Key Scriptures:Matthew 14:22-33, Matthew 16:18,23, John 18:10, 15-27, John 21:1-17, Philippians 4:13, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 139:1-24, 1 Peter 2:9-10, Matthew 7:13-14, Micah 6:8, Genesis 1:27, Romans 12:1-21
Guiding Question: What is godly potential and how can we reach ours?
Introductory Activity: Tell students the story of Thomas Edison. If you think your students will know who he is, keep his identity secret as you tell them about the teachers who told him he was “too stupid to learn anything”. Edison was fired from his first two jobs because he wasn’t “productive”. Yet he reached his potential through hard work and perseverance, holding more than 1000 patents including the phonograph, a practical electric lamp and a movie camera. Ask students why teachers and others might have assumed Edison had no potential. Have them speculate while Edison was able to go on to invent so many things even though key people in his life doubted his potential.
Lesson: (Questions to students are in bold italics.) Potential is defined as the capacity to become or develop into so,etching in the future. A seed, for example, has the potential of becoming a plant. Given the right conditions, the seed will reach its potential. The seed’s potential has limitations, however. A sunflower seed can only grow sunflowers. Even if a sunflower could wish to grow a watermelon, it is impossible. The potential to grow a watermelon is not inside of the sunflower seed.
We all know what a sunflower seed looks like. What if you were given a mystery seed instead? You could confidently proclaim it had the potential to grow a watermelon. Or you could loudly protest that there is no way that seed could ever produce a tomato. The truth is that with a mystery seed, we really don’t know it’s potential until it starts growing. As time goes on, the potential of a plant to produce a particular fruit, vegetable or flower becomes increasingly like that.
You are the same way. When your parents first learned about you, they knew you had potential – even if they didn’t really think about it that way. They knew you had the potential to grow into a baby weighing around 7 or 8 pounds at birth. Some of you were born smaller than that and some larger. Your parents probably weren’t concerned if you didn’t “meet your potential” by a couple of ounces or if you exceeded it. They probably only cared that you were healthy.
But God gave you a lot of other potential besides your birth weight. He gave you strengths and weaknesses, talents and gifts, personality traits and intellectual capacity. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of things we could list about our potential. But God has a purpose for the particular potential He gave each of us. How can we figure out what that is and perhaps more importantly, how can we make sure we reach the full potential God gave us?
A good example of all of the angles of potential is the Apostle Peter. Jesus knew Peter had potential. He worked with him to help him reach that potential. Along the way, there were times when Peter quite clearly failed at reaching his potential. With God’s help though, Peter finally reached his godly potential and was instrumental in the growth of the church then and now. For a quick review, look at these passages and find the potential (or failure to reach potential in each.
- Matthew 14:22-33
- Matthew 16:18
- Matthew 16:23
- John 18:10
- John 18:15-27
- John 21:1-17
- Acts 2
- Acts 10:10-16
- 1 and 2 Peter
While each of us has slightly different potential, there are some general principles about potential in the Bible. The discussion of potential actually begins at the creation of Adam. Read Genesis 1:27. What does this verse tell us about God’s expectations for us? What aspects of the image of God do you think God wants us to reflect? Can you find scriptures to back up your suggestions?
God knows our potential before we are even born. Read Psalm 139:1-24. What does this tell us about God and our potential?
Our potential is not random and it’s not merely for our personal benefit. Read Ephesians 2:10, 1 Peter 2:9-10 and Romans 12:1-21. How are some of the ways God wants us to use our potential? What else do we learn about potential in these passages?
To reach our full potential, we have to stay in service to God. If we reject Him and become enmeshed in sin, we will never reach our full potential. Read Philippians 4:13 and Matthew 7:13-14. Why is it impossible to reach our full potential without God?
While our full potential and the good works we do when we reach it may differ slightly, they will have some things in common. Read Micah 6:8, James 1:27 and Matthew 28:16-20. What do our lives look like when we have reached the potential God gave each of us?
Skills Activity: Review the main points of the lesson. Addressing potential with Bible students will need to reflect their personalities and maturity. Some students will need to focus on the ideas of having goals and godly dreams and trying to discern what God wants them to do. Others may need additional help in one or more of the executive function skills that impact the ability for young people to reach their potential:
- Organizational skills
- Planning/goal setting
- Working memory
- Problem solving skills
- Time management
- Self evaluation
This is a good time to bring in mentors to work with each young person individually. Mentors can design activities that meet the needs of their mentee. They can assist the young person in developing a plan to improve weaknesses, etc.
All of the students would benefit from a reminder of the importance of a personal knowledge of scripture to help them back good choices. Although gift discovery, development and use have been introduced in previous lessons, this can be a great opportunity for revisiting the topics and seeing how students have made progress towards developing and using their gifts to serve God.
For students who tend to be competitive or for those who have poor self esteem, it can be good to end this lesson with a discussion about the problems with comparison in Christianity. The Apostle James had things God wanted him to do that may have been different from some of the things that God wanted Peter to do. All of them needed to be done and God only expects us to do the good works He has planned for us. No part of the Body is any more or less important than the others.
Application Challenge: Review the scriptures from the lesson. Think about the conversations you had in class. Reflect on your personal godly potential. What strengths and gifts has God given you? What opportunities do you have to develop your gifts and serve God? Are you taking advantage of those opportunities? How can you be more intentional about reaching your full godly potential?