The Song: “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato
Main Point of Discussion: Our lives are like skyscrapers—they cannot be built on sand, only rock. If we choose to build our lives on sand, when storms rage, we will fall to our final ruin.
Vital Info Before You Get Started: (The following should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)
- At one time, Demi Lovato was Disney’s next meal ticket. She was the lead character on Sonny with a Chance, the show that execs hoped would replace Miley Cyrus’ world-famous Hannah Montana which came to an end in January 2011. Further, Lovato was a singing sensation. In fact, many young teenagers and music critics (including myself) often praised her talent over Cyrus’. Lovato was featured on specials such as American Idol and has been involved in a number of philanthropic efforts such as anti-bullying campaigns and environmental-friendly initiatives.
- But in October 2010, Lovato entered a treatment center for various issues including bulimia, bipolar disorder, self-injury, and misuse of drugs. In April 2011, she announced that she wouldn’t return to Sonny so she could focus on her music career.
- Since completing her treatment regimen, she released her first single, “Skyscraper.” Whereas her earlier stuff might be categorized as pop rock and mainly focusing on the lighter side of teen life, “Skyscraper” digs deep into the pain she’s recently endured, trading texting for turmoil and friends for failures. The song speaks of rising up from the ashes.
- This song should strike a nerve with teenagers who’ve battled emotional pain and who want to get better.
- YouTube features the music video, which you can play for free: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_8ydghbGSg
- Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.
Lyrics: (You can reference the lyrics for yourself, or better yet, pass them out to your students as you play the music video linked earlier.)
- Skies are crying, I am watching
- Catching teardrops in my hands
- Only silence, as it’s ending, like we never had a chance
- Do you have to make me feel like there’s nothing left of me?
- You can take everything I have
- You can break everything I am
- Like I’m made of glass
- Like I’m made of paper
- Go on and try to tear me down
- I will be rising from the ground
- Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper
- As the smoke clears
- I awaken and untangle you from me
- Would it make you feel better to watch me while I bleed
- All my windows still are broken but I’m standing on my feet
- Go run run run I’m gonna stay right here
- Watch you disappear yeah
- Go run run run yeah it’s a long way down
- But I’m closer to the clouds up here
- Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper
- Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper
- Like a skyscraper
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
Q: What’s the message of this song?
A: Getting through and coming back from pain or defeat or devastation—rising up from the ashes of life.
Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this song?
A: This song should strike a nerve with our friends and family members who’ve battled emotional pain and want to get better, so we should be excited that it’s out there.
Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this song to actually living out those opinions?
A: Since people we know are familiar with this song, we should be thinking about ways to put its message in a spiritual context so we can have spiritual discussions about the song with friends and family.
Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.
For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)
CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.
I think there are a number of connections between the message of this song and Demi’s recent struggles. The major one is this: our lives are like skyscrapers—they must be built on rock or they will crumble in the midst of storms. Demi seems to understand that glass breaks and paper tears, so she’s looking for something more durable in life. You and I need to know that the only sure foundation in life is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Let’s spend the next few moments dissecting Demi’s lyrics and Jesus’ teaching so we can make sure our lives are secure in Him.
More Discussion Questions:
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you suppose this song has anything to do with Demi’s recent struggles in her personal life? If so, what is/are the connection(s)?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you suppose Demi means by being “made of glass and made of paper”?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Why do you suppose Demi chose the symbol of a skyscraper in her song?
Read the following passage from the Bible:
- Matthew 7:24-29 (NIV)
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
- ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER: These are the last words Jesus shared in his Sermon on the Mount. What were the two options Jesus gave for people to build their lives on? (Parents—answer you’re looking for: Rock or sand.)
- ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER: To what does Jesus compare “building our house on the rock”? (Parents—answer you’re looking for: He says building on the rock only happens when people hear his words and put them into practice.)
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Does it surprise you that Jesus implies that storms will blow into everyone’s life…not just those who build on sand or just those who build on the rock? If so, why? If not, why not?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Skyscrapers can’t be built on sand. Why not? (Parents—answer you’re looking for: These multi-billion dollar structures weigh millions of tons. They require an incredibly strong foundation consisting of the most technologically advanced steel and cement. If you tried to build a skyscraper on sand, it would collapse when it got to large and heavy.)
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: When you go through difficult times, what/who do you lean on the most? Is that a good thing or not?
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: If you knew what it took to build your life on the rock, would you do so no matter what? Why or why not?
Just like Demi, we face storms in our lives. Regardless of what those storms look like, how strong they are, and how long they last, Jesus tells us that if our lives are built on his words, it’s as strong as a house built on the rock—it ain’t going nowhere!
Conversely, Jesus says that if we don’t put his words into practice, we’re foolishly basing our lives on the most unstable of all soils: Sand. And when storms come—and they will—we fall to our ruin. If we’re building our lives on sand, we’re the opposite of a skyscraper.
We closed by asking one simple question: If you knew what it took to build your life on the rock, would you do so…no matter what? For a moment, reflect on your answer to that question. Maybe a few similar questions might help you reflect…
- Do you trust that Jesus’ words can anchor your life?
- Do you seek to be wise instead of foolish?
- Are you willing to leave a mansion built on sand for a shack built on the rock?
Jesus’ words have rung true for 2,000 years! Those who put his words into practice are wise; those who don’t are foolish. Those who build their lives on Christ are secure; those who don’t are flirting with disaster.
Close in Prayer
David R. Smith
David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.