Skip to main content


Iron Sharpens Iron

Briefing: Have you ever mentored someone or been mentored?

Dispatch (Assignment): Make a list of influential people in your life. This list could include teachers, neighbors, elders or deacons from your church, family members, or anyone you look to as a trusted counselor or teacher.

On the Street: Proverbs 27:17 says (NIV), “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” What is the point of sharpening a tool? Is it so one axe can sit in a tool shed and say to another axe, “look how sharp I am”? Do you sharpen tools just so they look pretty? The purpose of sharpening anything is so you can put it to use.

The same principle applies to the second part of the verse, “so one person sharpens another”. We have a responsibility to teach and mentor each other. Businesses have mentoring programs where experienced employees are teamed up with inexperienced employees. The goal is for the experienced employee to pass on knowledge and expertise to the inexperienced employee. In police work we call this a Field Training Program.

Mentoring is such a formal concept but it does not have to be. I have a very good friend and co-worker who I consider a mentor. I have friends at church I consider mentors. These are people I could call and ask questions of, or advice from, and trust that I was given good guidance. These are people who “sharpen” me.

Proverbs puts it like this:

Proverbs 17:10 (NKJV), “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool.”

Proverbs 17:17 (NKJV), “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 24:11 (HCSB), “Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter.”

Proverbs 25:4 (HCSB), “Remove impurities from silver, and a vessel will be produced for a silversmith;”

Proverbs 27:5-7 (NKJV), “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

Proverbs 27:9 (NKJV), “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.”

Proverbs 28:23 (HCSB), “One who rebukes a person will later find more favor than one who flatters with his tongue.”

This is a simple concept but one that has great impact and influence on our lives. The Biblical principle here is surround yourself with people who point you in the right direction. This theme is echoed throughout Proverbs and this study.

Investigational Resources: Mark 6:7, John 3:1-21, Acts 15:1-16:5 (Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Timothy), 1 Kings 19, 2 Kings 2 (Elijah and Elisha).

Officer Safety Principle: Who are the people of influence in your life? Who are the people you are influencing?

from The Book of Proverbs Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!