Role Models

Click to download as a PDF


What is a role model? You’ve probably heard people use this phrase. Maybe you’ve hard of other phrases like ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ and ‘unintended consequences’?

There was a guy called Robert Merton and he was a sociologist which is someone who studies human societies. He actually invented the phrase ‘role model’ and the other phrases we just heard. It first appeared when Merton studied some medical students and found that individuals compare themselves with reference groups of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires. So for example, a role model of medical students may be a doctor who they want to be like.

The term has passed into general use to mean any “person who serves as an example, whose behaviour is emulated by others”.


There is a game that can be played where you take 5 coins (3 silver, 2 gold). They are lined up next to each other in this sequence:

Silver – Gold – Silver – Gold – Silver

The Riddle – get the 2 gold coins aligned next to each and the 3 silver coins aligned to each other in 3 moves. On each move, you have to move 2 coins next to each other together.

Video – click for a YouTube video on this 5 coin puzzle –

5 Coin Puzzle

Do It Yourself

You can either buy some chocolate money if you want to do this ‘live’ – or we’ve also designed some large coins for you to cut out, and some smaller ones. Get some good students up front and challenge them – hopefully they won’t know how to do it too easily. If they do, get someone else up anyway!!

 Download the game and solution as a PDF file..

Role Models Survey

According to a Children’s Society survey published a few years ago, four out of five children ‘don’t have good role models’.

Four out of five adults believe that children do not have good role models in their lives nowadays, according to a survey released today by The Children’s Society’s National Mentoring Initiative. The survey, conducted by Opinium Research, found that only 20% of respondents, aged over 18, believe that children have appropriate adults to look up to and learn from.

The research showed that while many children used to look up to their fathers, most adults today believe that this is no longer the case. Twenty eight per cent of adults said their father was their most important influence when they were growing up, whilst only 14% think that children feel the same way now. By comparison the status of mothers as role models seems to have held up better than fathers. Some 32% of adults said that when they were children they most looked up to their mother, and that proportion has remained fairly stable, at 30% now.

The National Mentoring Initiative poll also found that grandparents are less highly regarded now as role models than in the past. Some 9% of adults said they looked up to grandparents most when growing up. Only 5% of adults believe children do that now. Predictably, perhaps, the over 55s were the most convinced that grandparents still have the admiration of the younger generation.

Among younger people, pop stars and football players rated as good role models. Football players rated as good role models for adults too. Surprisingly, over one in ten adults (12%) saw Homer Simpson as a positive role model!

The research also found that only 23% of people do voluntary work or actions for the good of society once a month or more. Forty four per cent never volunteer, whilst just 14% volunteer every week or more often.

Movie Clip

‘Freedom Writers’ – Chapter 12 – ‘Heroes’.

Timing: 1:19:09 – 1:25:22 (picture of Mrs Gruwell by board – scene cutting from school) 

Alternative shorter timing – 1:21:41 – 1:25:22 (graffiti of ‘Miep Gies’ on wall – scene cutting from school) 

Alternatively, use a clip from the amazing movie, Patch Adams on the Doctor being a role model to the patients.

Point – includes personal stories.

Many of us have been let down by our friends and families. Some of us have had hard things happen from friends and family. I remember a 2 week period where everyone I knew let me down – they cancelled on me, walked away from me because of having a girlfriend suddenly, didn’t turn up and even stabbed me in the back. It was a very hard 2 weeks and I actually wrote a song because of it. It felt like it was just me and God. Yet it made me realise I couldn’t trust just in human role models.

Role Models of mine – (If not suitable, use story of Joseph or add your own)

Other role models are some friends of mine. Even when their three children were very young it never stopped them travelling and doing things across the globe. A few years back, we took a group of young people to work in Lithuania. They were there with young daughter and a baby son, yet it never stopped them loving the young people, having fun and enjoying life. They have worked with AIDS and HIV orphans, worked as community workers and now work with a church in Uganda. Incredible difference just loving and serving people, while never neglecting their family.

Joseph (don’t reveal name til the end)

There was a guy who was in a great family. His dad loved him and bought him great gifts. Unfortunately, his brother’s got jealous. They stole his goods and threw him down a well to die. Then they changed their minds and sold him into slavery – a victim of human trafficking. They even told their dad he’d been killed. The dad was absolutely gutted. He was sold to a rich owner in the Middle East and worked hard, despite what had been done to him. So much that he actually became the head of the household while the master was away. Pretty soon, the master’s wife who was lonely and bored was attracted to him. She tried to get him into bed, but he refused, not wanting to do something wrong. But instead of getting a reward, she accused him of rape. Having no defence as a servant, he ended up in a grimey prison. In this dark, smelly, rotting place full of human waste, he even had a good attitude here and worked his way up to being in charge of prisoners. 

One day something weird happened and someone in prison with him had a dream. The guy actually understood this dream and told his fellow prisoner. As a result, the one who had the dream was even released. He promised he’d tell the King of the land how this guy had helped him, but he forgot him. For years longer, he languished in prison for a crime he hadn’t committed. It seemed like the whole world was against him. But one day, the King had a dream that really freaked him out. Suddenly, the prisoner who’d been released years earlier remembered about the guy in prison who could interpret dreams. He told the King. The guy was brought out of prison into light, interpreted the dream and in one day became the Prime Minister of Egypt, got married and was used to save both Egypt and the nation of Israel from famine. He was even reunited with his brothers who he forgave completely, and his long last dad who wept tears to see him. He told his brothers, ‘what you meant for harm, God intended for good’.

This guy, called Joseph is my role model. Someone who kept a good attitude and brought good out of evil. You can read about it in the Bible in the book of Genesis.


Many of us have other role models who we look up to. But the message of this assembly is that while it’s good to have role models, these often change as celebrities fade away and as we change and grow up. In a world that keeps changing, Christians believe that God is unchanging. Christians believe only He is the perfect father and the perfect role model.