The 4 Types of MentorsPosted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2022
In the first post of our mentoring series, we talked about what a mentor is and why it’s important to have one. Today, we’ll be talking about the different types of mentors.
As a reminder, we’re defining a mentor as someone with whom you have a trusting relationship and who shares advice, experience, and encouragement. A mentor can act as an advisor, coach, teacher, and friend. There are many different types of mentors and you can gain different things from different people. A mentoring relationship can be a formal thing where you have set meetings and defined goals, or it can be more informal and holistic. Just as one person can never be an expert at everything, we can’t expect one mentor to contain all the wisdom and advice in the world that we need! At different points in your life, you’ll benefit from different mentors. I’ve found that there are primarily four types of mentors.
1. The spiritual mentor
A spiritual mentor is anyone who mentors you from a place of faith. In this kind of mentoring relationship, you’ll probably talk a lot about your walk with the Lord, how to grow in your faith, things you’re struggling with, and where you see God in your life. A spiritual mentor might be a pastor, but it could also be any spiritual leader in your life. A great place to look for a spiritual mentor is in your church or college ministry. Think about your pastor, your youth or young adult leader, a Bible study teacher, lay leader (a non-ordained church leader), elders, deacons, or any person in your church in whom you’ve seen God.
2. The professional mentor
A professional mentor is someone who mentors you in professional skills, either in your workplace or in an area of work that you hope to one day work. Conversations with a professional mentor will probably be a lot more structured than other kinds of mentoring relationships. You might discuss your resume and best practices for interviews, adapting to a new workplace, how to leverage an internship into a career, or how to transition classroom knowledge into the real world. Professional mentors are most likely to come from where you work, intern, or volunteer. You could also invite someone in a field you one day hope to be in to be a mentor. Keep in mind that professionals in a different field from you can also have really valuable wisdom to share!
3. The peer mentor
A peer mentor is someone that’s about your age or a little older, but in whom you’ve seen something that you really respect. Most of the time, this mentoring relationship will be more “loose” and casual compared to the others but can be a really valuable way to learn from someone who is similar to you. However, this kind of mentoring relationship should go beyond just friendship. A peer mentor is someone who can give good advice, challenge you to step out of your comfort zone, and give you encouragement as you tackle new challenges. In college, many RA’s (Resident Assistants) act as peer mentors to the students in their building. Older students are also often willing to act as a mentor for students a year or two behind them.
4. The older-and-wiser mentor
An “older-and-wiser” mentor is the most traditional kind of mentor. This kind of mentor is anyone who is older than you and in a different stage of life, but who has wisdom that you respect and want to learn from. This kind of mentor may act as any of the above types of mentors, but also offers unique insights. An older-and-wiser mentor is someone who can mentor from a holistic point of view and help you think through spiritual, professional, and personal challenges. This mentor is someone who you can turn to for advice about anything from relationships to baking! In my experience, a great older-and-wiser mentor is someone who takes time to get to know you as a unique human being, who shares stories from their life and helps you develop a broader sense of the world, and who offers advice, encouragement, and support in a way that works for you. An older-and-wiser mentor could be someone from your childhood, a neighbor, a family friend, or someone from your church.
These four categories are what I have observed, but they can also overlap! Maybe your spiritual mentor also acts as an older-and-wiser mentor. Your peer mentor might also be able to give you great professional advice. However, you’ll rarely find one person who can act as all of these types of mentors, and that’s okay! Knowing what you hope to get from a mentoring relationship can help you seek the right mentor. It’s totally normal to have different mentors during different phases of your life, or even several at once!
Did you know that mentorship is one of the core values for GoCorps? No matter which of our 100+ placements you choose, you’ll have a mentor on the field to help you transition into ministry in your unique context. During the application process, you’ll also be mentored by our Placement Coaches. The GoCorps Coaches are kind of like professional mentors who will get to know you and help guide you through the process of discerning what God is calling you to do. Interested in talking with a Coach now? Fill out the inquiry form here.