NOTE TO THE TEACHER
This week’s lesson aims to encourage people despite obstacles they may face, similar to “Paul’s” words of encouragement to “Timothy” in the face of difficulties. This lesson invites critical thinking: participants are led to consider the import of a “personal” letter even if it was not actually written by or to whom it professes. They are further invited to think outside the box of standard church life to consider figures who are “not ashamed” to be bold in pursuing what they believe is right.
ICEBREAKER: 'Who Taught You…?'
See how many in the group can name a specific person (or people) who were responsible for teaching them how…
- To read?
- To cook? (or go more specific: to scramble eggs? To make toast?)
- To pray the Lord’s Prayer?
- To make a bed?
- To ride a bicycle?
Feel free to insert additional topics that make sense in your context
This morning, we begin at the beginning of 2 Timothy. This book is attributed to the Apostle Paul. You may know, or you may have heard, that this letter may not have actually been written by Paul, and that’s okay! Biblical books and letters are often attributed to well-known figures for many reasons. The tradition holds that an older Paul wrote this letter from prison to encourage a younger pastor named Timothy. Just as Paul encouraged Timothy, we often have people who go before us, hold hope for us, and seek to help us in our lives and faith. As we read today, let’s see if we can hear the hope and help of one person for another.
Read 2 Timothy 1:1-14.
Does this feel like a personal letter? What are some phrases that might suggest a personal connection between the author and reader? (Consider verses 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14.)
Paul names and appears to know people in Timothy’s family. Who are they? How do you feel when someone knows you and your family? How is that different from someone who only knows you? Are there women in your family life who have shared valuable knowledge with you?
What is something you are so committed to that you would be willing to face consequences to stand up for it? Your faith? The environment? Human rights? Are there people you know in school (or work or your community) who have stood up for something and either made a difference or faced consequences because of it? (Think school bullying, racism or prejudice, etc.)
Do you think peer pressure stops people from being fully committed to a cause? Why or why not?
How might you encourage someone else to be as “committed to the cause” as you are?
In Paul’s letter, Timothy is encouraged to hold strong the “sound teaching” Paul shared with him, grounded “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (v. 13). Where, and by whom, have you come to grow in knowing the faith and love of Jesus? How does being loved and cared for equip and support you to do difficult things?
Are there times when you have been the mentor offering encouragement, like Paul? What were those experiences like? Have you ever been a mentee, receiving encouragement, like Timothy? How did those experiences feel?
ACTIVITY AND DISCUSSION
As a group, let’s make a list of people we think are “unashamed” heroes – people standing up for their faith or what they think is right, making a positive difference in the world. These might be people of faith or others in the world. Definitely invite folks to use Google. Name names AND list the things that they believed and the things they fought against.
To help generate a list, you might consider:
- Ghandi (Imperialism, warfare, racism)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (Economic inequality, systemic racism)
- Mother Teresa (Poverty and treatment of the marginalized)
- Greta Thunberg (Environment, sustainability)
- Malala Yousafzai (Education, sexism)
- The #NeverAgain youth
Now, choose someone from this list and imagine they are sending you a letter to encourage you to speak and act on things that you believe are issues. What might that letter say? Take a few minutes to write down some ideas.
Talk about whom you chose and what they wrote to you.
Close in the manner typical for your group. Consider taking joys and concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.