Category Archives: Character

The Power of the Peer (ANECDOTE)


Stanley Milgram ExperimentIn 1961, psychologist Stanley Milgram was trying to make sense of the atrocities of World War II.  He wanted to know what type of person could be compelled to treat people with the level of cruelty that came from the Nazi regime, so he devised an experiment and took out an ad in the local newspaper.  The ad invited people to come to the basement of a building at Yale University and participate in an experiment to test the effects of negative reinforcement on learning.  For an hour of their time, they would be paid $4.50.

When the subjects arrived, there was always another person in the waiting area.  This person was a confederate of Dr. Milgram’s (meaning that this person knew about the experiment and had a role to play).  The confederate would start a friendly conversation with the subject until a scientist in a white, lab jacket appeared and asked both people to draw a slip of paper out of a bowl.  The slip of paper told them what their role would be: “teacher” or “learner.”  In actuality, both slips said “teacher,” so that the subject would always be in the “teacher” role.

The two people would then be led to a small booth, where the confederate (the “learner”) sat down and had a special paste applied to his arms.  The scientist said that this was to help administer the shocks from the electrodes, which were then attached to his arms.  The confederate would then ask, “I have a little bit of a heart condition; will it be a problem?”  And the scientist always responded, “No.  The shocks are painful, but they aren’t dangerous.”

The subject would then be led into the next room and shown a piece of machinery that he would use to send shocks to the “learner.”  The scientist would give the subject a 45-volt shock from the machine to demonstrate what it would feel like.  Then, the scientist would give instructions about how the experiment was to be conducted.  The subject (the “teacher”) would read out two words loudly enough to be heard in the next room.  Then, he would read the first word again and wait for the “learner” to remember and say the second one.  If the “learner” got it incorrect, the “teacher” would flip a switch to shock him.  Each time he missed a word, the voltage would be turned up until it reached a maximum of 450 volts (ten times the shock the subject had received, which was unpleasant even at that low level).

In truth, the “learner” didn’t get any shock at all, but the “teacher” didn’t know that.  The first shock brought a grunt from the “learner.”  The second, a mild protest.  Then stronger protests.  Then screaming, shouting and banging on the wall while yelling, “I have a HEART problem!”  After 315 volts, the “teacher” would only hear silence when he flipped the switch.

You probably think you would refuse to participate in such a study once you saw what it was all about, and maybe you would.  But would you believe that 65% of the subjects continued to administer shocks all the way up to the maximum level?  Many protested during the experiment and asked if they could stop, but the scientist in the white lab coat would just say, “The experiment calls for you to continue.”  If the subject protested five times, the experiment was ended, but over half of the subjects were intimidated by the authority figure in the white lab coat and continued to give shocks even after they thought they might have seriously injured the friendly stranger they met a few minutes before.

Dr. Milgram experimented with every variable (room size, the look of the machine, distance from the “learner” and many others), but he found one factor that made the biggest difference in how the subject behaved – having another person in the room.  If a second “subject” (also a confederate of Dr. Milgram) refused to administer the shocks, only 10% of the subjects would continue.  But if the second “subject” continued to the maximum of 450 volts, 90% of the subjects would do it, too!!  That’s the power of the peer.

Peer pressure is a powerful motivator.  The subjects in the experiment didn’t want to be the ones who were too timid to do what the experiment required when their peer seemed to have no problem with it.  Others didn’t want to be the ones who appeared cruel when their peer took a moral stand.  Seeing their peer act in a particular way either pressured them to suppress their concerns or gave them the confidence they needed to challenge the authority figure in the white lab coat.

We care what other people think about us.  Maybe we shouldn’t, but we do. And so do your team members.  Especially those who have less status or standing in a group because they are newer or younger or less experienced or less mature.  This dynamic shouldn’t be ignored when you are trying to motivate a group to change their behaviors.  If influential peers* don’t support your change, you probably won’t get the support of other team members.  Make sure your strategy for implementing your change includes engaging these high-influence staff members.  Connect with them first.  Get their buy-in.  Respond to their concerns.  Give them a role and responsibilities in the change.

