In this week's episode, Bethany Geleris, a candidate for the Doctorate in Nursing Practice from UCSF, shares how her research and work in mentoring for advanced practice providers contributed to MNTR (Mentoring and Nurturing Transformative Relationships) for Christian communities. Bethany provides insights into how mentoring within a Christian community fosters a sense of belonging and purpose. Through intentional development, MNTR challenges people to move beyond their comfort zones, growing in and through the body of Christ, and can help bring us back to our calling to love our neighbor by being more present in the lives of others.
The program, designed for parishes, schools, and any Christian community, will strengthen the clarity of purpose and vision not only for that community, but for each member within the body of Christ. Mentoring and Nurturing Transformative Relationships (MNTR) creates opportunities for people to realize their unique place in the body of Christ, integrated through collaborative multi-generational ministry.
Read the full episode transcript here.
Hollie Benton 0:04
You are listening to Doulos, a podcast of the Ephesus School Network. Doulos explores servant leadership as an Orthodox Christian. I'm Hollie Benton, your host and executive director of the Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative. I'm delighted to be speaking today with Bethany Geleris. Bethany is a nurse practitioner in San Francisco who has almost completed her doctorate in nursing practice from the University of California in San Francisco. Bethany attends Holy Trinity in Daly City, California. Bethany, welcome to the show!
Bethany Geleris 0:34
Thank you so much. I'm so honored to be here.
Hollie Benton 0:37
Bethany, I understand your doctorate studies and research will help launch a mentor training program for advanced practice providers like nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, certified nurse midwives. I understand that the mentorship model places relationship as the key element in any mentoring experience rather than traditional elements of expertise or goal setting. And because of your research and experience, the Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative was so happy to bring you in to help us develop a new mentoring program for parishes, schools and other Christian organizations. We call it MNTR, which stands for Mentoring and Nurturing Transformative Relationships, which is really designed to create opportunities for people to realize their unique place in the body of Christ, integrated through collaborative, multi generational ministry. So Bethany, you've devoted a lot of thought and work to mentoring both for nurse practitioners and now for use in the church. Why is mentoring so important?
Bethany Geleris 1:45
It's a great question. I've been so fortunate to have had really great mentors guiding me. And I think mentoring is really just the fruit of being with somebody and helping growth happen.
Hollie Benton 1:57
We decided to refer to 1 Peter, chapter five to frame our conversation today. Let me read that now. "So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed, tend the flock of God, that is your charge, not by constraint, but willingly, not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd is manifested, you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you that are younger, be subject to the elders, clothe yourselves, all of you with humility toward one another. For God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time, he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful, your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory and Christ, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." Bethany, what are you hearing with this charge from St. Peter's epistle?
Bethany Geleris 3:29
Yeah, I think that's just the perfect verse to frame a conversation around relationship-based mentoring. So, mentoring as a tool for transformation, right? St. Peter is talking about how it's our duty for people to take care of each other and to learn from each other. Suffering is guaranteed, it's required and after you've suffered, that will lead you to the glory of Christ, but why not use those lessons to help be with those who are currently in it. And I think mentoring allows you to look and see not only what you've gone through, but to maybe ease that for the next generation.
Hollie Benton 4:11
We all, as aspiring Christians, as doulos tou theou, servants of God in his household, working to submit to the will of our father and his instruction, we can really find encouragement from other servants in the same household because it's hard to give up a selfish will. Furthermore, commitment and accountability to serving God's will, as a community can help each member of that household recognize the unique work that God is calling each of us to do in his household. Encouraging one another in Christ in a mentoring capacity may help us recognize the unique work we are called to do - the function, the role, the duty, the responsibility we have in that household.
Bethany Geleris 5:00
Yeah, no one's the expert, right? Because we're all going through our own experience in life, we're all approaching different situations from our own personalities and perspectives and experiences. So there is an equal grouping. We basically built in the "approach each other with humility," because no one is above or below. You could be 106 and participating in this program, and be mentoring a 16 year old. And guess what? The 106 year old is not the boss. Now, there's different things to learn. There's different things to offer, but the 16 year old is offering just as much in our perspective of transformational mentorship.
Hollie Benton 5:42
Yeah, especially when we consider God's instruction as the true leader, the one to whom we all submit, and with that, then we are collaborators, we are mutual mentor matches, you know, we use the term mentor match, we all belong to the one body of Christ, some may be an ear, some a hand, and we cannot say the hand, I have no use of you, right? So really, we all have something unique as St. Paul talks about in Ephesians, as being members of the body of Christ. And that's what we really want to draw out in this program. Who are some of the mentors in your life? What are some of the stories that you have? How have they influenced you and encouraged you within the body of Christ?
