Life is full of challenges.
At some point, each of us hit a crossroad where we can keep going or give in to those challenges.
Our students will never reach their full potential until they discover the strength and determination that only comes from God.
Use this preteen lesson on determination to encourage students to never give up.
- Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry
PRETEEN LESSON ON DETERMINATION
Bible: 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Bottom Line: Never give up.
- Fireballs or something sour or hot (one per student)
- Ice cubes (one per student)
- A long addition equation
- Small pieces of paper (one per student)
- Pens/pencils (one per student)
- Prizes for the winner(s)
OPENING GAME: OUTLASTERS
Before the lesson, post an extremely long list of numbers to add together and make sure you know the sum of all the numbers.
Keep large ice cubes in a chest until it is time to use them.
Depending on how much time you have, you can do some or all of the challenges.
When you get to the last challenge, the plank challenge, you can determine by your time if you need to wait for one winner or give prizes to multiple winners.
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
Say: Today, we are playing a game called “Outlasters.”
The goal of this game is to outlast everyone else.
In order to outlast the other students, you will need to have determination.
Some of the challenges are physical.
Some of the challenges are mental.
Everyone who is still competing in the challenge will remain with the group.
If you cannot outlast the rest of the group and are ready to give up, you can sit down against a wall on the side of the room.
The person who is determined to outlast the rest of the group wins!
Say: The first challenge is a fireball contest.
You must keep the fireball in your mouth and not spit it out as you move on with the rest of the challenges.
If you have to spit the fireball out, you are out of the game.
Ice Cube Melt
Say: The next challenge is an ice cube melt.
You must melt the ice cube with your hands and not drop it, put it in your mouth, or or anywhere else on your body.
You may only use your hands.
If you give up or drop it, you are out of the game.
Say: The next challenge is a mind challenge.
Using only your mind, not your fingers or paper, add up the long list of numbers on the wall.
When you think you know the sum, write it on the provided strip of paper and bring it to me.
If you don’t get it right, you can keep trying.
If you want to give up, you can sit against the wall.
Say: Our last challenge is the plank challenge.
I am going to show you proper plank positioning.
Take time to demonstrate or show a picture/video.
You can plank on your hands or on your forearms.
If you can’t stay in proper position or your body give up, you can move to the sit against the wall.
The last person left in a plank wins the competition.
Say: Today we played a game that included a series of challenges that required determination.
In order to outlast others, you had to have a certain amount of mental and physical determination.
Today we are going to talk about determination as it relates to our faith.
God wants us to have a faith that is determined and lasts our whole lives.
Read Galatians 6:9.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on the day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.”
Ask: Have you ever run a race?
Allow time for responses,
Whether you run a sprint or a marathon, you have to have a certain amount of determination.
When you run a sprint, you know it is a short length and you tell yourself to go hard and fast.
When you run long distance, you have to pace yourself and conserve energy for the whole race.
You might run the two races differently, but they both take determination.
In the scripture we read, Paul is writing a letter to his friend, Timothy.
Paul was an encourager to Timothy and set an example in faith.
Paul and Timothy both worked tirelessly as they shared the Good News of Jesus with those who had never heard about God’s gift of salvation through Jesus.
Paul and Timothy were not always warmly welcomed.
Sometimes they were threatened.
Sometimes they did not have food or shelter.
Sometimes they were beaten.
They were even thrown in jail.
But they did not give up on sharing their faith.
They were determined to continue to share the love of God with anyone who would listen.
Paul travelled long distances throughout Asia Minor, Syria, Greece and Rome.
He travelled through all of these locations because he knew His calling as a disciple.
He trusted that God would provide what he needed to do what Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19-20….
“Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.”
When Paul and Timothy joined together, they made a great team.
Sometimes when runners are running a race, they need a pacer.
A pacer is someone that helps you maintain a good speed and keeps you on track.
Sometimes in our faith race, we need friends to help us stay on track.
