(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)
What better way to kick off the new month than with another 4 Questions?! I’m excited to have a fellow Austinite on the blog too! Jennie Allen has been doing some amazing things for women and it’s awesome to see the ripples of her faithfulness to teach women and empower them lead to incredible things! So let’s dive right in! Here’s 4 Questions with Jennie.
Jennie Allen’s passion is to encourage women to serve God and others by pursuing their passion. She holds a master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the author of two books and numerous Bible Studies, including her latest book entitled Restless: Because You Were Made for More. She is also the founder of IF, which gathers, equips and unleashes women to live out their purpose. Jennie and Zac Allen are the parents of four children and live in Austin, Texas. Find Jennie’s blog at www.JennieAllen.com.
1. What is something about your life right now that you never would have imagined 5 years ago?
I think I was always afraid to admit that I was a leader. I don’t think that I’m alone. I think a lot of women wrestle with their gifts and not knowing how to use them. Now, it’s absolutely undeniable. I’m leading a major organization, and I’m speaking and teaching. All of these were difficult for me step into, and I think that came from a lot of fears and ideas about what it meant to be a godly woman. Unfortunately, there were times I thought sitting in the back and holding my more public, strong gifts back was ideal. Now, I realize that God has built me this way, and that this was a cultural issue for me. It was an expectation for myself that certainly wasn’t from God. Ephesians 2:10 says God “equipped me for the good works that he prepared in advance for me to do.” Now, I feel much more responsible to Him than to these false ideas that I had about what it meant to be a Christian woman. But I know five years ago I would have been shocked at all the things that I am leading and ways that I am using my gifts. I just couldn’t have imagined it.
2. What is one thing you would go back and do differently if you could?
Well, since you have me thinking about the ways I held my gifts back… I think I knew my gifts at a young age. People spoke them to me. They said, “You are gifted teacher. You are a gifted visionary. You are a gifted leader.” But I fought so much insecurity and fear for so long when I could’ve been using those gifts for others and for the glory of God. At the same time, I believe that’s also a part of my story now. It’s the reason I’m so compelled to help other women use their gifts and lean into the ways they are made and the good works that God’s prepared for them. I can’t say that I would take it back because it’s shaped what I’m doing. Isn’t that true of all of our weakness and regret? God can take those things and use them for good.
3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Well, there are the obvious happy moments of marriage and children, but one of the sweetest moments lately was the day of IF: Gathering. It had been a dream for so long and it had cost us so much emotionally. It had been years and years of dreaming and working and believing and obeying God in the darkness. IF was the moment we got to walk out of the cave and see the light. It was too much to take in. It was too overwhelming that God had been leading me all that time. I think until the day of IF, I still wondered if I was wrong. Was I misleading everybody? Were we going to come to that day and fail miserably? I was so blown away and surprised at how God came through, and how it reached out beyond anything we could have hoped or imagined. That was a day that I believed and trusted God, and he showed up. Just to say He was with me and for me. It felt so personal, and yet there were so many other people a part of it.
4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
This isn’t some game, our lives. It’s a gift that we get to serve God and obey Him and love Him with these days that we have here. I think I’ve turned that it into pressure at certain points. I told myself that I needed to do something big or great, but I’m learning that this isn’t about something for God. It’s about doing something with God. As long as their eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of their faith, the races that He has for them will not be run in agony, but they’ll be run with joy because we’re running with our God—the one who adores us and we adore. I think I look at this next generation, and I see so much passion and joy and fervor to impact the world and spend their lives well. I relate to that. I feel like I’m a part of that. But I I’ve messed up in thinking that he wanted something from me. God wants to do the works that he prepared in advance with me. I’m learning to lean into the joy of a daily walk with God rather than focusing on the great works that I think He wants from me.
Thank you so SO much Jennie for your time and wise words! I’m so encouraged and want to dive right in the race with Jesus alongside me :). If y’all haven’t, be sure to connect with Jennie online!