Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to walk our readers through 1 Peter in order to help them understand what it teaches and how to apply it to our lives. This series is part of our larger commitment to help Christians learn to read, interpret, reflect, and apply the Bible to their own lives.

1 Peter 5:5-6, “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room. If mentorship is not “dead,” it is dying, and fast. There are a variety of reasons for the decline in mentorship in our culture. With the way technology has advanced, our primary voice for counsel in relationship advice, how-to projects, and the like has become message boards and YouTube videos. We are seeing the rise of entrepreneurship, which can sometimes tend to emphasize blazing our own trail instead of walking a mile in another’s shoes. In the business world, an article from Fast Company highlighted this dilemma with a compelling statistic:

In a 2007 interactive poll by the Human Capital Institute about the business value of coaching or mentoring programs, participants were asked, “How effective is your organization in evaluating the business impact of coaching?” Sixty-six percent of respondents answered “not effective,” 32 percent said “moderately effective,” and 0 percent replied “very effective.”

This is not only indicative of the unhealthy culture of mentorship in the business world, but this seamlessly crosses over to the world of ministry. Mentorship is a scarcity. In the various conversations I have had regarding internship, it is frankly bewildering to see the disconnect. Mentor figures, older-generation “gray hair” folks feel that the opportunities for mentorship are dead because young people aren’t interested in what they have to offer. Ironically enough, in the young people I’ve talked to, they’ve said the exact opposite; they feel mentorship opportunities never come to fruition because these mentor figures aren’t interested in offering anything.

In the area of mentorship, I have been incredibly blessed. I have always seen and felt convicted about the importance of being surrounded by those older than me, people that I can learn from who will not only help me in my development of skills but also people who are just there to live life with. I would consider myself very fortunate when I think about three particular mentors in my life right now. They’re all in a different stage of life, all have different professions, and all play an important part in helping me grow as a Christian, as a husband, as a pastor, as a person.

1 Peter 5:5-6 gets to the heart of the importance of mentorship. I think this passage can teach us many things about the benefits of having mentors in our lives, a few of which I’ll outline here.

We remember that we are sheep in need of shepherding.

The first word of our passage, “Likewise,” connects 1 Peter 5:5 to the preceding verses. When we look at the beginning of chapter 5 we see Peter using the metaphor of sheep and shepherds to build his point, calling elders the “shepherds” and the body the “flock” (1 Peter 5:2). The elders are charged to oversee the well-being of the sheep, “being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3).

Peter also makes a point to both the elders and the general body to the “chief Shepherd,” Christ Himself (1 Peter 5:4). Peter feels strong about using this analogy because it’s the one Jesus used in commanding Peter to be the proof of his love for Christ, and his very mission (John. 21:15-17). The truth is, we are sheep, especially those of us that are “younger” that Peter is about to address directly. We need the counsel of shepherds who are able to guide us, protect us, give us the wisdom they learned “the hard way,” and literally shear us when things get too hairy! This passage is a reminder that we young people are indeed young lambs, who need to be fed and formed into mature sheep by experienced shepherds.

We recognize the blessing of a life of humility.

Being headstrong is a charge brought against Millennials often — people complain that young people these days are very proud and full of themselves. I don’t think this is an unfair complaint, but I do think that a commitment to mentorship will help us fight such behavior.

When young people enter into a mentor relationship with another, they are (hopefully) going to find soon enough that they don’t have all the answers, that life works much different than they may want or think. Becoming teachable is critical if we’re ever to grow as disciples of Christ, and further, disciple-makers. Having mentors in our lives not only humbles us but helps us see the joy of a disposition of humility. It creates an eagerness in us (v. 2), it serves as the clothing of grace for us (1 Peter 5:5). As I reflect on my mentor relationships, I know these men have played a large part in not only humbling me but in being an example of humility themselves, the goal of what Peter is teaching us to strive for (v. 3).

We reshape our understanding of what to be proud in.

Being a young person, I know what young people like to take pride in — themselves. Their accomplishments, their skills, their traits. Boasting is self-centric. We know, of course, that such a spirit of haughtiness is not appropriate, especially for the Christian life, as God “opposes the proud” (1 Peter 5:6).

When I meet with my mentors, they are all proud of things. They are certainly proud of things, especially when they reflect on their many years of life experience. But it’s why, and how they take pride in things that makes all the difference.

They may be proud of some accomplishment, or some material they’ve put together, but the pride stems from how it has helped others and how God has used it instead of how good it makes them look. They are proud of how their wives have spiritually matured. They are proud of their kids. They are proud of their powerful Jesus. Pride, when not centered on the self, can be a powerful and compelling thing (1 Cor. 1:31). Mentorship helps us see the importance of celebrating the right things.

My charge today is two-fold; first, to young people. Peers, we are on the verge of losing the amazing gift of wisdom passed down to us from great men and women. We have got to be willing, first and foremost, to “be subject to the elders” around us (1 Peter 5:5).

We have, to be honest enough with ourselves that we need these kinds of relationships to mature and grow. We need to be coachable. This is how we become saints who are known for their humility, who are wise, and who boast in the right causes.

My second charge is to these elders. Men and women, you have been given an incredible opportunity to pour into young people. Most people think “wasting your life” happens only in your young years, but friends, please do not waste your old years. Mentorship will only become plausible when you take it seriously, and further, to not take it seriously can prove devastating to someone young that is looking up to you as the example of a shepherd. Be humble, willing, and eager servants to the next generation.

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