My Advice for Life (A Drawing While Teaching Lesson)

My Advice for Life (A Drawing While Teaching Lesson)

This summer I have been working on a series of lessons based around drawings. To kick that off I did this lesson you see here. There is something almost mantra like about the opening to me. I wrote it, so it is weird to say, but it is a very cool way of pouring advice into teenagers without pouring advice into them. The actual lesson part is a little more straight forward. I would project the next piece of the drawing and then would talk about it and continue until I had a whole picture of what it means to be a child of God on the screen. You can see the drawing below (I like to leave it hand drawn looking so that the teenagers aren’t intimdated to try and draw it)

It is a very strange thing when you find out that you are going to be a parent. It sort of shakes you to your core and you have all sorts of thoughts and dreams and ideas. You also have a whole lot of fears. For me I had lots of fears that most people don’t have at the beginning. You see being a youth pastor is my life. For 20 years I have been working with teenagers helping them to figure out who they are and who God had shaped them to be. So I had a whole lot of fears about those teenage years and I have wanted to find a way to help my son get through those even before he was born.

But how do you help? I wanted to give him advice, but working with teenagers I have learned that advice about behavior doesn’t help.

I could tell him not to speed, but he would still drive 90 mph through town no matter how much I tell him about tickets or show him wrecked cars and read him statistics. He would keep speeding because to him those problems are things that happen to someone else.

I could tell him not to have sex before he is married because there are lots of diseases and pregnancy is a possibility and even more than that there is something more about sex than about anything else and there is this union that comes between two people and when you do that too soon or against God’s plan it just makes you both feel empty inside.

I could tell him these things, but they wouldn’t make a difference because consequences are what happen to other people and no matter how much I try to tell him that I know what I am talking about he will never believe me.

I could tell him to not mess with people’s hearts. I could tell him not to do things to make himself feel good at the expense of others, but he would never listen to me, because he won’t understand that doing what feels good or funny or heart saving in the moment won’t feel good later.

He won’t listen because he doesn’t have years of regret showing him how he should act.

I could tell him to stay away from cheap imitations of intimacy that he finds on a phone or on a computer. I could tell him how those things will make him feel worthy and special for a moment, but only for a moment, how the next moment he will feel empty and alone and cheap and miserable. But he won’t listen because he will think of me as someone out of touch, out of date, someone who doesn’t understand how the world works who is just trying to keep him a kid and from growing up.

He will never understand the real pain in my heart, the wounds which are healed, but still show the scars from when I did those same things and thought I was different and thought all that mattered was what was happening in that moment. He will never understand that what I am trying to do isn’t to keep him a kid, but to protect his heart and to keep him from having to face these same demons of his past that I have to face.

I could try to remind him that he is still growing, that he is still figuring out who he is and all of the rules that I throw on him aren’t to keep him down, but to help him to be ready to face the world when it comes in. I could try to explain that I was trying to help him to practice, but all he will think about is getting into the game and he will look at me like I am an idiot and break my heart when he decides that I am not trying to help, but rather just trying to keep him a kid.

These are the fears that I had when Nathan was still not yet born. I tried to figure out how I could say these things to him, but I knew he would never listen. So I tried to think of some way that I could save him from these same things in a way that he might actually listen.
When it came down to it I came up with an idea not to help him figure out how to stay away from stuff. He would never listen to that advice.

So instead of trying to fill his life with advice I decided that from the very beginning I would try to make sure that he grew up knowing who he was. So every night when he went to sleep I would tell him who he was, and now when I put him and his little brother to bed each night I remind them of who they are by saying:



You are made by God. You are a unique creation, the product of His perfect imagination. You are being perused by the love of God each and every moment of your life. He will never leave you alone.

You are valuable because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are valuable because He created you. You are valuable because He has chosen you. You have been picked by God to be a part of His great adventure. He has a place for you that only you can fill. He has called you by name and set you apart to follow him in place where only you can go.

You are a warrior, a mighty force against the powers of evil. You have been chosen to be a part of God’s plan to change the world.

You are also my child and I love you more than you can even understand. You are the some of all that is good in me. You’re my greatest gift, my greatest accomplishment. I am more proud of you just because of who you are than you will ever know. You will never have to do anything, say anything, be anything to win my love. I love you because you are you.

So as you go to sleep tonight rest in the love of God and the love of your mom and me. When you wake up tomorrow tackle the new day with wonder and excitement. Try new things; follow new paths; go where no one else will go; don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Hang on to God and his plan for your life and follow Him as He leads you places most people are afraid to go.