Even after Paul would leave different cities, he was not done encouraging them.
He followed up with His fellow brothers and sisters.
He wrote letters and encouraged them.
Ask: When we’re participating in the challenges during our game time earlier, what helped you keep going?
Allow a few responses from students.
Our walk with God is a lot like the challenges from earlier.
Maybe we are experiencing a mental challenge and we don’t have the mental energy to read our Bibles or pray to God.
Maybe we are experiencing a physical challenge and our bodies are sick or tired.
Our challenges from the game earlier were primarily mental and physical.
But what about emotional and spiritual challenges?
In one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church, he tells them that we are in a spiritual battle.
He says that the weapons we fight with are not like the world’s weapons.
God is going to give us everything we need to live life for Him.
However, we have to keep training and strengthening our faith.
People who run races don’t just eat whatever they want and sit on the couch all day.
To run a race, you have to train your body.
To run a race, you have to have the right nutrition.
To run a race, you have to prepare your mind.
So how can we finish the race well?
Ask: What does it take to run good race of faith?
Allow time for responses.
We have to train our spiritual bodies and our spiritual minds.
We have to follow the example of other heroes of the faith who have shown determination.
Noah was determined to complete the Ark in obedience to God.
Moses led a group of complainers through the wilderness for years in obedience to God.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God.
Ruth trusted God’s plan for her life and was determined to be loyal to her mother-in-law.
In the middle of his sorrow and suffering, David sang songs of praise in obedience to God.
The prophets brought God’s message to the people and trusted that God would bring a Savior to the world.
Mary and Joseph trusted God’s plan for them to raise Jesus and prepare Him for His ministry on earth.
They disciples were faithful to take the message of Jesus to the nations despite the opposition they faced.
For over 2,000 years, Christians have given their lives to Jesus and trusted God’s plan despite persecution, wars, sickness and pain.
God does not want us to give up doing good for His glory.
God wants us to continue to live for Him, trust in Him and display the fruit of the Spirit.
Paul tells the church in Galatia to not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time they will reap a harvest if they do not give up.
This is true for us today.
Our eternal reward is greater than any earthly reward.
If we stay determined, even when things are hard and we want to give up, God will reward us.
It may not be the reward we are expecting.
The reward may look different from an earthly trophy or candy prize.
But the reward will be great.
Fight the good fight.
Run a good race.
We don’t know how long the race is that God has marked out for us.
But, we have to keep going!
What does it look like to finish well?
Think about things you’ve left unfinished.
Maybe you’ve turned in an unfinished math assignment.
Maybe you’ve left a dinner plate unfinished.
Maybe you’ve started to clean your room and left it unfinished.
Maybe you were watching a movie and you fell asleep and don’t know how it ends.
Maybe you’ve started a big puzzle and you don’t have to leave it unfinished for a time.
Ask: What have you left unfinished?
How do unfinished things make you feel?
Allow a few responses from students.
God doesn’t want us to leave things unfinished.
God is cheering for us and wants us to run a good race.
God wants us to finish strong with determined hearts.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart and all of your determination.
You don’t have to get tired of serving a loving Savior who strengthens you every day.
Let’s outlast all of the challenges that we are faced keep our eyes on the prize!
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Who do you know in your life that has set a good example of what it means to be determined?
Have you ever given up on someone or something?
Why did you give up? Did you regret giving up?
What is the longest race that you have run?
Do you remember ever wanting to give up during the race? What helped you keep going?
What are some ways that we can help others have determination?
Is it easy for you to leave things unfinished? Why or why not?
Who is your favorite person in the Bible that shows determination? How can we learn from them?
In what ways could we improve our determination when it comes to following Jesus?
What is something you want to do that you have never done and are determined to do someday?
Can determination be a negative quality? Why or Why not?
Share some examples of a negative form of determination.
Is there an area we can pray for you to have determination to keep going and do the right thing?
Where are you struggling to have determination right now?
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