Recently I have been researching people who many of us have never heard of. I have been so blessed to discover some unsung heroes of faith. I hope the following blogs really encourage you. Some of the research is from well-known sites but I have found some information in rather obscure places. None of my findings are original, they are based on other writings and opinions. So, as with all research, its only as good as the sources! However factually correct or incorrect the summaries, I do hope you enjoy it and that it offers you some insight into the lives of some less well-known Christian heroes.
You may never have heard of the Victorian nanny, Elizabeth Anne Everest. And you would be forgiven for that! But her life has had an impact on every single person born in the western world since.
Elizabeth quietly spent her days caring for other people’s children. She looked like any other nanny, but inside she was quite different. I think I would have loved her!!
Elizabeth was a committed Christian. She was said to be passionate and fearless. For her, being a nanny was not just a job; it was a full-time, heart-felt ministry. She believed she was bringing life, hope and joy to children and families. She lived out her faith boldly amongst those that hired her and worked hard to care for their children, putting godliness and biblical truth at the heart of how she treated them.
In February 1875, Elizabeth Everest came to be the nanny for a new family – a family whose name would live on in history. Her charge was a full-faced, rosy-cheeked baby boy by the name of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, who became the future Prime Minister of England, and leader of the western world. The parents called the nanny “Mrs. Everest” – an honorific title offered to all nannies, as she had never married. She was devoted to her job.
Winston was quite a bright boy but was not an easy child to manage or teach. In fact, there was very little hint in his early years of the greatness that he would one day aspire to. Elizabeth soon understood the immensity of her task. His mother would warn visitors, with typical British understatement, that he was “a difficult child to manage.” She was right. He kicked, he screamed, he hid, and he bullied. So much so, that the word “monster” was often used of him.
But this didn’t seem to put off his nanny, Elizabeth. She stuck with him and with the family.
Knowing of his nanny’s strong Christian faith, young Winston once tried to escape a maths lesson by threatening to “bow down and worship graven images!” It seemed he was a creative child! But Elizabeth Everest was an exceptional woman. She knew how to enforce the boundaries she set, and from the beginning, Winston held a grudging respect for this woman who seemed to know the secret – that his irritating behaviour and desperate attempts at attention only served to hide a desperate longing of his heart.
As I have begun to research this ladies’ life and what she worked to achieve, I have felt so challenged. Leadership is so often about the opposite: serving – isn’t it? It is so often not glamorous or ‘seen’. There would have been hundreds of ways in which this nanny loved this little boy in quiet, behind-the-scenes ways. Despite the odds, this lady persevered with Winston and became one of the most influential people in his life.
We may think that our influence is small. We may not have many people to care for – maybe just one child, or our small families. But this story reminds us of the importance of discharging our duties well – of working at what God has given us.