Joy is Better than Jealousy

Scripture: Genesis 37

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn how to properly process feelings of jealousy through role play.

Guiding Questions:

  • How do I react when I want something that someone else has?
  • How should I act when I have something that I think is wonderful? How can I use it to bless others instead of causing jealousy?

Materials: Jewelry, toys, costumes, pretend cookies, prizes, or other items that students are likely to want/value

Procedure: Review the story of Joseph focusing on aspects that relate to favoritism and jealousy. Ask students how they feel when a friend is treated specially or has something that they want. Explain that jealousy is when they want something that someone else has to the extent that it makes them sad or angry. Ask what types of things they typically want. Ask how they feel when someone else has it.

Reverse the situation by asking how they feel when a friend is jealous of them. Make it applicable to the students. Here is an example: Imagine that you worked really hard in school on a science project. When the teachers judged the projects, you won first place! You were so excited that you ran to tell your best friend. Your friend struggles with science and did not work quite as hard on his project, but really wanted to win. When you shared the news, he was angry and ignored you. How would you feel?

Explain to students that when good things happen to us, we naturally want to share the joy with others, but sometimes it is hard when they are not as excited for us. It makes us sad too.

Emphasize that good things and bad things happen to everyone, but they are not always the same good and bad things. One person might win a science award and someone else might get the star role in a play for different reasons. Even if something doesn’t happen to us, we can still be happy that it happened to someone else! It is better for both people to be cheerful than for both people to be angry.

Show different valuable objects. Ask students how each one would make them feel if they had it. Explain that we usually only want things because we want the way that it makes us feel. We want to be happy. But we can choose to be happy whether we have that thing or not. God gives us that “power” by allowing us to choose happiness in our hearts. Tell students that when someone has something we want, we should be happy for them. Also, when we have something we should not brag about it in a way that makes others feel bad.

Invite the students to role play scenarios that might evoke jealousy. Brainstorm appropriate actions together such as giving a high five to a winner, or the winner sharing their prize with others.

Practice with this activity: Have students pair up. Give one student in each pair an item such as a prize, jewelry, cookie etc. Students then role play how to approach their friend who did not get the prize without bragging. The partner role plays how to react. Students can then perform their role plays for others in the group.

Additional Questions:

  • How can we share our joy without bragging?
  • How can we be happy for others without being jealous?
  • What types of things are you more likely to be jealous of and how can you prepare for confronting those feelings?

Supplemental Activity: Sometimes when we focus on things that other people have that we want, we overlook how blessed we are. Students can make blessings booklets out of paper. Students illustrate and write about things that they are blessed with. When they begin to feel jealous, they can pull out the book to remember everything that God has given them. Reiterate that happiness is a feeling that they can choose. Things don’t cause the happiness. Friendship is better.

Written by: Savannah Negas