If you’ve ever eaten so much candy it makes you feel ill… you know the value of self-control.

As students are growing and maturing, they are learning the importance of setting limits and living a disciplined life.

It’s not easy, but God can give them the wisdom they need to make good choices.

Use this lesson to teach students that we need God’s help to demonstrate self-control.

– Nick Diliberto, Junior High Ministry

JUNIOR HIGH LESSON ON SELF-CONTROL

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

Bible: Proverbs 25:28; Galatians 5:22-23

Bottom Line: We need God’s help to demonstrate self-control.

SUPPLIES

  • 20 Brown paper lunch bags
  • 20 Ziploc sandwich bags
  • Table
  • Stapler
  • Food items to place in sandwich bags
    • 2 Pudding cups, any flavor (empty an entire cup into a Ziploc bag)
    • Small bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
    • Can of black olives
    • Can of pineapple
    • Small container of cottage cheese
    • 2 packs of gummy fruit snacks (empty each pack into a Ziploc bag)
    • Can of tuna
    • Can of baked beans
    • Can of Vienna sausages
    • 2 packs of Skittles (empty each pack into a Ziploc bag)

OPENING GAME: JUST SAY “NOPE”

GAME PREP

Divide students into two teams of equal size and have them form single file lines.

Have each team choose a “captain.”

This game will take a small amount of prep before your youth service.

For each food item, divide into equal halves, place in sandwich bags, and then inside of a paper bag.

Fold down and staple the paper bags so you can’t see what is inside.

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Say: How many of you have ever eaten too much?

It’s a lousy feeling… one minute you’re enjoying a delicious meal, and then the next minute you feel like you’re going to be sick!

It all comes down to self-control.

We’re going to play a game called, “Just say nope.”

Here’s how we will play the game…

On this table, we have 20 bags of some kind of food item.

There are only 10 different kinds of food in total.

Each of your teams has a captain.

When I say GO, your team captain will race to the table, grab a bag, and carry it back to your team.

You will pass the bag from the front of your line to the end of your line, giving each person the opportunity to feel what is in the bag.

You can’t open the bag or try to peek inside – you can only feel it.

When it reaches the end of your line, everyone will tell the captain if they want to keep or they want to send it back to the table… “just say nope.”

Then, the team captain will run to the table and choose another bag, until you have 10 bags.

Why does it matter what is in the bags?

Because after you have chosen 10 bags for your team to keep, then your team will have to eat the contents of the bags!

If the other team chooses their 10 bags before you have chosen yours, you will be stuck with whatever is left.

The first team to eat all of the contents of their 10 bags – WINS!

TEACH

Say: Were you happy with the choices your team made in the bags you chose to eat?

Allow a few responses from students.

Well, whether or not you were happy, it was your choice.

Okay. I want to switch gears by asking a question…

How many of you have ever flown a drone?

How many of you have crashed a drone?

They can be destroyed pretty easily.

Founded in 2015, the Drone Racing League is a professional international drone racing organization.

Can you believe that there is a professional drone racing league?

That’s awesome!

Using special first-person viewing headsets, pilots race custom made drones through 3-dimensional courses at speeds of over 80 mph.

A wrong turn or loss of control can spell disaster and a loss of thousands of dollars in equipment and prize winnings for contestants.

Drone racing is all about skill and quick decision making.

One wrong move and it’s all over.

These pilots have practiced and fine-tuned their skills to be able to control every muscle and movement.

I think that’s pretty amazing to demonstrate that type of control.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about controlling what we do.

Read Proverbs 25:28.

A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

Most cities today don’t have walls because we just don’t need them anymore.

But in ancient times, walls were crucial to a city’s survival.

They kept its inhabitants safe and secure from invaders.

And while walls were designed to be unstoppable, every wall had a weakness.

If walls were not maintained they eventually crumbled and would break down, and allow in the things that were meant to be kept out.

King Solomon knew all too well about the need for self-control.

Besides being immensely wise and rich, as the king, he could have anything and anyone he wanted.

So, why would someone who could literally have anything, even be worried about self-control?

Walls that are broken are not capable of doing what they were designed to do – protect.

Just like a person without self-control.

At high speeds, a professional drone pilot who lacks self-control will completely destroy their investment and the chance to succeed.

Read Galatians 5:22-23.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

There is no law against these things!

These verses give us the key to having the self-control that God wants in our lives.

In verses 22 and 23, the Apostle Paul tells the Galatian church that the Holy Spirit produces nine things in the life of every follower of Christ.

Those qualities are called the “Fruit of the Spirit.”

The last one on the list is self-control.

Self-control is the ability to control yourself and your desires and behavior in difficult circumstances.

In our own power, we are limited in the amount of self-control we actually have.

Imagine this.

Your grandmother makes the most amazing tasting brownies in the world.

In fact, you could eat an entire pan of them if she would let you.

You go to her house and the smell of those brownies have filled the air and it’s all you can think about.

You decided beforehand that you would only eat one, but then you found yourself eating a second, and then a third.

At that moment, your lack of self-control nearly finished off a pan of brownies meant for the entire family to enjoy.

Can anyone relate?

Of course, this is not a severe example, but remember the verse from Proverbs – “A person without self-control is like a city with broken down walls.”

The walls can’t protect the way they were designed if they are broken.

Our own version of self-control without the help of the Holy Spirit is like a broken wall.

With a broken wall, we allow in all kinds of things that are not supposed to be there.

Eating a pan of brownies might not seem that serious, but the idea of being unable to control your actions is very serious.

Whether it’s eating too many brownies, playing video games for 24 hours straight, taking something that doesn’t belong to you, or telling lies – the heart of the matter is the amount of self-control that is or is not being demonstrated in your life.

Take a look at the way you live – are you demonstrating self-control?

You will live the best version of your life when you surrender everything to God and allow him to give you the wisdom to make good choices on a daily basis.

And most of all, remember, you can’t do it by yourself – you need God’s help.

Close in prayer.

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Why is self-control important in the life of a Christian?
  2. How do you define “self-control”? What does it look like when someone has self-control?
  3. What “walls” do you have in your life that help protect your heart and mind from sin?
  4. How does self-control help you avoid and overcome temptation?
  5. Why do we need God’s help to demonstrate self-control? Can we do it on our own? Why or why not?
  6. Have you ever regretted your actions after you didn’t demonstrate self-control? What would you say to help someone else avoid the choices you made in those situations?
  7. Think about an area of your life that you need God’s help. You don’t have to say it out loud. Agree to pray for each other during the next week.
  8. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen someone do when they had no self-control?
  9. How does learning self-control in your teenage years help you as an adult?
  10. How can you help keep each other accountable in demonstrating self-control? Do you think you need help from each other?

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

Like this lesson? Check out this…

Junior High Lesson on Thankful Thinking