Key Scriptures: Genesis 49, Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 10:30, Isaiah 64:8, Acts 17:26, Psalm 139:1-24, 1 Corinthians 12:4-30, 1 Peter 4:10-11, Romans 12:4-8, 2 Corinthians 5:17
Guiding Question: Is each one of us truly unique or are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes our ancestors made?
Introductory Activity: Divide students into pairs. As quickly as possible, they are to find one thing they have in common and one thing that is unique to each of them. The unique thing can be a talent, an experience, a preference, etc. but must not be shared with the other person. Then have two pairs of students combine and repeat the exercise. Keep combining groups until the entire class is one big group. As the groups get larger, they may find it more difficult to find something shared and something unique, but it is possible. Point out that in any group of people, if you work hard enough, you can find things you have in common with each other and things that are unique about each of you.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Read Genesis 49. It was customary in ancient times for a father to provide a blessing and an inheritance for each of his sons before he died. The eldest son was to get the best blessing and the largest inheritance. If you remember, however, Jacob, the younger son of Isaac, managed to wrangle both Esau’s larger inheritance and his blessing from Isaac through his trickery. What do you notice about Jacob’s blessings for each of his sons? What does each blessing appear to be based upon? Do all of the blessings sound positive? To make it even more interesting, look at the end of chapter 48. How does Jacob bless each of Joseph’s sons? Are any of the blessings for his children or grandchildren exactly the same? What about the descriptions of the people? Had any of Jacob’s sons or grandsons done what Jacob did? Why do you think Jacob reversed the blessings for Joseph’s sons?
Jacob reversed the blessings for Joseph’s sons, but notice the difference from when he tricked Isaac to get Esau’s blessing. They didn’t trick Jacob, it was Jacob’s choice. They were unique from Jacob. None of Jacob’s sons or grandsons chose to repeat the mistakes Jacob had made. Not only were they unique from Jacob, the blessings let us know they were unique from each other.
The Bible makes it very clear that each of us is unique. Read each of these scriptures. What does each tell us about our uniqueness?
- Ephesians 2:10
- Matthew 10:30
- Isaiah 64:8
- Acts 17:26
- Psalm 139:1-24
God, the Creator, didn’t just create duplicate robots to be people. His creativity and love put time and effort into creating each one of us. We may look in the mirror and wonder if God had an off day creating us, but He didn’t. What aspects of our uniqueness are the focus of these verses? God knows how many hairs each of us have on our head (a unique number by the way!), but He’s mainly concerned with our spiritual selves – our hearts. God is also concerned with the choices we make and how we use the gifts He gave us to discover, develop and use to serve Him. In Acts, although it’s speaking specifically about rulers, one would probably be safe to assume God has also fixed when you would live in time and the areas where you will live (and perhaps visit?).
There is another aspect to our uniqueness for those who are baptized. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. When we are baptized, we become a new creation. We don’t look any different, but we now have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That gives Christians another unique quality, the ability to be guided and counseled by the Holy Spirit! It’s a unique and very special gift of uniqueness, if we choose to use it. This verse makes it clear we can also be unique from our old selves. We don’t have to live enmeshed in a life of sin just because our ancestors may have or because that’s who we were before we became a Christian.
The problem with uniqueness is that it can cause problems in relationships if we don’t have a godly view of uniqueness. We can come to believe our uniqueness is superior to the uniqueness of others. We can refuse to work with other Christians because their gifts aren’t the same as ours. There are plenty of scriptures in the New Testament that explain how we were to view and take advantage of people working together who are potentially very different from one another. Read the following verses and explain how they explain God’s expectations of us.
- 1 Corinthians 12:4-30
- 1 Peter 4:10-11
- Romans 12:4-8
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
Our uniqueness shouldn’t make the church weaker or divided, but stronger and United. Whether we are serving others or teaching them about God, using all of our individual strengths and working together will yield better results than petty arguments or people doing functions for which they weren’t gifted. Everybody has a role and everyone has to participate – including kids and teens – or the results will never be what they could have been if everyone worked together.
Skills Activity: Note: This activity may take several hours to complete. Review the main points of the lesson. Using the information on gifts your Bible students uncovered in a previous lesson, have them work together as a class to plan and execute a project that allows them to serve others and share their faith. At least one gift from each person in the room should be used to plan and execute the project. (Our free ebook Effective Ministry to Teens on our website has information on gifts including a list of more unusual and often missed ones.)
Have a time of reflection after the project is completed. After discussing what they learned in the process, ask what would have happened if everyone had done something they weren’t gifted to do instead of using the gift God gave them. Explain that often churches aren’t as impactful as they could be because they randomly assign tasks rather than considering giftedness. Remind them that this method only works well when everyone participates. If some of the members don’t use their gifts to serve God, it leaves a hole where they should have been.
Application Challenge: Review the scriptures from the lesson. What are some ways you can assist your congregation in your areas of giftedness? Talk with someone in your congregation who could use your gifts in their ministry. Offer to help them with an upcoming need, using your gift(s).