1 Peter 5:1-6 Mentoring and Being Mentored

 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”[a]

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Mentoring and Being Mentored

A person ideally needs to find people older than themselves from whom to learn.  They need, then, to pass on that knowledge to the next generation.  In so doing the information they are gathering needs to be passed on and they become a conduit.  They must learn because they have responsibility.  They must be mentored because they are mentoring.

Fathers don’t mentor their children as often as they might.  This often leads to children growing up without feeling protected and secure.  It means they don’t have an experiential knowledge of placing themselves under the leadership of an older man.  Ideally, older men and women earn respect because of their experience.  They follow God closely and because they are older, they have seen more of Satan’s tricks and appreciate more how God leads people.  They can then pass on that experience to the younger generation so they grow in godly wisdom.  However, many youngsters these days are prone to see older people as irrelevant or out of touch.  It is more important to youth to operate the newest piece of technology and stay connected with friends their own age than to connect with those who know better.  The Bible points out in this passage that the admission of a youth that they don’t know everything comes from humility.  What is humility?  Humility is seeing oneself as one truly is.  We are miniscule with respect to God, but we are loved by God in a way that gives us all value.  Someone who has a true assessment of their own limitations can seek understanding from someone less limited.  Someone who thinks their only weakness is kryptonite is actually unteachable.  The pride of youth prevents growth.

When older people see this, they can think that investing in the next generation is a waste of time.  Why bother when they think they know it all already.  One reason to care is that they are going to be managing the nation’s finances and pension funds will be mismanaged by proud people.  God’s motivation for older people to be active in pursuing relationships with their juniors is to have a willing heart to do God’s will.  The lack of communication between the generations in our churches is not godly.  We need more approaches like Tru (http://tru.davidccook.com/AboutTru.aspx) which seeks to connect families intergenerationally.  The adults in the church don’t just see their children go through stratified programs and watch the children float away, disconnected, into college.


Father, I thank you for the older men who are correcting me and guiding me toward truth based on their experience of truth.  I pray that I would continue to pass on the knowledge that you have given me.


  1. What should elder people do?
  2. Why might they object?
  3. Why might younger members of a church tune out those who are older?
  4. Who mentors you?
  5. Who are you mentoring?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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6 Responses to 1 Peter 5:1-6 Mentoring and Being Mentored

  1. Christina Zezulak says:

    Elder people are to willingly care for the flock that God has given them, teaching them the ways of the Lord. Some elders may see the pride and issues of today’s youth and lack the patience that is required to walk with them. Many of today’s youth do not value the wisdom of being older, and one of those reasons being that society wants to do everything to “look younger,” as if aging was a curse. I thank God that I have God-fearing older men and women in my life through Moody, my church, and my old community college ministry. I have been so blessed by them and their walk with Christ. God has currently given me a group of junior high girls from youth group that I delight pouring into, and I also will have high school students to mentor, who will in turn reach their public schools for Christ, through a new ministry on campus. This biblical concept of mentorship is such a blessing, and I have experienced the joys of it from both sides.

  2. Elders should be shepherding others, but not forced to but willing to want to shepherd others in the church. They should be serving, examples, and not looking to satisfy themselves or flaunt their power in peoples face!
    I believe they would object because of how media has portrayed the younger generations. They would object because they don’t think younger people would care or want to meet/hangout/talk. They would object because they might not think they have anything in common with the younger generation.
    I think we tune out the older generation because our values collide and we feel the older generation is stuck in how things are done. Even though we have found a better way to do something. older generations will object because it’s never been done that way.

  3. Bronwyn says:

    There’s some parts of this passage that stand out to me because they are so eloquently worded. Like the fact that we are to “clothe ourselves with humility.” I’m intrigued by the promise in verse four that an “unfading crown of glory” awaits the faithful leader of God’s people. What on earth does that mean? Is it a literal crown, or a reference to our glorification? I would love to look into this idea of the “crown,” seeing that other Scriptures mention it too, indicating that it has more weight in importance- 2nd Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, 4:10…

    My experience has been that myself or friends of mine have wanted a mentor and have had a difficulty time in finding one. And I don’t think this has been because of unrealistically high expectations on the part of my friends.. I think perhaps there needs to be better communication in the church.. letting older people know that some young people do not fit the stereotype and actually want to be mentored!

  4. kevin w. says:

    Elders should be mentoring, discipling, shepherding those who are younger than themselves. I think it is good to keep in mind what humility is, as Mr. Worrall reminds us in his comments. The attitude of the elder should not be one of thinking how great he is or on building his ego up by having others looking up to him. It is out of recognition of who God is and who they are in light of their identity in God. Relative to God, even the best of men is a weak and sickly specimen. The reward is not in accolades or the internal feeling of “being important” but in service to God by living as part of His family with the reward in heaven.
    The West has a warped view of age. Youth is emulated as the standard for which to strive while the aged are burdens to society. Information is at our finger tips via internet and we forge our own paths, so why do we need the elderly and what could they contribute when they cannot even get online? Part of the problem is that we are not interested in wisdom; we are opposed to seeking advice and indignant to correction.
    This passage is one I would love to see fulfilled more often, but alas it is but a rare individual who looks to biblically mentor/disciple another. In conversations with my youngest brother (whom I am mentoring) we have concluded that most people secretly want to be mentored, called out, pushed, encouraged, given guidance…but almost no one will look for a mentor because it is placing oneself in a position of vulnerability and rejection.

  5. Eric Wildermuth says:

    Elder people should be actively involved in setting an example and leading the younger people of God. Being invested in a person’s life takes time, especially if young people do not respect elderly people and vice-versa.
    The values of our generations are different and without an appreciation for the past, even the recent past, the younger generation does not view the elder properly–seeing them as antiquated with improper beliefs–too stodgy or caught in their own ways.

    I have one particular mentor back home with whom I keep in contact and discuss life, theology, the outdoors and the Gospel–he always challenges me to think differently than I do. This helps me see the broader picture and eventually settle on something more firmly than before.

    I am involved in the lives of a few students of my church’s youth group back home. We keep in contact and talk about the struggles of life and being patient while wanting to go into ministry. At Moody, a friend and I have continued a tradition of upper classmen choosing to hang-out and pour into underclassmen once a week for a life-on-life sort of discipleship. It has been great so far this year.

  6. Not only will the elders and preachers not mentor but they kicked me to the curb. I no longer attend any church because I have been shunned and alienated with lies. I have been hurting from the abuse from these counterfeit christian people in the churches and there is no one to talk to at all. The preachers I confided in betrayed me and pushed away. Just today I emailed a retired preacher to tell him that I liked some articles on his website and to try to talk. His reply was “I’m a preacher. Not a counselor” so in other words “Get lost and leave me alone…you’re bothering me.”

    All these preachers today want is fame and money. If any of them were truly called by the Lord Himself to preach then they would get off their high horse and be willing to be an unknown servant. Instead they all seek money, fame and attention. They are conceited and I believe many have no idea what the Bible actually says. And they are jealous when someone else knows something they do not.

    I am working on an article for my website about the role of Pastors. Sounds obvious but yet most people including the people playing the part of a preacher do not seem to know what it is. Your article will make a great addition to my page.

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