While adults get all excited about the change in the calendar year, it’s the middle of the school year for students in your youth ministry.
It’s been half a year since summer camp or conference.
Use this lesson to help students refresh their focus on trusting God through this lesson from Proverbs.
– Mike Sheley, Ministry to Youth
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YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON TRUST
Bible: Proverbs 3:5-6
Bottom Line: Following God is more about trust than understanding.
OPENING GAME: 3 BLIND MICE
- 3 blindfolds
- Masking or gaff tape
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
Set up 3 “paths” that each “mouse” will be walking down.
You can use masking or gaff tape on the ground or even set up chairs as barriers.
The length of the path depends on how long you want this race to go.
The complexity of the path will depend on the difficulty you want.
For example, need a quick game or have a small space?
Make a short path that is straight or relatively straight.
Need a game that takes some time or is more challenging?
Then create a longer path with some curves or even sharp turns.
Divide your group of students into three teams.
Pick one person from each team who will be the mice.
Give them each a blindfold.
Say: On “Go!”, each of you will put on your blindfold and try to be the first one to make your way through your path to the end.
However, nothing in life is that simple.
So we have a few surprises.
First, before you can start down the path, you have to spin around in circles five times.
Second, you must choose one of the following, but once you choose, you can not change your choice.
Here are your choices: 1) do the race on your own; 2) have a fellow student be your guide; or 3) have a leader be your guide.
Third, and finally, because you are mice, you have to stay on the path.
If you cross the line or touch a chair, it’s like setting off a mouse trap.
You get two close calls.
The third time it happens, you are caught and out of the game.
Have “mice” pick their choice, get on the starting line, put on the blindfold, and then spin them around.
If any “mouse” crosses a line/hits a chair, allow them two warnings.
The third time they are out.
If they have chosen a guide, the person can talk to them but can not touch them.
Ready? Set? Go!
It’s okay if no one wins.
That will add to the teachability.
And if you get done sooner than expected, simply run another time with three different people.
We’ve started a new calendar year.
That’s an exciting thing for adults.
They have parties.
Many make resolutions or goals.
Some even keep them!
If you have a good story about a new year’s resolution you kept or epically failed, share it here.
But, for you as students, this is more like what you experience in the fall when school starts.
You’re in a new calendar year, but right now, you’re still in the middle of your school year.
However, both adults and students need help when it comes to following Jesus.
Today, we’re going to find some advice on that adventure from a little book in the Old Testament called “Proverbs.”
This is a strange little book.
You don’t read it like a normal book.
It’s not a story.
It’s a collection of wise sayings, similar to what you might find in a fortune cookie at a Chinese Restaurant, but these were inspired by God.
And, if you’re hoping to read your Bible more this year, this is a great book to try for a one-month challenge.
It has 31 chapters.
So, you can read one chapter a day and be done in a month!
The verses we’ll be reading today come from near the beginning in chapter 3.
Let’s read these verses and see what they have to do with following Jesus and that strange game we just played.
Read Proverbs 3:5-6. (New Living Translation)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
You don’t have to be a genius to understand these verses.
But, it does take some work to obey them.
It starts off by saying to trust God “with all your heart.”
That means you really trust God.
This idea expands in “do not depend on your own understanding.”
Well, this is something you can probably relate to.
How many of you have felt confused about something, at some point, since school started?
It could have been a lesson from a teacher.
It might have been a book you read.
It could have simply been trying to understand a story your friend was sharing.
Sometimes, I get confused trying to figure out what students are saying when they tell me about their day!
There are a bunch of slang terms that you use without thinking that I have to have translated.
In the third part, it says to “seek His will.”
This means that we learn all we can about what God wants us to do and try to do that.
It’s much easier to describe than to do.
But that’s why we’re here studying the Bible and helping each other live it out.
Finally, this ends with God showing us which path to take.
We need to start by understanding that for all of us, following Jesus is more about trust than understanding.
In the “3 Blind Mice” race, each “mouse” was able to see the path before the race started.
But once they put the blindfold on, were spun around, and started walking, it was a little more confusing.
That’s similar to how you might feel when you come to church and learn about how to live like Jesus from the Bible.
