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Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness

"Finding practical uses for that which others would overlook or discard"

 RESOURCEFULNESS – Character Materials for Children

Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Contributed by Trudy Pettibone

Cincinnati, Ohio

November 15, 2001

    1. Weekly Readings Based on The "I Will" Action Steps
    2. An Object Lesson in Resourcefulness
    3. An Outline for a Children's Church Service

  1. WEEKLY READINGS BASED ON THE "I WILL" ACTION STEPS

    RESOURCEFULNESS vs. Wastefulness
    Finding practical uses for that which others would overlook or discard.

    I Will:
    • see value in objects, ideas, and people.
    • repair, reuse, and recycle.
    • make wise use of my time, talents, energy and mind.
    • give away or sell the things I do not use.
    • not litter.

    Following are some scriptures for encouraging children in resourcefulness. Reading can be done by the child, if older, or can be done for the child. Activities should be done together and, as much as possible, should be full-family activities. If the Scripture is given as one block, break it down into small segments to fill the entire week.

    All of the action clauses will be dealt with through the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a very resourceful person, and the very nature of the task he undertook speaks of resourcefulness.

    Some Memory Verses for Resourcefulness: Matthew 22:37; 1 Timothy 6:18; 1 Peter 4:10

    Week One: I Will see value in objects, ideas, and people.

    Explain to the child that Nehemiah's family had been taken captive by some people called the Babylonians. Our story takes place in Susa, which was the capital of the Persian empire. This story, therefore, takes place after the Persians had conquered Babylon. The people were only quasi-captive under the Persian Empire, so the king let Nehemiah return to Jerusalem.
    Scripture: Nehemiah 1:1-4; 10; 2:1-5; 2:6-9; 6:15, 16.
    Nehemiah is very sad when he hears the condition of the people who had remained in his homeland and the condition of the capital city of Jerusalem. He prays to God for help to deal with the situation. He knew how important the city of Jerusalem was to the people. He also knew how important the city and the people were to God.

    Nehemiah's job was to serve wine to the King, and probably to test the wine to make sure it was safe for the King to drink. In verse two, the king sees that Nehemiah is sad, and Nehemiah becomes afraid. It was not a good thing to be sad in the presence of the King. Nehemiah knew, however, that he had to help his people and his city, so he prayed again. When we trust God to guide us, God will provide us with many resources. Because the people and the city were so important to Nehemiah, he had the courage to ask the King for permission to return.

    Nehemiah's resourcefulness extends even to asking the King to provide him with the necessary materials to do the work that he needs to do. He may have made some calculations and had an idea of how much material he would need. The King provided the materials and officers and horsemen as well.

    Nehemiah had not left God out of his planning. When the work was done, it was evident to all that God had been involved in it. During the 52 days that it took to do the work, Nehemiah's resourcefulness was tested often.

    Parents: Help the child to see that everyone is important in the sight of God. Monitor the child's conversations to make sure that there are no comments derisive of other people, either individually or as groups.

    Does the child take care of his possessions, such as toys? Find a way to recognize the way your child takes care of his possessions. If care is not taken, encourage the child to take care of possessions by discussing the cost of things, and how daddy and/or mommy have to work very hard to be able to buy the toys. If lack of care continues, maybe the child has too many toys, and can't appreciate what he or she has.

    Do you value your child's ideas? Make a point of encouraging the child to express his or her ideas, then praise the ones that have some merit. If a child expresses an idea that is not appropriate, gently show the child the inappropriateness. Ridiculing a child's ideas will stifle the flow of independent thinking.

    Week Two: I Will make wise use of my time, talents, energy and mind.

    Scripture: Nehemiah 2:11-12; 2:13-16; 2:17,18; 2:19,20; 4:6-9.
    These passages clearly set out how Nehemiah followed our action clause for this week. He evaluated the situation without drawing attention to himself. Even the single animal is a testimony to his caution. More animals would make more noise. He knew there would be opposition to his plan, and he wanted to have all his facts in order before he approached the people.

