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1. Do you have a nickname your friends call you?
What is it? How did you get the nickname?
How does it make you feel?
2. How would you feel?
If you thought everybody was laughing at you?
If you were a failure in front of your friends?
If you were different from everyone else your age?
3. It was a Friday and Jason got on the bus feeling really good. That night he was going to hang out and sleep over at his friend Bryan's house. It was going to be a great weekend. But when he got to school, things changed his good mood. In his first period math class, he found out that he flunked yesterday's quiz. To top it off, Bryan ignored him and cancelled their plans. Bryan was invited to Dawn's house for a party, and Jason hadn't been invited. Jason couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. He wondered if God cared-after all, didn't God want Jason to have fun?
Didn't God understand?
What advice do you have for Jason?
What would you say to Bryan if you were Jason?
Do you think God understands Jason's situation?
4. Do the statements below describe you? Write Y (yes, that's me) or N (no, that's not me).
____ I feel good about who I am. ____ I always compare myself to ____ I often daydream I am someone else. my friends. ____ I have trouble making friends. ____ Most people are smarter than I am. ____ I feel I am just as important as anyone ____ I sometimes put other people down. else at school. ____ I feel left out sometimes.
5. Wanna know how much God thinks of you? Check out the following Bible verses and jot down what you think he says.
Psalm 139:13-14 Colossians 1:21-23
Everyone has feelings of inferiority, but during the junior high and middle school years, these feelings are intensified. These feelings can be painful, especially among junior high or middle school aged kids, who are so heavily influenced by their peers. This session examines those feelings of rejection, hurt, and inferiority and gives you the opportunity to talk about these feelings in a warm, supportive Christian environment.
When discussing inferiority, it is very important that the kids feel secure enough to talk. That means no put-downs!
Try the Gratitude Game. Ask a member of the group to come to the front or sit in a special chair. Then ask the group to brainstorm what things they would be thankful for, if they were the person selected. This can be very affirming for the group. Try it with several kids or all of them, if you have time.
The discussion, by the numbers
1. The purpose of this item is to get the kids to think about the nicknames others have given them and how they feel about them. Begin by sharing a nickname you had as a teen and how you felt about it. Then ask if anyone would be willing to share their nicknames and their feelings about them.
2. Make sure your kids have an opportunity to share their feelings without being afraid of being laughed at. You might want to share some of your own junior high and middle school experiences. Ask the kids to share some positive nicknames and experiences as well-times when they really felt affirmed, when people applauded them, or when they felt successful, proud, and accepted by others.
3. This tension-getter allows kids to role-play a counselor and give advice to someone else about feeling small. Let the kids brainstorm several choices Jason could make. Then illustrate how these ideas could apply to their own situations. 4. Choose two or three of the less threatening statements and ask for a show of hands to find out who checked Y (yes, that's me) or N (no, that's not me). Some won't want to share their answers. There aren't any right or wrong answers here, so try to keep the discussion flexible and focus on how the kids feel. During the wrap-up, you may want to go back to some of the statements and shed new light on their feelings. 5. The Bible passages listed give you an opportunity to focus the discussion on God's unconditional love and acceptance for us. You can guide the discussion toward God's feelings for us. You may want to focus your attention on Psalm 139:13-14. Then listen carefully to your kids as they share their paraphrases of the verses.
Help your kids understand that some feelings aren't either good or bad. Communicate to your kids that all feelings are natural and healthy-although some people think that certain feelings are sinful. Teenagers need to understand it's not the feeling itself, but what's done with the feeling that's sinful. When they feel down, they need to be careful not to do something they'll regret later. Feelings are temporary, but some consequences of sinful behavior will stick around forever.
Let the kids know that they are each a special, gifted person created in the image of God. It's important to let your youths know that everyone (including you, their parents, the senior pastor) feel inferior sometimes-it's normal! Even confident people who seem to have it all together feel insecure at times. Your kids shouldn't forget that God loves them-he's their biggest fan. If God has a wallet, their picture is in it! In fact, their names are engraved in the palm of his hand (Isaiah 49:16).
Challenge your kids to accept God's love and forgiveness, even when they don't feel loved or forgiven. God is always there for them, no matter how they feel about themselves.
Ask your kids to think of themselves as the following-
Any place in the world. What would they look like if they were a city, or an island in the middle of the ocean? What kinds of buildings, hills, valleys, roads (some under construction), or other areas of interest would be there? What would the map look like? Any object in the world. What would they be if they were anything in the world? Why? What do they like or not like about what they chose?
A candy bar. What kind of candy bar would they be? Why?
A celebrity? What characteristics of the celebrity do they like? Why?
Any other examples that you'd like to add.
Or your kids could bring a CD or video that best expresses how they feel when they feel inferior. Play the music or video and discuss how it describes their emotion. What does the music say about feeling small? What do people do when they feel inferior?
Excerpted from Junior High and Middle School TalkSheets-Updated! by David Lynn Copyright © 2001 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted July 27, 2012