There really is no such thing as a “self made man.” Nearly all of us have had different people influence and pour into our lives. Denzel Washington is quoted as saying, “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” To go anywhere significant in life requires some guidance along the way. In fact, here are five types of mentoring we all need in order to grow to be our best:
Upward Mentoring – Upward mentoring is what most people think of when they picture mentoring. An upward mentor is someone you look up to. Many times they are older, been around the block a time or two, and they are able to mentor you because they have been there and done that before. This could be a boss, a parent, a pastor or a good older friend. Upward mentors have learned some lessons in life and want to pass them off to others who are coming after them.
Downward Mentoring – Downward mentoring is you being the mentor to someone else. It is taking the time to pour into the life of someone who perceives you as being ahead of them in age, experience or effectiveness. When we take the time to pour into the lives of others we insure that the lessons we’ve learned won’t get lost on just us. Also, when we take the time to teach something to someone else it has a way of solidifying that lesson in our own life even more, and also allows us to grow as leaders.
Inside Mentoring – Inside mentors are mentors from within your own organizations. This could be a co-worker, a friend or even someone with a similar hobby. This relationship is usually about mutual growth and accountability. For me, the other pastors I co-labor at my church are my inside mentors. We encourage other, read books together, challenge each other, and hold one another accountable.
Outside Mentoring – Outside mentors are mentors from outside your own organization. As a pastor for me this would be other pastors from outside my own church and denomination. We have a lot in common to talk about and to learn from one another, because we are in the same field doing the same types of things, but we don’t interact as often as I do those from inside my own church.
Distance Mentoring – A fifth category of mentors is distance mentors. Most often the mentoring that happens in the first four categories above, happens in personal relationships. Distance mentoring is different though. Distance mentoring happens when someone is a mentor by learning through the books they write, the blogs they post, the podcasts they produce, the sermons they preach and put online. Oftentimes one may never even meet their distance mentors, but those mentoring relationships have a huge impact on the life of the person being mentored.
Pursuing these five types of mentoring relationships will help anyone grow. But what about you. What kind of mentoring relationships do you currently have in your life? What do you need to add? Whatever our field, to truly be the best we can be, we need various people speaking into our lives.