Have you ever said something “in the moment” and then wished you had thought a little harder before you said it? Athletes are praised for talking trash before a competition, but most of the time it’s best if they just kept quiet.
In the 2003 NFC Wild Card Playoff between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, Matt Hasselback’s words were captured over the PA system as his team won the coin toss: “We’ll take the ball, and we’re gonna score.” Hasselback was partly right—one of his passes did lead to a score. His pass was intercepted by the Packers who took it all the way for a touchdown and the game win. Matt Hasselback was seen thumping himself in the head as he walked off the field while the commentator said, “Many of the headlines will talk about what he said at the coin toss.”
- It’s football season and everybody loves to talk a big game. What’s the most outrageous promise you’ve heard a player make? (Let students share appropriate responses.)
- Are any of you impulsive with what you say? Why is it so hard sometimes to think before we speak? (Sometimes we want to seem important or clever in front of a group. Other times we just don’t have a filter for what we’re spontaneously thinking. And still other times we might get angry or frustrated and this makes us “snap.”)
- Keeping a promise is much, much harder than making one. Has anyone been promised something and then realized it was not going to happen? How did that make you feel? (Answers will vary. It is common to feel jaded, dismissed, disappointed, and even cynical when others habitually break their promises to us.)
- The digital world has made impulse control even harder. Have you ever sent a text that you couldn’t retrieve later? Why are digital and voice messages even harder to deal with? (When we use a digital device to send a message, there is a record of what we said. When someone can revisit the offense, it becomes even harder to make amends.)
It’s easy to say something stupid in the moment, but it can hurt those around us. Instead, God wants us to be men and women of our word. Let’s read about someone who paid a heavy price for making a rash vow.
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.
- Poster board and marker
- Index cards
- Optional: Whiteboard and marker
We can hit rewind during a Netflix movie, or delete the sentence we just wrote. But it’s much harder to retract our promises. Instead, it’s best to think through our words before we speak. We’re going to learn a quick method for testing the motives and intentions behind our words.
Hand out index cards and writing utensils. Create a sign (either on a piece of poster board or written on a whiteboard) that contains the following capital letters: W. A. I. T. Write each part of this acronym as you discuss the concept behind each word. Students can copy the four words on an index card to keep for themselves.
W = Wisdom. Is this promise or claim wise?
A = Advice. Have I asked other people for advice on this issue?
I = Intention. Why do I want this so bad? What is my motive?
T = Timing. Is this the right time to make a promise? Is there a better time to act?
Depending on the size of your class, divide your students in groups of 3-4. Provide each group with one of the following scenarios, prompting groups to apply the WAIT method to their assigned situation.
Each of these scenarios is a situation where someone might be tempted to make a rash promise. Each group will be given one scenario. Applying the four strategies in the WAIT acronym, discuss with your group members how you might approach the situation with caution.
Scenario #1: You just met a guy (or girl) at school this year and you are crazy about each other. You think you’re ready to date seriously—and you’d like to express how quickly you’ve fallen in love. What should you do?
Scenario #2: Your friend’s relative wants to hire you to do some work at her small business, and she wants an answer right away. You are really busy this semester with other obligations, but you could use the money. How should you proceed?
Scenario #3: You promised your mom that you would be available to tutor your little sister every Tuesday after school. But now your best friend wants you to join a club that meets at the same time. What should you do?
Once your small groups have had time to discuss, use these questions to bring the group together.
- Which group would like to share? What strategies did you apply to your scenario? (Encourage one or more groups to share their insights.)
- Do you think these WAIT strategies might help you process your responses in your own situations? Why or why not?
- Let’s say we do mess up and break a promise. What then? (Approaching the situation with humility, asking forgiveness, making amends, and learning from our mistakes can help.)
Even adults struggle to control their impulses, especially when we want something really bad. But we should always consider the consequences of making quick promises. Take your WAIT card home as a reminder to use good, sound judgment before you speak.
Close in prayer.
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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.)