"Honor Your Father" Bible Lesson (Exodus 20:12)

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Father and children playing

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This lesson plan explains what it means when the Bible says, “honor your father.”

It’s designed for children’s church or Sunday school and would be a perfect lesson to use on Father’s Day.

The basic version of this lesson makes it easy to teach with very little preparation or outside materials. We’ve also suggested more activities so you can expand the lesson to best fit your ministry setting.

Bible Reference: Exodus 20:12, The Fifth Commandment
Target Age Group: Age 4 – 12
Learning Context: Sunday School or Kids Church
Target Time Frame: 30 minutes

Memory Verse: “Honor your father and mother.” Exodus 20:12a

Gospel Connection: Like all the commandments, only Jesus lived in perfect obedience. As children learn about God’s standard of righteousness, the Holy Spirit will often convince them of their own sin. At those moments the answer is not “obey better” but look to Jesus. We can trust in his righteousness to cover our shortfall. Only his grace can transform our natural rebellious hearts to rightly honor our earthly and heavenly Father.

Learning Aim: After this lesson, children will verbally identify one specific ways they can show honor to their fathers (or primary caregiver.) Look for the Learning Outcome Test section in our Basic Teaching Plan below.

Target Age: Our super simple lesson plans are broadly graded and easy to adapt for a variety of children’s ministry settings. Look for specific adaptations within the Basic Teaching Plan below.

Basic Supply List:

  • A marker board or piece of paper attached to the wall to display the word “HONOR.” This is used in the Lesson Introduction below.
  • (Optional) Collect a series of hats or props to be used in the Role Playing Honor activity below. The children who volunteer to play each role will wear the hat as you explain the meaning of honor related to their character. Suggested props: Soldier’s hat, pastor’s neck-tie & Bible, school teacher’s sweater-vest & chalk, judge’s robe & gavel, a ball-cap for a school friend.
  • (Optional) Instead of the list above, you could simply write the words for each character (or print a picture from the Internet) on a piece of paper and ask the child to hold it in the Role Playing Honor activity below.
  • Think ahead a time when you did not honor your father as a child. You will need to briefly share this story during the Gospel Application part of the lesson plan.
  • The optional activities at the end of this lesson may require additional supplies. Carefully read the directions while preparing your lesson.

Other Notes: In the teaching plan below the words in italics are meant to be read aloud. The regular text is simply directions for the teacher.

Be sensitive to children who do not have a father in their home. In such cases you can often substitute grandfather during the activity Discerning Honor below. If this is a challenge in your ministry you could simply refer to parents.

Bible Lesson “How To Honor Your Father”

Lesson Introduction: Display the word “HONOR” in your teaching area. Ask for several volunteers to suggest what that word means. Listen to carefully to their ideas and affirm their efforts by saying, “That’s a good suggestion, who else wants to try…”

Role Playing Honor: After a few minutes, explain to the kids that you will work together to discover what the word “HONOR” means. Ask for several volunteers to act out the following roles. As each child comes forward read the following text explain the meaning of honor. This is where the optional props are used. (allow for response)

  • Soldier: When an army soldier comes into a room what hand signal do people sometimes make? (allow for response) Let’s all stand and salute this soldier. This salute is a way to show honor and means that we know that soldiers are important people who risk their lives to keep us safe.
  • Pastor: When a pastor begins to pray what do people normally do with their hands and eyes? (allow for response) Let’s all close our eyes & fold our hands like this pastor is leading us in a prayer. Our folded hands and bowed eyes show respect for the pastor & for God during prayer. This is like saying with our body that our pastor is an important person who helps use to know God better.
  • Teacher: What are you supposed to do in your classroom to answer a question your teacher asks? (allow for response) Let’s all raise our hands together like we have an answer for this teacher. When children raise their hands this shows honor for the teacher because they have an important job helping you to learn.
  • Judges: What do people in a courtroom do when a judge walks into the room? (allow for response) Let’s all rise to show the importance of this judge. This standing up lets everyone know that judges have important work helping the world to be a more fair place.
  • Friend School: What do you do with your hand when you see your friend across the park. (allow for response) Let’s all wave to our friend together. When we wave our hand it shows that we’re happy to see our friend. It means our friend is important because we like to be around them.

