Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Humble Hero - Chapter 48
Who Is the Greatest
Humble Hero - Chapter 60
What Is the Highest Position
In the great controversy between right and wrong, humility is locked up in a desperate battle against selfish ambition and pride. Does humility stand a chance?
I can just hear Peter, Andrew, and Matthew calling out, “Say what?! No Way! That’s not right!”
The mother of James and John had just put in a request to Jesus that her wonderful sons would be in the positions of greatest honor next to Jesus in His kingdom someday. It would have seemed like a sarcastic joke, but it wasn’t. Jesus must have been shaking His head and feeling disbelief when He heard that ridiculous question, but He was gracious and taught His disciples a simple, fundamental lesson about leadership.
If you want to lead, then be a servant. Simple and to the point, but humble service was not a common practice among religious people at the time of Jesus. The Pharisees were filled with pride and had what Google defines as, “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.” There was a drastic contrast between the humble, compassionate life example Jesus was living compared to the rigid, uncaring, holier-than-thou life the religious leaders presented.
THE BIG IMPORTANT SHIP
Read the following story, and then discuss the questions below.
“This is the transcript of a radio conversation of a US Naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations, 10-10-95.
Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States’ Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north, that’s one five degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.”
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read each Bible passage, then discuss the questions. If you are still worshiping from home, consider discussing one or more of the questions on social media, in a Zoom meeting, or in a group chat with friends.
Serve One Another
Read Galatians 5:13 (NIV).
13You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh: rather, serve one another humbly in love.
A Lifestyle of Humility
Read 1 Peter 5:5, 6 (NIV).
5All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
What is Humility?
Read Proverbs 22:4 (NIV).
4Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
In this week’s lesson the concepts of pride and humility were explored through several stories and illustrations in the Bible. It is clear that pride involves people depending on themselves, while humility is typically a position that depends on others. Jesus said you should be like a little child, who needs parents to care for you. You need your Heavenly Father. Jesus compared His followers to sheep who are dependent on their shepherd to care for and protect them. You need your good Shepherd, Jesus, to care for you. Pride will get you nowhere, because it makes you feel like you are able to do everything yourself. You are only able to live a humble, servant life as you recognize your great need for Jesus and trust in Him to care for you.
Consider applying what you learned in this week’s lesson by doing one or all of these activities:
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
The request for position exposes the nature of selfish ambition. The disciples’ interest is on status and power, not on empathy and participation in the suffering of Christ which He had just discussed. The account is the same as that in Mark 10:35–45, except that in Mark it was the two brothers who had made the request, while in Matthew they were with their mother, who approached Jesus. Jesus’ acceptance of women in His company as His disciples is evident in His acceptance of her words of request as openly as of the men’s. The conversation that followed emphasized the cost to the disciples in participating fully with Him in His mission. To share His mission is to share its cost. With limited understanding they said, “We are able.” Jesus did not rebuke them for their presumption, but predicted that they would share martyrdom for the will and work of God.
The contrast between the approach of rulers among Gentiles and the way for the disciples of Christ is expressed in verses 25–27. Jesus emphasizes the point by an interpretation of His own mission. To be truly great is to serve. To be in first place in the work of God is to become a servant for the enrichment of others. Jesus transitioned into the contrasting truth of kingdom greatness with His words, “Not so with you,” implying that, “You are sons of the Almighty. What are you doing dabbling in these puny efforts at worldly ‘greatness’ when you could be experiencing true greatness?”
Jesus phrased His words in a kind of poetry. The pronoun whoever leaves the door to true greatness open to anyone willing to follow the path Jesus prescribes. Among you brings to mind the family of God. Jesus was speaking of relationships within the believing community. The possessive pronoun your, in both cases is plural, implies that the great believer is servant or slave of all fellow believers. This is equivalent to saying, “The first will be last” (Matthew 19:30; 20:16), but Jesus’ words here were more graphic. The person who is truly great, by heaven’s definition, is the one who chooses an attitude of submission to others in the family of believers.