    Apparently at one point, the damage was so bad, Nehemiah could not even pass on his animal. He is very likely already determining who he will need to do the work, and how he will approach the people. I do not think Nehemiah wasted any of his time or resources.

    Nehemiah finally approaches the people, and shares his vision of repairing the wall. He is quick to give credit where it is due. Jerusalem was the city of God, and its disrepair was a disgrace to the God of Israel. He appealed to their religious pride, which, for Israel, was the same as their civic pride. The people enthusiastically join his vision.

    The scornful men named are not Israelites. They have no stock in the project. Again, Nehemiah resorts to the Power he knows to be behind his success: God. He is resourceful to keep God's name and help always before the people. The task was so important to Nehemiah and the people that they could not let interference stop their work. They prayed and then they posted guards.

    Parents: A child may not be able to determine whether he is carrying out the action clauses for this week. Help him understand what all the words mean: time is pretty self-explanatory. Does the child use his time well?; talents are the special abilities which God has given the child. Is he or she musically inclined? Does he or she like to draw? Help the child learn to use his or her special abilities; energy is something most children have. The question is what activities do they spend their energy and time on?; mind may be the hardest for the child. What do they think about? What do they watch or listen to that enters into their mind? Do they protect their mind? Help your child evaluate these aspects of his or her life.

    Week Three: I Will repair, reuse, and recycle.

    Scripture: Nehemiah 3:1-2; 3:3-5; 3:6-12; 3:13-16; 4:1-2, 6.
    The people did not start from scratch in rebuilding their city. They even recycled the same names as the city walls had before. The bolts, bars, stones and everything that would not have been destroyed by fire were reused by the people.

    Notice how people are, in a way, "recycled" for this project. Not only are builders used, but people such as goldsmiths, perfumers and even city rulers worked on the repairs and rebuilding. A great variety of people worked together to complete this very special project. Jerusalem had been a city of reproach because its people had been taken into exile. A lot of people thought that the city had seen its best and last days. All of these people were determined to prove that that was not true.

    When Sanballat makes fun of the people for working on the city, he thinks that their work is useless. He does not believe that they can restore the city. He does not know the power of God and the determination of the people.

    Week Four: I Will giveaway or sell the things I do not use.

    Scripture: Nehemiah 5:1-5; 5:6-8; 5:9-11; 5:12-14; 5:17-19.
    Now that the walls are built and the city restored, Nehemiah will have other tests of his resourcefulness. The people who have remained in Judah have been mistreated by those who have moved in or who remained. Nehemiah is the governor, and the people complained to him about the way they have been treated.

    Nehemiah called the officials together and chastised them for the way they had treated their own people. The fact that they had no response for him indicates that they knew they had been wrong. The leaders had shown that they did not value the people. Nehemiah and some others give to meet the needs of the people, but their resources are limited. They encourage the rulers not to practice usury, which is charging a very high rate of interest. They want the rulers to restore to the people the things that they have taken from them. Apparently the rulers do not need these things. They just took them as part of their privilege as rulers.

    Not only does Nehemiah get the rulers to promise to give everything they had taken back to the people, but Nehemiah and those with him have given up some things also. As the governor, Nehemiah was allotted so much food (which would have come from the people) for his own use. All the time he was governor, he did not accept the allotment he was entitled to. Apparently, he did not need it, so he let it remain with the people. Even though he had to feed many people, he had let the people keep the resources which he was entitled to use.

    Parents: Ask your child to go through his possessions and see what things he or she no longer uses or needs. Help the child determine some useful disposition for these items, such as donating them to a homeless mission (children go there, too) or having a yard sale. If the child is able to sell the items, help him discover a resourceful way to use the money for the benefit of others.

    Week Five or Extra: I Will not litter.

