Key Scriptures: Joshua 1, Exodus 17:9-16, Exodus 24:13-18, Exodus 33:11, Numbers 11:28, Numbers 14:6-10, Numbers 27:18-23, Luke 19:12-27
Guiding Question: What will our lives look like if we are responsible?
Optional Introductory Activity: Give each student an egg. (You can boil them first, if you are worried about making a mess.) Tell students this egg is their responsibility. They must “dress” it (markers can be used to color clothes onto the egg). They cannot leave the egg alone, because it could roll and crack or someone could take it. Have students do several tasks around the room where they must take care of their egg and accomplish the task. Ask them if you required them to care for the egg for an entire week (while doing everything they normally do), would they be able to bring back the same egg with no cracks in it.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) How many of you have had a parent, a teacher or a coach mention responsibility to you? What does an adult usually mean when they tell you they want you to be more responsible?
The dictionary tells us someone who is responsible is in charge of caring for something or someone. Being responsible can also mean taking the credit or blame for your words and actions.
Are you born being responsible? Becoming truly responsible usually happens over time and with experience. You can become responsible more quickly though if you do certain things.
Before we discuss how to become more responsible, let’s talk about why it even matters. Why would anyone want to become a responsible person? There are actually quite a few good things that can happen in our lives when we are responsible:
- Your life has less chaos and stress. For example, when you are responsible, you start writing an assigned paper long before it is due. It’s ready to be turned in before its due date. You even know exactly where to find it when it is time to turn it in to your teacher. You don’t have to rush and feel stressed trying to finish at the last minute. No hunting in the chaos of your room or locker for the details of the assignment.
- Your relationships are better. When you are responsible, you always tell the truth, keep your promises and are considerate of the time, feelings and possessions of others. Responsible people can be trusted by others. And trust in any relationship makes it stronger.
- You may get opportunities you might not have if you weren’t responsible. Adults often choose the most responsible young people for special positions, trips, tasks and more. They like knowing they can trust you with special privileges.
- Your things will last longer and be in better condition. You might even be healthier. Being responsible with your things and your body, means a lot less bad things can happen. It’s not foolproof (because accidents still happen), but it can make a huge positive difference.
God expects and rewards responsibility as well. Read Luke 19:12-27. This isn’t just about money. It’s about the gifts God gives each of us – including our talents. If we are responsible with His gifts, God may give us even more. Even if He doesn’t, God is unhappy when we aren’t responsible with the gifts He gives us.
So, how do we become more responsible? Let’s look at the life of Joshua for some clues.
Read Exodus 17:9-16. This is the first time we hear about Joshua. He is evidently a young man and Moses asks him to take on a big responsibility – to choose some men and go fight the Amalekites. What does Joshua do? He accepts the responsibility and does what is asked of him. It’s hard to learn to be more responsible if you say “No” every time someone asks you to be responsible for something. You also won’t become more responsible if you don’t finish the task you are given.
It’s not always easy to be responsible. Was the battle easy for Joshua to win? No, it had its ups and downs! Joshua didn’t know why he was winning and then losing, only to openly win. God told Moses to write down what had happened and make sure Joshua knew God had won the battle for him. While Joshua was fighting though, he only knew his responsibility was very hard at times. Yet, he was responsible until the battle was over.
The next time Joshua is mentioned is in Exodus 24:13-14. Joshua is the aide of Moses. We don’t use the term aide very often today. In those times an aide was a sort of personal assistant who was always on duty. This means Joshua was watching and helping a very responsible person – Moses. As Joshua watched and helped Moses, he was also learning how to be more responsible and what a responsible person thinks, says and does.
There is a very interesting verse about Joshua – Exodus 33:11. The tent mentioned in this verse is actually the Tabernacle. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Joshua stayed in the Tabernacle, but this does tell us Joshua stayed close to God. To be responsible the way God wants you to be, means you will need to stay close to God, too. What are some ways you can stay close to God today?
In Numbers 11:26-29, we see another key to becoming more responsible – criticism. Joshua said something he shouldn’t have and Moses corrected him. You are going to make mistakes when you take on responsibilities. It’s important to listen when someone godly and more experienced corrects you. If you are wise like Joshua, you will learn from their correction.
Joshua had a huge test of his responsibility in Numbers 14:6-10. After watching and helping Moses for some time, Joshua was sent with eleven other men to spy on the residents of the Promised Land. Do you think he passed his test? Why or why not?
Most people start the story of Joshua in Numbers 27:18-23, when he was given his biggest responsibility – leading the people after the death of Moses. As we have learned though, God gives us opportunities to learn and grow to be ready for whatever responsibilities He gives us.
Skills Activity: Read Joshua 1:1-15. What responsibility does God give Joshua? Was Joshua ready? Why or why not?
Have students work alone or in pairs to create a book for children on responsibility. Before letting them begin, review some of the concepts from the lesson.
To become more responsible:
- Accept responsibilities when they are offered to you.
- Complete the responsibility – even if it’s difficult.
- Watch and help godly responsible people and learn from them.
- Stay close to God through Bible study and prayer.
- Accept godly correction.
- Be ready for your responsibility to be tested with an important task.
- Be ready for any responsibility God gives you.
Students may want to add other ideas like:
- Be honest.
- Admit when you are wrong.
- Keep promises.
- Be consistent.
- Be self-disciplined.
- Don’t make excuses.
- Be respectful of others emotions, time and possessions.
Finished books can be read to younger children or gifted to ministries serving them. (Pre-bound, nice blank books can be found at retailers.)
Application Challenge: Read more of the book of Joshua. How did he show he was responsible? Think of the things Joshua did to become more responsible when he was younger. Which of those things do you need to do to become more responsible?