What Elisabeth Elliot Taught Me About Motherhood

One of my earliest mentors in Christian womanhood and motherhood was Elisabeth Elliot. Here’s what Elisabeth Elliot taught me about motherhood.

what elisabeth elliot taught me about motherhood

One of the first books I ever read by Elisabeth Elliot was The Shaping of a Christian Family. In this book, she shares memories from her own growing up years. She was one of six children, and her parents were devout Christians.

I recently revisited this favorite book, and I thought I would share with you some of the mothering insights I gleaned from reading through it this time around.

What Elisabeth Elliot Taught Me About Motherhood

Elisabeth Elliot Motherhood

1. A mother is a life-bearer.

“A mother is a chalice, the vessel without which no human being has ever been born. She is created to be a life-bearer, cooperating with her husband and with God in the making of a child. What a solemn responsibility. What an unspeakable privilege—a vessel divinely prepared for the Master’s use.”

It’s such a beautiful blessing and privilege it is to bring new life into the world!

what elisabeth elliot taught me about motherhood

2. Children are a blessing.

Of course we know this if we’re familiar with the Bible (Psalm 127), but we can never be reminded too much of the truths from God’s Word.

“Children, the Bible says, are a gift, a blessing, a heritage from the Lord, ‘the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them!’ (Psalm 127:3-5) Mother and Daddy believed that and believed He would give them just what He wanted them to have, which is always the best.

3. Motherhood is the noblest career.

Motherhood truly is the greatest career. However, sometimes in the midst of our mundane, ordinary days, it’s easy to forget how important our calling really is.

“There is no nobler career than that of motherhood at its best. There are no possibilities greater, and in no other sphere does failure bring more serious penalties. With what diligence then should she prepare herself for such a task. If the mechanic who is to work with ‘things’ must study at technical school, if the doctor into whose skilled hands will be entrusted human lives, must go through medical school…how much more should the mother who is fashioning the souls of the men and women of tomorrow, learn at the highest of all schools and from the Master-Sculptor Himself, God.” ~Anonymous

4. The process of shaping the child shapes the mother.

“The process of shaping the child…shapes also the mother herself. Reverence for her sacred burden calls her to all that is pure and good, that she may teach primarily by her own humble, daily example.”

I have found this to be true in my own seventeen years of motherhood.

Whenever I am discouraged and tempted to give up and give in to sin, the knowledge that my children are watching me and that I am an example to them reigns me in and brings me back to where I need to be.

Motherhood is definitely a sanctifying process and I still fall short of where I want to be. I need grace every day!

5. Use a gentle, loving voice when speaking to your children.

“There are different ways of issuing commands. A calm, matter-of-fact, and loving manner is much more likely than a stern and imperious one to inspire willingness to obey.”

what elisabeth elliot taught me about motherhood

6. Hug your children. Often.

“Parents, expressing love for their children by physical warmth and tenderness, greatly contribute to their children’s later comprehension of Refuge, Strength, and Helper as attributes of God.”

I love hugging. So it comes naturally to me to want to hug my children often.

Elisabeth said her parents had a more difficult time showing physical affection because of their more formal upbringing, but, with the help of God they were able to show sufficient physical affection that all of their children knew and felt how much they were loved.

I also think it’s important to continue the hugs and back rubs (or however your family is comfortable showing love) on into the teen years. My teens love getting a hug from Mom! I can tell it makes them feel loved.

7. Pray for your children.

“There is no higher height to which humanity can attain than that occupied by a converted, heaven-inspired, praying mother.” ~Anonymous

Elisabeth Elliot motherhood quotes

“I believe that trust in God, love for one’s children, and prayer for wisdom are a recipe for successful parenthood far more reliable than all the books and seminars in the world.”

8. Love is the most important thing.

“Nothing trains and teaches so powerfully as love. Love attracts, it does not coerce. If the aim of the parents is to teach their children to love God they must show their love for Him by loving each other and loving the children. “

Oh, this is so true. I know I respond much better when someone speaks to me or treats me with love rather than harshness or selfishness.

Whenever I come to my children with words of encouragement and praise, their faces light up and they delight to be with me. Love definitely attracts!

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” ~1 John 4:16

A Renewed Vision for Motherhood

Rereading The Shaping of a Christian Family has been like a breath of fresh air for me. I think in our modern age that we’re in danger of becoming lukewarm and confused about what the Bible really teaches on so many topics.

Going back to one of the books I learned from in my early years of marriage (from one of my favorite Titus 2 teachers) encouraged me greatly. I’m thinking about sharing it with my oldest daughter next.

More Wisdom From Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot Quotes to Encourage Your Heart

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  1. I love this! Speaking for myself, I perceived God in a very incorrect way because of the way that I was raised. I did not receive that joyful, tender, merciful, physical kind of love at home so I had a very hard time accepting that God was that way. Parents do not realize that they are stunting their child’s spiritual growth when they do not raise them with a Godly love, focus and mindset. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  2. Beautiful post – and reminder! Yes – motherhood shapes us as much as it shapes our children. My faith has grown so much as a mother. Maybe motherhood is the miracle grow to our hearts!

