Small Group Curriculum

Dealing with Your Past

05.24.20 | Sermon Series: Whole-Hearted



STUDY | Spend the week studying Genesis 50:15-21. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.

PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.

LANDING POINT | You must go back in order to go forward. 

Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion

  1. Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  2. No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
  3. No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
  4. Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group. 


As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

breaking free

No group is more influential in your life than your family of origin. The choices and consequences of one generation will affect those that follow. Many of us are carrying emotional baggage and pain from the past into our present. While some may have a lighter load to carry than others, we all have baggage. No family is perfect because every family is broken and fallen.

God can help you break free from generational sins and experience healing from the painful parts of your past. But to go forward, you’ll need to go back and uncover the past.

Q: How would you describe your relationship to your family of origin in one to two words?


deeper dive

Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.

joseph: going back to go forward 

Joseph grew up in a broken family just like us. His was a large and blended family. As the second youngest of twelve sons, Joseph was arrogant and immature. His brothers resented him so much that they sold him into slavery in Egypt, hoping to never see him again.

Joseph came from a long line of lying, deception, secrecy and jealousy. Joseph could carry on those sinful patterns, but he chose a different path than his family of origin. While in Egypt, Joseph was accused of rape and spent years in prison. It seemed like everything was working against Joseph, but he remained faithful to God. Joseph’s life turned around after he interpreted a dream. He was taken out of prison and became the second most powerful man in Egypt. In the end, Joseph honored and blessed his family of origin—despite their betrayal. God turned Joseph’s tragedy into good and blessing for him and others.

Joseph found healing. Here's how he did it: 

He had a profound sense of the bigness of God (Genesis 45:8).
He admitted his own sadness, hurt and loss (Genesis 41:50–52; 45:2, 7).
He rewrote his life script according to Scripture.
He partnered with God to be a blessing.

Q: How can it be helpful to admit the sadness, hurt and loss of your past? What happens if you don’t?

Q: If you were to rewrite your life script according to Scripture, what would be different about your outlook on life and relationships?

read: Genesis 50:15–21. Recall a time when you saw God turn someone’s evil actions into good later on.



reflection and next steps

Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.

imprinted patterns

The imprint of our families on us cannot be overstated. Culture and media can influence us, but they don’t hold a candle to our families. Each of us made the journey to adulthood learning certain ways of behaving and thinking. Those patterns existed as a set of family “commandments.” Your family has commandments—whether spoken or not—about things like money, conflict, sex, grief and loss, expressing anger, family, relationships, attitudes toward different cultures, success, feelings, emotion.

Q: Review the categories of family commandments above. Identify three prominent commandments in your family of origin. 

discipleship in the family of god

The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus brings you into a new family: God’s family. Being a disciple of Jesus in God’s family means turning from the sinful patterns of your family of origin and learning how to do life God’s way. The way to healing and maturity for a disciple is to identify those sinful patterns (go back) and allow the Holy Spirit to transform you as a member of God’s family (go forward).

Q: How would you describe your experience growing up? What was good? What was hard or painful?

CHALLENGE: Take the next week to consider your family of origin and identify the sinful patterns you see repeated throughout generations. Invite a trusted friend, spouse, mentor or counselor to be part of the process. Begin and end in prayer, and listen attentively for the Lord to reveal these patterns to you.


Adoption into God’s Family In Ephesians 1, Paul highlights the many blessings of being a member of God’s family. Your relationship with God changes. Now he’s your Good Father. Your sins are forgiven, and you’re given a new identity along with new brothers and sisters. Paul also says that we have “every spiritual blessing” (v.3) available to us in God’s family. God gives you all the resources of heaven to live for Him as His son or daughter.

God Turns Evil into Good “This principle that God ultimately overrules human sin for his glory and the ultimate good of mankind is important in Scripture. The crucifixion is the prime example of it (Acts 3:13–26; Rom. 8:28). Joseph’s gracious, forgiving attitude unites the family. Like the lives of Jacob and Esau, Joseph’s life was marred by deadly hatred between brothers. In both cases the story ends with the offended brother’s offering full forgiveness to those who had mistreated him (Gen. 33:4).”

Download PDF


1. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 136.