Sunday School for All: Self-Control

What does Self-Control mean in the Bible? Selfcontrol is listed in the Bible as one of the Fruits of the Spirit – a sign that Christ is in us. If we let our desires lead our decisions, our lives (and our bodies) can quickly spin out of control. Selfcontrol is a discipline that God grows in us when we continually choose to die to our flesh and live in Him.

Meditate: 2 Timothy 1:7

Extended Reading: 2 Timothy 1:6-10


  • What do you enjoy more: musicals or drama?
  • When is it difficult for you to maintain self-control?

Relate: Isabel and Sofia enjoy theater.  Throughout their elementary years, they have been in several musical productions and wanted to audition for a creative arts performing academy.  The process was excruciatingly difficult.  As they prepared, I decided to ask my friend Jay to watch and critique their audition piece.  Jay has significant experience as an actor and director, so I knew the experience would be worthwhile albeit challenging.  Jay is kind of a tough teacher even though he has the heart of a grandparent.

Wince: The girls were used to teachers and coaches who lavished them with encouragement.  Jay asked them to perform their audition piece and they timidly walked into the living room and stumbled through their pieces.  He quickly interjected, “Learning your lines girls, that’s the easy part!  I should send you home right now and you can come back when you learned your lines!”  I could see Isabel and Sofia wince.

The Secret Weapon: Jay wasn’t finished.  “Don’t come out in front of the audience with your head down and your eyes on the floor.  Walk out with your head high, take a deep breath, and speak to a thousand people.  If you’re afraid, stay home.  Discipline yourself.”  In 45 minutes I saw different kinds emerge.  The girls worked even harder on their auditions and we were all proud of what they accomplished.  Later, I asked the girls what they learned from Jay.  Their response was simple: an actor’s secret weapon is self-control.

The Gift: Paul talks to Timothy about self-control.  He prods him to stand firm as a leader with confidence by the power of God’s Spirit.  Because in today’s culture, we are encouraged to say “yes” to everything.  But controlling ourselves allows us to say no and to teach our children to do the same.  Thankfully, we do not need to rely on our own strength to turn towards what is good.  The Holy Spirit helps us at every turn, crossroads, and decision point.

Family Fun:

Chat Prompts:

  • When do you have a hard time controlling yourself?
  • How do you hurt yourself and others when you don’t use self-control?
  • How can we pray for you – where or when do you need God to give you self-control?

Wake Up: Mornings are often a time when self-control is needed but difficult to exercise.  As everyone rushes to brush teeth, get dressed, grab breakfast and get started with their day, it’s easier to demand our way than it is to wait patiently.

  • Preschool Kids:  Before breakfast, place a bowl of something tasty – and tempting – in the middle of the table.  Tell your child that the food looks soooooo delicious, and that you want to eat it all and right away!  But you have to wait until (everyone comes to the table, the dishwasher is empty, the dog is fed, etc. Choose just one thing to wait for).  Explain that it will take self-control, but that you know God promises to give us self-control.  When you sit down to breakfast, make a big deal about how delicious the food is and how glad you had self-control and waited together.

Elementary Kids: Let your child know the night before that you’ll be having something special for breakfast – share what it is and how much you’re looking forward to it.  Then remind your child of what needs to be done before you can enjoy breakfast together.  When you wake your child up, remind them of the special breakfast, and say a quick prayer together that God will give you self-control as you get ready for breakfast.  Once you sit down to breakfast, share how glad you are that God gave you both self-control.

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