Key Scriptures: I Samuel 17, I Samuel 16:11-23, I Corinthians 13:11, 2 Timothy 3:14-15, Luke 2:52, Ephesians 4:11-16, I Corinthians 3:1-4, 2 Peter 3:18, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:22, Proverbs 1:8-9, Ephesians 6:2, I Corinthians 14:20, 2 Timothy 2:22, I Timothy 4:12, Galatians 5:22-23, John 3:1-36
Guiding Question: What does it mean to be a “grown up” in the eyes of God?
Optional Introductory Activity: Ask students if they have ever had anyone treat them as if they were still little children even though they are teens. Explain that in part this happens because different people have different standards they use for when to consider someone a mature adult.
Have several large sheets of paper and markers available for students to use. (If you want to be more artistic, you may want to have pre-drawn on the sheets a figure of an adult.) Divide students into groups of two or three. Have them put as many words, phrases, skill sets, experiences and more that they can think of to define an adult.
If students are confused, you may want to give them a couple of examples to get them started. Tell them you want their “definition” to be so thorough everyone would consider this fictional person of theirs a mature adult. (Note: At this point, it doesn’t particularly matter if their answers are secular, spiritual or a combination. This will be addressed during the lesson and in the skills activity.)
Some things they may want to include: Has a job that pays for all of their expenses, has their own housing, takes care of their health, goes to church regularly, gets baptized, graduates from high school/college, can cook their own meals, pays their bills on time, has a budget for their finances, saves money, gives money to church, gets married, becomes a parent, is punctual, has good manners, is resilient when fails, keeps their promises, tells the truth consistently, takes responsibility for their own actions, has a driver’s license, etc.
After students complete their “portraits” of an adult, compare and contrast their lists. Don’t comment on any of their choices. Save the portraits be used again later.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) When God took the kingdom away from Saul and his descendants, he sent Samuel to anoint the new King. What kind of person do you think Samuel expected to anoint? Read I Samuel 16:11-23. Isn’t it interesting that God didn’t give Samuel the name of the person he was to anoint? Samuel knew where to go, what he was to do, but not whom God had chosen. So what does Samuel conclude? He expects God to have him anoint a “grown up” in their world.
Shepherd boy was in our terms a sort of chore for boys growing up in families that had large herds. They learned a lot about the “family business” and other important skills during their turn as shepherd boy of the family. As they got older, they took on other roles in the family. In fact, later we learn some of the older brothers become soldiers in the army fighting the Philistines while David stayed home and was the shepherd boy for the family.
As the youngest of the family and the one performing the chore of shepherd boy, do you think anyone in his family would have considered David a grown-up? Who would his father and older brothers expected Samuel to anoint as the future king? The Bible doesn’t really tell us their reactions, but we can imagine that they were all probably at least a bit surprised David was the one Samuel anointed as the future king.
It’s a little unclear as to the chronology of David playing the lyre for King Saul and the story of David and Goliath. It seems perhaps that David split his time between playing the lyre for King Saul and tending sheep for his family. It’s interesting that both opportunities gave David a chance to grow and mature. Read I Samuel 17. Before he killed Goliath, do you think anyone really considered David a mature, grown up? What about after killing Goliath? What had happened that may have changed how everyone saw David?
While we often talk about these stories, there is one aspect we often neglect to discuss. As a shepherd boy and while playing the lyre for King Saul, David was getting the training that would be important to him in his adult life. Shepherds used sling shots as one of their weapons to protect sheep from predators like wolves and bears. If you practiced enough and got very skillful at slinging, you could release a stone with the same speed and force as a bullet shot from a gun. In fact, armies had entire divisions of slingers as soldiers. Although God protected him, David had to have spent many hours slinging to be able to take down Goliath.
The other thing shepherds often did was learn to play the lyre as a way to entertain themselves while watching the sheep for hours in the fields. The skill David developed as a lyre player was so great, he was suggested to King Saul to play for him. David’s lyre playing gave him his initial access to seeing what was involved in being the King of Israel – both on the battlefield and at home. Saul might have made a lot of mistakes as king, but David could learn from those, too. Years later, when David actually took the throne, he was prepared to take on the responsibilities of a king.
God probably doesn’t have a kingship in his plans for your future, but the Bible tells us He does have plans for each one of us. What do you think are some of those plans?
The Bible tells us a few of these that apply to all of us. Read Acts 2:38, Galatians 5:22-23, I Timothy 4:12 and Ephesians 2:10. From these verses, what are some of the things God wants us to do and be in our lives?
Are we born ready to do this things? Can tiny children do these things? Obviously, there is some aspect of growing up that is needed in order to be ready to do them. Read I Corinthians 13:11 and Luke 2:52. Notice, even Jesus had some sort of growing up to do. We don’t know a lot of details obviously, but I would imagine “putting away childish ways” was a part of the process.
So where do we start if we want to be a spiritual adult ready to do the good works God has prepared for us. Obviously, it’s the life God has planned for us, so it’s the best possible life we can live in this fallen world. How do we get to that life?
First, we have to be born again. Confusing right? Nicodemus was confused. Here he was a religious leader and an adult and Jesus told him he had to be born again. Read John 3:1-36. What did Nicodemus learn about being born again?
Some of you may already have been baptized and have been a Christian for several years. Does that mean you are an adult – at least spiritually? Read the following scriptures and decide what else you may need to do to become a “grown-up” – at least spiritually. 2 Timothy 3:14-15, Ephesians 4:11-16, I Corinthians 3:1-4, 2 Peter 3:18, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:22, Proverbs 1:8-9, Ephesians 6:2, I Corinthians 14:20, 2 Timothy 2:22.
Skills Activity: Review the main concepts from the lesson. Give students back their portraits of an adult. Have them take the information from the lesson and add to or take away from the original “portrait” they made of a “grown up”. Have a sheet where you can capture the characteristics the class agrees are necessary for someone to be a “grown-up”. The list may still be a mix of secular and spiritual qualities. See if students can find scriptures to support some of the things that may appear secular at first glance. For example, they may site Matthew 25:20-21 as an example for being good stewards of their money/having a budget or 2 Thessalonians 3:10 for having a job that pays your bills.
The goal is not complete agreement of what makes an adult in God’s eyes except for things like becoming a Christian. What you want them to begin to understand is that becoming an adult is going to take effort on their part and it is about more than a diploma or being “legal” in the eyes of the law. If at all possible, spend some time talking about which of the things listed on their final portrait they think they have already mastered and which they still need to achieve. Discuss the various ways they can begin working to achieve the “missing pieces” of their adulthood.
Application Challenge: Identify at least one area in which you still need to grow to become an “adult” in God’s eyes. Think of ways you can begin growing in that area. Make a plan to begin doing those things that will help you grow.