Building Up Our Princes (September)

Bryant Men

“Why should not a sister look to her own brother for counsel,
for protection, for advice…rather than to any other?
Why should not brothers be proud to have their own
sisters’ lean upon their arms,
and why should not sisters be proud to look up
into the faces of their brothers
and feel secure in the shelter of their manly love?”
{J.R. Miller}

This quote from Homemaking casts a wonderful, biblical vision for brother-sister relationships. I am so blessed with four brothers, and this vision is one I pray toward — that each of us would be challenged and supported by one another!

This month, two of my younger brothers have a birthday—in fact, on the same day. They were born two years apart, and though they are very close, how different their personalities and interests are! What a marvel God’s ways are and the unique differences even within a family.

About two years ago, I shared about the unique journey the Lord set me on, discovering how to treat my younger brothers as they mature and become men. This is an on-going process, and I know that those of you who have both younger and older brothers can relate to the learning process of dealing honorably with brothers. I would like to share with you sisters some things that the Lord has been teaching me in this regard.

Birthday Brothers
I love you, Nathan and Jonathan!

Recently, I was encouraging a friend that the time we siblings have together really is so very short in the grand scheme of things. You might be twelve with possibly another ten years to dwell with your brothers, or you might be twenty-two, and your younger brother is on the brink of establishing his own home and family—whichever case, our days together in our parents’ home are numbered. In reality, we are promised not another day together, for the ways of the Lord are unknown! Like the fleeting seeds of a dandelion, blowing any minute, are the days of our youth. As sisters, we truly have so little time to bless, support, pray for, challenge, and respect our brothers before they are called by the Lord to their respective places in society. They will be the future leaders of our country, for God calls His people to faithfulness and leadership; His church establishes the spiritual “temperature” of a people group. Are you, with knowledge of the nearing end of this potent opportunity, investing with all your heart and strength in your brothers’ lives with love?

“Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father,
and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind:
for the LORD searcheth all hearts,
and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts:
if thou seek him, he will be found of thee;
but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.”
{1 Chronicles 28:9}

My brothers are stalwart young men and I am so proud of them, and I realize that in only a few short years it will be their time to follow the Lord’s leading wherever He sends. This has driven me to fervently prayer for my brothers’ spiritual growth in wisdom, for guidance in their life goals and callings—for the blessing and honor of being men of God!

While I realize this, I have also been learning that the “standard” I lay for my brothers is extremely important. The comments I make about certain things, decisions, or even professions, is shaping their view of the world and what is “noble.” It is not my responsibility as a sister to “make sure” my brothers “turn out” a certain way or look a certain way or meet up to a certain list of standards. That is solely their responsibility with God, but my place fits in with encouraging them“toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

To my immense relief, the Lord showed me that this one goal for them—pleasing Him—is actually is very simple: loving God with all their hearts, souls, and minds. Nothing else really matters in comparison! It doesn’t matter so much as what enterprise they invest in or what they wear, but this simple thing is what is ultimate—that they love the same Lord Jesus I do!

When I realized this, I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted from my back—unknowingly, I had carried a burden thinking, “What if __ doesn’t do __ when he grows up or look like __ ?” These thoughts or expectations are wrong; I didn’t really realize what I was inadvertently doing: setting up an unrealistic and unfair standard for my brothers which they should not and will not attain, if they are seeking to obey God alone (not conform to someone or something).

My prayers for my brothers are no longer “a list” but one humble petition to my heavenly Father on their behalf: “Lord, please instill in my dear brothers a huge enveloping love for You, a steadfastness in You so strong that they are willing to do whatever you will to glorify You alone in a strongly opposing culture!”

With this prayer, I am seeking to further encourage my brothers toward this one goal…to love the Lord their God with all their hearts and to enjoy Him forever. This has spurred me to more diligently work on the following areas in our relationships…

encouraging leadership
Lately, a friend shared how she has been striving not to tell her younger (teenage) brothers “to do” anything; instead, she suggests and encourages them to see what needs to be done. This encouraged me to seek a new way of “being the oldest” here at home without “being the bossiest”! For example, when I am left “in charge” and have to keep the home running while my parents are away, I have been trying to change from telling my (older) younger brothers to do something, to explaining the need to them, and asking if they can solve it or ask another sibling to do the needed task. Instead of telling my youngest brother to do his chores, rather I can inform my other brother of the need and asking if he can encourage its completion. Of course every sibling group is different in age and maturity, but I believe that the principle can be applied with our “older” younger brothers so that they learn to be mature and aware of needs within their younger siblings. To those of you who have older brothers at home, I would encourage you to deflect the “authority” to them, so that he is encouraged to show discernment by your deference. Sometimes this can be hard, for often we girls tend to be bossier and might notice a “problem” before our brothers do. Stepping back and allowing our brothers to take the lead takes a little tight sitting, but after a few times it becomes more natural.

