Spiritual Role Models

July 26, 2015 No Comments »
Spiritual Role Models

By Pat Ennis

Who are your role models? Perhaps you have several in your life—one role model may excel professionally, another in raising children, and yet another in Bible knowledge. I am blessed to have a number of biblical and earthly role models who provide me with the stimulus to walk worthy of my calling. 

Early in my spiritual growth I learned that I could eliminate much spiritual and emotional turmoil from my life by examining the lives of the men and women who have gone before me and learn from both their successes and failures (1 Corinthians 10:1-12). I want to share with you how the lives of three women provide a role model for us as we seek to impact our world for our Lord. Each offers character qualities for us to emulate as we think of impacting our world for eternity.


One of my favorite biblical role models is Ruth because she gleaned or persevered where the Lord placed her. Her life provides guidelines to assist us in daily persevering in the field to which we are assigned:

• Ruth persevered in the commitment she made to Naomi (Ruth 1:16-18). Since there is no evidence that Naomi had personal resources, it appears Ruth supported herself and her mother-in-law. As we glean are we as steadfast to go beyond the minimum work required of us?

• Ruth’s work ethic was evident to all (Ruth 3:11). Does the quality of our work reflect our heavenly heritage (Matthew 5:16)?

• Ruth chose contentment in her circumstances. There is no evidence that she complained about her work load, the weather, her peers, or her home conditions (Ruth 2:17, 18). Are we content where the Lord has chosen for us to glean? Philippians 4:11 reminds us that contentment is an acquired character trait rather than a natural inclination.

• Ruth listened to Naomi’s counsel and fulfilled all that she was physically able to do with excellence. She then had the responsibility to wait for God to intervene (Ruth 3). Do we focus on completing our assigned tasks with excellence, listen to godly counsel, and then allow our heavenly Father to work out the details (Romans 8:28)?

• Ruth’s rewards were earthly as well as spiritual (Ruth 4). She is listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5), became the great-grandmother of King David, and has a book of the Bible named for her. Will our gleaning generate earthly and eternal rewards (Matthew 25:21)?


Hope for the Heart’s founder and chief servant officer, June Hunt, is a well-respected biblical counselor. Her ministry offers scriptural and practical hope through counseling, coaching, and insight into contemporary issues. She has reached people in more than 60 countries spanning 6 continents. 

Relying on her heavenly Father to deal with personal pain generated by her family fashioned June’s heart to be a victor rather than a victim when life’s challenges are difficult. The hurt she experienced in her childhood left her feeling hopeless until she entered a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. Now those very experiences provide the foundation for helping others find strength in life’s storms.

Whether writing, speaking, or singing, June is dedicated to presenting “God’s truth for today’s problems.” Through her life-transforming approach (inspired by Romans 12:2), June’s example teaches the truth that a changed mind produces a changed heart—and a changed heart produces a changed life. 

When asked how she accomplishes numerous monumental tasks that include working with youth, contributing landmark books to the field of counseling, and producing two daily radio programs, June graciously shared, “My only ‘plan’ is one described by Henry Blackaby: ‘Watch to see where God is at work and join him in it!’”


Wife, grandmother, first lady at Southwestern Theological Seminary, Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies, author, compelling speaker, and gracious hostess—Dorothy Kelley Patterson is a living model of Colossians 3:17, 23. Zeal characterizes each action, project, and relationship she undertakes.

For more than four decades, Dorothy has focused her teaching ministry on the foundational question, “What is God saying to me about women?” Her practical application of Titus 2:3-5 in her home is supported by her academic credentials that include two doctorates. She straightforwardly said that her theological education was prompted by her husband, Dr. Paige Patterson, who challenged her to complete the degrees so she could more effectively fulfill her role, particularly in the area of woman-to-woman teaching. She clearly demonstrates strength of character as she concurrently models God’s instructions to women.

Hospitality is one of Dorothy’s trademarks. Her statement in Practicing Hospitality, the Joy of Serving Others clearly articulates her passion for loving friends and strangers: “Sharing what we have with those whom God brings into our lives, however briefly, ought to be a God-inspired mandate, which becomes a heart-impelled passion. Scripture commands it; the indwelling Spirit inspires it; every woman must find ways to express it by opening her heart and home.”

Pressing Forward

Having caught a glimpse of the character of some women who have impacted my life, I hope you will consider the mentors in your life. As you do, remember that embracing godly character qualities often begins with an act of the will—that is, doing the right thing and then allowing your emotions to catch up with you. 

By studying godly role models as well as the instruction from the Bible, will you pursue the assimilation of godly character qualities by modeling the mindset of other godly people who have impacted our culture? You might consider beginning your pursuit with the statement, “I will, like . . .”

Some of the qualities I am striving to pursue are:

• I will, like Verna Birkey, choose to believe that God is “the blessed controller of all things” (1 Timothy 6:15, J. B. Phillips). 

• I will, like Vonette Bright, trust God for salvation and live a life of total surrender (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

• I will, like Nancy Leigh DeMoss, boldly proclaim God’s Word for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, 15).

• I will, like Elisabeth Elliott, choose to serve those who mistreat me (Matthew 5:10-12; 43-48).

• I will, like Elizabeth George, love the Lord with my entire being (Mark 12:28-31).

• I will, like Carine Mackenzie, focus on being known by the Lord God rather than attempting to please people (1 Corinthians 8:3).

• I will, like Martha Peace, transform my mind by renewing it with the Word of God and choosing not to “conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:1, 2).

• I will, like Edith Schaeffer, purpose to see God as the ultimate author of beauty in every aspect of life (Psalm 19; Romans 1:20).

Realizing that I cannot hope to emulate these role models in my own strength, I will rely upon my Lord, for I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). 

Pat Ennis is Distinguished Professor of Homemaking and Director of Homemaking Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

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