We hear a lot about the benefits of mentoring today, but mentoring itself is not a new phenomenon. Mentoring has always been part of God’s design for weaving together the lives of his people. Titus 2:3 paints a picture of older women teaching and training younger women in “what is good,” and Psalm 145:4 says, “Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.”
Mentors can speak wisdom into your life, and they can be powerful catalysts for personal and professional growth. But not all mentors or mentoring pairs are created equal.
First, it’s helpful to distinguish between a few types of mentoring relationships. There are consultant-type mentors, those you would consider experts in a particular area you may want advice. Consultants can be an invaluable source of on-the-spot help, but you won’t necessarily have deep relationships with consultants.
Then there are formal mentoring relationships. These are more involved, and the mentoring pairs have been assigned through an employer, church, professional association, or other group. (4word offers one such program that I’m very proud of.) These pairs tend to work through an established curriculum over a set amount of time, and they can be the perfect starting point for someone who is looking for a new or first-time mentoring experience.
Formal pairings can often graduate into a third kind of mentoring: natural, informal, long-term relationships sustained by deep friendship and trust. Such relationships, when they come, are truly golden.1