Everybody has an inner world. It’s a world created by the conversations you have within yourself, the daydreams that suck you in, and the internal dialogue going through your head as you pump gas, shop for groceries, or get ready to start the day. Perhaps your inner world is loudest at night just before drifting off into sleep. It’s the collection of thoughts that shape the world you live in.
We know that for students, that inner world can fluctuate from the exhilarating maturity of figuring out who they are and their purpose in life to being plagued with challenges like stress, anxiety, depression, or comparison. This month, we’ll take a dive beyond the exterior of who we seem like and dig deep into who we really are. We’re going to get vulnerable and talk about what’s beneath the image we pretend to be. We’ll also encourage students to align their inner world with the truth of God’s Word.
Anxiety: (April 25)—Our Father is waiting to carry the weight with us.
Key Verses: Psalm 55:22 NIV, Matthew 11:30 NIV
YouVersion Bible Plan: How To Be Happy
Because anxiety is an internal struggle and isn’t as easily identifiable as a physical wound, it can become a common word that we sometimes use too casually. Words don’t do it justice, so sometimes students (and adults for that matter) struggle with it silently. This week, we’re empathizing with those who suffer from anxiety. In this week’s message, Pastor Carlos gives us five ways we can cast the cares of the world off ourselves and onto the One who is waiting to carry it with us.
Leader Challenge: We want to be very clear when we talk about anxiety. Because anxiety is a mental disorder that some of our students have no doubt been diagnosed with, we don’t want students to think they should stop taking their medications or downplay the seriousness of seeking help. Treat this topic with a sensitivity that errs on the side of caution. We trust God to make all things new, and we know that part of how He does that is by equipping us with medical professionals who have the wisdom and knowledge to treat the diseases we face.
You will want to be prepared with a response to students that suspect that they are dealing with anxiety. Here are some resources to help you navigate that conversation:
- Check out the anxiety collection on the www.finds.life.church website. Just search for “anxiety” and read some articles about how to encourage your students spiritually.
- Recognize some common symptoms and signs of anxiety by reading this article from the Mayo Clinic.
- Realize it’s not your job to diagnose a student with anxiety, but we do need to have a healthy understanding and education of what anxiety looks like. Research anxiety for yourself, check out some vlogs on YouTube about anxiety, and most importantly, pray for wisdom to navigate conversations about anxiety in your group. If you don’t know the answer, don’t make one up! Offer to research it, partner with parents, connect with your Switch coach, and ask your Youth Pastor for guidance.
Stress: (April 18)— True peace comes when we get out of our heads and into God’s presence.
Key Verses: Psalm 118:5 NIV, Phillipians 4:4-7 NLT
YouVersion Bible Plan: Overcoming Stress (coming soon!)
Stress is more than a feeling but less than the end of the world—even though sometimes it really can feel like it with everything students are facing. Stress and anxiety are not the same thing, and it’s important that we know the difference. Stress is a response to outside threats. Anxiety is a mental disorder happening on a chemical level and should be treated and diagnosed by a medical professional. If you suspect one of your students is dealing with anxiety or has something serious going on in their lives, please connect with your Youth Pastor and partner with parents.
In this week’s message, we remind students to talk to their Switch Leaders and trusted adults if they are dealing with high stress levels or suspect they have anxiety. We’re also encouraging them to get out of their heads and into God’s presence. The Bible gives us a clear pathway to God’s peace: It’s when we stop looking to ourselves and start looking to the One whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Check out Philippians 4:4-7 NLT and come prepared to help students get out of their heads about stress and into God’s presence.
If you think peace is just the absence of conflict or stress, you might think a little yoga and lavender tea will do the trick. Check out this Bible Project video that takes true peace one step further. Also, several great resources on stress can be found at www.finds.life.church. Just search “stress.”
Comparison (April 11)—Comparison kills compassion.
Key verses: Psalm 139:14 NIV, Matthew 9:36 NIV, Matthew 9:35–38 NIV, James 3:16 NIV
YouVersion Bible Plan: Approved
Things. Honor. Entourage. Make Up. When we see others, we can get caught up making comparisons in these four areas. Sometimes, our comparisons lead us to pat ourselves on the backs for being better than those around us. Other times, our comparisons cause us to think less of ourselves and downplay our uniqueness. Whether we allow comparison to lead us to low self-esteem or to pride, the reality is when we’re busy comparing ourselves, we block our ability to truly see the needs of those around us. Comparison kills compassion. But the good thing is, compassion can also kill comparison.
As you lead your Switch Group this night, prepare by reflecting on times when you (whether as a student or an adult) compared yourself to someone else. Which of the four areas were you likely to compare yourself in? Remember the urgency and pressure, and use that to empathize with your students. Then, lead your students to understand that compassion can kill that comparison within us. Encourage them that every time they want to compare, they can use that energy instead to extend compassion.
The Point: When you know who you are, you know what you’re supposed to do.
Key Verses: Ephesians 2:10 NLT, Genesis 1:27 NIV, Galatians 3:26 NLT, Ephesians 6:10-17 NIV
YouVersion Bible Plan: The Supernatural
Video—We can’t post online, so encourage your students to see it live!
One thing we can all agree on: There’s nothing like a good movie montage. It’s how classics become classics! Think: Mulan learning to be a warrior amongst men, or Rocky training for the big fight. When a film takes us through a character overcoming a challenge or gaining a new skill in the perfect two-minute sequence over a heart-wrenching soundtrack—you can get the toughest of us to shed a tear.
We know the montage is just a highlight reel though. Years are condensed to mere seconds from the shame of defeat to the glory of triumph. But our lives are a lot less neatly packaged. In this week’s message, we’re using clips from the amazing Wonder Woman movie to apply biblical truths to our identity. We’ll learn that the secret to becoming like the greats starts with first learning who we are. We’ll explore the truth that our Father took time to form us and to give each of us a purpose worth living out. Our challenge is to prepare for our purpose daily so that we’ll be ready to live it out. The simple truth is this: You’re equipped with everything you need when you are loved by God.
Spend some time with the Scriptures linked above. Truly think about and grasp them yourself. These powerful truths reveal our secret weapon is knowing God and finding our identity as His children. And when you know who you are, you’ll know what you’re supposed to do. Encourage your students to start thinking about who they say they are and comparing it against who God says they are. Guide them to make it match.