Note to the Teacher
Our Scripture is from the Book of James, and it talks about the idea of hearing versus doing. The discussion encourages students to think about how our anger can distract us from being “doers of God’s word.” The activity allows youth to reflect on the discussion questions and write down what makes them angry. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: “What Was That?” (10 minutes)
Explain to your students that they are about to play a game called, “What Was That?” One student will be asked to mouth a word or phrase (see below for examples), and the rest of the class will try to guess what the student is saying. The person mouthing the word or phrase needs to be as quiet as possible or completely silent. Feel free to use other phrases or words as you feel led. You set the difficulty according to your specific group. Remember to make it fun! This is an ice breaker, after all.
- I can’t hear you.
- What did you say?
- What time is it?
- I love you.
- I like pizza.
- Do you know my name?
This game may be played in person or online. If you are playing this opening ice breaker in person, please allow for social distancing and adhere to your individual church’s rules on masks and other safety protocols. If possible, allow for more than six feet between students with their masks off; or go outside. If you have enough lead time, consider getting several “windowed” face masks or face shields to allow mouths to be visible. If you are playing this game online, you will need to send the word or phrase to the student being the “silent talker” in a direct message so that no other students see what word or phrase has been given. The “silent talker” can also be on mute. Remember to have fun!
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today talks about the difference between the hearing and doing of God’s word. Invite students to try to listen to what is said about the difference between hearing and doing.
Read James 1:17-27.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- How would you sum up what we just read in one or two sentences?
- When was the last time you got really upset? (Allow students to share if they’d like; however, be prepared to provide time to listen and process.) Were you able to recover from being upset? How?
- Verse 17 says, “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above.” What is this verse trying to say? What does this verse mean for you?
- Have you ever heard the phrase “be slow to anger”? Where have you heard it and why did it come up?
- What do you think is the number one thing young people your age get angry about?
- James 1:19 says, “let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Why do you think the author put those actions in this order? Which of these three things do you find the easiest to do? Which do you find the most difficult?
- Verse 22 says to be “doers of the word and not merely hearers.” What does this mean to you? What’s the difference between being a “hearer” and being a “doer” within this scripture?
- Have you met people who say they do or believe something, but their actions just don’t demonstrate that belief?
- Does God really want us to “do” everything God says to “do” in the Bible? Discuss. If so, why? If not, why? What would the world look like if Christians really did everything they are asked to do in the Bible?
- Verse 27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Why do you think orphans and widows are highlighted? Who might be part of those same abandoned or marginalized populations in our community? What do you think it means to “keep oneself unstained by the world”? Why do you think the author included this in his definition of “religion that is pure”?
- Does the Bible help us with our anger? How can we be a part of helping others grow in their faith through growing in the word of God together?
- Even if we are slow to anger, sometimes anger can be justified. Are there things that you are angry about right now? Are they justice issues that make you angry enough to do something about? How can we work together, even if anger is present? How does anger change the way you act?
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Anger Management: For this activity students will spend some time writing down what makes them angry. You may want to take your group outside or create a contemplative environment by lighting a candle or turning down the lights. Consider playing some soft background music to help everyone focus as well.
Give students five to ten minutes to think about, pray over, and write down all the things that make them angry on a sheet of paper. We’re not talking annoyed or bothered, but really angry. Remind them that they will be the only ones who see what they write, so they should be as honest and open as possible. You may or may not choose to ask students to share. The main point of this exercise is to get students thinking about what makes them angry. If your students need more guidance, offer them prompts like “names of people who anger you” “behavior that angers you” “things that have angered you for a long time” and so on.
Once everyone has finished writing down all the things that make them angry, ask students to do the following:
- Circle any names of people you wrote down.
- Underline anything you have absolutely no control of.
- Scratch-through anything that you feel is petty or not worth your anger.
- Put a star by the things that you’re angry with yourself about.
Give students a few minutes to reflect on this exercise. Ask appropriate guiding questions like:
- How can we bring our anger to God?
- What things made Jesus angry in scripture?
- What (if anything) makes God angry? Why?
Once you’ve given everyone enough time to reflect, ask students to do the following:
- For every name you circled, add them to your prayers.
- For everything you underlined, erase or mark through it, so you can’t see it.
- For everything you struck-through, write one sentence next to it explaining why it’s petty.
- For every star you drew, write down one positive word thing about yourself next to it.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, ask students to share their thoughts. What did they learn about their own anger? What did they learn about themselves? How can James 1:19-21 help them this week?
Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Pens or Pencils
- One piece of paper per student