Leaders Are Raised Up | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
May 2018

Leaders Are Raised Up

Note to the Teacher

This week we focus on leadership. What it is, what it looks like, what kind of leadership we hope for.

TimeDescription of Activity
10 min

1. Ice Breaker: The Voting Game

Youth are going to vote on who they’d rather have as their leader. Share two Leadership Profiles, and have the group vote. Then reveal the well-known historical figure they just selected. Repeat for three rounds.

Round 1

Okay. First we have a man with an amazing record of involvement in politics. He had a huge impact in helping bring about economic recovery. He was instrumental in creating a national highway system. He supports healthy living both through legislation and personal choices. He has been at the forefront of anti-tobacco legislation, and in his own life, he is a vegetarian. To top it all off, he loves his dog. (Adolf Hitler)

Or we have another man who has a long history in politics. But he has lost almost every campaign he has run, including at least one re-election campaign. During one of his campaigns, he used soldiers at the polls to intimidate voters. While in office, he was opposed to those who were critical of him, so he arrested thousands of citizens without just cause and then held them without trial. And although the claim is sometimes controversial, it’s likely that this man was treated for syphilis. (Abraham Lincoln)

Round 2

First we have a wealthy, likeable guy. Pretty good looking, actually. His good looks may have helped him deceive the public when he hid ongoing health issues from them. He has lots of friends, but he annoys them by often borrowing money and not repaying it. Not because he doesn’t have the money, but just because. And his good looks get in his way sometimes. He is a family man, but he has been known to cheat on his wife repeatedly. That doesn’t impact his ability to govern, but his poor ability to negotiate foreign relations almost caused a nuclear incident. He was well-known for using his faith as a basis for his politics. Even when people didn’t like it, he stuck to his values. (John F. Kennedy)

Second, This man came from poverty, but he was determined to make a life for himself. He worked his way through college and eventually through law school. When his country went to war, he was exempt from serving in the military, but he enlisted anyway. After the military, he was the youngest elected circuit judge in county history. As his political career continued, he was publicly critical of using torture as a means to gather intelligence. Though he voluntarily served in the military during a war, he greatly exaggerated his accomplishments during the war in order to gain popularity among voters. (Joseph McCarthy, once voted “the worst politician in the Senate”)

Round 3

First we have is a very powerful, decisive man. He has an extensive track record of unifying people across geographic and cultural divides. He comes from an elite background, and as such was raised with the right education and contacts to put him in a good place to succeed in politics. This man is incredibly wealthy, and though he spends money lavishly, he also spends vast sums of money making his country better. And you know that mysterious ‘it factor?’ That ability to look presidential, to take charge calmly even when everything appears chaotic? This guy has that. (Caesar, the King of Rome)

Second, we have a clear choice. If the first candidate looks like a leader, this guy looks like he lives in his car. He always seems to have enough money to get by, but there’s no paper trail. No one can trace the source of his finances. And he spends his money in weird places – most of it behind the scenes, leaving him looking kind of shabby in public. He is known to associate with criminals and frauds, and there are accusations (though unproven) that he has incited riots. Not only does he have no previous political experience, he is only supported by a small minority of people, but they seem like they would give up everything for him. (Jesus Christ)

  • How did you make your decisions?

  • How did you feel when you realized I was withholding critical information?

5 min

2. Scripture (Acts 1:15-17, 21-26)

We’re moving backward a bit this morning, back to the beginning of the book of Acts. This book picks up where the Gospel of Luke leaves off. So Jesus has just ascended into heaven, and now the eleven disciples are trying to figure out what’s next.

Read Acts 1:15-17 and 21-26

15 min

3. Discussion

Let’s explore this scripture.

  • In your own words, who can explain what’s happening here?[1]

  • The disciples nominated two men for the role of Apostle. What qualifications do they list here for being nominated? What other things do you think they may have considered Why do you think those were important to them?

  • How did they make their decision?[2] How do we make our decisions about leaders?

  • If no one votes, but a decision is made by lots, it makes the nomination process really critical. Because anyone nominated could be selected. What do you think are the pros and cons of selecting a leader by lots? What are the pros and cons of selecting a leader by voting?

It turns out that our lives are filled with not only official leaders, but those who lead despite not having any specific election, title, or role to fill.

Can you name any of those people in your life?[3]

  • So where is the Spirit moving in this Scripture passage?

20 min

4. Activity – leadership silhouettes

Take this lesson to the next level by getting student’s hands and imaginations involved using the activity Silhouettes of a Leader: A Crafty Tool to Explore Acts 1 from the Youth Worker Collective available at https://youthworkercollective.com/silhouettes-of-a-leader-a-crafty-tool-to-explore-acts-1/

5 min

5. Closing

Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

55 min


[1] Judas is dead, and the disciples still want to be a group of 12. So they need to select someone to be the fill in.

[2] Important: They did NOT vote. Casting lots was a common ancient practice more like divination (reading tea leaves or flipping a coin). A basket of lots (branches, stones, etc.) was tossed in the air. Where they fell determined the answer to the question asked.

[3] May be certain friends, for sure the church secretary, those people who do stuff without being asked, etc.

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