Blog Posts

Seeing God at Work in Your Mentoring Program

Donnovan Karber

Would you like a simple way that you and your mentoring team can see God at work in your mentoring program?  Just as we know what is close to a friend’s heart by spending time with him or her, we can know God’s heart and where He is moving by spending time with Him.

In his workbook Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby explains that “God has told us that He is already at work trying to bring a lost world to Himself.  If we will adjust our lives to Him in a love relationship, He will show us where He is at work. That revelation is His invitation to us to get involved in His work. Then, when we join Him, He completes His work through us” (p. 67).  John 5:17, 19-20 tells us, “17My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working. 19I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.”

This perspective has helped encourage me over the years to seek an intimate relationship with God daily so that I can be attune to God revealing to me where He is at work around me. In our present day, God uses the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church so that He can reveal to us where He is working around us. 

When I worked at Youth Horizons mentoring program in Wichita, Kansas, our mentoring team came up with a simple discipline that allowed us to see God at work in our mentoring program. Each of us endeavored to have intimate relationships with God, and we would meet together weekly for one hour to talk about any issues, needs, or challenges that were going on with our mentors, protégés, families, or the mentoring ministry in general.  We would then write the prayer requests on a whiteboard and pray for each of them as a team.  Then, throughout the week we would individually lift up prayer for the requests. As we connected with the mentors, protégés and families, we would let them know that we were praying for them.  The following week we would meet again as a team to add any new issues to the board and take off any that had been resolved. 

We were intentional about making the connection between praying and watching to see how God would answer our prayers.  We compiled an ongoing list of the issues God had resolved through prayer. It was very encouraging to see! At the end of each year we would meet as a team and review all the prayers that God had answered and take time to give thanks to Him.

This very simple and tangible method allowed our mentoring team to see God work in a mighty way.  It helped us stay connected to God, and it was a significant encouragement to our staff and all the people we served.  If your mentoring team does not already do something like this, I would encourage you to give it a try for a couple of months and see what God does. He is ready for you to join Him in His work.

In the Image of God

This post attempts to investigate the Biblical support for mentoring as it pertains to human value. The Bible teaches in the creation story that all humans are created by God with both intrinsic value as well as positional value. Genesis 1:26 teaches:

 “Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” (NLT)

In Our Image (Intrinsic Value)

This passage reminds us that all humans have intrinsic value as “Image Bearers” of God. While the Fall certainly has marred this reflection in the human race, the intrinsic value of every human being remains. Because all humans have intrinsic value, all humans have worth, and all merit the time and effort of others in their betterment. This remains true regardless of race, disposition, or spiritual belief. The Bible supports this in John 3:16 which states that “God so loved the world” – the cosmos which includes all human beings. Value is the starting point for respect and love in the heart of the believer. All people are deemed lovable, because all people are valued in the heart of God. All people are worthy of sacrifice, because all people are loved by God first and foremost. This is the starting point for ministry.

Mentoring is hard work and can be discouraging at times when mentees are slow to respond or seem to resist authentic, trusting relationships. When this happens, many are tempted to pull away from the relationship. Genesis reminds us that the mentor’s commitment resides not in the mentee’s response. The mentor’s commitment, biblically speaking, resides in God’s response and in God’s heart. Because God finds this young person to be valuable and sees Himself within them as “Image Bearers,” the believing mentor also finds value in this person and remains faithful to the mentee. In those gut-wrenching, hurtful, moments where the relationship seems stagnate and distant, it does the Christian mentor well to remember that God loved us while we were still his enemy (Romans 5:8). In other words, God loves humans regardless of human response. Love is who He is. Love is His choice and love compels us to be as He is. The Apostle John records this truth in 1 John 4:8, “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

They will Reign Over (Positional Value)

The creation account in Genesis 1:26 not only describes the intrinsic value of all human beings, it also depicts the positional value that all humans have as stewards of God’s creation. All human beings have value because they all have a role to play in the well-being of creation as a whole. The mentor finds great encouragement in knowing that his/her mentee is ordained by God for an important work in this world. God entrusts this young person with stewardship over all of his creation. God has a plan for this young person and a calling on this mentee’s life. Because we live in a fallen world, this calling may seem distant – or nonexistent – at times. Nevertheless, God’s word remains true and God’s plan remains steadfast. The mentor is God’s workman to call forth God’s creative purpose within that young person through steadfast love, extended social networks, and genuine friendship during difficult seasons.

Because the Genesis account pertains to the mentor as much as to the mentee, it provides the marching orders for each one of us. Genesis 1:30 teaches, “And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life” (NLT). This verse calls the mentor to pursue stewardship over “everything that has life.” Charles Cooley, a sociologist from the late 19th century, believed that every criminal indicates a failure on the part of the society to nurture a young person (cf. Social Organization). While Cooley was not a Christian and did not take into account any of the spiritual elements affecting humans and their ability to make good choices, his conclusion does echo the Genesis mandate to steward all living beings well. The heartbeat of the Christian mentor reflects this desire to nurture well all who find themselves within his or her relational circle.

Does mentoring really work?

Yes – and no. Mentoring can have a profound impact on both the mentee and mentor. Natural mentors are part of the fabric of humanity. Kids who lack mentors need someone to come alongside. When that is done well, it can change lives. When done poorly, it harms. Well run mentoring programs follow evidence-based practices that ensure that the mentoring is safe and effective. If you are interested in learning more, go to caym.org or email us info@caym.org. We can help you in your goal of bringing hope to vulnerable kids.

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When Mary met Sally

Life in eastern Kentucky is not easy for most of the residents. Unemployment from the loss of coal jobs followed by an overwhelming dependence on government assistance has left a poverty of spirit more devastating than the financial fallout.

Even in this difficult environment, Sally’s* life has more challenges than most kids will ever experience. Her family has to be “always ready to leave” either for fear of being arrested or because of violence associated with their drug trade. Sally’s mom takes her on drug deals because she feels it will hep her avoid arrest.


Sally is often homeless having to surf from couch to couch in other people’s houses. Despite the fact that according to the principal, Sally is the smartest girl in the school, her education suffered along with her ability to cope with life.


Then in second grade, Sally was matched with Mary. Sally thrived under Mary’s care. On days when they would meet during lunch, the teachers saw a remarkable difference in how she behaved. She even walked taller on those days. Two years later, Sally is excelling in school despite the fact that her home life hasn’t changed. Mary shares the hope they have in Jesus and is trying to get her involved in her church.
Please pray for this match. Mary is facing family health challenges that will limit her contact with Sally for a while.
*Mentor and mentee names in this newsletter were changed to protect their privacy

Does mentoring really work?

Yes – and no. Mentoring can have a profound impact on both the mentee and mentor. Natural mentors are part of the fabric of humanity. Kids who lack mentors need someone to come alongside. When that is done well, it can change lives. When done poorly, it harms. Well run mentoring programs follow evidence-based practices that ensure that the mentoring is safe and effective. If you are interested in learning more, go to caym.org or email us info@caym.org. We can help you in your goal of bringing hope to vulnerable kids.

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