When everyone else sees them supporting the change, they will be more likely to follow their example.  If you neglect to engage your high-influence staff members, don’t be surprised when you get some shocking resistance.

* The staff members with influence are often those who are more articulate, older, more experienced, come from a higher social class, have connections or have some other status that is highly regarded in your culture.

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Filed under Accountability, Change, Character, Influence, Peer Pressure

Penny Auction (ACTIVITY)


Time

15 minutes

 

Description

This activity can be used in two ways.  You can use it for teaching about judging the character of people or about how to do better selection and hiring.

 

For teaching about judging character, use 1 Samuel 16 (the story about David’s anointing).  The lesson will help make the point that what people look like on the outside is an unreliable way to judge the quality of their heart.

 

For teaching about selection and hiring, the lesson helps hiring managers understand that it’s difficult and often unreliable to judge job candidates by their appearance and what they put on their applications.  To make better hires, they will need to use good interviewing techniques and skills to find out what the applicant is really like.

 

Scripture

  • 1 Samuel 16:1-13

 

Materials

  • Pennies (or some other low-denomination currency – 10 per participant)
  • Newspaper
  • Brown wrapping paper (or a grocery sack)
  • Giftwrap (look for different styles with some noticeably nicer than the others)
  • Clear tape
  • Bows and/or ribbons (for 3-4 packages)
  • Gifts (10 of varying quality – some should be things that few would enjoy receiving, e.g. toilet paper rolls.  Others can be nicer, e.g., desk supplies, picture frames, coffee mugs.  You might want to have one or two that are much nicer if you can afford to give them away.)
  • Copy paper – a few sheets
  • Scissors
  • Marker (one – for labeling the gifts)

 

Preparation

  • Wrap all ten gifts.  Most of the nicer gifts should be wrapped in either the newspaper or the brown wrapping paper.  The less nice gifts should be wrapped to make them look really nice, with ribbons and bows.  Wrap one or two nice gifts nicely, just so you aren’t too predictable.  Make sure that it isn’t obvious what is inside by the shape of the package.
  • Set all the gifts up on a table at the front of the room, and put a small sign in front of each one that labels the gift “A, B, C, D, etc…”  (Each gift should be labeled with one letter.)
  • Distribute ten pennies (or other currency) to each participant.

 

Procedure

Use this script, or modify to suit your needs:

  • “We are going to have an auction!”
  • “With the pennies that I have given you, you can bid on any of these ten gifts up at the front.”
  • “You can use all your pennies to purchase one of the gifts, or you can split your pennies and use them to buy two or more gifts.  It’s up to you how you would like to strategize.”
  • “You can keep whatever is in the gift.”
  • “As with other auctions, I will set a starting bid.”
  • “If you want the gift at that price, you can raise your hand to indicate that you want to bid on it.”
  • “Someone else in the group may be willing to pay more, though.”
  • “After you bid, I will ask if anyone wants to bid a penny higher than your bid.”
  • “If someone else raises their hand and bids a penny higher, then that person gets control unless you choose to bid higher than them.”
  • “The person with the highest bid when I say, ‘SOLD,’ is the winner.”
  • “Does anyone have any questions?” (Answer any questions.)
  • “Let’s begin!”  (Have them bid on one of the gifts.  It doesn’t matter what order you do it in, but you might want to mix nice looking gifts with less nice looking ones.  If bidding slows on a gift, say, “Going once…Going twice….SOLD!” and indicate the person who bought the gift.  Collect their pennies from them, and let them take their gift.  It’s okay for them to open it up right then.  It will start to make the point that the wrapping is an unreliable indicator of what’s inside.  When all the gifts are purchased or all the pennies are gone, open all the gifts (even the ones that didn’t get bid on), and ask the following debrief questions.)

 

Debrief

  • How reliable was it to judge the quality of the gift by its wrapping?
  • How does this apply to our relationships with people?
  • What would be a better way to judge the quality of the person?
  • How does the Bible say God does it?  (Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13)
  • So, what should we do?

