Music Discussions

The Joke


The Joke – Brandi Carlile

Song:  The Joke

Main Point:  If you feel unloved or devalued, the God who delights in you offers His presence and salvation.

About the Artist – Brandi Carlile

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Carlile was raised in the state of Washington and started playing guitar and writing songs when she was fifteen. As she grew, Brandi continued pursuing her career as a singer, performing at local clubs in Seattle. In 2003, twenty-one-year old Brandi was spotted by Dave Matthews when he heard her band performing at a music festival. The next year, she was signed to Columbia Records and released the self-titled album “Brandi Carlile” in 2005. Her sixth studio album was released in February 2018. Carlile continues to live in Washington where she has a dog, a horse, a goat, chickens and a cat. She started her own foundation called Looking Out Foundation which raises funds for various organizations she believes in.

Song Lyrics: The Joke

You’re feeling nervous, aren’t you, boy?
With your quiet voice and impeccable style
Don’t ever let them steal your joy
And your gentle ways, to keep ’em from running wild
They can kick dirt in your face
Dress you down, and tell you that your place
Is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine
I see you tugging on your shirt
Trying to hide inside of it and hide how much it hurts

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them

You get discouraged, don’t you, girl?
It’s your brother’s world for a while longer
You gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream
Call it living the dream, call it kicking the ladder
They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them

Introducing the Song – You Say This:  Carlile wrote this song with the goal of uplifting people who struggle to fit the molds made for them by modern society. She says, “There are so many people feeling misrepresented [today] … So many people feeling unloved. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, and unloved.” Carlile also says she wrote the song with many groups in mind, which includes people struggling with disabilities, sexuality, shyness, and more.

The Music Video:  The music video can be viewed for free at:

Hand out Lyrics and Play Song.

Transition Statement – You Say This: This song addresses different types of people who feel under-represented and unloved. The message of this song is that it won’t last, because there are better days ahead. Is this the truth? Can everyone be confident that in time they will find the value and love they desire, and what role does God play in these things?

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. ASK A FEW: Who would consider themselves to be shy? What challenges has that caused you during your life?
  2. ASK A FEW: Would anyone share a time when they relate with the lyric that says; I see you tugging on your shirt trying to hide inside of it and hide how much it hurts?
  3. ASK A FEW: What do you think the message of the chorus of this song is? (the chorus starts with Let ’em laugh while they can). Do you agree with this message? Explain why you think the way you do.
  4. ASK A FEW: What do you think she means when she sings; You get discouraged, don’t you, girl? It’s your brother’s world for a while longer. Why do you think that could cause her or others to feel devalued?
  5. ASK A FEW: What are some reasons people your age can feel devalued or unloved?
  6. ASK A FEW: What are things teenagers look to so they can feel loved and valued?
  7. ASK A FEW: Is it fair to say that when anyone feels unloved or devalued, that it won’t last? Explain why you think the way you do. Challenge each other on your responses.

Read the following passage:

Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

  1. ASK A FEW: Read Zephaniah 3:14-17. What do you think is happening in this passage?
  1. ASK A FEW: The context here is that God has pardoned Israel for some things they had done, and now is offering to bring presence and salvation. In what ways is this similar to what Jesus has done for you and I?
  1. ASK A FEW: What does it mean that the Lord your God is with you? Is He ever not with you? Do you think there’s a difference between God being “everywhere” and God being “with you”?
  1. ASK A FEW: How do you experience the presence of God? What are some things that keep you from experiencing Him more?
  1. ASK A FEW: God is called a Mighty Warrior who saves. What does God save you from? How does that help when you are feeling devalued or unloved?
  1. ASK A FEW: What does it mean to take delight in something? Explain the implications of God taking great delight in you.
  1. ASK A FEW: What are some things that make you sing with joy? What do you think it means that God rejoices over you with singing?
  2. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Let’s change the “you” to “me” in this verse and read it out loud. Let’s have everyone take a turn on this. Let’s have a few people share what stands out about this exercise.

Wrap Up – You say this:  This song makes the point that those who feel unloved or devalued can be confident that this season will not last. Eventually the joke will be on those who are causing you to feel this way. During our time, we talked about some of the causes of feeling this way as well as how you can respond when you deal with these things. We talked about whether or not anyone can feel confident that feeling unloved and devalued will be temporary. For the follower of Jesus, there is a confidence of God’s presence and fight (Mighty Warrior style!) when we endure these difficulties. Take a moment and talk to God about ways you can become more aware of His presence. Make a decision on a couple things you could do daily that would help you connect with God in a deeper way. 

(Pause and give them a quiet moment to pray silently.) 

The verse we looked at in Zephaniah shows that God is with you, which means He is for you. He takes delight in you which means He finds joy in you as you are. In fact, He finds so much joy in you that He sings as an expression of that joy. God has chosen to bring salvation to those who will trust Him, and as a result you can hold onto the incredible truth of Zephaniah 3:17. If you have not chosen to trust God with your life, perhaps you might want to talk to Him about that now. If you’ve made that decision, take a few moments and reflect the words of Zephaniah 3:17 back to Him in prayer. Talk with Him about what those truths mean to you. 

(Pause and give them a few moments to pray silently.) 

You are valued because God has made you in His image. He knows you and He delights in you. You are loved because God has chosen to invite you into His presence – and God is the very definition of love. Experiencing God is experiencing His love. The more you choose to experience God’s presence, the more you will see the things that cause you to feel devalued and unloved for what they are – lies that are not worthy of your time. When you are feeling this way, choose to remember the truth of Zephaniah 3:17, that the God who delights in you offers His presence and salvation. Hold onto this truth, and know that you are loved.



Rob Chagdes

Rob Chagdes is one of the pastors at Prairie Lakes Church in northern Iowa. In the years since he met Jesus as a sixteen year old, Rob has spent his life working to raise up the next generation to love God and invite others into His unending story. He spends most of his free time with his wife Leslie, their three amazing daughters, and their energetic dog Jedi. You can reach Rob at .

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