What activity in your life requires some “pretending” (going through the motions)?

  1. Watching a “chick-flick” with my wife when I’d rather watch sports
  2. Rooting for the home team when I really don’t care.
  3. Liking all aspects of my job or boss that I can’t stand
  4. Engaging my in-laws when I’d rather be elsewhere
  5. Other __________.

In each case, how do you rationalize the pretense? If you felt like an imposter at the time, what do you do with those feelings?

God’s Story

Have one person read 1 Samuel 2: 12-26. If possible, in a re-read of this story, assign one person to be the narrator, a second to read the part of Eli’s sons, a third to be “the man” (in verse 2:16a), a fourth to read the part of Eli. Read with as much dramatic flair as the story intends.


The “wicked,” even “contemptuous,” practice of Eli’s sons, Hophni & Phineas, is lost to our modern, lax (“no big deal”) sensibilities about freedom of worship. Here’s the big deal, or the “meat of the matter”: The fat portion of all animal sacrifices belonged to God, no exception. For the two priests to take meat before the fat had been burned off (given to God) is to claim for themselves what was intended for God. Such disregard or disrespect for things of God was further magnified by their force of extortion. Priests doing their own thing typified Israel going their own way apart from God. Eli is held accountable for these failures of his two sons—meant to deter the nation of Israel from more sin. His sons would die on the same day; Eli would have no heirs.


Finding My Story in God’s Story

If you were going to title this Bible reading, what would you call it?


Without naming names, how do you recognize when a person is pretending to be someone they are not?

  1. When some televangelist spouts outrageous claims …
  2. When some pastor preaches without preparation …
  3. When the celebrity pitchman has no knowledge of the cause …
  4. When their walk does not match their talk …
  5. Other __________.


What is so “wicked” about what Eli’s sons, Hophni & Phineas, were doing?

  1. Their disregard for the faith showed up in a rebel spirit and pretense to serve.
  2. Their pretense lacks the call and sacred trust given by God to Eli or Samuel.
  3. They sowed their wild oats with women, bringing disrepute to the priesthood.
  4. Their sins were not so much with women or other worshippers, but against God.
  5. Other, as suggested in the “backstory” above.


How do you account for the boy Samuel growing in stature and favor with God and man?

  1. God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called.
  2. He had effective parents and role models in the faith.
  3. He learned from the negative example of Hophni & Phineas.
  4. He avoided the corrupting influence of fellow Israelites and yielded to God.
  5. Other _______.


In the past, who has helped you to grow “in stature and favor with the Lord and with men”?

  1. A praying parent or priestly figure
  2. A cast of helpers to show me the ropes
  3. Someone to model my life after
  4. Someone to supervise and steer me clear of trouble
  5. Other _______.


Who do you think would best help you grow now, at this point in your life, and in what areas?

  1. Some elder to teach and model a prayer life
  2. Someone to show me the ropes at work
  3. Some sage to coach me on resolving a family issue
  4. Someone who has experienced loss to help me with mine
  5. Other _______.


Our Story

Eli is held accountable for the failures of his two sons. How does that strike you?

  1. Unfair! If things go terribly wrong—that’s on them.
  2. When things turn out well—there is a parent to thank.
  3. I collaborate with God in all such mentoring relationships.
  4. Other _______.


This story teaches us God will not be mocked. Given your past experiences with mentoring and your present opportunities, close your time together praying for one another, authentically.

  1. Pray that you might discern God’s will, avoid bad practices, and adopt best practices.
  2. If anyone is looking for a godly mentor, pray about that, too.