 

Debrief (for using this for Selection and Hiring)

  • How reliable was it to judge the quality of the gift by its wrapping?
  • How does this apply to selection and hiring?
  • What would be better ways to judge the quality of the person?  (Answers could include: behavioral interviewing, testing, immersion, trial run, probationary period, references, etc.)

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Filed under Character, David, heart, Hiring, Interviewing, Judgment, Samuel

Tool, Test or Territory? (CHALLENGE)


Time

15-20 minutes
Description

This Challenge looks at the events of Joseph’s life and asks whether God was using each one as a Tool (to shape Joseph), a Test (to reveal the quality of his heart) or new Territory (to give him more ministry for the Lord).

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50

 

Materials

  • Card stock paper – 1 sheet per person (Alternatively, you can use posterboard, but you will then need to glue the pyramid pattern to the posterboard.)
  • Printouts of the pyramid pattern – 1 per person (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Tool, Test or Territory? – Pyramid (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  It would be best if the pyramids were printed in color.)
  • Printouts of the Questions and Answers sheets for group leaders – 1 per group (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Tool, Test or Territory? – Questions and Answers Sheet (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.)
  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Tool, Test or Territory? – Challenge Card (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.  There are two Challenge Cards per page.)
  • Glue sticks – several per group
  • Envelope – 1 per group
  • Rulers – several per group (to help with creasing)
  • Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group
  • Scissors or cutting tools – 1 per person

 

Preparation

  • Print out the pyramid patterns on card stock paper (or on regular paper and then glue them to posterboard).
  • Put enough pyramid patterns into each Ziplock bag for each participant in the group to have one.  (If you want to save time facilitating this challenge, you can cut out the pyramids yourself.)
  • Print out the Challenge Card document.
  • Cut the Challenge Card document in half (each half is identical), and put one in each Ziplock bag (one per group).
  • Print the Questions and Answers document out (one per group) and put it in an envelope.  Then add it to the Ziplock bag for each group.
  • Put glue sticks and scissors (or cutting tools) in each Ziplock bag (enough for sharing or for each participant in each group).
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
  • “It’s called, “Tool, Test or Territory?” and it’s part of the Joseph’s Journey Series.”
  • “First, I’ll need to divide you into groups.”  (Divide the participants into the number of groups for which you have prepared kits.)
  • “Each group will have a Ziplock bag with a Challenge Card, some pyramid patterns, glue, scissors, rulers and an envelope.”
  • “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and begin cutting out your pyramid patterns.  There are enough for everyone to have one.”
  • “After they are cut out, use the rulers to crease your pyramids along all the lines.”
  • “Then, put glue anywhere it says, ‘GLUE-GLUE-GLUE,’ and glue these tabs INSIDE your pyramid.  The square part is the bottom of the pyramid, and the four triangles are the top.”
  • “When you are done, your group leader will open the envelope to get the Questions and Answers sheet and ask you about different experiences in Joseph’s life.”
  • “Everyone in the group should vote about how you think God was using that experience in Joseph’s life.”
    • “If you think God was using it as a ‘Tool,’ show the ‘Tool’ side of the pyramid to your group leader.”
    • “A ‘Tool’ experience is when God uses it to shape our character to make us more like Jesus and develop skills / knowledge we can use to serve Him.”
    • “If you think God was using it as a “Test,’ show the ‘Test’ side of the pyramid to your group leader.”
    • “A ‘Test’ experience is when God uses it to test our hearts and show us our character and maturity.”
    • “If you think God was using it as a ‘Territory,’ show the ‘Territory’ side of the pyramid to your group leader.”
    • “A ‘Territory’ experience is when God uses it to invite us to take more territory (which is an area of influence or ministry) for His glory.”
    • “If you think God was using it for more than one reason, show the fourth side of your pyramid to your group leader.”
  • “Be ready…your group leader will probably ask you why you voted the way that you did.”
  • (Let them begin. When they finish making their pyramids, open the envelope and give them the quiz by reading off each experience and asking them to vote with their pyramids. After each vote, ask a few of the participants to tell you why they voted the way they did; then, share the correct answer and explanation from the sheet.  When they are finished with the quiz, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards.  The Rhyme Time is a reinforce to help them remember that the events of their lives can be used by God in a big way.)

