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by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To learn a lesson from Paul on how to deal with ‘ouch’es.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and four readers.
  • Think of some examples of words that have been hurtful and their effects on people to give in the early part of the assembly. For example, ‘I know of a girl who had her hair cut before a swimming gala. A friend said, “What have you done to your hair? It’s so short!” As a result, the girl refused to swim in the gala that night even though she was likely to have won.’ Equally, you could start with, ‘I know of a boy who  . . .’, then give appropriate examples from your own time at school.
  • Familiarize yourself with what happens to Paul in Romans 9.


Leader: You will be familiar with the saying, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.’

You will also have discovered by now what rubbish the saying is. Words are very powerful. Words can cause us hurt, deep inside. That hurt can lead to low self-image, bitterness and anger – even to depression – if we let it.

Share the examples you thought of in preparation for the assembly.

So, words can certainly harm us – but only if we accept them.

A better way is to say, ‘OUCH! That hurt, that got to me’, and voice how it made you feel. Imagine if the girl with the short hair had turned round and said to her friend:

Reader 1: When you said that about my hair it made me want to hide and not swim in the gala. I thought that everyone would be thinking, ‘What has she done with her hair? It’s awful!’

Leader: As we grow up we can practise this better way to deal with the things that crop up in life which make us feel sore.

In the Bible, a man called Paul gives us a good example of this better way.

Paul’s solution to ‘ouch’es

Paul was a Jew and a very learned one at that. Initially, he was very opposed to Jesus and his followers and caused them much trouble.

Despite this, God chose Paul to take the message of his love to everyone else in the world who is not a Jew, as God’s love is for everyone. As a result, he had much trouble with the Jewish leaders. They called him all sorts of things, they beat him, imprisoned him. He suffered many ‘ouch’es!

Paul, like us, could have reacted in many different ways. He could have said:

Reader 1: I’ll not bother with Jews any more. I’ll just speak to the others.

Reader 2: What am I doing? I have let my own people down. I must be wrong. I’d better shut up.

Reader 3: It’s not fair! All I want to do is bring them such good news and look how they treat me. Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, think I’ll go and keep it to myself!

Reader 4: They are a difficult bunch of people. I never liked them anyway.

Leader: Paul, though, didn’t become bitter, he didn’t become angry and he didn’t let it get to him and fester for days. Instead, he faced his fellow Jews and spoke up about his point of view. He spoke to them in defence – not bitterly, not in judgement, but lovingly and gently. He told them how all this was making him feel.

Essentially, what he says in Romans 9 is:

I am speaking the truth to you, I am not lying. I have great sorrow in my heart because of it. I care about you more than I care about my own life. I desperately want you to know that Jesus came to the Jews first, but he also loves the Gentiles.

and he carried on trying to help them know more about Jesus’ teaching for years.

Time for reflection

Have you had any ‘ouch’ moments this week?

What was said? How did you react?

What might you have done that would have changed the outcome?


Dear God,
You know how words can harm us, sometimes for years.
We can become timid and anxious or bitter and angry as a result of what others say to us.
Help us to know how to air our ‘ouch’es and talk them through with someone so that we can be free again.

Publication date: June 2015   (Vol.17 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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