Within many of my circles (family, professional development, ministry, business), we talk about mentorship, coaching, accountability, as well as a whole list of other words that carry similar meanings.
I recently asked a person I consider as somewhere on this continuum about his thoughts on mentoring. As he began explaining how various people interact with him in different contexts, it became apparent to me that we often use a word (the choice differs depending on which circle you’re in) to indicate several options. The following four paths seek to describe basic functions a mentor-type person can take.
- Peer / Accountability Partner. A peer mentor, or an accountability partner, will challenge and affirm you. They are your own age and often understand the struggles you’re going through, because they are going through the same ones. You meet as often as you like. You can trust each other.
- Sage / Back-Patter. A sage is someone who has gone through it all and stands there simply to tell you that you’re doing well. If you play your cards right, they will give some age-old advice that you’ll benefit from greatly.
- Coach / Plan Maker. Coaches ask great questions and help you to make insightful plans. These are the people who never tell you what to do, but always find a way to make you do what’s best.
- Yoda / Discerner. Whenever Luke needed it, Yoda was always around to blow his mind with insightful thoughts posed in backwards grammar. Your Yoda comes with timely emails, texts or phone calls that always seem to be right on target. Yoda shouldn’t be afraid to nail you for something you’re not doing right. Yoda needs space to speak into any area of your life. And when he speaks, listen, you should.
One problem with our generation is that we shy away from some of these forms of mentorship. When we avoid allowing peers, sages, coaches, and yodas to speak into our lives, we miss the blessing that comes along with them.
It’s important that we have people around us who operate in all of these differing paths. Yet, we all tend to prefer a certain function. Did I miss any valuable paths? Which one of these fits you well? Which do you need more of? How can you pursue finding someone to fill this role. Do you have someone you are mentoring now? What does that look like? How does this add clarity to your relationship?