Don’t be ruled by the opinions of others. God loves you, Mom loves you, and I love you. Let that love set you free to be who God created you to be, not who other people want you to be. Stand strong against evil wherever you see it. Be a champion for those who can’t fight for themselves. Treat everyone you meet withe the respect that they deserve as a creation of God.



If they can grow up knowing these things then all of the other things that they need to worry about will be easier to handle. If they can know who they are in God they can have a better idea of how they should respond.

Drawing Lesson:

This drawing lesson helps to teach this advice. At the end I also add a few case studies so that we could discuss how this truth can help people in their daily life.


It all begins with God, if we don’t believe God is who he says he is then we all of the rest of this stuff won’t matter.
So Let’s start with God


and while we know lots of things about God let’s start with the fact that God is absolutely in control. He is king


This God, the king is also a creator and he made you.



I know this may not look like you, but you can imagine it is you. So you have God who made everything and then you have you. So what do we know is true?


We know that God made you…

God Values you. Let’s talk about that for a moment. You are important and valuable because God has said you are important. You are valued because God values you. Think back over the course of your life and think about the things that you have done just to try to get someone to like you or to feel like you are important. I would imagine that list is long. Some of those things worked out, others made you feel worse when they were over. But ultimately all of them left you feeling a little empty because you can only find your value from God.


We also know that God has chosen you. I was never picked, ever.  Some of you know the pain of getting picked last at sports. I was not only picked last, but was often not picked and just dumped on a team. It hurts not to be picked. But now I know that I am chosen by God.

You see not only did God make you, and he values you, but he has also chosen you. There are people in here who would do anything to be chosen. Some of you are worried about being chosen by the right guy or girl, or the right school or the right club or group of friends. But you want so hard to be chosen that you would do anything, including things that you know will hurt you and people around you. You are chosen by God. Let that truth roll over you.

That means that you don’t have to struggle to be chosen by your peers. You don’t have to do stupid things to be chosen by some girl or some guy. Let me tell you, when you are in love you should do stupid things. You are in love so show your love extravagantly, just do it without being stupid if you understand me. Love shouldn’t have to be secret. Love shouldn’t have to hide. Love shouldn’t need a 7 second snapchat timer. You were chosen by God, so don’t worry about being chosen by someone else. Trust me I know this is hard, it is hard to remember that this is true.


and you can know it is true because you God proved that love on the cross. The cross is what makes all of the true, and because God, the creator of the universe God made you, chose you, valued you, He sent his son Jesus to die for you to show you just how much he cares for you. And if you will believe this, takes this into your heart and turn you life to Jesus as your Lord,


Then you will have God’s holy spirit inside of you and it will remind you that all of the rest of this is true about you.

(When I taught I did the case studies here, but I am going to continue on and finish out the drawing)


So you see this is true about you, but you have a choice.
Will you live like this is true or like what other people believe is true.


You can choose to take the view that you were made by God and that the cross sets your value and the cross is what chose you. Or would you rather



Choose to live as someone who gets their values from their actions, their body, their accomplishments, or from the approval of others.





All of those things sound good and they work for a while, but the problem is those things don’t last and eventually they leave you empty, alone, and feeling worthless.


So you have a choice. Live like someone who is valuable because they were chosen by God or live like someone who gets their value from these other things. Which way will you live?


Case Studies

Case Study One:

Bill is 16 years old. He isn’t classically handsome, but he is cute and he is full of charisma. When it comes to girls the chase is as important to him as actually finding someone to date, but he would never admit that to anyone. All he knows is that when he is actually in a relationship he feels restless and it isn’t long before he ends up looking for someone new. It isn’t that he likes to hurt people, in fact he feels bad when he breaks up with someone, it is just that he can’t find anyone who is as exciting when they are dating as she is when he is trying to convince her to go out with him.

  • What is Bills problem?
  • What is the heart cause that makes bill act this way?
  • How can our drawing help Bill?
  • If you knew that Bill would listen what would you tell him?


Case Study Two:

Julie is trying hard not to be a stereotype. She is young, but looks older than she is. She is continually being sought after by older guys and she wants to pursue relationships with them, but her parents keep putting blocks in here way. She doesn’t want to be the typical teenage daughter who whines about how her parents “always treat me like a child” and who tells people, “I’m not a kid anymore.” But it seems like those words keep coming out of her mouth. Sometimes the guys that she is “talking to” end up asking her to do more than talk. She wishes she could explain to her mom about all of the pressures that go on in her world. She wishes she could explain that her phone is her lifeline, it is also the place where she feels the most pressure to do things that she knows she shouldn’t. From everything Julies sees her mother is just being a prude. The world isn’t like it was 20 years ago, now everyone sends pictures to everyone else.

