. Think of a time when you realized that your strength wasn’t enough for a trial or challenge in your life. If you’re able, share it with the group.
  7. What other biblical figures demonstrated weakness apart from God’s strength? How so?
  8. What are some practical ways that you could lean on God’s strength instead of your own?
  9. What is your definition of weakness? How does it differ from the ideas we discussed during the lesson?
  10. How does our culture influence us when it comes to strength? 

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

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YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON INFLUENCE

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