Building on Firm Foundations
Having a firm foundation in our lives is important
by Guy Donegan (revised, originally published in 2010)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore the importance of building our lives on firm foundations.
Preparation and materials
You will need some building bricks, or wooden blocks such as Jenga blocks, placed on a table at the front of the room.
You will also need something wobbly to stand on, such as a wobble board or skateboard. (Note: remember to take into account any health and safety considerations.)
Ask two children to use the bricks or blocks to quickly build a house on the table at the front of the room.
Ask the children if they have ever seen a building plot where houses are being built. Ask them to describe how a house is built.
Tell the following story.
An old builder was nearing retirement and had had enough. He went to his boss and asked him if he could step down. ‘OK,’ said the boss, ‘but you must build me one more house.’
Reluctantly, the old builder agreed, but his heart wasn’t in it. He used the cheapest wood and the cheapest bricks. He dug the foundations, but not deep. The walls were not quite straight, and the windows and doors were wonky. Some of the slates on the roof were missing and there were paint splashes on the carpet. He finished the house, and told his boss he was ready to retire. ‘Fine,’ said the boss. ‘But come back tomorrow – there’s something I want to show you.’
The following morning, the old builder went to see his boss, who took him to the house he had just built. The boss proudly took a key out of his pocket and gave it to him. ‘The house you have just built is my retirement gift to you,’ said the boss. ‘Enjoy it!’
The old builder was horrified. If he had known he was going to live in it, he would have used the best wood.
If he had known he was going to live in it, he would have used the best bricks.
If he had known he was going to live in it, he would have dug deep foundations.
If he had known he was going to live in it, he would have built the walls straight.
If he had known he was going to live in it, he would have put the windows and doors on correctly.
If he had known he was going to live in it, he would have put all the slates on.
If he had known he was going to live in it, he would have painted it carefully.
Ask the children what they think this story is trying to teach us. Explain that building a house is like building our lives. Each of us has only one life, so we need to ‘build’ in the best way possible.
Draw attention to the house that the children built in Step 1. Lift up the house if it is made of connecting bricks like Lego, or shake the table to knock it down if it is built of wooden blocks.
Ask the children what stops a house from falling down easily. Explain that houses need foundations.
Explain that you are going to play a game to demonstrate how important it is to stand on good foundations. Either demonstrate yourself or ask for volunteers, depending on any health and safety considerations. Place the wobble board or skateboard on the floor and try to balance on it (act as if it is difficult even if you can easily achieve this!). Explain that having a firm foundation is very important in our lives.
Time for reflection
Read the following passage from Matthew 7.24–27.
‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’
Christians believe that, if we live our lives by acting on Jesus’ words, we will have a good foundation to build on. They believe that Jesus taught us to love other people, to be kind, to tell the truth, to forgive and to think of others before ourselves.
May our lives be built from the best materials possible – faith, hope and love.
May our lives be built on foundations that last.
May our lives be built on your love.
'The wise man built his house upon the rock’ (Pre-School Praise, Vol. 4, Spring Harvest, 2009)