    Scripture: Nehemiah 6:1-14.
    The whole project of Nehemiah was against litter, because the city had been rubble, and the effort was to clear up the rubble. In this lengthy passage, however, we see, in a sense, a littering of words. When the enemies of Nehemiah discover that the wall is complete, they begin throwing around worthless statements, which fall to the ground meaninglessly. They try to intimidate Nehemiah, but his faith in God is so strong that he is not affected by their words.

    Parents: Using blocks and toy people, help your child act out the story of Nehemiah. In the building and the interactions between the people, be sure to make sure you include all of the action clauses

    • AN OBJECT LESSON IN RESOURCEFULNESS

      (This is suitable for the children's sermon in an adult or children's worship service, as well as for the classroom.)

      Setup: Theme: Giving to Show Love. Scripture: 1 Chronicles 16:29.

      Teacher Materials: Bible marked at scripture passage; Have some objects used in your church to collect offerings (envelope, offering plate, box, mission bank, etc.) in a large bag and a blindfold.

      Introduce the talk: We show love for God by the offerings we give. These offerings can be money, but they can also be the proper use of our time, energy and talents. God gave us these things, so we offer them back to him to show our thankfulness. Lets look at some of our different ways to give to God.

      Present the Talk: Have a volunteer come forward and be blindfolded. As you remove each item from the bag, ask the volunteer to identify the item. Ask what each item is used for. When you have finished with each object, thank the volunteer, and explain each object to the children.

      Ask: What are some other ways people give to show their love for God?
      The children may make references to giving food to others. Tell them that in Old Testament time, people gave grain, oil, fruit and vegetables as offerings.

      Conclude: Read the scripture. The Bible tells us to give offerings to God. Formerly, people had to bring offerings for forgiveness of their sins. Now, since Jesus died for all our sins, we don't bring offerings for forgiveness. We bring offerings to show our love for God and others. We should always be willing to give to others from the abundant resources that God gives to us.

      [Idea taken from 52 Celebrate and Worship Kids' Sermons and Object Talks, Gospel Lights.]


    • AN OUTLINE FOR A CHILDREN'S WORSHIP SERVICE

      Prayer - Ask a child to pray for the service.

      Several Songs: Find some music suitable for the story of Nehemiah. Songs about walls falling down or being built would be appropriate. Use about 3 songs altogether.

      Object Lesson on resourcefulness: Choose an object lesson that demonstrates some of the action clauses or which directly references the story of Nehemiah. (See above)

      Song

      Bible Lesson: Based on Nehemiah 1-6: With suitable visual resources, tell the story about Nehemiah, similar to the following. Ask the children to raise their hands when they think they hear about someone being resourceful: Nehemiah's family had been taken captive by some people called the Babylonians. They lived in a land far away from their home in Jerusalem. Nehemiah lived in the palace and served the King. One day some men came from Jerusalem and told Nehemiah that the people were very unhappy and the city was in very bad shape. This made Nehemiah very sad. He prayed to God to show him some way to help his people and his city. Jerusalem was the special city of God, so Nehemiah knew God would not want it to remain in ruins. One day, Nehemiah had the chance to ask the King of the Babylonians for help to return to his city and fix it. The King not only let Nehemiah go, but he supplied him with wood for the work and guards to help him get home safely.

      When Nehemiah got back to Jerusalem, he spent several days looking at the ruins of the city. Nehemiah made good use of his time and resources. Then he gathered all the people and told them his plan. The people were very glad to rebuild their city. Many people with many different jobs joined in to build the walls. There were some enemies of the people who did not want the walls rebuilt. These enemies tried to stop the work. The people were very resourceful. Some worked while others guarded and some worked with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other.

      After 52 days the wall was rebuilt, but there were other problems that Nehemiah had to manage. The rulers had taken much of the peoples' food away, even though the rulers did not need it. Nehemiah made the rulers give back the food to the people and promise not to take any more. Even Nehemiah gave much of the food he was entitled to back to the people. The people and the city were very important to Nehemiah and he did everything he could to help them, just as God wanted him to.

      Closing Prayer: Ask a child to thank God for the resources that he gives us and to ask God to help us use all of our resources wisely.

    This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.