This third and final lesson on biblical thankfulness, “Thankful for Service,” will help kids understand that we should be thankful to God for the service opportunities he gives us. While thankfulness and service don’t seem to be discussed together very often, it’s important for kids to make the connection between the heart’s motives (thankfulness) and our actions (service). True servants are thankful, so by discussing Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet the kids will learn how humility, thankfulness, and service all work together to give God glory.
TARGET AGES: 10-14
OBJECTIVE: To learn that thankfulness to God and others leads to thankfulness through service.
MAIN IDEA: We can be thankful as we serve because it is a privilege to represent Jesus and follow his example.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: John 13:1-17
MORE IDEAS: Don’t miss our large collection of Thanksgiving ideas for children’s ministry.
Introduction (15 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “Lord, please use our actions to show our thankfulness to you. Help us to humbly serve others and be thankful as we serve. Amen.”
LESSON REVIEW/ACTIVITY SHEETS (Attachment): Say, “Over the last two weeks we’ve talked about how being thankful glorifies God through his working in our lives. Today we’re going to start by doing the Thankfulness Activity Sheet to remember what we’ve talked about.” Remind the students that our actions have to show our thankfulness and not just our words (James 2:26)! Take time to complete the worksheet as a class.
Lesson (10 minutes)
- Say, “Today we are going to read the passage of Jesus’ last example of humble service to his disciples before he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and taken to be crucified.” Ask the students to turn to John 13:1-11. Ask, “What did Jesus do to serve his disciples (wash their feet)? Why did he do this (to be an example of humble service)?” Draw attention to verse 7 (where Jesus said, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this”). Ask, “What had to happen before the disciples would really understand everything Jesus had done (his death and resurrection)? How is it similar for us (because we don’t understand everything either, but more will be revealed in heaven)?” Finish the passage by reading Jesus’ response to the event in verses 12-17. Ask, “So why do we serve (because Jesus served)? How can we show thankfulness for Jesus’ example (through humble service)?” Add that it is a privilege to serve Christ, so thankfulness through service is a great way to honor him.
- Finish the discussion by once again listing reasons to be thankful on the board. Start with the reasons found throughout the lesson series: our relationships to Christ, others who serve us, and the opportunity to serve as God’s representatives. Then allow the students to add more to the list. Help them to focus on spiritual blessings as well as physical blessings.
Wreath of Thankfulness Craft (15 minutes)
Finish the discussion by creating Wreaths of Thanks. Say, “When writing what you are thankful for on the leaves, start with what is the most important to you (e.g. salvation). You may use the list we created on the board for ideas. Then hang these wreaths somewhere to remind you to be thankful.”
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: We have a lot of reasons to be thankful! God gave us salvation through Jesus Christ and also gave us the bible to learn more about him. In addition, he provides for the physical needs in our lives. Thankfulness is a big part of our lives because God has lovingly given us so many blessings.
CLOSING PRAYER: “God, we thank you for everything you’ve done for us. Without you there would be no hope, but you provided Jesus to die for our sins so we can have a relationship with you and spend eternity in Heaven. With all our hearts we thank you! Amen.”