University Bible Fellowship of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
A Study on Spiritual Leaders

Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910)

by Katrina M. Lee

Florence Nightingale served many people during her lifetime, it was not a calling that came about easily for she struggled greatly to seek Godís calling for her. Born in England in the year 1820, Florence (or Flo) came into a family of wealth and prestige where she spent much of her young life learning the ways of proper English children and girls. Her father was well known in political circles and her mother as equally known for her societal skills. Flo had one older sister Parthe as well as a very large extended family including numerous aunts throughout England.

Florence Nightingale Flo and Parthe were very different children, where Parthe would hang on her mother and jump at the chance for a social call, Flo would rather read or study and talk with her father about political matters. Flo grew up struggling to make everyone in her family happy. The demanding life this lead caused her much grief as she struggled to find Godís mission for her life. Pulled one way by her mother and sister and another by her insight into the pain and suffering of all people, Flo fell into depression many times.

Although Flo was torn between how to serve family and God, she always seemed to hear God when she was helping others. In her early years she would help her aunts treat sick women and children in the town. Although enlightening experiences, Flo wasnít ready for Godís calling yet. For many years she continuously pleaded with God to tell her what to do. Finally in 1837 she wrote that ďGod spoke to me and called me into His service.Ē This turning point leads her on a mission to seek what God wanted her to do. She took to care giving naturally, taking care of ailing grandmamaís and children of the family. As her family traveled continuously she found great interest in the institutes in other countries, new hospitals to care for the sick. Flo had found her calling but her family held her back from her work by saying it was improper for someone of her status to become a lowly nurse.

In 1853 Floís calling became reality when women in London wanted to create a facility for the care of women. Flo became its director (for she had much experience in world traveling and visiting institutes of this nature). She hired the staff and directed the layout and planning of the building. Flo loved working there, and she recovered from a deep depression by helping others.

Seeking Godís calling in 1854 was the biggest mark in her history. When England declared war on Russia the word began to spread that many of the men who were dying did so because of the lack of medical aid when they were injured. Flo set out with a group of woman and set out to help those in need. Her calling was difficult because she witnessed the horrors of war, the fatigue it caused her, and the illnesses she was introduced to. A weakened Flo was helped by aunts who supported her as well as women who saw the value of nursing and caring for others.

Florence Nightingale lived to be 90 years old, friends with the Queen of England, and light for many to follow. She created hospitals for the sick and wounded, overcame the influence of Godless family members, and focused her life to live the work of the Lord.

What I learned from Florence Nightingale

When the Lord calls you to serve, it is not an easy task. God gave Florence her whole life to struggle with his word and calling until it became clear what she was to do. When you are surrounded by those who do not believe or are not faithful to God, their influence on your life is great. The pull from the family members, friends, or society can seem overwhelming and against you. Florence overcame those things by struggling daily with Godís word, never stopping her search for his purpose for her life. She had a spiritual value system in her life that her family could not understand but that outweighed anything they would do to her.

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