Finding a Mentor in an Unlikely Place

We all want a mentor. Someone to teach us, coach us, counsel us, and disciple us. Someone to whom we can ask hard questions and someone who has walked one step ahead of us, showing us the way forward. Sometimes we’re blessed by a real-life mentor who can physically sit down with us and share coffee. But oftentimes it can feel like there’s not enough to go around! When that’s been the case in my life, there’s one place I turn to: books. Books, especially biographies, have this certain knack for giving us access to the thoughts and stories of people we would ordinarily be separated from by time and location. We can learn how to cook from Julia Child, learn to love without partiality from Harper Lee, or learn how to read the Bible from Jen Wilkin.

Elisabeth-ElliotI stumbled upon Elisabeth Elliot years ago when I was hungry to learn from an older woman. I hadn’t grown up in a Christian home and my mom, for many reasons, couldn’t be physically present to teach me and raise me and do so many of those “mom” things that we take for granted. I didn’t have any healthy pictures of what it looked like to marry a Christian man, to confess my sin to someone else, to raise a godly family, or to walk with God amidst intense suffering or trial. I so badly craved a living picture of the gospel in every day life.

elisabethelliot8As I devoured each book that Elliot wrote, the puzzle pieces of her life began to fit together and I gained bits of the wisdom and experience that she shared without actually living her life. Her writings captured me, and have shaped who I am today and how I follow Christ. One of the most influential Christian women of the 20th century, Elliot died Monday at the age of 88. Alongside thousands, likely millions, of women around the world who mourn the death of this faithful servant of God, it is good for me to remember the gift that we are given in the written word, and in particular, the way that God has used this humble woman in his worldwide Church. In many ways, I thought of Elliot as a dear, wise friend – someone who mentored me through her many books on faith, discipline, and biblical womanhood, and I found her worthy to emulate as I tried to live out my faith (and still do!). May God give me grace to follow her example to the end, passing through gates of splendor.

I encourage you to check out some of her books if you’re in a similar position:

UnknownThrough Gates of Splendor: Elliot tells the story of 5 young missionaries – one of them her husband – killed while trying to establish communication and share the gospel with an unreached people group in Ecuador. If you read one book of Elliot’s, read this one! You’ll be challenged, encouraged, and spurred on to live obediently to a faithful God. And you won’t be able to put the book down.

Let Me Be a Woman: I know, the title doesn’t exactly make you want to jump to grab this one, but I promise it is well worth your time. Writing to her daughter upon marriage, Elliot shares thoughts and wisdom on what biblical womanhood means, whether married or single. I found it particularly helpful to think about the woman I want to be in Christ, in a practical sense.

Passion and Purity: Elliot shares her own life as an example in this book about your love life (or lack there-of). Single, dating, or married, this timeless book guides and gives honest direction.

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