To This Day
Main Point: Hurtful words have an awful impact on those they’re spoken to long after they’re uttered. As Christians, not only must we never demean others, but we should defend those who need our help.
The Discussion Starter: To This Day
Spoken Word is a growing form of art that we’re seeing more and more often. It’s not exactly poetry and it’s not exactly song. It’s a hybrid somewhere in between the two. Shane Koyczan is one of the latest voices in this art genre, and for good reason. His message, taken from a TED Talk, entitled “To This Day” is insightful far beyond his young years.
Essentially, his message is about bullying and its harmful effects…short term and long term. “To This Day” talks about the fall out he and some other bullied friends still experience as a result of hurtful words spoken to them when they were kids. Like physical wounds that leave scars, they must deal with the invisible scars that words have caused them.
The Clip: This Spoken Word is available at the YouTube link below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltun92DfnPY
NOTE: There is a longer version of this same message available on YouTube that is the actual recording for the TED Talk in which this was given. You probably don’t want to use that version; in it, he drops the F bomb. So, make sure to use the link provided above.
There was some pretty raw stuff in that clip, wasn’t there? Shane Koyczan, the young man whose voice you heard, was tormented fairly severely by others when he was a kid. But he also talked about another boy and girl who were taunted even more terribly than himself. His conclusion was a fairly simple one; sticks and stones don’t hurt any more than hateful words, regardless of what we were taught as kids. Furthermore, those stinging words hurt for a really long time. So here’s the deal. As Christ followers, you and I have some work to do. Not only must we never demean others, but we should defend those who have been hurt. Let’s see exactly what God has to say about this issue.
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.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and our favorite memory from childhood.
- ASK A FEW: In his poem, Shane talks about himself, and a boy and girl he knew from school. What were some names that the three of them were called and what were some of the mean things that were said about each of them?
- ASK A FEW: What effect did the words/nicknames have on the three of them?
- ASK A FEW: What is the definition of bullying? At what point does “teasing” becoming “bullying” or are they the same thing? Explain.
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think that this poem is titled “To This Day”? (Leaders – It’s titled that because Shane wants others to know that “to this day” he still hears the lies and the taunts and the threats that were spoken about him when he was a kid. “To this day” it’s hard for him and the other two to believe that they are beautiful and successful and valuable because of all the terrible things said about them years ago.)
- ASK A FEW: In the clip, Shane said that “they were wrong” about him and the other two kids. In fact, he says “they had to be wrong…why else would we still be here?” Do you think that bullies and those who maliciously hurt others are wrong or not? Why?
- ASK A FEW: Do you see people treating others the way Shane was treated? If so, give an example.
- ASK A FEW: What do you think our response should be when we see or hear people treating others the way that Shane was treated and talked to?
Read the following passage:
Psalm 64:1-10 (NIV)
For the director of music. A psalm of David. Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy. 2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from that noisy crowd of evildoers. 3 They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows. 4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear. 5 They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see them?” 6 They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the mind and heart of man are cunning. 7 But God will shoot them with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down. 8 He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. 9 All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. 10 Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise him!
I will keep this short and sweet.
Our world is a broken one. Classrooms, hallways, and cafeterias have become battlefields. Every single day, thousands upon thousands of kids are hurt and cut apart by the words and actions of others. Every single day, kids feel exactly like Shane from the video.
But our God hates injustice. I mean He hates it! Over and over again in His Word, He denounces injustice and says He will harshly judge it. We’ve seen that much in the psalm we read. But I wonder, what will God’s attitude be towards those who witnessed it…and did nothing to stop it?
Let me tell you one other truth. Historically speaking, one of the most frequent ways God has put an end to injustice is through His people. Yes, there have been times when God supernaturally intervened and put a smackdown on some hater right by Himself, but most of the time, God uses His people to help others. Guess who God’s people are?
Hint: I’m looking at them.
Imagine 20 years from now when the next Shane steps up to the mic or creates a video to share his story. It might sound like this: Yeah, one day I was in the gym and ________ got in my face…again…and called me every single name in the book…again. I felt so tiny and so afraid and so alone and so embarrassed. But then, ________, that Christian kid, stepped up, got my back, and helped me out. Immediately, I knew I wasn’t alone. Right then and there, I knew at least one person cared. I knew that at least one other person hated injustice.”
Just imagine if it’s your name that goes in that blank. If it is, you’ll have changed a life. If it’s not, you’re just another bystander that could have been God’s tool but chose not to be.
So, what do you choose?
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; 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.