Recently, I was interviewed by Lori Wilhite for the blog "Leading and Loving It", which is a community for pastor's wives and other women in ministry. I really admire so many of the ladies that head up this blog. My interview was posted while I was in India (without internet connection!) so I didn't get a chance to share it with you, my regular blog readers. Here's the interview - in it's entirety - with a few side notes added in for fun!
Meet Jan Owen, the founder of the Give Worship Project. You can learn more from Jan on her blog. I know you’ll enjoy getting to read about her new adventures as she helps church leaders in developing countries.
I’ve spent the past 15 years serving as a Worship Pastor, but this past fall I resigned my position and founded a non-profit missions organization called the Give Worship Project, Inc. It’s purpose is to help equip and resource indigenous church and worship leaders around the world. So after many years of working in one local church, I now work in local churches worldwide, teaching, training and consulting, particularly in the area of worship and spiritual leadership. And I still lead worship sometimes too!
2. What is your favorite thing about your role?
Getting to worship with the Body of Christ around the world and see firsthand how God is work around the globe. (As I stood on the stage leading worship in a church in India and had that "front row view" that I love - seeing people worship God so wholeheartedly - I thought "It doesn't get any better than this! There's nothing like being in the presence of God with the people of God." That's true no matter where on the planet I find myself.)
3. What is the most challenging thing?
Raising money and all the legal stuff. I don’t enjoy that pressure although I do enjoy seeing someone get excited about partnering with us. I enjoy sharing the vision, sharing about how churches here can help under-resourced churches and leaders other places. And I love seeing someone’s eyes light up when I share how their gift was used. An additional challenge is never having any idea what to expect when I go to teach. Each experience is so different. I never feel really prepared. (I will add here that we are in need of financial partners. You can give a one time gift or an automatically recurring donation on our website.)
4. What do you wish someone had told you before you started in your area of leadership/ministry?
How lonely it would be. I’m a people person. I thrive in the company of others and I work best with a team. To do a huge amount of my work – at this current time – virtually alone, is very hard. To leave working on staff, with a team, in one local church and to begin working at home alone has been a difficult emotional transition for me that has been filled with grief even though I am pursuing a dream I know God has called me to. I can’t wait for the day when I can say once again: “let’s do this TOGETHER.” (When I worked in a church my "ministry group" was a known, and was fairly stable. Now I work with different people all the time. I do many things all alone, including traveling to countries I've never been to. And I have no idea who my "team" is! I'm always asking for help, which might be annoying, and that is hard for me. Some days the lonely feelings are discouraging.)
5. What do you wish others in leadership knew about your specific area?
How needful it is. I wish they understood that there are many other leaders around the world just like them who don’t have the opportunities they do. I continue to pray that leaders here in the U.S. will see that they have an opportunity to share the wealth they have and partner with a leader and church, to help encourage and equip them. I wish that I could have more opportunities to share with leaders here in the U.S. I believe they may be able to learn much from what I’ve experienced and what I’ve observed. (Invite me to your church, staff meeting, retreat, or rehearsal. I think you'll be challenged and inspired!)
6. How has God used your leadership to grow and change you?
Oh my. Let’s see. I wrote a book about that. Seriously. It’s not published, but I did write an entire book on this subject. To be honest, I encountered some tragic circumstances in vocational ministry that broke me. They broke my heart, my spirit, my will. I literally got to the point that one day I could not quit crying and I begged my husband to not make me go back to church. That was a pivotal point for me as a child of God who just happened to be a leader in the church. And that brokenness led me to pursue God like never before……I encountered God in that low, low place and came out a different woman. I hope I’m wiser, more compassionate, more loving, and more aware of who I am in Christ. Leadership has – like parenthood – taught me how little I know, and how much I desperately need Christ. It’s also stretched me beyond my wildest imaginings……..I never dreamed I’d do all I’ve done. (All I can add is that this seems like a pale description of the true reality! The more I do this, the less I know, except that Jesus loves me.)
7. How do you make sure that integrity is being maintained in your leadership?
When I was on a church staff I had a leadership team that I ran all decisions through, that I talked every situation through with. That group gave me great checks and balances. We as a staff also had certain guidelines that we observed to protect ourselves, our marriages, etc. I still try to maintain those guidelines now out of love for God and respect for my husband and family. If I'm in a situation that is outside the norm - and since I travel with men, and don't have an office to meet in that does happen some - I just tell my husband and we talk about it. I’m hoping to grow that same kind of accountability with the board of directors of my non-profit in the coming months.
8. How do you develop other leaders?
How do I develop other leaders? In my present role, I’m currently investing in leaders around the world, but it’s not consistent. I can’t be with them every day. I teach them, I leave them materials, I follow up if possible but most of the time its not. When I was a worship pastor I had a good process I think – let them observe me, let us do it together, let me observe them, let them fly on their own with consistent training and feedback. I also look for leaders that can do things I cannot. This makes our team or my organization stronger. I’m a huge, huge proponent of shared leadership and so I’ve always practiced that in my leadership. I want that for the Give Worship Project as well.
Do you have any other questions for me about my life and ministry as President of the Give Worship Project? Maybe you have questions about transitioning from church staff to heading a mission organization? Now's your chance to ask them!