People Are Our Lasting Legacy
Her name was Heather Renaud.
If you are like me, you never knew her. Once you hear her story, you are sad that you didn’t. And at Betty’s, you can hear as much of that story as you want!
Last week I sat with a cup of coffee, and a plate full of eggs, toast, and a sausage patty as big as my head (breakfast here is truly amazing!) while listening to the ladies who served me talk about this woman. For the last year, I have frequented this establishment for its great food and home town feel, and each time I have entered its doors, this woman I never had the opportunity to meet is everywhere. Pictures of her are all over the place, revealing her sense of humor (anyone reading this ever have to wear the crab hat on your birthday?), love for family, for Shepherd University football, and for her business, which continues to thrive three years after her sudden passing.
On the third anniversary of her death, my family and I were among many more who tied pink and purple ribbons to the tree just outside the restaurant in Heather’s memory. The marking of this moment was overseen by those who worked with and for her. And that day I remember thinking; people lose co-workers all the time. What was it about this woman that engenders such admiration, and the constant desire to perpetuate her memory? But even as I asked that question, the answer was right in front of me. It was the people she invested in. Heather was loved because she treated people well no matter who they were. And she spent her life investing in others.
In this way, Heather was very much like Paul. In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul used many illustrations from the Greek games and spoke of his life as a follower of Jesus as a life of pursuit. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” he says. But what was that goal? He answers in Philippians 4:1 when he describes the church – the people of God – as “my joy and crown.” The crown was used in the Greek games to identify the ultimate victor. And Paul said of these people he had spent time investing in that they were his reward. People were his greatest investment, and his greatest achievement. And in this way, Paul – and Heather – reflected the values of Jesus, who loved the world so much that He invested His own blood to save us all.
All of us want to be remembered, loved and honored. Heather Renaud’s life teaches us that this happens only when we ourselves remember, honor and love. When we see our greatest successes in the lives of others, we are the kind of person who will be remembered for a long, long time.
It’s a lesson I’m reminded of every time I step into Betty’s. People are our best investment, and our most lasting legacy.
Joel Rainey is Lead Pastor of Covenant Church in Shepherdstown and a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He and his family live in Shepherdstown, and he would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.