Julie still feels a little weird about the things she is being asked to do. But there is this one guy, this guy who seems to like her and who everyone else seems to want. Since it is this guy who is asking her she is pretty sure she will do whatever he wants.

  • What are some of the feelings that you think Julie is struggling with?
  • Why do you think she is feeling pressured to do things she is uncomfortable with?
  • How can our drawing help Julie?
  • If you knew that Julie would listen what would you tell her?


Case Study Three:

Ben is the kind of kid who everyone thinks is friends with someone else. In other words, he is around, sort of on the edges of the youth group. He engages people from time to time and generally seems to be happy, but he really isn’t close with anyone. Most people just figure he hangs out with people outside of the group or something. In fact most of Ben’s life is spent alone. His parents are around, and they love him, but they don’t know how to help him find people to hang out with or to find things to do besides just sit and watch TV all summer. Ben generally feels invisible. He feels like if he wasn’t around few people would notice. Ben doesn’t really blame people for not liking him. He can’t seem to find much likable about himself either.

  • So what are some of the reasons why Ben might be feeling this way?
  • How can our drawing help Ben?
  • What advice would you give Ben?
  • What advice from our drawing would you give the people in Ben’s life?


Case Study Four:

Katie is Mrs. Everything. She is captain or president of every group she is involved with. She has her life planned out, including the non-negotiable names of her 3 children (two boys and a girl) and at what age she will get married and start that family. She cannot fail at anything. At least that is what she tells herself. She is just 16 but there are already tons of people counting on her. She has adults constantly telling her what an example she is and she is afraid if she takes one wrong step she will be letting those people down. Katie has a hard time saying no to people and as a result spends most weeks exhausted from extra projects. But still she has trouble sleeping some nights. She can’t seem to shake the stress that seems to dog her every move and she is often afraid of failing or just missing something.

  • So what is Katie’s heart problem?
  • How could our drawing help Katie?
  • If you could give Katie some advice that you know she would listen to you what would you say?

Illustrated Concepts

Illustrated Concepts

When you are dealing with a concept that students may have a small understanding of, but would like to see how much they really grasp it give them the opportunity to draw it. You will be able to gauge how much they understand and probably find some good jumping off points for discussing the idea.

Here is how it works:

  • Pass out paper to everyone. (I would suggest half sheets of paper because those of us who can’t draw sometimes feel a little intimidated trying to fill a whole sheet)
  • Group them into groups of no more than 4 to share art supplies. (I normally stock up on packs of crayons at back to school sales)
  • Give them the concept that you would like for them to explore. Some examples include: Love, freedom, sacrifice, hope, or forgiveness. Normally I would add a restriction that makes them think beyond the obvious, for instance when we talked about love I didn’t let them use a heart, or when we talked about forgiveness I wouldn’t let them use a cross. Those small things make the students dig a little deeper and help you get better responses.
  • Let them have an ample amount of time to draw. There will be a few people done in 30 seconds, but this activity isn’t for those people. The people who really respond to a drawing exercise will take their time and dig into it.
  • At the end of your drawing time have them get into different groups of 4 and then share their pictures and why they drew what they drew. Move around the room during this time praising their work and listening for cues to their understanding. Choose a couple of pieces to kick off the rest of your discussion.

Drawing Prayer Confidence

Drawing Prayer Confidence

(Psalm 86)

God, the one true God, the creator of the universe and the sustainer of all things, wants to know us. He wants to interact with us. And we can go to him confidently in prayer not because of our merit, but because He has chosen to reach out to us. This art prayer activity is designed to help students see this truth.

I tend to like to pass out crayons rather than markers because they have less chance of making permanent messes, but pens and paper will work as well. When it comes to paper I normally use half sheets because it is a little less intimidating than a large blank page for those of us who can’t draw.

  • Pass out paper and drawing material to students
  • Instruct students to divide their paper into three sections
  • Have them draw in the first section a picture that describes who God is or some of the big things that he has done (his “works” as it were)
  • In the second section tell students to draw a picture representation of God’s desire to interact with people. (I know that is long, but what I said was that the Sistine chapel was a good example of that with God reaching out to touch Adam’s hand. Another good idea would be a cross which is the ultimate symbol of God proving that he wants to reach out to us)
  • In the final sections students should draw a picture that represents something God did directly for them. For instance God if God was there for you when your friends left you a picture of you alone but smiling might work.
  • After students are finished tell them that they have just drawn a picture of how we can pray confidently. God is powerful; we can see his power all around us. God is willing to interact with people, and God has also done great things for you. At times when we think that God isn’t responding it will help us to remember who God is and what he has done for us in the past.

