Leadership & Formation #18: Mentoring Types

Leadership & Formation #18: Mentoring Types

figure_line_standout_400_clr_14429.pngWhat type of mentor do I need?

One size does not fit all.  The mentor you need depends on the area of your life that needs a mentor.  Once you have determined your mentoring needs you are ready to seek out the type of mentor you need.  Sometimes you need a Sage-on-the Stage and at other times you need a Guide-by-the-Side.

God will provide a mentor in a specific area of need for you if you trust Him for one and you are willing to submit and accept responsibility.

Determining the type of mentor you need depends entirely of your need.  Perhaps the following questions will clarify the type of mentor you may need…


Intentional/Intensive Mentors provide formal mentoring often using prescribed material directed to establishing foundations of one sort or another.

Do you need to establish the basics of following Christ and the foundations of the faith?  If so, you need a DISCIPLER.

A Discipler is a more experienced follower of Christ who shares with a newer believer the commitment, understanding, and basic skills necessary to know and obey Jesus Christ as Lord.

Do you need someone to hold you accountable, help you with decisions, spiritual growth, or inner-life motivations?  If so, you need a SPIRITUAL GUIDE.

A Spiritual Guide is a godly, mature follower of Christ who shares knowledge, skill, and basic philosophy on what it means to increasingly realize Christlikeness in all areas of life.

Do you need someone to motivate and encourage you, to help you with spiritual disciplines that will give you the ability to operate at your designed capacity or to meet a task or challenge?  If so, you need a COACH.

The Coach’s central thrust is to provide motivation and impart skills and application to meet a task or challenge…a mentor who knows how to do something well and imparts those skills to a mentoree to learn them.


Occasional mentors provide non-formal mentoring based on a specific need for a period of time necessary to master that need.  Materials used will be specific for that need.

Do you need someone who can impartial provide perspective and timely advice for relationships and life’s circumstances.  If so, you need a COUNSELOR.

The central thrust of a Counselor is the impartation of wise counsel and wisdom on the mentoree’s view of self, others, circumstances and events, and vocation.

Do you need someone to impart knowledge and understanding on a given topic or range of issues?  If so, you need a TEACHER.

The central thrust of a Teacher-mentor is to impart knowledge and understanding of a particular subject.

Do you need someone to provide career guidance, organizational protection, access to key networks, resource support, or advocacy within an organization?  If so, you need a SPONSOR.

A Sponsor is a mentor who has credibility and positional or spiritual authority within and organization or network who will enable development of the mentoree and the mentoree’s influence within and organization or community.


Passive mentors provide informal mentoring through something written, something spoken, or something produced such as books, tapes, podcasts, etc.  The purpose of this mentoring is to inspire, encourage, and provide a catalyst for change.  More than likely, these mentors are not personally involved with the mentoree; their influence is experienced indirectly through recorded tapes (audio or visual), books they have written, or presentations they have made to larger audiences which you attend.  Some of these mentors may longer be living but their works live on by what they left.

Do you need someone who provides an example and model for godly living, expertise in a competency or skill, or principles and values that serves to empower others?  If so, you need a CONTEMPORARY or HISTORICAL MODEL worth emulating.

A Contemporary (living) or Historical (deceased) Model Is a person whose life or vocation is used as an example to indirectly impart skills, principles, values, and practices that empower another person.

Are you in need of the quiet voice of God in your life that offers a timely word for you at critical junctures in your life?  If so, be open to a DIVINE CONTACT form the Lord.

God sends us a Divine Contact at critical junctures in our life when immediate insight or a word from the Lord is needed or when a seed needs to be planted in our heart and mind that will serve some future purpose or design of God.

Hebrews 13:7-8 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

In summary, it is important to determine the category of mentor you need; intentional/intensive, occasional, or passive.  More specifically, determine the type of mentor that will be effective in helping you address you specific need.  Passive mentors will be acquired over time and may augment a face-to-face mentor you might engage. 

To be continued…


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