Q&A with Colonel James W. Betts

"Music is a lifelong gift and one that can connect people to each other and God in ways unlike anything else."
Q&A with Colonel James W. Betts

Colonel James W. Betts is the National Chief Secretary for The Salvation Army in the United States.

01. How were you first introduced to The Salvation Army? 

I was brought to The Salvation Army as an infant, by my parents who were soldiers (members) of The Salvation Army in Canton, Ohio.

02. What is your favorite part of being a Salvation Army officer?

I absolutely love seeing people come to life in Christ. Seeing the God-given joy and peace that brings about life transformation is beautiful. This has been a joy for me to witness not just with those we serve or those with whom we worship, but with everyone from random strangers I meet while ringing the bell at a red kettle to long-serving community professionals volunteering at The Salvation Army.

03. Do you have a favorite Salvation Army program or event? 

I particularly enjoy the music programs of The Salvation Army. Music is a lifelong gift and one that can connect people to each other and God in ways unlike anything else.

04. Who has influenced your leadership the most?  

The most influential person not just on my leadership, but on my life, is my wife, Sue. She is the voice in my head when I face life’s toughest questions and through her own leadership, continues to be an example to me of Christ-centered, people-focused leadership that inspires me more every day.

05. What has been one of your greatest joys in your ministry?

Most recently, in our service in the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command, I have been able to witness families, once broken, restored. Seeing the joy of reclaimed relationships is an incredible source of joy to me.

06. How do you unwind after a busy day?

With our children all now being out of the house, I love spending time with my wife, either reading, watching a show or even taking a walk. When our young grandchildren are with us, we enjoy building model trains together.

07. What are you currently reading? 

I am currently reading several books by Rabbi David Fohrman. Most recently, I have just finished his book, “The Exodus You Almost Passed Over.” It has been particularly enjoyable learning how to understand the Scriptures from a Jewish perspective. Our current home is in a predominantly Jewish community, and this deeper understanding has led to some beautiful faith conversations.

08. What are you most looking forward to in your new role as National Chief Secretary? 

There is so much to learn about The Salvation Army from a national perspective. So much of what we enjoy in our local context is informed by and supported through the efforts of National Headquarters. I am looking forward to learning how this happens and how I can most effectively come alongside others to serve and support the local context.

09. What is your favorite way of connecting with God? 

Connecting with God is something that takes different forms for me. My early morning time in the Word and in prayer is invaluable, and yet I am equally impacted when an anointed author is able to open my eyes to things of God I had not previously seen. This drives me back to my knees in wonder.

10. Do you have a favorite Scripture verse to share with our readers? 

My favorite verse is actually a chapter. I absolutely love Psalm 84. It speaks of the beauty of serving in God’s house and all the ways that His goodness is poured out on His people.

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