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Music Discussions

Man in the Mirror
01/09/1988

Dynamic ImageJune 23, 2009

Main Point of Discussion: If we want to change the world for Christ, we need to start with ourselves by looking into the mirror of God’s word and putting it into practice - especially as it relates to the hungry, the hurting, and the homeless.

The Music Video: Man in the Mirror
There are few (if any) places in the civilized world that haven’t at least heard of Michael Jackson. From his amazing talent to his tortured soul, Michael’s title of ‘King of Pop’ is overwhelmingly agreed upon.

Now with his unexpected death, Michael Jackson’s popularity and place in the culture spotlight is perhaps more prominent than when he was alive. This is a great chance to use the media juggernaut to discuss the positive and even Biblical messages from one of MJ’s most popular songs.

It is possible to teach students about God and His love by using Jackson’s music without endorsing his music to your teenagers. (The practice of using secular material for sacred purposes goes all the way back to the Apostle Paul. See Acts 17.)

You can access the song/live performance of Man in the Mirror at: this “youtube” link.

Introducing the Music Video:
While passing out a copy of the song lyrics, say, “Obviously Michael Jackson wrote a ton of songs over his career, but there is one in particular that carries a very strong message. If there is one song that I think he should be remembered for, it is Man in the Mirror. Reference the lyrics if you need to while watching this music video. Then we’ll talk about it together.”

Song Lyrics:
    Ooh ooh ooh aah
    Gotta make a change
    For once in my life
    It's gonna feel real good
    Gonna make a difference
    Gonna make it right

    As I turned up the collar on
    A favorite winter coat
    This wind is blowin' my mind
    I see the kids in the street
    With not enough to eat
    Who am I to be blind
    Pretending not to see their needs

    A summer's disregard
    A broken bottle top
    And a one man's soul
    They follow each other
    On the wind ya' know
    'Cause they got nowhere to go
    That's why I want you to know

    I'm starting with the man in the mirror
    I'm asking him to change his ways
    And no message could have been any clearer
    If you wanna make the world a better place
    Take a look at yourself and then make a change, yey
    Na na na, na na na, na na na na oh ho

    I've been a victim of
    A selfish kinda love
    It's time that I realize
    There are some with no home
    Not a nickel to loan
    Could it be really pretending that they're not alone

    A willow deeply scarred
    Somebody's broken heart
    And a washed out dream
    (Washed out dream)
    They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
    'Cause they got no place to be
    That's why I'm starting with me

    I'm starting with the man in the mirror
    I'm asking him to change his ways
    And no message could have been any clearer
    If you wanna make the world a better place
    Take a look at yourself and then make a change

    I'm starting with the man in the mirror
    I'm asking him to change his ways
    And no message could have been any clearer
    If you wanna make the world a better place
    Take a look at yourself and then make that change

    I'm starting with the man in the mirror
    (Man in the mirror, oh yeah)
    I'm asking him to change his ways, yeah
    (Change)

    No message could have been any clearer
    If you wanna make the world a better place
    Take a look at yourself and then make the change
    You gotta get it right, while you got the time
    'Cause when you close your heart
    (You can't close your, your mind)
    Then you close your mind

    (That man, that man, that man)
    (That man, that man, that man)
    (With the man in the mirror, oh yeah)
    (That man you know, that man you know)
    (That man you know, that man you know)
    I'm asking him to change his ways
    (Change)

    No message could have been any clearer
    If you wanna make the world a better place
    Take a look at yourself then make that change

    (Na na na, na na na, na na na na)
    Ooh
    Oh yeah
    Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
    (Na na na, na na na, na na na na)

    Oh no
    Oh no, I'm gonna make a change
    It's gonna feel real good
    Sure mon
    (Change)

    Just lift yourself
    You know, you got to stop it yourself
    (Yeah)

    Oh
    Make that change
    (I gotta make that change today, oh)
    (Man in the mirror)

    You got to, you got to not let yourself, brother oh
    Yeah
    You know that
    (Make that change)

    (I gotta make that make me then make)
    You got, you got to move
    Sure mon, sure mon
    You got to
    (Stand up, stand up, stand up)

