Spiritual Growth Agendas, Topical Curriculum

How We Respond

Main Point: Life can be difficult at times, but we never get God’s permission to react any other way than holy and loving.

Discussion Starter: Attitude Improv
OK, for this to work, you have to use your leaders (adult or student) who are GOOD up front. This discussion starter will crumble if you use your introverts or shy folks who are afraid of looking foolish in front of others. The only thing on this job description is “must be willing to be zany.”

Pull four leaders to the front of the room and bring them up on the stage. As soon as they come up front, have them reach into a hat and pull out one of four PRE-WRITTEN notes that say the following:

  1. (probably a student) You are Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and you just asked a really hot girl out on a date. She told you no. She told you no, hard! In front of others! What’s your reaction?

  2. You are President Barak Obama and you were just notified that Mexico has invaded Texas for its BBQ and Louisiana for its Cajun food…and they are thinking about taking over Idaho for its potatoes. What’s your reaction?

  3. You are Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh) and your car won’t start. (Yes, you are a donkey who knows how to drive.) This makes the second time this month, and it’s probably going to be expensive. What’s your reaction?

  4. (probably an adult) You are Richard Simmons and you just dropped a bowling ball on your left foot. It hurt worse than a gunshot wound. Now you won’t be able to film your 19th installment of Sweating to the Oldies. What’s your reaction?

Tell them to start thinking, because you’re going to give them 30 seconds to read their note, and then act it out. (The more time you kill going over the rules, the better job they’ll probably do. So don’t be in a hurry.)

Explain to the crowd that each person has been assigned a fairly famous persona and a difficult situation. They must decide how they are going to handle the situation, while sticking to the persona they’ve been assigned.

Finally, inform the crowd that they will be able to vote on the best rendition. (Just use the trusty ‘ol Applause Meter.) This way, you can keep your whole crowd/group involved.

After you’re done, award the first place contestant with some sort of prize and then move on to the more serious part of the small group time.

Transition Statement:
OK, most of us will have trouble forgetting some of those images and reactions. But I wanted our leaders to do this in front of you to make a point: there are just about an infinite number of ways we can respond to bad situations in life, but we have to react in godly, holy, and loving manners. How we react to something can make things go from bad to worse, or can be the make or break moment for us. Let’s spend the next few minutes learning how to react in ways that please God.

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: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and something that usually makes you struggle with your attitude (i.e. lots of homework; a rainy day; a headache, chores, etc…)

  2. ASK A FEW: Have you ever heard this phrase: Life is 10% “what happens” and 90% “how we respond”? If so, what’s that mean? And do you agree with that little phrase?

  3. ASK A FEW: How does attitude differ from behavior or conduct?

  4. ASK A FEW: How does attitude affect behavior or conduct?

  5. ASK A FEW: Reacting to good situations is easy. Reacting to bad situations isn’t always easy. But what can happen if we react poorly to bad news?

  6. Read the following passage:

      Revelation 3:7-13 (NIV)
      “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

      These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

      I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  7. ASK SOMEONE: Just to make sure, who is doing the talking here and why is that important? (Leaders – Jesus is talking, and He’s telling them He’s glad they’ve overcome some persecution, and that He wants them to continue doing the same.)

  8. ASK A FEW: Does anyone know what these Christians were facing? (Leaders – By this time, the church and Jesus’ followers had already faced incredible persecution by Nero and others. For a glimpse of what Christians underwent, read this.)

  9. ASK A FEW: How do you think you would respond to what these Christians were undergoing?

  10. ASK A FEW: If you were to sum up this passage in your own words, how would you do it?

  11. ASK A FEW: Do you think Jesus ever gives us permission to respond/react to bad news or sin however we want? Why or why not?

  12. ASK A FEW: What happens if we react to bad news or sin or evil with sin or evil of our own?

  13. ASK A FEW: What happens if we react to bad news or sin or evil with love, godliness, or holiness?

  14. ASK A FEW: What two factors affect your overall attitude most of the time, and is that good or bad?

  15. AROUND THE CIRLCE: What situation most often causes you to react poorly, and how will you work on changing that?

Wrap Up:
If I could have you learn one lesson from our time spent together, this is what it would be: God wants us to behave like He did in every situation.

In life, difficult moments sometimes come our way. We face trials, sin, temptation, evil, confusion, hurt, etc…and so did Jesus. The only difference is, He always handled those moments with godliness and holiness. He never reacted sinfully…even when He was facing sin and sinners! He reacted in ways that pleased His Father.

That’s what we need to do. We’re going to face troubles; that’s a given. But we need to learn how to do it with love. If we can do that, not only do we avoid making a bad situation worse, but we can even make God look really good. “How’s that?” you ask. Well, it’s simple.

Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and everybody else in the world has to face difficult times. When Christians face difficult times, they get the opportunity to do so in a godly manner. And when we do, we make God look good. When we react godly, His truth and His Word is revealed to others through us! That’s reason enough.

But that’s not all. When we react in godly ways, God rewards us. Just like the passage we read from the Book of Revelation, we are treated accordingly by Jesus.

So, whether it’s traffic woes, a gossiping friend, a mean person in your life, or a bad grade, we all face tough moments. Let’s spend some time together praying for one another before we close up. Let’s get in groups of three or four and pray for each other. Ask God for strength and His leadership in the situations we’ll face this coming week.

Close in Prayer


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 TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


  1. Matthew Gifford
    June 22, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Going to use this one tonight…..

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