Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Summary & Additional Links:
Students explore how we each have an emptiness that only God can fill. A video clip about a man whose life goal was to look like Justin Bieber opens a discussion about personal goals and whether they are meaningless or God-centric. An optional music video is provided for Step 4.
Students will talk about personal goals and evaluate whether they are meaningless or God-centric.
As your students enter the classroom, ask them to write on the whiteboard any goals they have for themselves and their lives. Goals should be short term and long term (example: graduate with a 3.85 grade average, get an after-school job at the mall, attend Northern University, become a surgeon, marry and have six children, etc.). Once everyone has had a chance to contribute, discuss:
What determines what kind of goals you set for yourself? (Answers might include: seeing someone else be successful in an area and desiring the same thing for yourself, talents and skills, personal interests, etc.)
What does it take to see a goal become a reality? (Answers might include money, opportunity, determination, skill; accept all reasonable answers.)
People come up with and pursue goals for various reasons—and while their reasons may make sense to them, they might not make sense to all the rest of us. Take, for instance, Toby Sheldon—you may have heard of him: he spent $100,000 for various surgeries to make himself look like Justin Bieber. In an interview in 2014, Toby said, “Some people buy fancy cars or fancy mansions. What I do with my money is I get surgery to look more like Justin Bieber.” Admittedly driven by jealousy, that was Toby’s goal in life. But even though Toby was happy with the results of each surgery, it didn’t satisfy. He ended up dying from a drug overdose.
WARNING: If you wish to share the following video [1:34] with your teens, just be aware that the word damn is used once. If you opt not to use the video, read the website article to your students as you show your class Toby Sheldon’s photo:
Trying to fill our lives with things that just don’t satisfy is an issue for all of us. We get desperate to have or achieve something that just can’t make us happy—it can leave us feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. Let’s take a look at someone who tried it all—he set and accomplished every goal that came into his head. Let’s find out how that worked out for him.
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
Optional: Internet access
Today we learned that Solomon set goals for himself when he was young—goals that honored God. But as he got older, he shifted his focus and tried to satisfy personal longings while leaving God out of the picture. He discovered that everything is meaningless apart from God. If we keep God as our central focus, our actions will satisfy as well as please and honor Him.
Hand out writing supplies to your teens. Ask them to make a comprehensive list of the goals they have for themselves. This could be a repeat of what they listed on the whiteboard at the beginning of class, or a more definitive list. When they have had time to think and write, ask them the following questions (these questions are for private reflection only and not meant to be discussed aloud.)
Which of the goals you listed is on the list because it honors God? (Allow students to evaluate their lists privately; have them circle any that fall into this category.)
Which of the goals you listed could glorify God if your motivation was correct? (Again, let students make their evaluations privately. They might want to draw a box around goals that could honor God if achieved with proper motivation. Example: you might want a 3.85 grade average so that you can feel superior to others or even to have the chance of getting into a better college, OR you could do your best in order to please and honor God.)
Which of your goals leave God out of the equation entirely and are there only to satisfy a personal longing? (Have your students underline that category. If students need an example of this type of goal, remind them that spending money for multiple surgeries so that you can look like a favorite celebrity is probably not a God-centric goal.)
As your students work, you may want to play the following music video in the background [4:45]:
I Give You My Heart | Hillsong (Featuring Holly Dawson)
Encourage your teens to evaluate their lists this week in light of God’s Word. Challenge them to ask God for help in removing any goals that are self-promoting and not God-centered. Urge them to ask God how to refocus any goals that could honor Him if they gave Him first place; challenge them to ask God to show them how to go about putting Him first in each of those areas.
Close in prayer.
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