 

Debriefing Questions

  1. What do you think about all these events in Joseph’s life?
  2. What did you learn about how God uses our experiences to prepare us for the future?
  3. What is a Tool, a Test or a new Territory God has recently used in your life?

 

Rhyme Time

Often what’s hard is a tool and a test;

God will help me to do what’s best!

 

 

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Filed under Challenges, Character, Choices, Coping skills, God's Plan, God's Will, Hardship, Joseph

Bloom Where You Are Planted (CHALLENGE)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This Challenge makes the point that we can make a choice to honor God even if difficult situations.  Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, but he was such a trustworthy slave, that Potiphar put him in charge of everything in the house.  When Joseph was accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison, the prison warden soon put everything under Joseph’s authority, because Joseph was so faithful in how he handled his responsibilities.  Participants will plant flowers in a mixture of gravel and water jelly crystals to show that you can still bloom when you are in a bad place.

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50
  • John 4:10-14

 

Materials

  • Water Jelly Crystals – (You can order them from Steve Spangler Science for approximately $40 plus shipping and handling. (2.27 kg (5 pounds)
    Item #: WSAC-900) Order early, because they may take up to two weeks to receive. It’s important that the crystals are clear and not colored.  You can find these crystals at http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/product/1283.
  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Bloom Where You Are Planted – Challenge Card (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.  There are two Challenge Cards per page.)
  • Small, potted flowers (preferably seedlings with some leaves but before they bloom, but this is flexible) – 1 per person
  • Small, clear, plastic cups – 1 per person
  • Gravel – enough to fill each plastic cup about ¾ full
  • Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group
  • Scoops or large plastic spoons – 1 per group
  • Gallon jug of water – 1 per group

 

Preparation

  • Divide the water jelly crystals evenly so that you have the same amount for each group, and place them in Ziplock bags.
  • Add a scoop or large plastic spoon to each bag for scooping out crystals.
  • Add enough plastic cups for each person in each group.
  • Divide the gravel evenly among the groups, and put it into a bag or some other container for each group.
  • Set aside enough flowers for each person in each group.
  • Print out the Challenge Card document.
  • Cut the Challenge Card document in half (each half is identical), and put one in each Ziplock bag (one per group).
  • Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
  • “It’s called, “Bloom Where You Are Planted” and it’s part of the Joseph’s Journey Series.”
  • “First, I’ll need to divide you into groups.”  (Divide the participants into the number of groups for which you have prepared kits.)
  • “Each group will have a Ziplock bag with a Challenge Card, cups, water jelly crystals, and a scoop or spoon.”
  • “Each group will also have some flowers, gravel and water.”
  • “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.”
  • “You will then take the small seedlings out of their planter and shake off the soil so that all you have is the plant with exposed roots.”
  • “This represents Joseph, who was taken out of the good soil of his home and family.”
  • “Next, take a handful of gravel rocks and a handful of water jelly crystals, and mix them together.”
  • “Then, put them into your clear, plastic cup.”
  • “This represents the bad soil that Joseph was planted in when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and then again later when he was thrown into prison for something he didn’t do.”
  • “Plants can’t usually grow in rocks, because they need nutrients from the soil and something to hold the water when it rains.”
  • “That’s why we added water jelly crystals.  They hold water and help the roots to get the refreshing water that they need to grow.”
  • “So here’s the secret reason why Joseph was able to continue to grow even though he was in a bad place.”
  • “God was with him.”
  • “The water jelly crystals represent God’s presence in Joseph’s life.”
  • “Plants need normal water to thrive, but people need LIVING WATER, which is God’s Word and presence, to thrive.”
  • “Jesus says in John 4:10 that we can ask Him, and he will give us living water.”
  • “Then, He says in John 4:13-14 that ‘Everyone who drinks (regular) water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water (Jesus) gives them will never thirst. Indeed, the water (Jesus) gives them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”
  • “That means that if you depend on Jesus, you will have eternal life with Him in heaven.”
  • “Put your finger into the gravel and water jelly crystals and make a hole for the seedling to be planted in.”
  • “Then, plant the seedling in the gravel, and move the gravel and water jelly crystals around the root.”
  • “Finally, add some water to about halfway up the cup.”
  • “Now, let’s set these aside.  We’ll watch them during the week (or weeks) to see if they thrive in their new soil.  They may even bloom!”
  • (When you are finished, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards.  The Rhyme Time is a reinforce to help them remember that if they continue to trust God, He will make even difficult situations a blessing for them.)