Then you go into your everyday life with family, neighbors and school, trying to figure out how to put all this into practice there.
This is why we are instructed not to depend on our own understanding.
Sometimes, it’s just not going to make sense.
We have to accept that.
We don’t have to like it.
But we have to understand that we can’t always understand everything, especially when it comes to following Jesus.
The “seek His will” part is also easy to understand but takes discipline to do.
We need to read and study our Bibles.
We need to be connected to church and a small group of people who can help us by challenging us and holding us accountable.
And now the part we’re waiting for: “He will show you which path to take.”
So, why doesn’t God answer my prayers specifically?
Why are there so many things that I’m confused about that God doesn’t seem to be giving me clear answers?
Well, remember: Following Jesus is more about trust than understanding.
The “path” is a symbol for how we live our lives.
Our way of living is supposed to look like Jesus.
The way he thought, spoke and acted is our example.
That’s the path to take.
Those principles apply in our families, communities, schools, athletic practices and competitions, lunchrooms, hallways, bus rides and more.
But when you think about it, a lot of the stuff we learn by reading about Jesus is confusing.
He cared about people that no one else cared about.
Sometimes when people asked him questions, he answered with questions or a story.
He said to love our enemies.
He said to pray for people who persecute us.
He said we’re supposed to be like salt and light.
And he said if we want to be first we have to be last.
But once again: Following Jesus is more about trust than understanding.
We have to trust that God’s instructions in the Bible and the way Jesus lived out his obedience to God is the best way, even if it doesn’t always seem like that to us at the time.
We have to trust that God will help us when obeying and following is hard.
And we have to trust that God cares about us more than we can possibly imagine.
What would our homes, neighborhoods, schools, church and community look like if those of us in this room started taking these two little verses in Proverbs seriously?
Imagine students who say “yes” to following Jesus, even when they don’t necessarily know where that will lead.
Imagine students reading their Bibles like it provided the most important information for their lives! (which it does if you want to know more about the Jesus we’re following)
Imagine adults, coaches, parents and teachers who receive respect from students.
Imagine students who are usually lonely or bullied who now find people caring for them and loving them.
And let’s move from just imagining it to making it happen.
How do you do that?
The same way you win the “3 Blind Mice” race: One step at a time.
Let’s move into our small groups and help you figure out what your first step is this week.
The goal here is to help students understand . . . and put that into action this year and this week.
JUST FOR FUN (5 minutes)
These students need a little fun to help them relax and transition into this small group time.
Don’t skip over this.
It is an intentional part of building relationships and setting up your group to have a great discussion time!
Probably all of us have woken up in the middle of the night and tripped on something or walked into something.
Anyone have an unusually funny story of a time you tried walking through the house when you weren’t really awake or just couldn’t see because of the dark?
Or has anyone spent the night at a friend’s house or at a hotel and woke up, not realizing where you were and have a hard time finding the bathroom or something similar?
(When you have spent about 5 minutes on this section, transition into the discussion questions.)
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
The goal is to guide the students as they talk, to have a discussion.
Get them to do most of the talking.
Make sure you watch the clock and save 5 minutes at the end for the closing, even if that means you skip some questions and don’t discuss them all.
Is it easy or hard for you to trust God?
What does it look like for you to trust God in your everyday life? How do you do that?
What are some things that you just don’t understand about God or following Jesus?
How is trying to follow Jesus without any help as frustrating as going through the “3 Blind Mice” race without any help?
How can other students your age help you follow Jesus? How can you help them?
How can older believers, like high schoolers, college students and adults help you in a different way with following Jesus than your peers? What about older adults like grandparents?
We could easily get overwhelmed with all the instructions that Jesus has for us, especially those that are confusing.
So let’s get real basic.
Which one of these will you work on this week as your step in following the path God is showing you?
Reading the Bible
Studying the Bible
Acting on something you learned from the Bible recently
Allowing us to hold you accountable
Following Jesus is more about trust than understanding.
If you trust God, then take that first step this week in going down the path where God is leading you.
When that time is up, close your group in prayer – or even better, ask one of the students to close in prayer.
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Mike Sheley has been in full-time youth ministry for over 17 years and is currently the Middle School Pastor at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana.