The Talents God has gifted us all with different roles and responsibilities. We are called to use our resources, skills,passions, and talents to serve God and others. Lesson Guide Getting Things Started (optional) As you begin your small group, welcome your students and invite them into your meeting area. Open in prayer, and then launch the discussion below. Share a story from your teenage years about a time your parents or a teacher got annoyed at you for wasting something. Perhaps it's a story about a time you put little or no effort into something or wasted the opportunity to do something well or something at all. The idea is to help students realize that parents and teachers generally want us to work hard and do our best. These adults only get frustrated when we don't put much effort into something. ASK: What coach or teacher has had a positive influence on your life? How has this person helped shape who you are today? How do you respond when a coach or teacher pushes you to excel or reach a goal you think isn't possible? Why do you respond that way? How is the idea of excelling in athletics or arts or academics similar to excelling or growing as a Christian? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Those teachers or coaches will probably never be world-famous, break Olympic records, or have their faces on the big screen, but the way they taught and coached with excellence could change your lives forever. We have all been given resources- time, money, talents, skills, connections in the world, passions, intelligence, relationships-all kinds of things that can be used in serving God, bringing God honor, and helping other people. An incredibly talented and famous musician can bring God glory by being the best musician in the world, but also by using her skills to invite people into worship. The man who makes millions in investments may be the reason that medical missionaries can financially afford to go serve people in other nations-it's the financial genius backing the venture. The most popular girl on the soccer team can play an intense, competitive game out on the field but be kind and inviting to the opposing team and respond with grace and patience when her opponents are frustrated. The key is discovering what we've been given and then using those resources to bless God-and then to bless others. Teaching Points The goal of the Teaching Points is to help students capture the essence of each lesson with more discussion and less lecture-style teaching. The main points we have chosen here are 1)digging into this passage to see what Jesus is really saying, 2) Applying to our hearts, and 3) putting it into practice in our lives. Read Matthew 25:14-30 together as a group. Consider allowing one or more of the teenagers to read the text SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Let's spend some time digging into this passage to see what Jesus is really saying, then apply it to our hearts, and lastly, putting it into practice in our lives. 1. Digging in ASK: Look at verse 15. The master gave talents to his servants based on_____________? Why do you think he gave these different amounts to different people? Do you think that was fair? Do you think any of them could have the excuse that they were overwhelmed or were given too great a task? In verse 16 and 17, What does this passage say that the first servant did? What about the second servant? The first servant ______ed the money, while the second servant _____ed the money. Do you think this is significant? Do you think one is better than the other in this context? In verse 19-23, servants 1 and 2 earned different amounts of money. How did the master react to them differently? Do you think this was right? Was this fair? Why/ why not? In verse 24, what was the 3rd servant's reason for why he hid his $? He was__________. When the 3rd servant gave the explanation in verse 24, why do you think he tried to give the money back? For verses 24-26, let's read a different version. Here's those verses in a translation called the Message. 24-25"The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.' 26-27"The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. 28-30"'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.' What was the third servant afraid of? Why was the master so angry with the third servant? Who ended up getting even more money in the end? Who in this parable understood multiplication? Who didn't? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Thanks for digging into that with me! Now let's look at how this applies to our lives and hearts. James 1:23-24 says "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." So, now that we've looked in the mirror, let's look in our own hearts in the light of this truth and not 'forget what we look like!' 2. Applying to self ASK: We have the opportunity to multiply what Christ has entrusted to us. The master gave different amounts of $ to people with differing skills. How can this encourage us? Based on this, do we have any excuse to be overwhelmed or to put off using the talents that God has given us? How does this parable connect with VCSM's mission: Build Disciples who Make Disciples? How does multiplication of disciples connect to Jesus' teaching about multiplying talents? Why do you think God gives all of us talents and abilities? What does it mean to be faithful with your talents? What would it look like to multiply your talents? Only those proved in small leadership positions will be prepared for bigger ones. The third servant was overwhelmed by his master's high standards and ended up just giving up and wasting his money. Does this resonate with you? Do you get overwhelmed by 'needing' to do things just right, and end up giving up? Look at the master's response. How does this apply to your life? In this parable, Jesus uses money as the illustration to communicate his point. What are some other blessings, resources, and talents God has placed in your life? Be as specific as possible-sometimes it'shard to talk about our good qualities! What leadership opportunities do you have in your life? How could those be multiplied? 2. Putting into practice SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Gary Haugen is an example of someone who has found a way to honor God through his gifts and talents. He used to work as a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice and as a United Nations' investigator. He now leads International Justice Mission, an organization that works with officials around the world to free people from slavery and other forms of oppression. Gary's position and influence gave him the platform for starting this international organization-and now he helps save the lives of thousands, returning dignity and health to people who have lost their human rights. ASK: Pair up with another person in the group. Read Genesis 12:1-3 and then answer these questions together. ASK: Why did God bless Abram? What did God want him to do with his blessings? How have you been a blessing to others in your life? What is one step you can take this week to become a greater blessing to someone in your life? APPLICATION Distribute paper, envelopes, and pens or pencils. Ask your teenagers to write themselves a letter detailing how they want to grow spiritually, with an emphasis on how they can use their gifts, talents, abilities, and resources to honor God. Encourage your young people to write about the person they hope to be in a month, at the start of next semester, in six months-whatever makes most sense for your group. Explain that you'll mail the letters on the agreed-upon date, and that no one will see what they've written. Give your students 5-10 minutes. When they're done writing, have them seal and address the envelopes. Make a note in your calendar to mail the letters when you promised you would. Year Two: Character & Convictions 5 For keeps Encourage and/or challenge your teenagers to memorize the verse below. "To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away" (Matthew 25:29).
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