NOTE TO THE TEACHER
Today’s lesson includes a recap of the previous three weeks, but don’t fret if you didn’t lead the lessons from the previous weeks! The summaries are enough to help guide that part of the conversation.
ICEBREAKER: The Hero’s Journey
What are your favorite hero stories? (These could be superheroes or average people thrust into an incredible happening.) Now think about one of those stories. Everybody name a hero and jot down a few quick points that are important to the story.
Invite everyone to think of the selected hero and then strike a heroic pose. Then ask students to guess one another’s heroes.
Once everyone has named a hero, ask what things their stories have in common. Some of the most common elements to such stories are:
- The hero has to overcome something: fear, uncertainty about ability, and so on,
- The hero demonstrates altruism or sacrifice.
- The hero has to persevere through difficulties, obstacles, or opposition.
The practice of perseverance is an important one for many heroes. Today, we will see perseverance as we finish reading 2 Timothy.
Paul goes through a lot. He has to change the direction of his entire life after encountering Jesus. He is opposed by people in many of the places he goes; he is shipwrecked and beaten; and he even spends time in prison! Yet Paul gives it his all, dedicating his life to his ministry.
Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18.
Verse 6 says, “I’m already being poured out as a libation to God…” In using this metaphor, Paul is sharing that he has given his all to his ministry of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. We get that sense in what follows: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7). Have you ever felt like you had worked really hard to complete something? How did it feel when you finished?
“Persevere” (to be steadfast; to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty) is a word that Paul would appreciate, and it resonates with many of his writings. Consider the following other statements attributed to Paul. What do these statements say to you about perseverance?
- Philippians 3:13-14 CEB (Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.)
- Galatians 6:9 CEB (Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.)
- Philippians 1:6 CEB (I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.)
In our readings from 2 Timothy, Paul has given some advice that can help Timothy to remember to persevere:
- He can remember his faith and how it was nurtured (1:5).
- He can present himself to God as acceptable (2:14).
- He can find scripture to be useful for his life and faith (3:15-17).
What have you learned from others, from doing your best, or from scripture that can help you to persevere?
An obituary is a written summary of a person’s life. Verse 7 is kind of like an obituary, where Paul summarizes his life. Think back to the hero you named in the opening activity. If you were to write a one-sentence obituary for that hero, what would it say?
If someone were to write your obituary in one sentence, what do you hope it would say? What are you doing today that might embody that sentence?
ACTIVITY AND DISCUSSION – Church of Cards
This is a simple activity with possibility for much discussion. Have anywhere from two decks of cards to a deck per student and invite them to work together using the cards to make a model of your church. While they do so, you can guide them, while reminding them of principles from this scripture:
- Perseverance: Encourage them to keep at the work, even when the cards (inevitably!) fall down.
- The relational nature of the church: As they build the physical model, you can talk about the people they would encounter in that part of the church and how those people have made a difference for them.
- Sacrifice: Ask them to consider how the church was built, who helped fund it, and all that has been done throughout the years to make it what it is.
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.
- Decks of cards (these don’t need to be complete!)