 

Debriefing Questions

 

  1. Do you think the flower will bloom where you planted it?  Why or why not?
  2. Why do you think Joseph was able to succeed in difficult situations?
  3. How could you “bloom” when you find yourself in a difficult place?

 

Rhyme Time

If we trust Him and obey,

God makes bad things go OUR way!

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Filed under Abundance, acceptance, activity, Challenges, Character, Choices, Coping skills, courage, Daily walk, Hands-on, Hope, Joseph, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Scarcity, struggles, Transformation, Waiting on the Lord

Unforgiving Servant (QUICK DRAMA)


Matthew 18:21-35

 

Two men enter with a prisoner in chains.  They bring him before a king and throw him down.  The king addresses the prisoner.

 

KING: “My records show that you owe me $3,267,500.  Pay today, or I will sell you, your wife, your children and all you own to pay the debt.”

SERVANT: “Oh, please, your Majesty!  Please have mercy on me!  I can’t pay you today, but I will!  I promise!”

KING: “Hmmmm… On second thought, there’s no way you could every pay off such a large sum.  You seem repentant.  Your debts are completely forgiven.”

SERVANT: “Really?  Completely forgiven?  Oh, THANK YOU, your Majesty!”

The servant leaves, bouncing out of the room while thanking the king.  As soon as he leaves the king’s presence, however, he comes across a man in the hallway and begins yelling at and choking him.

SERVANT: “You lousy rat!  Where’s that lunch money you borrowed from me?  You better pay up!”

MAN (falling on his knees): “Oh, I will!  I will!  I promise you will have all your money back, but I don’t have it on me today!”

SERVANT: “Don’t have it on you, huh?  Guards!  Arrest this man and throw him into prison!  He owes me money!”  (Guards enter and take man to prison.)

Several of the king’s servants observed the unforgiving servant’s behavior, and they quickly reported it to the king.  Enraged, he demands that the unforgiving servant be brought before him.

KING: “I’ve heard how you treated the man who owed you lunch money.  Because you are such an unforgiving servant and couldn’t overlook such a small amount after I had forgiven you of so much, I’m ordering you to be tortured by my guards until you’re ready to forgive that man.”

 

Isn’t it silly that the unforgiving servant couldn’t forgive a few dollars after he had just been forgiven millions of dollars?  God says that ‘s what it’s like when we won’t forgive people for things they’ve done to us.  Compared to how much God had to forgive us for, it’s like the difference between millions of dollars and lunch money.

 

When we won’t forgive others, our relationship with God suffers.  It’s like being in prison.  It won’t keep us from getting into heaven, but it will make life miserable.  But if we will forgive those who intend to harm us, God forgives us and fixes our relationship with Him again.

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Filed under Character, conflict management, Conflict Resolution, drama, forgiveness, Grace, Relationships, unconditional love

Do Clothes Really Make the Man? (OBJ LESSON)


Time

30 minutes
Description

This object lesson looks at the different clothing Joseph wore and asks the question, “do clothes really make the man?”  The old adage means that how you dress says a lot about you, but in Joseph’s case, he was the same person in any costume.  However, no matter how good Joseph was, he couldn’t be good enough to impress God just through his good works.  God isn’t interested in what we DO until He changes WHO we are, and that only happens when we accept Jesus as our Savior.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50
  • Isaiah 64:5-6
  • Isaiah 61:10

 

