Like many of my generation of Christians, and those who preceded us, I grew up singing “This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine.” It was a cute and fun-filled song about shining your Gospel light for Jesus. Through the years, I have found myself humming that tune and singing that song in the car, while traveling and, yes, in the shower early in the morning.
As Mary Sue Bennett, my long-time personal assistant retires, that song comes to my mind. For more than 30 years, Mary Sue has been by my side working with me in ministry. At the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa, she functioned well in many ways in ministry. In addition to managing my calendar and administrating the office as a details person par excellence, Mary Sue went beyond the call of duty. She visited the hospitals, she took the lead in outreach efforts and she filled in for me in my chapel Sunday School class on regular occasions when my schedule took me out of town.
As a seminary-trained person, her transition to the State Board of Missions was an easy one. She understood Baptist life and, more particularly, the missions culture of our work. In her role as Special Assistant to the Executive Director, the myriad of responsibilities is too numerous to name. Our ministries through the SBOM have been enormously enhanced by her contribution.
I was thinking about the word “light” as a descriptive term for her life and ministry. I normally have an aversion for acrostics but, in this case, I am going to give myself a pass. Each letter reminds me of a quality of service and a personal virtue so well exemplified by Mary Sue.
The letter “L” reminds me of her abiding loyalty. Mary Sue has always been an unwaveringly loyal follower of Christ. Her loyalty to the mission of her ministry and to me personally has been remarkable.
“I” represents integrity. In our culture today, there is an observable deficiency of integrity in lives of people, even in the Christian community. Mary Sue has been a person who never compromised the truth, and she always lived by the highest moral and ethical Christian standards.
“G” reminds me of grace. As a follower of Christ, she personally experienced the grace of God in Christ. As an early believer in Jesus, Mary Sue has enjoyed a long journey with Jesus, one worthy of emulation. As a servant of Christ, she has exemplified the grace of our Lord toward others who needed a healing touch from a Christian.
“H” is for certain a reminder of her humility. For Mary Sue, humility came as first nature, not as second nature. She never sought the limelight. Yes, like all of us, she wanted to be respected and appreciated, but her commitment was to help others be more effective in ministry. That is the source of her affirmation and gratification.
Without a doubt the “T” in the word “light” represents trustworthiness. Google the word trustworthy, and you will most likely see a definition which describes her life. Perhaps her picture needs to be beside the definition. I have never had one moment in more than 30 years of ministry together when I doubted her trustworthiness. She is the epitome of what this virtue means.
For whatever time our Lord gives Mary Sue Bennett, her “little light” is going to shine for Christ Jesus. She will be transitioning back to Tuscaloosa, but her contribution to the ministries of the SBOM will continue to shine for many years to come. Thank you, Mary Sue, for letting your light shine for Jesus as we ministered together these 30 years.