Bethany Geleris 6:24
Oh, I have so many mentors! I'm the type of person to always seek out someone like that. But I wouldn't be getting my doctorate if it wasn't for one of my mentors, who basically, after I had listed off 20 reasons why I shouldn't do it, why I couldn't do it, why it was too hard. Why working full time, serving a parish council, being involved in church, taking care of my dog, and thinking about going back to school full time was too much until someone just came to me and said, "But why not?" And it took that outside perspective of like, "But why not?" And now I couldn't be more grateful that I've almost completed it. I've had mentors in my work setting that have made me a better Christian. They've really showed me how to approach each person with love. This group has been a great mentor for my doctoral studies, it basically gave me a pilot before I did it on my own, full of people that have just really taught me how to run a meeting, how to listen, how to take in a different perspective and consider it before responding. You know, I know how to go out and have coffee with someone because when I was 16, there were people in my church, they'd be like, hey, let's go get a coffee and talk. We really do just learn by seeing, it's the same model that Jesus used. So Jesus had a unique model where he had the three around him, and then the 12, and then the 70. And he did lecture and teach the masses and the huge groups, but even more so, he lived it. He grabbed his 12 and his three and the 70. And went places and loved and healed the sick, and fed the hungry and took risks and ended up dying for it, which allowed him to be raised again for our salvation. So we have a lot of lecture based opportunities in our Orthodox world, but we don't have a lot of experiential transformational relationship based opportunities. And that's what MNTR offers. I think mentoring is the ultimate biblical model, because that's what our Savior did.
Hollie Benton 8:33
Could you share a little bit about what happens in the workshop, some of the key elements that we touch on throughout the workshop?
Bethany Geleris 8:40
Yeah, so just a little outline of the program, we curate it to your community. It's not a boxed program that is just every parish gets the same. We come in, we talk to you like, what are you concerned with? What are your outcomes? What are your goals? And based on that we start with a one to two day intensive, where we teach a lot about why we listen, not just how to listen, but why do we listen? What's the heart of it, what did Jesus say about this? How do we have difficult conversations? How do we set a goal and why should we set a goal? What do we do when information that we hear causes conflict within us? What if I want to argue with a person who has different views than me? How do I deal with that, and we pair people very intentionally. It's not . . . nothing's random. Here everything is well thought out and intentional. And we set you up, we ask you to create a mutual compact of goals that you're going to be working on. Now the goal can be anything, it could be to do one pushup. The goal could be to read the Bible, the goal could be I just want to meet with my mentor match once a week and talk, it's what serves you. And then we'll set up quarterly, what we're calling continuing education, and these continuing educations are to get to know yourself better. We're going to talk about different types of personality. We're going to talk about going a little bit deeper into goals. We're going to address the needs that come up, we're going to talk about different life skills that have been shown to be helpful, things like journaling, or getting sunshine, continue to develop. Everything is very much in flux all the time, because needs change for different communities. But if this were to be successful, if MNTR were to go into a community, and if I were to assess from pre and post, which we are doing, we're using some standard validated tools to kind of look at the impact we have on mentor competence. My goal would be that we have a community that has learned how to be with people that are different, that are able to listen intentionally, and people that are alive, they're not afraid to live, they're going out there doing the things that they couldn't imagine themselves doing, because they have support. That's really what I see is part of the fruit of this program.
Hollie Benton 11:00
Yeah, and I think as Christians, it's so key too to just create a structure of accountability, to hearing the gospel and actually doing it. So these mutual projects, a lot of them really are intended to not just be self serving, but considering, like what is the work God has set out for you to do as a mentor match, or as a community who's engaged in a mentoring program. I'm really excited about that particular aspect of it as well. I really think that this program truly fosters a sense of belonging, and purpose in your community through mindful and meaningful relationships, that strengthens the relationships within the communities so that a foundation is established for multi-generational work, and ministry outside of your parish community, or your school community, thinking about the world as a mission field, so to speak. And especially in this time of COVID, right, it's really a way to unite and strengthen the community, kind of bringing people back to one-on-one relationships and kind of recovering from this impact that the pandemic has had. Bethany, what are some of the ideal outcomes you would see for MNTR, Mentoring and Nurturing Transformative Relationships for a parish community?
Bethany Geleris 12:21
So I would encourage a parish community to do a program like this, because we don't know what we're missing, if we don't do something different. And I think a lot of our parishes are incredibly strong, our priests are phenomenal. We are so fortunate. But we fall into patterns. I fall into patterns of talking to the same people at coffee hour and being involved in the same ministries and doing the same things and shaking that up every once in a while is a good risk to take. So I think to answer your question, Hollie, I think some of the outcomes and goals would be deeper relationships. It would be a community that is vibrant and alive and has a vision on where they want to go. And it's a united vision, it would be Christians that are actively living their faith in whatever that means in what God has called them to. It would be college students that are supported, it would be help for young adults or young people that are going through transitionary phases in life, to have a listening ear, to have a warm homemade dinner, it would be meals for parents of newborns, it would be all the things that we know our parishes are doing so well. But with a transformation, a transformative effect on developing skills and the individual so that the community itself grows.
