“MINE!” This is one of the first words a young child will develop, and will bring a sense of pride in claiming ownership. Kids typically do not readily share what they have, and especially do not sacrifice their wants for the sake of others. This lesson focuses on the difference between pride and humility, and how pride damages our spirit and takes away what we can do for God.
Lesson Objective and Observation: Students will understand the difference between pride and humility. They will demonstrate how an attitude of gratitude helps others by devising ways to pitch in.
Passage: Philippians 2:1-4; 14-18; Proverbs 16:18
Target Audience: K-6th Grade (adaptable)
Materials Needed: Paper, cut-out shapes and words (see “craft”), fruit (fresh and spoiled), stuffed animals or puppets.
Lesson Opening: Humble or haughty? Pride comes before a fall, and what it means… open up the lesson with a discussion about pride and humility. Ask kids if they have heard of the word “humble” and what it might mean. To illustrate the significant difference between humility and pride, offer a potential activity:
- Fresh or rotten? Display some pieces of fruit, with some fresh and quality, and others on the rotting side. Ask students which they would rather taste. Explain that we are all sinful, and start out like the yucky rotten fruit. When we let pride control us, and only think of ourselves, rotten things “grow” from our lives. But when we stay rooted in prayer and know God, we can produce quality “fruit”!
- What’s with the kneeling? Discuss the practice of kneeling, and why it keeps us humble. Conduct a little experiment to explain the kneeling custom. Have some students stand, and some kneel. On “go”, ask them to turn and run as fast as possible. Is this easier to do from the standing or kneeling position? Explain how kneeling is a practice of proving humility and defenselessness, and that people used to do it before kings to show respect for the position.
- Watch where you’re going! Set up a mini obstacle course or straight line for kids to walk. Ask them to walk it while staring up at the sky with noses in the air, and again with heads down and eyes ahead normally. Which is harder? Explain that pride is like sticking your nose up in the air, and when you do that, it’s hard to see what is around you.
- What does that look like? Provide students with scenarios and examples of situations where they can either be proud or humble. Invite them to identify which is which, or have them act out the proud/humble examples. This could be acted with puppets, in person, or just described.
Ask students to tell about one of their favorite topics of interest…then have them talk about what most interests the person next to them. Is it a little tougher to talk about other people? Explain that we are going to peek at a passage from the book of Philippians. In this letter, Paul is trying to remind the Philippians that it is more important to think of others ahead of themselves. Have students look at the first part of Philippians chapter 2:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4
See if kids can brainstorm ways they might be able to “value others above” themselves… this might be challenging for young ones to come up with on their own, so feel free to offer examples (like the ones from the pride vs humble discussion above) and scenarios. Talk about what Paul is saying here. It is important to think of others as more important or valuable than us, not because we don’t have value, but because God loves all of us. He wants us to live in harmony with each other by demonstrating care. When we have this kind of attitude, we stand out among the crowd. Look at another series of verses to see how this happens…
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. -Philippians 2:14-18
What does Paul say about avoiding negative comments? It makes us stand out. It makes us “shine like stars” because people will notice something different. And it’s true. If everyone around you is whining and you show a better spirit, people will notice and will genuinely appreciate it. So what does Paul suggest we do instead? He mentions that he is willing to offer himself and sacrifice his own service. We can do that, too. Brainstorm with kids ways they can act as servants (this will come back at craft time!).
Also note the power of appreciation. Rather than grumbling, we are to rejoice. We are glad and rejoice in what comes our way. It is awfully hard to whine when you are thinking about gratitude. Instead of negative grousing, we can be thankful. We put our minds on what is true, pure, lovely, admirable…that is how we can eliminate the whine press. And how does this relate to our dealings with one another? Peter explains:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. -1 Peter 4:8-9
Love and acceptance take away personal pride. When we care for others, and most importantly love God, we can take away the whining and add praise. Here are a few other verse ideas concerning pride and humility…
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips. -Proverbs 27:2
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18
Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life. -Proverbs 22:4
Several potential activities can help remember pride and humility.
- Have students create a drawing with two trees, one marked “pride” and the other humble. At the “roots” of these trees, describe what makes a person proud or humble. Place or draw “good fruit” pictures and “rotten fruit” in the leaves.
- Burst that bubble. Use bubble wrap in paint, balloons, or chewed bubble gum (eew!) to make some creative art work. Talk about how pride is like a big bubble, but it can easily be popped.
- Helping hand cards…give children ideas about how to practice humility. Have them decorate the cards, if time allows.
- Thank yous. Have students write thank you notes to people as a show of appreciation.
Closing questions: wrap things up with a few questions to evaluate how students have soaked in the lesson…Ask probing questions to see what kids remember. Such as….
- What does it mean to be humble?
- Why do we kneel during worship service? (If you do, of course)
- When is pride easy?
- How can we remember to practice humility?
- What are consequences of pride?
Close with prayer and ask the Lord to help us practice humility. Warning: this can be a dangerous prayer….