With Thanksgiving approaching, below is an exercise you could do with your Campaigners group, focused on the topic of gratitude.
Begin the discussion by asking your Campaigners group, “What is something you look to, other than God, to bring you life?
Make a list of their answers.
Ask them to take notes as you walk them through this sin pattern below.
The Sin Pattern of Belief
1. Idolatry: The sin pattern begins with us believing that “Something other than God will bring me life, happiness, and satisfaction.” (Have them consider how this “X” they’re looking to for life is an idol.)
2. Pride: The thought pattern continues “If I try hard enough, I can be in control, I can get that “X” thing I want, and I can prove all the haters wrong.” (Ask them to consider how they have tried to use their will to get “X” before.)
3. Jealousy: Our minds continue to justify. “When I see that someone else has what I want, it makes me want it even more.” (Ask them when they have been jealous of others who have “X”?)
4. Entitlement: We think “If they have it, I should have it too.” (Ask them if they’ve ever felt entitled to deserving “X”.)
5. Ingratitude: What happens after that is if you believe that you’re entitled to “X,” there’s no reason to be thankful for it if you ever get it. (Ask them if they’ve ever experienced not being thankful for “X” when they eventually get it because they’ve believed that they deserve it.)
6. Discontentment: Then your thought pattern sounds like this: “Nothing is good enough, I’m not thankful. Life sucks.” (Ask them if they’ve ever gotten “X” and still felt discontentment.)
7. Rebellion: The next thought is “Forget it, I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get what I want, when I want it, no matter who it hurts or what rules I have to break.” (Ask them if their unmet desires have ever led them to do things they once said they’d never do.)
8. Bitterness: Then you begin to think “This plan failed too. Now I just feel empty, lonely, and lost. My heart is hardening.”
Ask them, “Have you ever met an elderly person who is just the sweetest and most thoughtful person you know? Have you met one who always
As we grow older, we tend to either get sweeter or bitter. Where do you want to end up at the end of the race?
When the sin pattern begins to run its course in our minds and hearts, there comes a crucial moment between stage 4 and 5, between entitlement and ingratitude. If we can manage, at that moment, to choose to be thankful, the direction can be reversed.
A thankful heart keeps bitterness away.
Below is one specific example using our bodies as “X.” Instead of reading them the list I’ve written below, ask them to think through how each step in the “sin pattern of belief” could play out in relation to our body. Lead them to discovery without giving them the answers.
You could also pick other topics such as money, sex, relationships, grades, etc…
When “X” is our “Body”
1. Idolatry: The false belief is “If I just can be in great shape, than that will bring me life, happiness, and satisfaction.”
2. Pride: We think, “If I try hard enough, I can be in control, get those abs that I want, and make all the guys/gals want me.”
3. Jealousy: “When I see that picture on social media and that someone else has a better body, it makes me want it even more.”
4. Entitlement: “If they have it, I should have it too.”
5. Ingratitude: I’m not thankful that I am healthy, that I can see, that I can walk, hear, etc… because I deserve to be beautiful.”
6. Discontentment: “Why did God make me fat? I hate my body.”
7. Rebellion: “Forget it, I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get what I want, even if that means playing food games, making myself throw-up, or taking drugs to make me stronger.”
8. Bitterness: “This plan failed too. Now I just feel empty, lonely, and lost. I don’t care anymore. I’m just going to eat my worries away.”
Coaches study the opposing team to know how to play defense. It’s a helpful practice to learn about your opponent.
Spend some time walking through other sin patterns and helping your middle, high school, or college friends identify areas in their life where they are believing lies.
Close the Campaigners time in prayer- thanking the Lord for the many gifts He has given. Spend a significant amount of time in thanksgiving. Have them make a list of things they’re thankful for underneath the notes they took on the sin pattern. Remember that gratitude is a powerful tool for breaking that cycle!
This could even become a regular tool that you use when checking in with your Campaigner kids throughout the week. When they’re struggling with something, this could help provide a framework and language for asking them where they are in their fight and helping lead them to cultivating a heart of gratitude.
*The original source for “The Sin Pattern of Belief” is unknown.