Rich man, poor man

Drama / Role play

Take turns enjoying a day of “luxury” and a day of “poverty.”

Discussion point: Even luxuries become meaningless if enjoyed without knowing God.

Ideally, parents should read the book of Ecclesiastes to get a sense of the purpose of this exercise. While you read Ecclesiastes, substitute the word insignificant for meaningless. The message of Ecclesiastes and this exercise is the same: In comparison, everything outside of our relationship with God is insignificant.

Pick an hour or predetermined length of time that you will play this game. Have your children choose what they would like to be for the day: a rich man or a poor man.

If they choose to be a rich man, allow them to have anything they want (within reason) for the predetermined period of time. Their riches may include playing with all the toys they want, watching all the videos they want (with pre-screened content), and eating anything they want.

If they choose to be a poor man, they only get the basics, which are food and clothing. The poor man, although he/she doesn’t have any toys to play with and eats only at meal times, he/she gets to hang out with Mom or Dad. The parents are basically playing the part of God, so the child is “blessed” because he/she gets to spend time with Mom or Dad.

The point of this exercise is to illustrate that just because you have everything doesn’t mean you feel satisfied. Make sure that if you do this with siblings, they have the opportunity to play both the rich man and the poor man so they can feel what it is like to be on “both sides of the fence.”

After, summarize the lesson by reading Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. Explain how we can easily be fooled into thinking our needs are satisfied by the things of this world, including pleasure, entertainment, luxurious food and activities. However, outside of being in relationship with God, our innermost needs and desires will never be met.

Though the “rich” man thought he/she was getting a good deal, all of the luxuries of this world become empty and meaningless if they are enjoyed outside of knowing God. The “poor” man, although he didn‘t have any luxuries, enjoyed companionship, which is ultimately more valuable than possessions, especially when it is a relationship with God. After the game is done, review the questions for discussion with your children.

Questions for discussion
  • Which did you prefer – to be the rich man or the poor man?
  • Why did you enjoy being the rich man?
  • Why didn’t you like being the rich man?
  • Why did you like being the poor man?
  • Why didn’t you like being the poor man?
  • In this world, who is the rich man and who is the poor man?
Relevant Scripture

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness, but to the sinner He gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”