Materials

  • Several smocks (Loose-fitting fabrics that simply have a hole in the middle to fit over the head (for quick changing during the lesson) and a belt to tie them off.  You can do more elaborate costumes if you want, but these simple outfits will work.)
    • One plain white smock (to start the story)
    • One “coat of many colors”
    • Two dingy-colored or burlap smocks (for slavery before being sold and for prison)
    • One nicer white smock (for serving Potiphar)
    • Two even nicer smocks (for when Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his entire estate and for when Joseph comes up from prison)
    • One even nicer, nicer smock (for when Joseph was put in charge of Egypt – “robes of fine linen”)
    • One “filthy rags” smock (to represent our “righteousness”)
    • One “golden” smock (to represent the righteousness of Christ)
    • Gold chains costume jewelry
    • Ring costume jewelry

 

Preparation

  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “There is famous saying that ‘Clothes make the man.’”
  • “It means that what you wear says a lot about you and that people will judge you based on the clothes that you wear.”
  • “I think we ought to be careful about judging people based on the clothes that they wear.”
  • “They could be a great person inside of terrible clothes.”
  • “For example, Joseph wore many clothes in his lifetime, but for most of his life, Joseph was the same person underneath those clothes.”  (Ask for volunteer to come to the front, and put the plain, white smock on him or her.)
  • “Here’s Joseph, a young man of 17 years.”
  • “Look closely at him.  I want you to tell me if he changes when he gets his new clothes.”
  • “Joseph had 11 brothers, ten older than him.”
  • “In Hebrew culture, the oldest son was supposed to get the best treatment, but Joseph’s father loved him more than all the others, because he was the firstborn son of Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife.)
  • “To show his love for Joseph, Jacob gave him a fancy coat to wear.”  (Put coat of many colors on volunteer.)
  • “Look closely; is it the same person or a different person underneath?” (Acknowledge responses.  Hopefully, the participants will agree that Joseph was the same person no matter what he was wearing.)
  • “This made Joseph’s brothers really jealous and angry with him, and they got even angrier when Joseph started having dreams about ruling over his brothers.”
  • “The next time the brothers were out shepherding their sheep, Joseph’s father sent him to check on them.”
  • “He made the mistake of wearing his fancy robe to go and find them.”
  • “The brothers were all wearing the clothes of smelly, dirty shepherds, and here came Joseph, wearing the clothes of someone who didn’t have to work because he was so special.”
  • “When they saw Joseph with his fancy coat, they were furious with him and talked about killing him.”
  • “In the end, they decided to sell him to a passing group of slave traders.”  (Put the dingy-colored smock on the volunteer.)
  • “What do you think now?  Is it the same Joseph, or did the clothes change him?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “The slave traders took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to an Egyptian, named Potiphar.  There, he was given the clothes of a servant.”  (Put nicer white smock on volunteer.)
  • “Same Joseph or different?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Joseph served Potiphar so well that Potiphar soon promoted him and put him in charge of everything in his household.”  (Put even nicer white smock on volunteer.)
  • “Is he different yet, or is he the same Joseph he was when we started the story?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “But then a terrible and unfair thing happened!  Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of doing something he didn’t do, and Potiphar was so angry that he threw Joseph into prison.”  (Put second dingy smock on volunteer.)
  • “Do these clothes make him someone different?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Joseph was in prison for years, but he served the prison warden so well that the warden put him in charge of everything in the prison.”
  • “There came a day when Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) had a few dreams that bothered him.”
  • “No one could interpret the dreams for him, but he learned from one of his servants that Joseph had the power to interpret dreams.”
  • “Pharaoh called Joseph up from prison, and they dressed him in nicer clothes to prepare him to meet Pharaoh.”  (Put second even nicer white smock on volunteer.)
  • “Has he changed?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams for him, and Pharaoh was so impressed that he promoted Joseph to the 2nd highest level within Egypt.  Only Pharaoh was more powerful than Joseph.”
  • “Pharaoh had Joseph dressed in robes of fine linen and put gold chains around his neck and an important ring on his finger.”  (Put even nicer, nicer smock, gold chains and ring on volunteer.)
