If you're a first time blog reader, just so you know, I'm the one on the left. ;)
Sue and Jeff had been married just a short time and were on the road full time, ministering. They looked something like this, as I recall:
I thought they were the coolest people I had ever met in my life.
They had just made a new recording (back then they were eight tracks and cassettes) and we got both of them to take home after the banquet. I remember my sister and I wore them out! We would listen and sing along and jump around in our room. (I did a lot more jumping around than she did. I was goofy that way. I sang into the hairbrush, actually pretending to be Sue Duffield.)
Over and over I sang her song, "Bread Upon the Water."
"Good measure pressed down, shaken together running o-----ver...soon it's gonna come back home, come back home, come back home on every waaaaaave..."Lord have mercy, I sang that song until everyone was probably soooooo sick and tired of hearing it. Some people expressed just how tired they were of it, everyone except my grandmother, that is. She liked it so much she even asked me to sing it to her when she was in the hospital before she passed away. Bless her heart, grandmas can always be counted on for things like that.
Sue was like an icon to me growing up, with a velvety voice that just kinds of flows out like warm caramel every time she sings or talks. They ministered at "C.A. Rallies" as they were called back then, and district youth convention. I acquired most every 8 track and cassette that the Duffields ever made. My favorite was a song Sue wrote and recorded years later entitled, "The Other Side." Every time I heard it, I was convicted and challenged.
After high school I went to bible college and met Larry and we began youth pastoring. The Duffields came and ministered at both churches where we were youth pastors, in New Jersey and Ohio. They had evolved yet again:
By the way, although I play the piano, I never set out to play just like Jeff Duffield. Anyone who tries to do that is just naive. You will never achieve it so you might a well give up before you start and quit wasting your time. LOL
They have seen me in every stage of my life -- as a young school kid, a teenager, youth pastoring, lead pastoring, when our children came along, and now as they have grown up and ministering for the Lord themselves.
I am blessed to lead the Assemblies of God Women's Ministries for the Tampa section. Last night we had Sue and Jeff minister at our women's event which was held at Celebration. This is Sue and Jeff nowadays:
Still traveling full time and making a difference in lives, more than ever before.
They could hardly believe it when "the baby" (Savanna) greeted them at the door. She's grown so much since the last time they were here. Here's one of the times Sue was with us while we were lead pastoring when Savanna was just five years old.
Sue did an amazing job last night and women's lives were touched. Young girls lives were changed. But I must selfishly say that the most amazing thing for me happened before anyone got there.
Sue and Jeff were setting up and checking their sound equipment. I was running to and fro getting details wrapped up regarding the event and was in the back of the sanctuary getting a file off of my computer for the announcements when Sue approached. Drawing near she took my hand and said, "Deanna, can I just say something?" I had no idea what was coming, but in that I'm-about-to-say-something-really-profound-Sue-Duffield-kind-of-way, she leaned in and said, "Deanna, can I just say how proud I am of you?" And then she repeated the statement for effect.
And what an affect it had.
So what's the point of this post? Just a Duffield love-fest? Yes, and no. There's a leadership lesson here.
Last night when I introduced Sue, I shared with the women that someone once said, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." For all of Sue's talents and accomplishments the greatest thing about her is that to the core of her being she's a person who genuinely cares. You can have all the talent in the world but if you have no concern for others you won't go very far.
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." ~ John Maxwell
By the way, speaking of John Maxwell, Sue Duffield was a contributing author to one of his books, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.
When many evangelists struggle to get bookings, she's pretty much booked solid about 200 dates a year and it just keeps growing. Some of that is talent, but I believe a lot more of it has to do with integrity and genuine care. I've observed this in her for over three decades now. These are footsteps worth following in, although no one could ever fill them like she does.
There is still so much I see in Sue Duffield that I want to emulate. Thank you Sue, for leading the way for women and girls of all ages. And, for showing those of us in vocational ministry how to walk worthy of our calling. As one who travels and ministers outside of our church, I have also learned so much by watching Sue Duffield's example. I want to be just like her when it comes to her amazing ability to connect not just with audiences but one-on-one which is even more important.
One more thing...last night the decor was beach/tropical. Sue was given a lei to wear by our ladies who had organized the decor. After the night was over, as Sue was getting in her car to leave, she was saying goodbye to some who had gathered around. A young girl from our church named Kaylyn was just enamored with Sue and was talking to her. Sue hugged her goodbye and gave her the lei that was around her neck before she got into the car and left.
Later on as we were cleaning some things up, Kaylyn walked over to me and with more excitement than someone her age talking about Justin Bieber she said, "Pastor Deanna, Sue gave me this!!! You know what? You met her when you were about my age! And now, she touched my life too...isn't that so awesome?!!"
And on it goes...