The Dishonest Manager




A Bible; masking tape


Luke 16:1-13

Children's Sermon: The Dishonest Manager (Luke 16:1-13)

Divide the room in half with a masking tape line.

Today we’ll be learning from Jesus about honesty. Let’s do an activity to help us think about honesty before we hear what Jesus says about it. (Have the kids gather along the masking tape line.)

Pretend your mom gave you two cookies to bring to your next door neighbor. This is your favorite kind of cookie, and it smells so good! Your mom said after you come back from your neighbor’s and eat some lunch, then you’d get to have four cookies, but you’re hungry right now. 

When I say “Go,” if you think the right choice is to eat one cookie on the way to your neighbor’s—he would never know, right—go to this side of the room. (Point to one side of the room.) If you think the right choice is to bring both the cookies to your neighbor and return home for lunch, you’ll go to this side of the room. (Point to the opposite side of the room.) Go! (Pause, and allow kids to make their choice.)

The honest or trustworthy choice is to give your neighbor the two cookies. If you can be trusted with two cookies, then you can be trusted with many cookies, right? 

Have kids return to the line, and repeat the same process for the following scenarios:

  • Grandma gave you $10 to buy her a soda at the church craft show. After you do, you notice you have enough money leftover to buy a cool toy you saw. Do you bring the change back to grandma, or do you use the money to buy the toy before you go back to her?

  • You’re at the arcade and you find a wallet with $30 in it, but there’s nothing in it that says the name of the owner. Do you put the $30 in your pocket and leave the wallet where it is, or do you turn the wallet into the lost-and-found?

Honesty is shown by both what we say and what we do. We always have a choice—like we did in our activity—to be honest about what we say and do. And when we’re honest with small, easy things, then Jesus says we can be trusted with bigger and harder choices. 

Jesus told a story about a rich man who had a manager working for him who was dishonest. The rich man asked his manager to explain how he’d been using the rich man’s money, and sure enough, he had been taking some of the money for himself and cheating his employer.

  • What do you think happened, and why?

  • Explain whether you would trust the worker if you were his boss.

The manager was fired, but before he was, he made up a plan to make some friends who could help him when he was out of work. He went to all the people who owed his employer. He found out how much they each owed, and said they could pay a much smaller amount, if they paid now. These people were happy to pay a fraction of what they owed, and the manager became their friend since he gave them a discount.

After Jesus told this parable, he said to his disciples, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." If people know that they can trust us in small things, they will know that they can trust us in the big things too (Luke 16:1-13).

God, help us to remember what Jesus taught about honesty--and help us to be honest in every situation--big or small. In Jesus’ name, amen.