    Make that change
    Stand up and lift yourself, now
    (Man in the mirror)

    Make that change
    (Gonna make that change, sure mon)
    (Man in the mirror)

    You know it, you know it, you know it, you know
    (Change)

    Make that change


    © AEROSTATION CORPORATION; MCA MUSIC PUBLISHING; YELLOWBRICK ROAD MUSIC
Transitional Statement:
This video paints a great picture of a world we oftentimes choose to ignore or just hope will get better, when in reality the primary way positive change will happen starts with the ‘man (or person) in the mirror’.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we dive in, everybody take a turn and tell us your thoughts about Michael Jackson and what made him so popular. (Leader: make sure you remind them to be respectful of each other’s opinions and appropriate in their sharing.)

  2. ASK A FEW: What are the conditions of the world described in the song?

  3. ASK A FEW: In what ways do you wish the world was a ‘better place’?

  4. ASK A FEW: What do most people think about when they look in the mirror?

  5. ASK A FEW: What would we see if we looked in a mirror that showed us the condition of our hearts?

  6. ASK A FEW: Do you agree with Michael that…

      ‘No message could have been any clearer…

      If you wanna make the world a better place
      Take a look at yourself and then make the change’

    Why or why not?

  7. ASK A FEW: What does he mean when he says ‘when you close your heart then you close your mind’?

  8. Read the following passage from the Bible:

      (James 1:22-24 NLT)
      But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

  9. ASK A FEW: How many times a day do you look in the mirror? Why?

  10. ASK A FEW: Have you ever looked in the mirror and seen a disaster? Did you do anything about it? Why or why not?

  11. ASK A FEW: What is the connection between reading/hearing God’s word and looking in a mirror?

  12. ASK A FEW: What is the connection between ‘Man in the Mirror’ and what James is telling us?

  13. ASK A FEW: What kinds of things does the mirror of the Bible reveal?

  14. ASK A FEW: Why are we often more willing to ‘fool’ ourselves by not changing than to put God’s word into practice?

  15. ASK A FEW: What does it mean to ‘forget what we look like’ on the inside?

  16. ASK A FEW: What is the promise if we put God’s word into practice? (i.e. God will bless us)

  17. ASK A FEW: This passage is definitely talking about our moral condition, but do you think part of putting God’s word into practice is reaching out to the hungry, the hurting, and the homeless in Jesus’ name? Why or why not?

  18. ASK A FEW: If you looked at yourself in the mirror of God’s word right now, would you see a lack of compassion for the hungry, the hurting and the homeless? Why or why not?

  19. ASK A FEW: How are we blessed when we reach out to them?

  20. ASK A FEW: If we all looked at the person in the mirror of God’s word, would we make the world a better place? How so?

  21. ASK A FEW: What are specific ways we can make sure we look in the Bible mirror each day? (i.e. put a Bible by the mirror and remind yourself to read it when you get ready, etc.)

Transitional Statement:
One way that we can put what we’ve talked about into practice right now is to use the mirror analogy. I know this may seem different or even a bit uncomfortable, but I want you to take this seriously and let the Holy Spirit really work on your heart.


Wrap Up:
Pass out small mirrors to each person and ask the students to keep eye contact with only themselves the entire time you read the following passage:
    Matthew 25:21-46

    31-33"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

    34-36"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

    I was hungry and you fed me,
    I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
    I was homeless and you gave me a room,
    I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
    I was sick and you stopped to visit,
    I was in prison and you came to me.'

    37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

    41-43"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

    I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
    I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
    I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
    I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
    Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

    44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

    45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

    46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."
Ask the students what they were feeling and what they ‘saw’ as they looked in the mirror, (you could even ask if they saw a sheep or a goat and why) then discuss specific ways they could put this passage into practice both individually and as a group. For example, you could adopt a World Vision or Compassion child, make sandwiches for the homeless, etc.

Close in Prayer:
Close in a prayer that gives students a chance to trust Christ, then ask God to give your group a vision and compassion for looking in the mirror and making the world a better place by putting God’s word into practice.

Written by Lane Palmer

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