  • “Even in this really nice set of clothes, isn’t Joseph still the same person underneath?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “In this new role, Joseph did even better than he did in all his other roles.”
  • “He helped the Egyptians to save some food during the good years when there was lots of food, and when the famine came, there was plenty of food for everyone in Egypt and in the surrounding nations.”
  • “So, here we have Joseph with his eight different sets of clothes.”  (Show all eight smocks.)
  • “But the Joseph underneath is the same Joseph no matter what he is wearing.”
  • “Joseph always did his best and served those in authority faithfully, and in the end, he was recognized as a great and wise leader by Pharaoh.”
  • “Joseph was a pretty impressive guy!”
  • “When we read about him, most of us think it would be pretty cool to be like Joseph.”
  • “But you know what?  No matter how impressive Joseph is to us, he doesn’t impress God just because he was a good person.”
  • “The Bible tells us in Isaiah 64:5-6, ‘How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.’”
  • “What that means is that even the ‘best’ person in the world – the one who does the most good things – looks like he is dressed in filthy rags to God.”  (Put filthy rags smock on volunteer.)
  • “We can’t save ourselves from Hell just by being good – not even if we are as a good as Joseph was.”
  • “You see, God doesn’t care what you DO until you change WHO you are, and there is only one way to change WHO you are in God’s eyes…you have to accept Jesus (God’s Son) as your Savior.”
  • “Two thousand years ago, Jesus died on a cross to save us from our sins.”
  • “He had to do that because we sin.”
  • “You sin, I sin…everyone who has ever lived sins.”
  • “The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death.  That means separation from God.”
  • “But God loved us so much that he didn’t want us to be separate from Him.”
  • “So He sent His Son, Jesus, to take the penalty of our sin for us.”
  • “Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins.  Then He rose from the dead to give us new life!”
  • “But you have to accept what Jesus did for you.  It’s a gift, and He won’t make you take it.”
  • “If you want to, you can still pay the penalty for your own sins, but that would be a terrible waste of the gift Jesus bought for you when He died on the cross.”
  • “But here’s what’s cool about accepting Jesus’ gift!”  (Have someone read Isaiah 61:10)
  • “This Scripture is talking about two of the things Jesus did for us by dying on the cross.”
  • “The first is that He clothed us with salvation.  In other words, we get to go to heaven.”
  • “The second is that He dressed us up in a robe of righteousness.  In other words, He covered our unrighteousness (our filthy rags) with His righteousness.”  (Put golden smock on volunteer.)
  • “Now THIS impresses God!”
  • “When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He covers our sinfulness with His perfection.”
  • “Then, whenever God, the Father, looks at us, He sees the righteousness of His Son, Jesus.”
  • “This is the only set of clothes that will ever change WHO you are, because it makes you a child of God.”
  • “It has nothing to do with what you DO, because it’s a gift from Jesus.”
  • “You can’t earn it.  You can only accept it.”
  • “So in a sense, clothes really do make the man, but in God’s eyes, there are only two types of clothes that say anything about WHO you are.”
  • “Are you wearing the filthy rags of sinfulness? (Show the filthy rag smock.) ….or the righteous robe of a child of God?”  (Show the golden smock.)
  • “I hope you will accept the wonderful gift Jesus bought for you.  He really wants you to have it!”  (Thank and dismiss volunteer.  At this point (depending on your tradition), you might want to make an invitation for the audience to accept the gift of salvation and the robe of righteousness that Jesus has purchased for each of us.)

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Filed under acceptance, Agape Love, Belief, Character, Christianity, Eternity, faith, Jesus, Joseph, Object Lesson, Performance, salvation, sanctification, Transformation

Joseph’s Journey


For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”

Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!

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Filed under Abraham, Abundance, acceptance, activity, Agape Love, Annointing, Belief, Bible study, blessing, Challenges, Change, Character, Christianity, Comfort Zone, Coping skills, courage, Discipline, distractions, drama, exercise, faith, Fear, forgiveness, Future, Game, Games that Teach, God's dream, God's favor, God's Plan, God's Will, Hands-on, Healing, heart, Hope, Humility, Jesus, Joseph, Kindness, leadership, Lesson, Listening to God, Love, Obedience, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Pride, purity, Relationships, Repentance, Salt of the earth, sanctification, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health, Spiritual Warfare, Strengths, struggles, team, temptation, territory, test, tool, Transformation, Trust, unconditional love, Waiting on the Lord