IMPORTANT NOTE: Ask the teen to write out their view of God before you get together to study the Bible. When you sit down to study, ask them to give you their essay to hold until the end.

To the leader of the study:

A teenager’s view of their dad will often affect how they view God. In order to be in a healthy relationship with God, the teen must understand what God is like and begin to love him deeply.

Special notes: Even if the teen’s dad is not with the family, he still has a presence and an impact on his child’s life. Use the introduction time to draw out how they feel about him, whether present or absent. Also, be sure to encourage teens who don’t have a great example in a dad that God is the perfect Dad for them (open your time together by sharing about your own dad).


Think about your own dad. Pretend I’ve never met him/heard about him. Describe him to me

Some sample questions to help the teen:

  • What does your dad love to do? Hate to do?
  • What are some of his best character traits? Worst?
  • Do you know how he feels about you?
  • When is he most proud of you? What upsets him?

The Scriptures

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him.

What is the son like before he leaves?

  • Selfish: He took his dad’s money before he was even dead
  • Very sinful: Reckless, wild, sensual

Even though the son was really mean to his father when he left, how did the father respond when the son returned?

  • So excited that he threw a party for him
  • Gave him gifts

Bottom Line: God is a compassionate and loving Father who desperately wants to be with us. He is not a judgmental God, waiting to zap us for every mistake. He wants to welcome you home in your relationship with him.

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

What was Jesus’ reaction to this woman’s embarrassing, humiliating sin? (Keep in mind Jesus’ character is the exact representation of God’s character).

  • Sensitive to her embarrassment
  • Treated her sin like any other; not, “Oh, I can’t believe you did that!”
  • Totally forgiving, even though that sin was punishable by death

Bottom Line: Forgiveness is part of God’s character. Understanding our need for forgiveness and God’s willingness to totally forgive us helps to draw us closer to him, to love and appreciate him more.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

How does this verse say it feels to be disciplined?

Like hardship, painful and unpleasant

Why does God discipline?

  • For our good (to keep us from evil)
  • So we can learn lessons in order to make better decisions in the future
  • So we can be secure that he loves and cares for us

What is our Dad in heaven like?

  • He unconditionally loves.
  • He forgives all of our sins.
  • He disciplines us for our good.
  • He believes in us.

Personal Heart Check Questions

1. Do you want to be closer to God?

2. Let’s read your essay. Is your view of God different now than when you wrote this?

3. Is there a link between how you view your earthly father and your heavenly Father?

4. Are you willing to open wide your heart to God and let him be the Father to you that he wants and needs to be?

Practical Applications

Write out a half-page response about what you’ve learned from this study. Pray everyday to see God as the Bible describes him, not as you feel or think he is.