31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot: A Call to Older Women

Elisabeth Elliot2


This excerpt is from the September/October 1989 issue of Elisabeth’s newsletter and is also in her book Keep a Quiet Heart. The first part tells of some older ladies who had been a godly influence in her life, and then she continued:

The apostle Paul tells Titus that older women ought to school the younger women to be loving wives and mothers, temperate, chaste and kind, busy at home, respecting the authority of their own husbands. That’s from Titus 2:4,5. My dear Mom Cunningham schooled me not in a class, or seminar, or even primarily by her words. It was what she was that taught me. It was her availability to God when He sent her to my door. It was the surrender of her time and offering to Him, for my sake. It was her readiness to get involved, to lay down her life for one anxious Bible School girl. Above all, she herself, a simple Scottish woman, was the message.

I think of the vast number of older women today. The statistical abstract of the United States says that way back in 1980, 19.5 percent of the population was between ages 45 to 65, but by 2000, it will be 22.9 percent. Assuming that half of those people are women, what a pool of energy and power for God they might be. We live longer now than we did forty years ago. The same volume says that the over 65’s will increase from 11.3 to 13 percent. There’s more mobility, more money around, more leisure, more health and strength.

Resources, which if put at God’s disposal, might bless younger women. But there are also many more ways to spend those resources, so we find it very easy to occupy ourselves selfishly. Where are the women, single or married, willing to hear God’s call to spiritual motherhood, taking spiritual daughters under their wings to school them, as Mom Cunningham did me? She had no training the world would recognize. She had no thought of such. She simply loved God and was willing to be broken bread and poured out wine for His sake. Retirement never crossed her mind.

If some of my listeners are willing to hear this call but hardly know how to begin, here are some suggestions.

First of all, pray about it. Ask God to show you whom, what, how.

Second, consider writing notes to or telephoning some younger woman who needs encouragement in the areas Paul mentioned.

Three, ask a young mother if you may do her ironing, take the children out, baby-sit so she can go out, or make a cake or casserole for her.

Number four, do what Mom Cunningham did for me. Invite somebody to tea. Find out what she’d like you to pray for. I asked Mom Cunningham to pray that God would bring Jim Elliot and me together. Pray with that lady.

Number five, start a little prayer group of two or three whom you can cheer and help. You’ll be cheered and helped, too.

Six, organize a volunteer house-cleaning pool to go out every other week or once a month to somebody who needs you.

Seven, have a lending library of books of real spiritual food.

Eight, be the first of a group in your church to be known as the WOTTs: Women of Titus Two. See what happens. Something will.

Here’s a quotation from a minister from the 19th century:

“Say not you cannot gladden, elevate and set free, that you have nothing of the grace of influence, that all you have to give is at the most only common bread and water. Give yourself to your Lord for the service of men with what you have. Cannot He change water into wine? Cannot He make stammering words to be imbued, filled or charged with saving power? Cannot He change trembling efforts to help into deeds of strength? Cannot He still as of old enable you in all your personal poverty to make many rich? God has need of thee for the service of thy fellow men. He has a work for thee to do. To find out what it is and then to do it is at once, thy supremest duty and thy highest wisdom. Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.”

I do want to add this suggestion. Please don’t start another meeting in your church. That’s the last thing you need. But maybe it would make sense to just post a sheet of 11×8 paper on the bulletin board with WOTTs–Women of Titus Two–at the top. Let women sign up if they’re willing to be available to do any of those things that I’ve suggested. You might be surprised that there are really young women hoping and praying for spiritual mothers. You can be one.

While I appreciate all of this, I especially appreciate the last paragraph. We don’t need another organized program in the church. We mainly just need to be aware of the need to be used in this way and to be open to God’s leading, as she wrote in the first paragraph. I wrote more ideas on this topic in Mentoring Women.

See all the posts in this series here.


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8 thoughts on “31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot: A Call to Older Women

  1. I can think of two older women who enriched my life and were my spiritual mentor as a young Christian. There is so much wisdom and life experience that can be shared. Thank you for this post.

  2. I’ve been so blessed by older women who have poured in to me and it was only a few years ago that I realized that I am now the age they were when they were coming alongside me! I have been praying and looking for younger women to pour into but every ‘group’ I join or place I go – I am put with women who are still older than me. I guess we ALL have wisdom and grace to impart! 😉 I do also appreciate your comment at the end. As a new church planter who is ironically pretty anti-program and extra meeting minded, I see the benefit of relationships over the need for structured gatherings! Great post!

  3. I love this idea! I’m in between – in my 50’s and not yet in a place to do so many practical things for younger women, but certainly can offer friendship and prayer. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Pingback: 31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot | Stray Thoughts

  5. I have also benefited by 2 older women pouring into me. Now it is my turn (although I don’t feel older at all! Lol!) But there is always someone younger who we can share with, mentor or just walk with.

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