This was an interview that was posted on Cheryl Turnbull's "Mentoring Women" e-newsletter:
Cheryl -You have a unique situation as a woman in ministry. By the way, I like your email name - radiosue. Tell us a little about yourself.
Sue -I kept the "radiosue" email name since my radio days, working as a DJ at "Oldies Radio" WNRK, Newark, DE. For whatever reason, it stuck all these years! I had the privilege to work in secular radio as a Christian for about ten years. What a powerful tool of evangelism, even when I couldn't "broadcast" my relationship with Christ! Trust me, Jesus would shine through everyday, whether I mentioned His name or not!
Cheryl - Did you grow up in a ministry home? When did you know you were going to go into ministry? How long have you and your husband been in ministry? Tell us a little about your family. Help us get to know you.
Sue - I grew up in a great Christian home, with both parents who lovingly lived the example of Christ before me. My dad was a deacon; my mother a Sunday school teacher and piano player. I knew at an early age, somewhere around 15 years old, that I'd be a minister of some kind, whether in music or as a speaker. I met my husband Jeff at a youth camp in the '60s - he was and is a gifted musician, and he also knew as a teenager that he would be using his piano abilities for God.
Cheryl - Tell us a about your ministry and how it came about.
Sue - Jeff and I started as teenagers, singing for coffee houses, youth camps, retreats, and churches - during the "Jesus Movement". Now 34+ years later, we are still traveling and ministering - but in different venues and arenas. I've been speaking and leading worship for many international women's events for the last ten years. It's amazing to see how God has given me a passion for women and their walk with Christ. I love to use humor in my messages; I get asked to bring a message of hope and comedy, more than anything else. God does indeed use the power of laughter to open the hearts of women! It's crazy! I'm on the road about 48 weekends a year, ministering and speaking for various women's events. Ironically, I was raised in a Pentecostal home and I still hold on to those roots, but that doesn't seem to hinder my involvement with various denominations and ecumenical groups.
Cheryl - You have a great admiration for your grandmother. I would love to hear how she influenced your life.
Sue - I actually was blessed with two very unique and creative grandmothers. One was a preacher/singer with a "loud" personality, while the other was quiet, somewhat of an introvert, but a pillar of strength when it came to prayer. Both had a huge influence on my early years. I have my Grandmother Beatty to thank for my accordion lessons (!), and singing ability - while I have my Grandmother Link to thank for infusing me with the power of loving people, regardless of their background or color of skin. They both were hilarious people too, so I assume that I got my "funny" bone from them also! There was so much laughter in our home as a kid, especially when the grandparents arrived. (And by the way, I haven't picked up an accordion for over thirty years!)
Cheryl - In our e-newsletters we have been emphasizing leaving a legacy and passing the baton on to the next generation. Do you feel as if our generation is passing the baton effectively? Why or why not?
Sue - To a degree, I'm seeing a wave of energy; a new passion, to reach our younger women for Christ. The sad part is many of these younger women have no history of mothers or grandmothers in their lives, who were prayer warriors or dedicated to Christ or who would relentlessly intercede on their behalf. It would be like passing the "baton" to a generation of women, who never ran a race. They wouldn't know the significance of passing a "baton", if it was passed to them. On the bright side, I'm seeing women my age take the time to mentor and spiritually direct the younger ones, in a relationship basis - starting as prayer partners. This is incredibly effective and life - changing. Taking women by the hand and showing them - is crucial to this mentoring process.
Cheryl - What can we do better, if anything?
One way is doing exactly what we're doing right now - using the internet to glorify God, giving women a chance to connect. We live in a "text messaging", "instant everything" world, and the more we become available to use the tools of technology to stay connected, the better. Facebook has fast become the utility tool for many women in our women's group in my home church in Elkton, MD, for connection, events, Bible studies, and future meetings.
Cheryl - In your opinion how can women in ministry connect better?
Sue - With all the technology and all the modern conveniences at hand, there is still nothing that compares with face-to-face connection and wholesome friendship. Our women's groups have to go beyond social clubs and entertaining events. The support system of a healthy women's ministry is founded in leaders who love, give, and set the example of servanthood. What I love most is seeing young AND old sharing life, sharing their faith, and sharing each other's losses and gains. Susan Hunt, in her book, "Spiritual Mothering" challenged me even more, to uplift and uphold our sisters in the faith - especially those in full time ministry. I would love to see more of our "seasoned sisters", impart their wisdom, their joys, theirs sorrows - to the new generation of women ministers. This is one of my passions, and the older I become, the more I see how effective it is. Professor Virginia Christl from Valley Forge Christian College has implemented a mentorship program for young women - teaming each student with a current woman in ministry. It's been great to see the success of that program.
Cheryl - If a young woman, getting ready to graduate from high school, came to you for advice what advice would she receive from you?
Sue - I'd be sure and ask, "What is your passion? What would you love to do with your life? And how can I help you find the tools to achieve that desire?" Recently, a young friend of my daughter spent a few days with us. She is a gifted photographer and really has an eye for making photos into stories. I haven't seen anything like it! So obviously my question to her is, "What do you want to do with this talent and how can I help you get there??" She has a heart for ministry and wants to be a part of helping young women who are exploited and are involved in trafficking. Obviously, her tool for ministry could just be her photographic artistic ability. So being available for continuing counsel and prayer is a must here - because she just needs someone to take her by the hand and show her the way.
Cheryl - What about a young single woman graduating from college? What advice do you have for her?
Sue - Stay in a network of thriving, growing, peer-level and above, Christians. Peer pressure isn't just something that High School kids go through. It is vital to be connected to a good church, with a mission and passion. Be very proud of your accomplishments, and consider it "well-done", if you are female and you have just been handed your higher education diploma! Keep Christ first.
Cheryl - What about the married woman, just starting in ministry? How would you advise her?
Sue - This is a tough one, because I am married, in ministry - both with and apart from my husband. I find it devastating when I hear stories of women who have left their families to pursue personal ministry endeavors. I'm sure that's not what God had in mind. However, I do believe that there are gifted, anointed married women, who when keeping their priorities, can use their talents in ministry. It is vital that their husbands be affirming and supportive of their new role. Regardless of the magnitude or challenge of ministry outside the home, still our greatest call is to our own home, within the walls - first. I found it quite rewarding, as my children got older, to feel the new surge and new desire to minister to women. Even in the secular work force, it is not unusual for women in their fifties to "re-invent" themselves, knowing that the child-rearing days are over. Many women I know have arrived to a new place in their lives - having more time, resource, and desire to do something significant for the kingdom, now that their children are grown. I am so there!
Cheryl - Please feel free to share from your heart anything you feel the Lord is leading you to tell us.
Sue - I love what you're doing here, Cheryl. It is so needed in our world. I would also like to say that there are so many resources and opportunities for women today. Much of that I didn't have early in my ministry. I also have been blessed to counsel women's groups on their events, retreats, and conferences. It's been fun to problem solve and be a part of helping them achieve some great things. There are continuing education and seminars around the country that empower women to excellence - a must for every woman speaker/pastor/author/singer. Don't ever get to the place in your life where you think "you're all that!" If anything, I'm still learning and I'm still a third grade student of God's word. It's fun to be at this place - Fifty-three, and feeling like I'm just getting started!!!
Cheryl - Sue, thank you for sharing your heart with us. You are a great inspiration. Remember, Sue can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.sueduffield.com. if you wish to invite her to speak at one of your events. You can also look her up on Facebook or MySpace.