Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Lois Olena
Name: Lois E. Olena
Graduation Year: 2006
Major: Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Pentecostal Leadership
Current Position: D.Min. Project Coordinator; Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Jewish Studies
City and State: Springfield, MO
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
I am an associate professor in the Doctor of Ministry department, instructing and coaching D.Min. participants in research and writing through their program — from the time they come into the program as we set them up for success with various resources, to the Project Design course where they lay out their project prospectus, all the way through to project completion and graduation. In that role, I help participants coordinate with their project team. At times, I teach other university and seminary courses as needed. As a faculty member at AGTS, I serve on various committees and serve the institution in various roles.
What is your favorite memory from AGTS?
Earl Creps taking our new doctoral cohort out for coffee the first week of class, setting the tone both relationally and academically, which transformed the entire journey.
How did AGTS help you identify/develop your calling?
AGTS helped me understand what it meant to not only be a leader, but a Pentecostal leader, and a leader worth following. That transformational journey opened doors for me that I could not have conceived before, including becoming the Executive Director of the Society for Pentecostal Studies for a five-year term as well as participating in numerous publication projects that have contributed to the overall world of Pentecostal scholarship.
My time in the D.Min. prepared me perfectly to serve on the D.Min. team as Project Coordinator, because I understood the process of the program as well as the challenges involved in courses and the project. But, also, the great benefit of bringing that calling of Pentecostal scholarship and leadership transformation through to completion in the seminary setting. That “completion” was really only a beginning, to put those principles into practice in the 11 years since I have graduated. Being able to walk our participants through the project process and coach them in a way that is very pastoral has given me an opportunity to use my areas of strength to help them see how God can use this process in their own lives.
How did your experience at AGTS prepare you for life after graduation?
The relationships that began there have blessed my life beyond measure. People who were professors have become colleagues and partners in ministry and in publication projects as well as other ministry opportunities.
Being a part of AGTS as a doctoral participant paved the way for me to serve first as a D.Min. editor for fellow participants, then interim project coordinator after graduation, then project coordinator when that role opened up. Though I did not know why God was motivating me to do a D.Min. at AGTS, it became clear through these years that it was not just for me, but for those I could serve through the very same process.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the ministry/workforce?
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Like rocks across a river, take the next step. You may not always see the end from the beginning in the midst of uncertainty, but taking the next step, as the Holy Spirit guides, is so important. Each day, we are nurturing gardens in our lives — whether in pastoring a church, leading a ministry, raising children, it is like tending a garden. We need to give it plenty of sunshine and water, but pull out the weeds, provide sufficient fertilizer (from the experiences of a life lived in humility!) and then let God give the increase, for His glory.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from AGTS?
I would look for a willingness to be a servant leader, to be aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses yet to serve in a way that one has an honest estimation of oneself — not too high or too low, but humbly putting all one is before God to be used in the way He wants to use them. I would look for a person of character who exemplifies the fruit of the Spirit in their life.
Given the contentious nature of our current society, I would look for a gracious person who can bring people together and foster authentic community, encouraging life and peace. I would look for a person who can navigate change, who is willing to work with a team and work through issues and challenges patiently and thoughtfully. I would look for a person who has a rich and ever-growing relationship with Jesus and who knows the path to finding joy in His presence. I would look for a person who is hungry for God, for his redemption to be seen throughout creation, and who is seeking the empowerment of the Spirit in his or her life in all things. I would look for a person who serves the world as Jesus did.