Visual Object Lesson

Check out the previous post for the genesis of this idea, but while at M-Fuge the pastor asked us what sort of image our love for each other was painting of God. Yesterday I preached at church and turned that idea into an object lesson.

There is a lady who paints in our church and from time to time she will paint while we are singing to add visual basis to our worship time. It turns out that she just did this about 3 weeks ago so it was still fresh in everyone’s mind. I asked her to paint another one, but this time it was one that we would ruin.

So she got up and painted a picture of the face of Jesus, with the cross in the background. We didn’t talk about it at all, just sort of let it stay there on stage while the song service ended and I started to preach. About halfway through my sermon I began talking about how the way that we love each other as a church is painting a picture of the God that the world sees. I cued some pre-enlisted students who came up one at a time and in big black letters wrote these words across the face of Jesus.

Gossip, Hypocrisy, Cliques, Hatred, Ridicule, and Sin

As they wrote I was asking the church. What do people see when they look at the way we love each other? Do they see a God who loves or a God who gossips? Do they see a God who accepts or a God who just talks to His own friends?

I challenged them to stop painting the after picture, the one with Jesus covered in black words and instead paint the before picture by loving each other the way that Christ loves the church.

The painting is still in the sanctuary, and with the words scribbled on it is pretty powerful.

God is…God has done…God please do

God is…God has done…God please do

This is a worship progression we used one night when our band wasn’t able to lead us in worship. It would work well when your group has specific needs that they are praying for. It would work well before a planning meeting or retreat and simply change the prayer requests section to praying for your meeting. Actually the last section can be changed to cater to whatever special prayer needs would work best.

The Idea:

This worship time begins by praising God for who He is, then praising Him for what he Has done. It concludes with a time of supplication. When students see more of who God is and when they remember what He has done they will reawaken to the fact that their requests are being made to the God who can make a difference.

The Setup:

  • Before you begin copy enough of the journaling sheets for everyone in your group.
  • Set up large sheets of paper (large craft rolls work very well) in an accessible place in your room along with drawing materials. The paper will need to be big enough for everyone to find a space to draw on.
  • If necessary set up multiple sheets of paper.
  • If your group is large you may consider passing out paper and pencils.
  • If you are short on floor space then hang long sheets of paper along the walls.
  • As people enter hand them a balloon and a permanent marker.

The Worship Experience:


  • Instruct everyone to blow up their balloons and tie them off.
  • (Tip: Make sure that everyone has their balloon tied before you start the actual worship process. This way you don’t have to listen to students making noises with the balloons.)
  • Instruct students to complete the sentence “God is…” with either a word or a phrase and write their answer on their balloon.
  • After a short time tell them to start hitting their balloons in the air
  • Play some sort of loud worship music while they are hitting the balloons
  • (Tip: Have adult volunteers make balloons as well. Some balloons may pop so having extras insures that everyone will get a balloon.)
  • After a moment have the music stop and everyone grab a balloon.
  • If students have their own balloon they should trade with a neighbor
  • Instruct students to read their balloons and then write their original answer on this balloon too.
  • Start the music up again and have them hit the balloons again.
  • Have them write on the balloons a third time and then throw them up in the air again.
  • When the music stops this time ask students to read the words or phrases on their balloons.
  • As a final act of praise have everyone pop their balloons at the same time.


  • Have everyone pick up their balloon parts and throw them away as they move towards where you have set up the paper and drawing materials.
  • Instruct students to draw a picture of something that God has done–either for them personally or for all of us
  • Play some soft worship music while students are drawing.
  • Give students who like to draw plenty of time to worship (at least 7 minutes or so)
  • For students who finish earlier encourage them to draw something else or come up with a list of all of the things that God has done for them.
  • After a couple of worship songs, have students volunteer to share about their drawings.


This is slightly different than many of the worship experiences that I do because it isn’t about worship as much as it is about prayer requests, but at its heart this experience is acknowledging that God alone has the answers.

  • Pass out the journaling sheets and pens as students head back to their seats.
  • (tip: if your group isn’t super large you could put the sheets and pens on their chairs while they are drawing)
  • Take a moment and debrief the experience so far. Point out that you have worshiped God for who He is and what He has done.
  • Say: Now we are going to open up our hearts to God and go to Him with our problems and our requests. One of the hardest things about prayer is that it admits that you aren’t in control, but that God ultimately is. God is all of these things that we have talked about and God has come through for us time and time again as we have drawn. Spend a few moments praying and asking God to help you with what you are struggling with right now. As you journal you can either write your prayer as a letter to God or simply make a list of your requests.
  • Play some more soft worship music and give students time to pray.
  • Close the experience in prayer thanking God for who He is, for what He has done, and for what He is going to do.

God Please Do .pdf