Step One of this lesson also on video!
Real Life Downloaded | High School Lesson Palm Sunday | Grasping Greatness from David C Cook on Vimeo.
As students arrive, use the following question as an icebreaker. Have students write out their responses on index cards. When all your students have arrived and had a chance to think and write, allow volunteers to share as you record significant qualities of greatness.
- What qualities do you think of when you think of “greatness?” What qualities define a truly great person? Are these characteristics the same? Are they compatible? (The word greatness conjures up imagery of bigger, stronger, best. When we think of a great person, we may think of an especially good person who demonstrates kindness, care, and integrity. A person who has achieved greatness in a typical way can also be a great person. The type of greatness one pursues says something about their priorities.)
“Greatness” may bring to mind great athletes. Their strength, agility, and skills take God-given talent and tons of practice and discipline to achieve. Sports stars are godlike figures to some. We marvel at their abilities and honor the very best for accomplishing what only they or a small few have been able to.
Sadly, our heroes fail us—frequently. There are too many stories of athletes accused of drug use, domestic violence, cheating, or other immoral or illegal acts. These disappointments in the people we’ve deemed to be great makes the uniqueness and importance of the NFL’s “Man of the Year” award that much more significant. The person selected is honored not for his performance on the field, but for a life marked by selfless service to others. Here’s this past year’s winner.
Play the following video for your students [5:35]:
Chris Long Wins Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award | 2019 NFL Honors
- Why do you think the NFL has this award? What message is being sent? (The message is that strength of character is greater than physical strength. It is a reminder to players and fans that football careers and records don’t last forever, but making a positive impact on others can have lasting effects.)
- If you were to nominate someone from your own life for man or woman of the year based on the strength of their character and great selflessness, who would you choose and why? (Accept all reasonable answers. Students may realize how parents and other leaders have gone above and beyond for them or may have a friend or other acquaintance that demonstrates selflessness is significant ways.)
Greatness in the typical sense of being the best is something we may strive for, but today we will see a different example. Jesus, who as God Himself truly was the greatest of all, chose to act as the least of all, in a life of service to others. In doing so, He shows us that a servant’s heart is actually the greatest thing we can pursue.
Looking for Steps 2, 3 & 4?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide. For upper elementary, middle school, and high school your Step 4 appears below. For adult, use the Step 4 in your teacher’s guide. To purchase a teacher’s guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes.
Jesus could have been tempted to cling to His divinity and exercise His power to His own advantage while on earth. Anyone in a position of power may have similar temptations.
- What do you think are the biggest temptations that come with power, prestige, or influence? (Accept all reasonable answers. Most will relate to self-importance and greed.)
It takes time, effort, and commitment to keep focused on putting others before ourselves.
- What do you think motivates powerful people to put others before themselves? (Accept all reasonable answers. Perhaps having come from a place of need or experiencing someone else’s needs firsthand. Or perhaps from a deeper sense of purpose.)
When asked a similar question, Chris Long responded this way: “I think we fear the meaning of life and the meaning of everything we do,” he said. “Success is fleeting. The thing that makes the world go ‘round are the acts of kindness … acts of faith.”
It is that humble reality that many of Long’s fellow Eagles would probably agree with. As quarterback Carson Wentz once said, the Christianity that drives him and so many of his teammates to impact communities is not about “beating people over the head with the Bible,” but rather “showing that love and that kindness and that grace” of Jesus Christ.
Challenge your students to think of a specific way to set aside pride, competition, etc. this week and vow to act with more Christlike humility. Instead, they should seek to put others first, and treat others as the greatest. Have them think about the people they tend to act the least humble toward. Perhaps someone they are competitive with in sports or school, or someone who often doesn’t act kindly toward them—anyone they find hardest to love naturally.
Have students brainstorm their thoughts with a partner and commit to praying for and encouraging their partner during the week. Be sure to ask your students to share about their experiences with this exercise when you next meet.
Close in prayer.
Sports Spectrum article
Eagles’ Chris Long: Love is ‘the most powerful drug in the world’
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(For our upper elementary, middle school, and high school customers: David C Cook is not affiliated with and does not endorse any website or any other media listed on these pages. At the time of writing, David C Cook editors carefully review the referenced material and non-referenced web page content. However, due to the nature of the Internet, non-cited content on the website [including pop-ups, links, and ads] changes frequently and is beyond our control. Please review carefully before shoeing links in the classroom.)