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Consumer or Servant

January 11, 2013 — Leave a comment

Growing up in the United States comes with a fare share of privilege. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Around the world a recent study (@ ranked the United States #1 in spending on clothing and footwear per year. We also ranked #1 in spending on hotels and restaurants per year. On spending for recreation and culture, things like concerts, we ranked 5th. Sadly, we rank at the top when it comes to how much garbage we produce as a nation (we rank 3rd out 17 peer countries).

We arguably spend more per capita than any other country in the world. With the staggering amount we spend it should not surprise us that out of 31 peer countries (including: Japan, Korea, Turkey, Mexico, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany and many others), we rank 3rd in poverty. Mexico ranks #1.

We are a consumer driven country! Our reputation is one of materialism and personal gain. We are known for spending more than we make. Many of us live in debt because of credit cards and loans. It seems living with and dying with debt does not hinder us from getting what we want and living in comfort. Have we chosen our comfort and desired lifestyle over service and the needs of others? Have we selfishly decided to go after what we want, rather than what we simply need? Have we let our comfort distract us from the sacrificial life Christ modeled for us?

As followers of Christ, how do we reconcile being citizens of privilege and wealth   to the life and words of Jesus? As youth leaders, are we living in front of our students a life in pursuit of service and sacrifice, or have we too become consumer driven? Maybe we don’t personally feel we are wealthy with a lot to give, but are we seeking a path of responsibility and faithfulness to God with what we do have? Are we prepared to lead a life of selflessness rather than selfishness?

The teens we work with are being raised in a country that encourages them to make money to spend money, ON THEMSELVES. Spending/consumer habits start early. According to, the average teen spending in a year for and by American teens amounts to 208.7 billion dollars. In a consumer driven culture it is important to share the words of Jesus with our teens. Lets encourage them to think about the needs of others before their own material desires. Here are some verses you can share with your youth group/teens to think about the words of Jesus. You might also like to share some of the statistics listed at on teen spending.

Matthew 19:16-22
16 Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”17 Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” 18-19 The man asked, “What in particular?”Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.” 20 The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?” 21 “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” 22 That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.

Mark 8:36
34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Mark 12:41-44
41-44 Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”

Discussion Questions: After reading the words of Jesus together, discuss the following questions with your teens.

What stands out to you about these words of Jesus?

Do you think Jesus is as concerned about our material needs as we are?

How should we seek to live?

I encourage you and your students to take a personal inventory of the heart. As followers of Jesus, lets think about whether or not we are headed down the path of consumerism or servant?

If you would like to use this blog post as a lesson I’ve come up with 8 introductory questions you can begin the conversation/lesson with.

True or False-The total number of teens in the United States is 25.6 million?

True or False-The total annual spending by teens in the US in 2012 was $6.5 Billion?

If you would like a complete list of questions and this blog post in a lesson format, email me at, subject: A”ME”rica lesson.

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Lesson: Becoming Selfless

December 7, 2012 — 1 Comment

The biggest legacy you can leave in youth ministry is knowing that you’ve introduced your students to who Jesus is. We don’t just want them to accept the Jesus of Christianity through the knowledge and belief that Jesus was the Son of God. We want our students to experience who Jesus was through the living word, how he lived, and how he loved. In the lesson text below we look at the words Selfless and Selfish. In the scripture text you will see that Jesus defined the word selfless. I’ve posted a lesson text below that I hope will be helpful in guiding your group in the process of becoming selfless. Click here to link to leaders guide.

 Lesson Text: Our Selfless King

(Have students read this together. Follow your leaders guide)

There once lived a king whose kingdom was boundless. The earth could not capture its beauty or contain its width. It stretched further than the earth and extended beyond the universe. This kingdom was before life and will continue after life. It does not know time.

The king of this kingdom and his people were and will always be as vast as the sand on the ocean floor. This king is the ruler of all that is and will be. He is the creator of the Universe. He dwelt among his us fully God and fully human. His reign and life on earth was humble. He did not come to rule over us, he came to love us and to live with us. He lived as a servant. He gave all that he had to the point of death on the cross. He was the definition of Selfless.

He is not just a ruler, he is our hope.  He did not lift himself up; he lifted those around him up. He did not meet his own needs; he met the needs of those he created.  He was not selfish. He was selfless.

Can we say this about ourselves? Do we put other needs in front of our own? Jesus lived a selfless existence on earth. Knowing him, and loving who he was, and who he can be in your heart, is the beginning of living a selfless life.

Philippians 2:5-8 (msg): Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

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Student Participation Sheet: Selfless

Define selfish:


What would you consider an act of selfishness? Give an example of something you’ve witnessed that you thought was really selfish.


Define Selfless:


Describe the most selfless thing you’ve witnessed in your lifetime.


Leaders Guide: Selfless Lesson

(Link to lesson text)

Thank you for leading your group through this important issue and topic. Your King, creator, and God is a God of love. He is a God who would take the shirt of his back to cloth you. He is a God who would rescue you and hear your cry out of 1,000,000 voices. This is the God we want our students to know. He is a God who serves. The objective of this lesson is to guide your students through the process of becoming selfless.

We live in a “ME” society. Our country prides itself on being the “land of opportunity.” We are taught by society and culture to be inward focused. We seek education that will help us meet our financial goals and afford us the luxuries of life. This creates a conflict. If we are going to live as selflessly as Christ did, do we pursue the things of modern culture and society? Your job is to guide students in study and discussion towards considering God First, Self Less, and other more.

Step One: Pray about what it means to paint a picture of a selfless life for your students. What does it mean to be selfless?

Step Two (3-5 min)(first session): Spend a few minutes talking to your students about this study. Prep them for the prayer, thought, honesty, and humility it will require. Explain the objective of the study to them: to consider God First, Self Less, and others more.

Step Three (2-3 min): Have students read the introduction aloud.

Step Four(5-10 min): Read the scripture in the introduction a second time, this time have the students listen for words that stick out to them. Read it a third time. After the third time give each student a chance to share what words or phrases stood out to them.

Step Five(5-10 min): A) On the work sheet you printed out for your students, give them time to define the following words: selfish and selfless. After you’ve given students time to write, ask them if they would like to share their definitions. B) Go over actual definitions from the dictionary.

Step Six(10-15 min): Leader, say to your students: Thank you for sharing your definitions. The goal and point of this study is to recognize how our own selfishness gets in the way of experience a loving God who is and was selfless. Lead and discuss the following question…In what ways do you think you are personally selfish, what does it look like to be selfless, and what do you want to get out of this time together?

Step Seven (Closing): Leader, read through the scripture in the introduction one last time. And then close in prayer. I will be posting a lesson each week for the next several weeks. Next week, we will take a look at A “me” RICAN culture and how American Society can be a breeding ground for selfish lifestyles.