Thank the volunteers for helping act out the characters and allow them to return to their seats.

Defining Honor: Explain to the children in your own words how honor means acting out that someone else is important. It starts with an attitude but it’s also something that comes out in the way we behave around toward that person.

Reciting the Bible Verse: Read the following Bible verse to the children and ask them to repeat it as a group afterward. “Honor your father and mother.” Exodus 20:12

  • (Optional) We have suggestions for memorizing this verse in the optional activities below.

Discerning Honor: Ask the children to respond to the following statements. If they sound like good ways to show honor they should stand and salute the teacher. If they are not good ways to show honor the children should remain seated. You may want to create a few of your own statements.

  • Giving your Father (or mother) a hug when he comes home from work. (YES)
  • Asking your Dad to play with you. (YES)
  • Getting upset if your Dad says he does not have time right now. (NO)
  • Asking your Father to pray with you at bedtime. (YES)
  • Pouting when your Father asks you to do your chores. (NO)
  • Arguing with your Dad when it’s time for you to do homework. (NO)

Say: In each of these, it’s important to act in ways that shows your Father is an important person. That’s what it means to honor your Father.

Gospel Application: Share a personal story of a time when you did not show honor to your Father. Talk about how that was breaking God’s law and you needed Jesus to forgive that sin. Explain that Jesus had a father while he was on Earth too named Joseph. We know that Jesus was the only child to every perfectly obey his father. So Jesus can forgive our sin and help us become better children to our father.

Learning Outcome Test: Ask each child to silently think of one specific way they can show more honor to their father. As time allows, have them share their answer in smaller groups with your adult leaders.

Close this part of the lesson in prayer . . . .

We need your help! All the Bible materials on our website are open for improvement. Often our best ideas come from readers just like you. Simply leave a comment below with any corrections to this lesson or more suggestions that will help other readers.

Bonus Learning Activities

Father Says Game: Instead of Simon Says, you could play Father Says. You could substitute acting out realistic directions rather than the typical silly commands.

  • Father says clean your room (pretend to clean)
  • Father says go to bed (lay down and pretend to fall asleep)
  • Father says do your homework (pretend to do homework)
  • Father says help your mother (act like they are helping mom with something)
  • Father says stand up straight (practice good posture)
  • Father says eat your pizza (pretend to eat)
  • Father says brush your teeth (pretend to brush teeth)

Dads Deserve Honor: Revisit the characters used in the Role Play Honor game above. For each one ask the children to describe how their father plays a similar role in their family. For example, dad keeps the home safe like a soldier keeps the country safe. Ask the children to act out different situations where the father would be like these characters.

Father’s in the Bible: Ask the children to look up Bible stories about fathers in the the scriptures. For each of these you could discuss the different ways the children showed honor to their Father. This activity is better suited for older children. Know your students and use your best judgment.

  • Luke 15:11-32 “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”
  • Genesis 47:1-11 “Joseph provides for his aged Father”
  • Genesis 22:1-19 “Abraham almost sacrifices Isaac”

Poem Recital: Lead the children to rehearse and briefly perform the following poem for the fathers in your church during the worship service.

Father’s Day Poem

For you on father’s day what ever you celebrate
Fathers have been here in times and seasons
For you on Father’s Day that’s really great
To remember you not just on this day but every day
It’s father Day today for all fathers who have been
Here and gone Your memories live on
Fathers enjoy your children, draw them near
Closer to you inside the heart
Because they may think of you today
Pick up the phone, and dial and say!
Write a letter. You may be surprised with the reply
A very special love for you
Joyful Father’s Day

Just for you
With all the grace of God’s life to us
Can bring on your special day
Father’s Day is the time for thoughts of quiet reflection
Memories of the year have gone by
A Welcome smile
Father’s Day is the perfect time to receive God’s grace
Ahead for the new day
And may a wonderful beginning and joy God brings aloud
Thank you God for all fathers
Remember God our Father in Heaven and Earth

Happy Father’s Day

Poem ©By Deirdre Banda, used with permission.

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