  3. I wish she was still alive. Would have loved to met her. One day in glory though!
    She is so encouraging to me as a 15 year old woman

  4. Beautiful post! I, too, love Elisabeth Elliot. She was a spiritual mother to me through her writings. I lived about 20 minutes from her in my 20’s on the North Shore of Boston and had the blessing of hearing her speak in the area quite a bit, met her, traded letters and invited her for tea with a number of my friends! To my shock and delight…she came! It was wonderful! I wrote an article for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine about her influence and how the Lord wove this and another friend of hers into my life–both of whom shaped me tremendously–Elisabeth through her writing (mainly) and Van through her friendship. I love how the Lord does things like that!!. http://www.theoldschoolhouse.com/article-spotlight-a-tale-of-two-friends-by-liz-lane/
    Her book Twelve Baskets of Crumbs is also a treasure! I just pulled it off my shelf to re-read it the other day! So glad I stumbled upon your blog! Blessings! Liz Lane

    1. Thank you, Liz! I’m so glad you stopped by and took the time to introduce yourself! What a blessing that you were able to know Elisabeth in real life and benefit from her wisdom. And how wonderful to also know her friend! Thanks so much for sharing the article you wrote. It was very encouraging. Blessings to you!

  5. Hi, your post received the most clicks this week on the Literacy Musing Mondays linkup. I am featuring your post in the Literacy Musing Mondays linkup which will go live at Sunday at 6 p.m. Congrats and thanks for linking up with us.

  6. Elizabeth Elliot was a wise woman! Thank you for sharing some inspiration for motherhood with us at Mommy Moments last week. This was the top viewed link and will be featured in the link up next week. Congratulations and I hope you will continue to be a part of our community link up each week 🙂

    1. I agree, she was very wise! And thank you so much for featuring my post and also for hosting such a great link up! 🙂

  7. I have Keeping a Quiet Heart but haven’t read it yet, and I wasn’t even aware of this book! I’m not a mom, but this is so great to read. I will have to keep this book in mind for later.

    1. Yes, it’s a great book even if you’re not a mom! It’s autobiographical, so it’s an encouraging read for anyone interested in Elisabeth Elliot and her growing up years. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Melanie! I’m so glad you stopped by today, and I hope your day is blessed also! 🙂

  8. What a beautiful and encouraging post. I have been struggling with feeling very inadequate lately and I needed to hear this! I am reading her book Keep a Quiet Heart. Will definitely have to find The Shaping of a Christian Family.

    Happy Mother’s day to you!

    Love, Heather

    1. I’m so glad it was encouraging! Elisabeth Elliot’s writings always have a way of encouraging me. Keep a Quiet Heart is such a great book, too.

      Happy Mother’s Day, Heather! ♥ Joy

  9. This post is food for the soul and the mind … wonderful words for every mother who is pleased of her life .

  10. Beautiful insights on motherhood! I haven’t read this book and I am so glad you shared your thoughts and the quotes. I agree, “the process of shaping the child shapes the mother”. And the importance of prayer! I will share your post on my Facebook page. Blessings!

    1. Thank you, Carol! Yes, that insight about the mother being shaped in the process of shaping her child really spoke to me. I’m so glad you stopped by!

  11. Elisabeth Elliot is my favorite. I have learned so much from her over the years. I used to receive her monthly newsletter and even though only four pages, it was filled with encouragement and exhortation to live fully for HIM. I have several of her books, but two of my favorites are Keep a Quiet Heart, and Discipline: The Glad Surrender.

    You’ve inspired me to pull them off my shelves and re-read them! 🙂

    1. Me too! I first discovered her when I was about 21. I was in a bookstore and saw her “Passion and Purity” book and decided to buy it since I was engaged at the time. 🙂 And then I started collecting more of her books until I now have quite a few of them. I used to receive her monthly newsletter too! I always looked forward to getting it in the mail. The two books you mentioned are also favorites. We must be “kindred spirits.” 🙂

  12. No, I haven’t read this book but I am looking for it right this moment. It sounds like a great book for encouragement to me. Thank you for sharing. I have read many of Elizabeth Elliot’s books and have loved them all.

    1. It is such a great book. Hope you’re able to find a copy! I feel the same way about Elisabeth’s books—every one that I’ve read has been so helpful and encouraging.

  13. Wow. Just, wow. What a beautiful, encouraging post. So glad I hopped over from Sitting Among Friends! The whole thing is humbling and uplifting, but this, in particular, really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it: “A mother is a chalice, the vessel without which no human being has ever been born. She is created to be a life-bearer, cooperating with her husband and with God in the making of a child. What a solemn responsibility. What an unspeakable privilege—a vessel divinely prepared for the Master’s use.” Gulp. So glad I found you today, Joy. From a fellow Elizabeth (mine with a “z”) and a Joy (my middle!). 😉

    1. Nice to meet you, Elizabeth! How neat that your middle name is Joy, too! 🙂 Yes, that part about a mother being a chalice really inspired me. I’m so glad you stopped by today!

  14. I haven’t read this book yet, but it’s on my Pinterest board of books I want to read.

    I love #4! I definitely feel like I have been changed through the mothering process – and I’m sure there’s still lots more God will do in me as we navigate these teenage years!

    1. Oh yes, mothering through the teenage years has definitely changed me too! Sometimes I feel like it’s an even more challenging time than when they were little. So many big life changes taking place. But such an exciting time!

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this at Sitting Among Friends. I loved this post and really needed to hear this tonight. I have not read this book but what refreshment to this momma’s heart. I hope you have a great week! Sharing on my social media.

    1. So nice to meet you, Jaime! I just discovered your blog a few days ago, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you better! Thanks so much for stopping by, and also for sharing! 🙂

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