Contentment is a response to the character of God
Key Question: What do you do when things don’t go your way? By their preteens years, kids know that not everything will happen just the way they want. They are still learning how to respond when moments like these happen. We start with this question because we hope kids will learn to identify how they respond when they face difficulty. We pray that kids will make a plan to help them respond with contentment, as they trust God no matter what.
In our first week, we start in Philippians 4:11b-13. In this letter, Paul is writing to the church at Philippi to help them understand more about what it means to follow Jesus. Paul shares how they can be content and even have joy regardless of their situation in life. This is something that Paul has had to learn from experience. His example of contentment in the face of difficulty is a lesson we can all learn from.
Bottom Line: God can help you be ok no matter what. We can’t promise kids that when they follow Jesus that everything in their life will work out just the way they want it to. However, we can promise them that even if life isn’t okay, God can help them be okay with their circumstances. We pray that no matter what kids are facing, they’ll learn to trust that God will give them what they need to get through it.
Key Question: Why do you still want stuff if it can’t make you happy? Our kids are growing up in one of the most consumer-driven cultures in history. They don’t have to look very far before they run into someone promoting the idea that more stuff will make you happy. Of course, we soon find out, that’s a myth. Yet we still want more stuff! We hope preteens get the chance to wrestle with why they feel this way, and come up with a plan to find contentment when they start feeling the need for more stuff.
Next, we look at Hebrews 13:5, Don’t be controlled by love for money. Be happy with what you have. God has said, “I will never leave you. I will never desert you,” (NIrV). The writer of Hebrews knows something about contentment. The writer reminds us that nothing we own can ever make us happy. Our focus should be on our relationship with God.
Bottom Line: Stuff can’t keep you happy. Getting something new can be exciting, and even make you happy for a time. But as we know, that feeling of happiness doesn’t last forever because what we own was never meant to do that. We hope that kids leave with the idea that only God can satisfy their needs and give them joy in spite of what they do or don’t own.
Key Question: What can you do when all you can think about is what someone else has? When we see something cool that someone else has we can go crazy with jealousy. From new sneakers to new mobile devices, there will always be someone with something we want for ourselves. Rather than going crazy, what can we do about it? We pray that kids walk away with a plan for how they can respond when they want what someone else has.
In week three we head to a story found in 1 Kings 21:1-19, 27, where we discover what happens when King Ahab finds a plot of land he wants more than anything. But there’s a problem, Naboth owns the land, and this land has been in his family for generations. King Ahab and his wife Queen Jezebel go to extreme lengths to take that land for themselves. In the end though, King Ahab was miserable.
Bottom Line: Wanting what others have can make you miserable. Many kids in your environments have probably experienced this bottom line first hand. Yet, that doesn’t stop them the next time they find themselves working out whatever scheme they can to get something new that they’ve seen at a friend’s house or at school. We want kids to be aware that this happens and trust God to help them find contentment in what He’s already given to them.
Key Question: What is good in your life right now? Often we lack contentment because we’re either looking forward to something we want or looking backwards to a time when we thought life was better. To find contentment, we need to be aware of what God is doing in the present. We hope that kids begin to see all that God is doing in their life right now.
We wrap up our study on contentment in Exodus 16:2-21 and 17:1-7 with a look at how God’s people respond to the wilderness. God rescued them from slavery in Egypt, yet when they find themselves in uncomfortable situations they complain that God doesn’t care about them and even long to return to Egypt. In spite of that, God continued to meet their needs in the wilderness providing what they needed the whole time.
Bottom Line: Don’t miss out on what you have now. If we’re only thinking about what we don’t have, we’ll miss being able to celebrate how God is taking care of us. It’s easy to find something else we think we need that will make us happy, but contentment is finding the joy in what God has provided right here and now. We pray that kids will start seeing the good in their life rather than complain and miss out.