1 Peter 5:1-5

Read 1 Peter 5:1-5
I love the movie “The Intern”. Robert DeNiro plays an older man who begins an internship for retired folks at a tech startup company run by Anne Hathaway’s character. She is losing a grip on her family and business, and she has a lot to learn as a young person. DeNiro’s character speaks into her life and gives her the tools, and the guts to learn how to run her company and keep her family together. It’s one of my top five favorite movies.
This passage addresses the eternal problem of any multi-generational group in any time period. How do multiple generations get along? Now I know that Peter is literally speaking to elders as leaders in the church, but a lot of this can be applied to simply older folks as well, those who have come before us (I’ll let you decide what older means in years)! Let’s look at how Peter challenges each group and what that might look like in the church.
Elders are called to shepherd the flock, not out of duty, but out of willingness. Doing things out of duty is no way to sustain anything, doing stuff out of duty kind of stinks. But responding out of a willing heart is a far different motivational pattern, and it is sustainable. Peter instructs the elders to not lord their leadership over others. I had a boss years ago who liked to remind us every team meeting that she was the boss, we didn’t ever need to ask her if she was in charge, she told us, every day…sometimes twice. It probably would have been tolerable if she was a good boss, but she wasn’t a great leader. She had been promoted because she was good at the job we were doing. Management assumed she would be able to lead a team of folks doing that same job. They were wrong. If her management style had shifted just a bit and she had used the strengths that got her there to lead us by example, our team would have been unstoppable, but instead she spent most of her time telling us she deserved to be there, and we were unable to learn much from her.
The younger folks received only one commandment- submit. Submission a posture of learning and growth, it’s a posture that says, ‘I don’t know it all’. Younger people can thrive by posturing themselves as learners, not experts.
I love you all and I speak this truth to you because I love you. Older people, this soon isn’t your world, and you need to bring the next generation along-not because you have to, but because you want to! Young people, you don’t know it all, your life experience is still lacking. But both of us should humble ourselves, learn from each other, and grow together. The church should be a place where generational differences are affirmed and celebrated. The church should set an example to the world of how generations work together to reflect the glory of God!

Questions for reflection:

  1.  Think about your grandfather or your father. How is their generation different than yours?  
  2.  What can you affirm about the generations that are ahead of you?
  3.  If you are more seasoned in life, what younger person can you move toward and help to bring them along?
David Flug | Community Life Pastor

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