Openers, Topical Curriculum

A Lesson From Toothpaste

Most youth ministries struggle with one thing more than any other: sins of the mouth. Be it gossip, or lies, or swear words, people get hurt when we lose control over our tongues. Here’s an idea to illustrate the twofold problem of sinning with your mouth.

Ask the group finish this statement: “Sticks and stones may break bones, but….”

Ask them if that’s really true. Most students will say that it is NOT true at all. Most students will have felt the pain of someone’s words.

Say, “There are really two problems when it comes to hurtful words. First, somebody gets hurt when we lose control of our mouths. Secondly, no matter how hard we try, or how “sincere” we may be, we CANNOT take back what was said.”

Maybe this image will help you understand what I mean. (Pull out a tube of toothpaste.) Say, “Let’s say this toothpaste tube is our mouths and the toothpaste inside is a hurtful word, or a lie, or a piece of gossip.”

Then, squeeze the tube really hard, shooting toothpaste out of the tube. Point to the toothpaste on the floor or on the table and say, “See that mess; it’s a lot like the mess we get into when we lose control of our mouths. That’s a big problem. But, there’s another really big problem: no matter how hard you try, you CANNOT put the toothpaste back in the tube. The same thing is true with our words: you cannot put them back in your mouth. Hurtful words can’t be taken back. We need to be really careful about what we say.”

James 3:1-12 is a good passage of Scripture to study in relation to this topic.


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


  1. Avatar
    April 19, 2011 at 12:00 am

    taming the tongue

  2. Avatar
    September 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Nice! Great analogy!

  3. Avatar
    September 14, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Great interpretation.

  4. Avatar
    October 6, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Wonderful! Thanks!

  5. Avatar
    Pastor Robert
    March 22, 2012 at 12:00 am

    This sounds like a kool idea.

  6. Avatar
    Jo-Ann Philander
    October 9, 2012 at 12:00 am


  7. Avatar
    Bryan Blakely
    June 13, 2012 at 12:00 am
  8. Avatar
    Jo-Ann Philander
    October 9, 2012 at 12:00 am
  9. Avatar
    August 28, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Great Night With 18 Teens.

  10. Avatar
    December 12, 2013 at 12:00 am

    I am grateful to have found this site. May God richly bless you.

  11. Avatar
    August 12, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Apik Tenan….(how to say: "Very Good" in javanese language)

  12. Avatar
    August 24, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Love love love this idea

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