“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”Psalm 127:1
Mentoring is the focus of my work these days. ATLAS, the ministry I work with, disciples hurting people through their struggles by connecting them with volunteer mentors.
For many mentors, myself included, there are times when helping someone follow Jesus seems like a daunting task. When our focus drifts from Christ, it usually shifts to our own abilities. When this happens, mentoring can begin to feel overwhelming and make us wonder if we are actually doing any good.
But the good news is we never mentor independently of God’s sovereign hand. God uses mentors as tools or instruments to undertake his sanctifying work in the lives of the people being mentored. He gives us his continued presence through the Holy Spirit and he also gives us direct access to himself through prayer.
You Can’t Swing Yourself
In Psalm 127:1, the Lord is building and we are building. But don’t be confused here. This isn’t like two co-workers working together to build a house, each dependent on the other to do their share of the work. This isn’t even like a dad trying to help his young son swing a bat to hit a baseball, because eventually that son will grow and learn to hit the ball on his own, no longer needing his dad to help him. In reality, Psalm 127:1 is saying that we’re more like the bat. We have no ability to pick ourselves up to even attempt a swing, let alone actually hit the ball. That kind of dependence is not something you outgrow. We will ever be dependent on God to pick us up and take a swing.
If God doesn’t build, nothing we build will last. Apart from God, all our best efforts will be in vain, meaning they will be useless and worthless.
Rooting Power of Prayer
But prayer has rooting power. It connects us to the true source of power and life in our mentoring relationships, which is God himself. Prayer roots us to the truth of God’s sovereignty so that we can approach mentoring knowing that the Lord works through his workers.
Prayer helps us acknowledge that God is truly the one doing the work through us. Since our work rests on his work, we won’t despair when struggles or frustrations arise in our mentoring relationships and we will give him the glory when things go well.
Prayerlessness can reveal a lack of faith. It can show that we maybe doubt God’s ability to help us, so we don’t turn to him as we ought to.
Prayer roots us to the truth of God’s sovereignty.
Prayerlessness can also reveal pride. Neglecting to pray can indicate that we’re believing the lie that we can build on our own without God’s help. When pride takes root in mentoring, it leads us to make disciples of ourselves instead of Jesus.
Prayer in mentoring keeps us humbly dependent on God and humbly rooted in his sovereignty.
Not Just The First Thing, But The Constant Thing
In mentoring, prayer isn’t just the first thing we do, it’s the constant thing we do. Mentors pray to God so that their help and hope continually flow from him. Mentors pray continually for their mentee. And mentors pray for themselves to be undefiled conduits of God’s grace, love, and wisdom into the lives of their mentee.
But the great thing is that even our prayers themselves are undergirded by God. Not even in prayer are we left to our own strength and ability. In our weakness, God intercedes on our behalf. “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
So do not mentor in vain. Instead, root yourself in God through prayer. As we do, we will see that the Lord truly is faithful to do his work through his workers.