Hollie Benton 13:41
You mentioned the vision and being united in vision. And I think the research out there really suggests that organizations that do mentoring intentionally, really see clarity of purpose, mission and vision for your community. But it also happens on an individual level as well. Could you say a little bit more about that?
Bethany Geleris 14:01
I can speak more to hospital research. The research is absolutely clear that people will stay in a harder job for less money if they feel supported. That's in a hospital setting. We're not using a hospital setting for this, although one would argue the church is also a hospital. So there could be a unique parallel. I think Christians are called to do hard things. I think that throughout history, if you have a wide view, Christians have always done hard things. And I think that the only way we can actually do them is through other people that have done them. And now we have the huge benefit of having a cloud of witnesses. We have the saints, we know people that have done hard things before us and I would argue to say the saints are also our mentors. But there's also a practical - we need someone who is here with us while we're finding our vision. Visions for churches are beyond important. You know, I imagine if you were to gather all the churches 95% of us would agree on every aspect of a vision. And then there'd be 5%, where people would battle it out to try and say, this is more important, and this is more important. And that's the beauty of a community. And that's what we need, is we need those people that think evangelizing is the most important versus those people that think community building is important, right? Like, all of those things are so holy in Christ's Church, right, the bride of God, that if we're not ever defining them, if we're not ever trying to advance in them, if we're not using tools to measure the change, then we get stagnant. And I don't think we're called to be stagnant.
Hollie Benton 15:46
I'm committing to asking the same question to every podcast guest over the next few sessions. I just feel like it's important as an Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative that what we do matters on the last day. So here's the question, we've been talking about mentoring and I want us to consider standing before the dread and terrible judgment seat of Christ on that day when the Son of Man shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats, just like we hear in the Gospel of Matthew 25. So what does mentoring have to do with feeding the hungry serving the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the imprisoned by which we will be judged on the last day?
Bethany Geleris 16:28
What a great question, Hollie. One thing that I've been taught since I was a young Orthodox Christian is that we're saved in community, right? This isn't necessarily an individual battle, there is an individual aspect to it, but we belong to each other. I think that when we stand before God, the effect that I've had on others will be made a lot more apparent, for good and for bad, I think it's my job to multiply the talents that God has given me and in that, the more I do on myself, the more I have to offer others. And that's my job, you know, we invest in our learning and experience so that we can then invest in others. It's not just so that I can grow, there's no point to that. I think mentoring allows the space for intentionality. I think it connects people who may not know each other. And I think it feeds the hungry, and the sick, and imprisoned, that are in our parish, and it might look different, because everything looks different. But suffering is tangible and real. And we never know what someone else could be going through. And we never know what the effect of a relationship can have for decades to come. So why not try? Why not put all of ourselves into something that the opportunity has been given to us by God? This program is ready to go it's well thought out, well curated, highly researched, and I think can have a huge effect on generations of communities that will stand together and say, Look, I loved these people, and they loved me. And this is what we became. That's beautiful.
Hollie Benton 18:11
You know, we're going to be talking about mentoring, too, at the National Orthodox Leadership Conference. And the theme is Generously Investing in Emerging Leaders and mentoring and succession planning, collaborative, intergenerational ministry are all going to be themes of that conference. And I'm really excited to be working with you in this, Bethany, it's just been a real gift. And I feel like you and I have a mentor match. We're both learning from each other, just as we are from other members of the team. And it's been wonderful. It's been exciting. We've had some great piloting of this workshop and of getting things rolled out and people are connecting, people are learning, people are moving outside of their comfort zones. And it's so exciting to see. And it's really a hopeful way to position, you know, so many fear-base narratives around "our kids are leaving the church," you know, and this really reframes it. Like it's not driven out of fear. It's driven out of purpose and belonging and community. And like you said, at the beginning, we belong to each other within the one body of Jesus Christ. So I'm just so grateful for this. Bethany. Any last thoughts or words?
Bethany Geleris 19:19
You know, I've been a part of a lot of programs that I really believe in. But this one is special, because I do think that if the fear is that kids are leaving the church, do you want to know what's going to keep them in the church? It's relationships, it's people that care about them, right? And so whatever the fear that we're worried about happening is, this program will address it because it's tailored to that. It's tailored to people. So I've loved every second and I cannot wait to see what it becomes.
Hollie Benton 19:47
Thank God. Thank you, Bethany. I really appreciate the time.
Bethany Geleris 19:51
Thank you, Hollie.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai