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Finding Her Purpose in Life


Called speaker Elyse Fitzpatrick’s quest for the truth led to a transformative walk with Christ and a vibrant 50-year career as a counselor and author

by Audrey Gotcher

Called Speaker Elyse Fitzpatrick with her family


A short conversation with Elyse Fitzpatrick quickly reveals that her heart beats for Christ and His church. A prolific author and highly sought conference speaker, she is impassioned by the love of Jesus and dedicated to making it real and practical for the Christian life. After more than 50 years of ministry, she is incredibly talented and wise but with the humility of someone deeply aware of the grace God has lavished on her.

Elyse was not raised in a typical evangelical home. Although she was a baptized and confirmed Lutheran who occasionally went to church with her grandmother, she had no saving knowledge of Jesus. At the age of 13, Elyse asked her mother, “Why are we here?”

Her mom responded, “I don’t know. Maybe to see if we can all get along.”

Finding that answer unsatisfying, Elyse concluded that there must be no point to life—she may as well just “eat, drink, and be merry.”

A call from Jesus

During the years that followed, Elyse threw herself into the “Southern California lifestyle of debauchery,” she says. She searched fruitlessly for ways to cover the shame she incessantly felt inside. She wasn’t looking for God—just a way to be a good person. But her failures only made her more “soul weary.” As she approached age 21, she’d already had a baby, been married, and gotten divorced. The last thing she was expecting—or even looking for—was a call from Jesus.

One summer night in 1971, having come to the end of herself at the age of 20, Elyse fell to her knees and gave her life to the Lord. Though she didn’t completely understand what that meant, she was willing to say yes to whatever God put in her path.

The first “yes” was to Bible college—which she started attending just a few months after being saved. Someone had told her, “Our church is starting a Bible college; you should come to it.” And Elyse thought, Okay! I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do. Laughing, she said that statement has become something of a life mantra to her.

Becoming a biblical counselor

Years later, Elyse remarried and had two more kids. She noticed how people kept coming to her for advice—and she never knew what to say. Around that time, her pastor got a letter from the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). He asked her, “Why don’t you do this?”

Called Speaker Elyse Fitzpatrick


In another “I guess this is what I’m supposed to do” moment, Elyse went on to earn a certificate in Biblical Counseling from CCEF and then a master’s in Biblical Counseling. Since 1997, she has authored 25 books covering such topics as parenting, counseling, women’s issues, and the Christian life.

In this Q&A, discover what Elyse—one of the keynote speakers at Moody’s Called 2024 conference for women in ministry leadership—has to say about her fascinating life, writing, and motivation for ministry.

Why did you write your first book, Women Helping Women?

In that book, I collaborated with other women who had upper-level theological degrees and who were involved in counseling. We wanted to put together a helpful resource for women, particularly women who were in ministry in churches, because at that point, there really was nothing that was primarily aimed to help women. I gathered together a group of other women who all wanted to contribute a chapter on different topics that were of interest to women. It was a Gold Medallion Award nominee book, which was really shocking for a person's first book.

What do you see as the main struggle many Christian women are facing today?

I think if I was a young woman now, I would be somewhat discouraged—there are so many wars going on about what women can and cannot do. I think for a lot of women, the main struggle is trying to discern how to use their gifts if they feel called. For some, there may be a pressure to do something big, but let’s just seek to be faithful to the calling that God has given to us in whatever sphere we’re in—that means full-time ministry for some people, and for some people it means private ministry to their family.

What is one struggle in ministry that God is helping you overcome?

It's really the struggle between putting your confidence in Christ and having the confidence and the boldness to step into spaces without being proud and thinking, I’m all that. It’s recognizing your giftedness and having a confidence that God can use you in your giftedness—and yet holding that in humility. That is the lesson that I have been struggling to learn for 50 years!

What about your story uniquely equips you for the work you do?

I have gifts, and I don't want to downplay that because they’re gifts God has given. And yes, I have experience and education. I have all those things, but the ability to put those things together and make them make sense to people and help people—that is the sovereign act of God.

What is at the heart of what you do?

That Jesus has to be the center, the goal of everything. And He's so wonderful. So the heart of what I do is making much of Christ because He's worth it. He’s worth all of us laying down our lives every single day, He's worth it. And whether we’re successful or respected or not, none of that matters if what we're doing is loving Him.

What topic has your interest right now?

I am so consumed with noticing the vulnerable in my city. The poor, the immigrant, the widow, the orphan, and being involved with organizations that help women who are being trafficked. I’m very involved with the immigration issue here in San Diego and seeking to love the migrant. I’m involved in Women of Welcome, World Relief, and seeking to care for the poor. Once you get proximity to people who are migrating, and you realize what they’ve given up trying to be safe, it changes you. And that’s good.

Can you name one takeaway you hope people have when they connect with your work?

The gospel is beautiful. The good news about what Jesus Christ in His love has done for us is worthwhile and worth pouring your life out for because His work, His perfect life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, is so worthwhile. If people say anything about me, I hope what they say is, “She loved Jesus and helped me see Him.”


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Moody Bible Institute

Moody exists to proclaim the gospel and equip people to be biblically grounded, practically trained, and to engage the world through gospel-centered living. In short, we prepare people for their purpose and calling!