The Christocentric nature of verse 28 is a model for service and an expression of the meaning of Christ’s death. Jesus’ life and death expressed the principles of divine love as a model for His disciples (1 Peter 2:21–24). But there is an additional element. His ultimate service was in giving His life as a ransom for many. The great Christ-centered passage of Philippians 2:5–8 says, “Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God . . . emptied Himself by . . . coming in the likeness of men. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death.”
“The Greatest . . .”
Have you ever felt better than another person at something? Please share.
Read Matthew 20:20-28.
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
21 “What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
1. What was the request of Mrs. Zebedee from Jesus?
2. What was Jesus’ response?
3. What was Jesus’ ultimate answer to Mrs. Zebedee and her sons?
4. What happened as a result of this request among the disciples?
5. What did Jesus do when He saw the reaction of the 10 disciples?
6. What did Jesus say about His own life’s ambition?
7. When are you most tempted toward an inflated view of yourself?
8. Would Jesus be comfortable with all of your personal ambitions?
All of Jesus’ teaching assumes that true humility is based on a healthy self-image. Only the person who is at peace with their true worth in God’s eyes is able to act toward others without trying to prove his or her worth. Convinced of one’s self-worth, the believer is able to move on in an attempt to demonstrate the worth of others. Jesus aptly explains this thought in John 13:1–17.
Jesus could provide no better model than Himself. Here He used the title the Son of Man to avoid the use of the pronoun “I,” which might have been construed by the disciples as boastful. Although the Messiah-King came with every right to be served, His purpose was to serve them. This was His true ambition. He gave up His rights and took on a responsibility He was not obligated to take. This responsibility would extend ultimately to our souls, purchased by the sacrifice of His life as a substitute for many.
Greatness in the Lord’s kingdom does not come through rulership or authority but through service (Matthew 20:26–27). Anyone who desires to be a part of God’s kingdom should be serving, not ruling. Those most highly esteemed will be those who serve, those who are humble.
Below, find some application activities to reinforce this lesson. These are simply to provide ideas for your usage, or to invite you to imagine and create some of your own, as you impact the lives of teens for God’s glory.
Locate three food pantries in your community. Arrange to have your class do an hour of serving at each pantry. You can perhaps do different service activities at each pantry. For example: At one pantry you can pack shelves, at another pantry you can serve the food, and at another pantry you can clean up the dining area. You may even decide to do all of this at one pantry or meal program center. Once you are all done, have a debriefing session with your class regarding the activities of the day interacting with the persons they served. (Be prepared for quite a few moving and emotional stories.)
Find one sick person, or a person no longer able to attend church because of illness, in your church or your community and pair up with a member of your class and spend a day at their home. Just be their servant for that day. Whatever they need done, just do it for them (cleaning, cooking, yard work, etc.). At some point during the day (maybe at the end) share what you have studied in your class. Read them your story from the Bible. Communicate with them your ideas of true greatness from the story. Share with your class how you were affected by this encounter, and how the person reacted to your help that day.
As a class come together and brainstorm a creative game that can be utilized in your church AYM program or your youth group as an activity. Create the concept of the game together, then the rules of the game, and then test your project as a class before you put it out there for others to use. Remember to use your Bible text as the context for your game creation (Matthew 20:20-28). You can create your version of a Jeopardy style game, Pictionary, Q&A style games, etc. Once you use your game to impact the lives of others in your group, come together and share what the experience was like.
Understanding & Relating to Latino/a Youth
By Jennifer Guerra Aldana & Marcos Canales
You know how important it is to engage young people in your church. But how? Even when we bring our best intentions to these conversations, the dialogue somehow flops.
This comprehensive 43-page guide is the perfect handbook for any adult looking for a starting point in conversations with today’s Latina/o youth. The handbook is translated in English and Spanish. It includes an overview of the reality Latina/o youth face, fundamental principles of conversation, plus 30+ questions and ideas for next steps.
Help eliminate hunger. Purchase ready to eat and easy to open food items and assemble them in resealable plastic bags. Donate to shelters or use for street ministry.
Cost: Less than $10.00
Re-use plastic bags for a great cause. Save plastic bags and convert them into a sleeping mat for the homeless.
Cost: Less than $5.00
Help small children learn at home. This easy sew bean bag craft can help children learn alphabets, numbers, or shapes.
Cost: Less than $5.00