Albert Einstein’s handwritten note about the secret to happiness recently sold at auction for $1.56 million. Einstein’s advice for living a happy life? “A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.”
There’s wisdom in these words. As we find ourselves heading into the mad dash to Christmas, perhaps this is a good time to have a conversation with your students (and yourself) about happiness.
What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy? Are happiness and being fulfilled the same thing?
Poll Your Students about Happiness
Conduct an informal poll with your teenagers by asking, “What one thing in life makes you most happy?” If you’re expecting teenagers to say things like money, sex, cars, being off from school, you might be surprised by the responses you get. When surveyed, less than 1% of youth gave those answers. The big winner was spending time with family, followed by time with friends and loved ones. Relationships are incredibly important to young people! They seem to instinctively realize—perhaps better than many adults—that it’s not about owning more stuff and it’s not even determined by your life circumstances. It’s whether the key relationships in your life are satisfying.What one thing in life makes you most happy? Click To Tweet
Relationships Hold the Key
Which brings us to one of central truths at the very core of Jesus’ teachings. He puts it out there straight in John 15:11-15:
I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father (The Message).
Jesus is telling us here that putting yourself out there for your family or friends is a great thing. But the even more amazing message here is that He considers us His friends, when we become His followers. It’s all about relationships! With God and with others.
The Most Satisfying Relationship of All
Talk to your students about the reality that every human carries a sense deep inside that relationships are the source of human happiness. This universal truth has everything to do the reality that God created us to be relational and He created us to be in relationship with Him.
As Christians, we’ve experienced the wonder of having our broken relationship with God restored, through Jesus’ work on the cross. The Bible puts it this way in Romans 5:11: “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” (NLT). But we all have friends who are missing out on this rich and meaningful relationship with God and the free gift of eternal life that Jesus offers.
Spread the Joy!
This week, challenge your students to talk with their friends about happiness and about relationships. To help prepare them, spend some time in youth group roleplaying how those conversations might unfold.
Try This! ❯
Challenge your students to talk with their friends about happiness and relationships. To help prepare them, spend some time in youth group roleplaying how those conversations might unfold.
Here are some Gospel Advancing conversation-starting ideas to help them move their conversations toward God-talk:
- Ask your friends what one thing makes them most happy? If family, friends or loved ones aren’t central to their answer, ask them why they aren’t.
- What about God? Find out if they believe a relationship with God contributes to a person being happy? Share what you believe.
- Why do you think relationships are so important to our happiness?
- Do you think happiness and “being fulfilled” are the same thing? Why or why not?
- What do you think it takes in life to “be fulfilled”? What does purpose and meaning look like for you?
- Does God play a part in where you find purpose and meaning? Share what you believe about why a relationship with Jesus is the BEST relationship in the whole world! Share the gospel! Talk about the most important relationship someone can ever have, a relationship with the God of the Universe. For help with this, check out “A 4 Minute Crash Course in Sharing Your Faith.”
Challenge your students to come back to youth group next week and share how their conversations about happiness unfolded with their friends.
Give the best gift of all coming holiday season—a relationship with Jesus! Because knowing God is the ultimate source of happiness for every human being.
Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on resource in your inbox!