The purpose of this session is for young people to value spiritual practices that on the one hand can lead to a more intimate relationship with God and on the other, prevent behaviors that may be self-destructive.
In this session, youth will do some simple activities which will require some concentration and discipline. They will practice a behavior which introduces the idea of spiritual discipline and explore additional possibilities themselves.
Set chairs up in a circle.
Select a scripture of the day for the group
Gather (5 minutes)
• Opening Prayer
• Greeting One Another
• Introduction of Session: Have one of the students read the Bible verse of the day. Then say that all of us naturally move away from God every day. Our human tendency is not to seek God. Our tendency is to seek pleasures which satisfy us and not our Creator. Therefore, it takes work to move toward intimacy with God. Today we will learn together about what are spiritual disciplines, their importance and how they can help us move closer to God, become more self-controlled and avoid self-abusive behaviors.
Engage (30 minutes)
• Activity 1: Seeing Blindly:
Have chairs arranged in a circle. Place a series of objects in the center of the circle. Hand each student a blank sheet of paper and writing instrument. Have each student select one of the objects that draws their attention. Then place the object they select in front of them. Tell them that they will have 5 minutes to draw the object they selected without looking at their paper and pen/pencil. If it helps, you may blindfold them. After they’re done, give them the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about the activity.
• Activity 2: Do As I Mean:
Say that this activity is about attentiveness and discipline. Tell the group that they must follow your command. During the first round say that they must follow your two-word instruction. For example, when you say walk, they must walk around the room. When you say stop, they must stop where they’re at. Begin the activity by saying walk, then at some point say stop. Try to trick them by saying stop when they are still and saying walk when they are already walking. After a minute or two, stop the group and explain that you will add the commands “name” and “dance.” When you say name, the students must state their name. When you say dance, they must do a dance. Intersperse the stop, walk, name, and dance commands. Make your commands are easy at first, then try to confuse them by saying “walk” when they are already walking, etc. For the second round say that walk now means stop, and that stop, now means walk. However, name still means name, and dance still means to do a dance. Similar to the first round, intersperse the commands easily at first, then try to confuse the students. For the third round, say that walk still means stop, stop means walk, and now, name means dance and dance now means name. Give the commands as in previous rounds. Start slowly, then give the commands pretty quickly. The young people will have a great time and will enjoy themselves.
Reflect (20 minutes)
• Activity 3: Gallery Wall:
• Sum-It-Up: Share the following: self-control, self-regulation skills and certain disciplines can help you to better manage your emotions, thinking, behavior and motor actions in different situations. Throughout the day, you need the ability to negotiate sensations, situations and form appropriate responses. This requires you to control your impulses and to stop doing certain things that hurt you and others, and to participate in something even if at times it may be challenging. For example, you use self-discipline skills to control an impulse to move all around the auditorium during an assembly and you are required to sit and watch the assembly even if you may not be highly interested in the presentation. Research indicates that self-discipline is also a predictor of academic abilities. Youth with higher levels of self-discipline have achieved higher scores in reading, vocabulary and math. In addition, some research has shown that the ability for young people to self-regulate or have self-control is associated with higher, future education levels. But it’s not just about avoiding bad things or delaying certain things for later, it’s also about replacing those things or creating specific habits that will bring about a better relationship with yourself and with God.
• Closing Prayer
This resource includes supplementary materials:
Introduction for Leaders