Showing an interest our brothers’ projects and interests, even if we don’t understand the workings of that tractor or personally share that interest of hunting or know how to paint such an interesting scene, builds up our brothers. “Would you like me to read that book to you?” “Wow, what kind of truck is that?” “What Scripture verse did you memorize this week?” “Did you catch the coyote that is eating our chickens?”

My brothers do not talk as much or share their deep feelings as often as I do, but when they do, it is important that I listen and really care! Even if it is just about their biggest Lego truck or latest dream or plans for the biggest-paper-airplane-in-the-west (which challenge my brothers are currently tackling), their stories and interests should be mine as well. Be there to talk and listen to your brothers!

Go out of your way to encourage the men in your life even if sometimes you are discouraged by “annoyances.” Rather than criticize, bite your tongue and praise. Don’t forget to thank your brothers when they show kindness or deference for a lady. Encourage them in their hamburger grilling skills, their unique strengths and abilities. Instead of telling your brothers to do favors, you can gently encourage them to be more manly and aware of needs. Say something like, “This job needs a brother’s great bulging biceps’ assistance!” This goes a long way for our brothers’ self-esteem. If there was one thing I could do over in my brother-relationships, it would be to build up my brothers. It can be hard enough for them to be confident without a sister criticizing and tearing down. I weep knowing that in the past I have destroyed much potential because I did not praise and encourage my older brother. Those consequences cannot be reversed, but today my goal is to uplift and encourage my brothers in any way possible.

Challenge your brothers in reading the Word of God and memorizing it. As I mentioned, this truly is the most important area – that we encourage our family members to love our heavenly Father! This summer, my siblings and I all took a challenge together to read the Bible at least 15 minutes a day and memorize 1 verse a week. For my siblings, this was a great encouragement to have the accountability with friends (who they called every two weeks and recited verses to) and a wonderful thing to work towards together. It was such a joy for me to see them diligently seek God’s Word, because I know God will richly bless that diligence. We enjoyed the “summer challenge” so much that our family decided to do it again this fall, September 1-November 31. Us kids designed a chart and are embarking on another “quest” together. In fact, you can see the chart here if you are interested in using it or printing copies off for your siblings to do with you (please let us know if you are doing it with us – we’d love to know and pray for you!). Look for ways to gently prod your brothers in God’s truths and encourage their desire for Him!

It is a high and mighty calling to be a strong manly Christian man in this culture of weakness. Prayer is incredibly powerful, and if we only knew how needed it is, how much more diligent we would be to approach the Throne in intercession for our family! I strive to pray often that my men would love the Lord and He would bless their efforts to seek Him, as Hebrews 11:6 promises. Let your brothers know you are praying for them and for their future!

This is definitely an area of learning for me. I noticed this year that I had a tendency to evade deep topics and only joke over day-to-day topics with some of my siblings. I realized all the interests (our faith in Christ being the most important) we have in common, things the Lord is teaching me through my Bible or in my theology classes, as well as the things they also are learning—why do I not engage my brothers in more mature topics? One day my brothers will have to think on, make decisions about, and talk to a wife and children about these things — why not encourage them to start thinking and communicating about these now? I can seek to spur on my brothers in maturity, so that someday when a puzzled or discouraged wife turns to them for guidance, or simply for a pleasant conversation, they are not empty-mouthed, clueless on how to proceed.

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith,
quit you like men, be strong.”
{1 Corinthians 16:13}

most importantly
While most of these areas I have mentioned are more active methods of building up our men, one of the most powerful ways to spur on our brothers in Christ is just loving Jesus ourselves! Be diligent to read and study the Word of God, to truly and earnestly love it. Let them see your vigilant memorization of the Scriptures each morning and your earnest intercession for those in need. As you seek to love and know Jesus ever deeper, that excitement will splash out to those around you and will truly bless and challenge them. Don’t neglect this most important issue!

future of our men
I’d like to close with this challenging quote by J.R. Miller (Homemaking, chapter: “Brothers and Sisters”).

“There is a picture of a child walking on a path that is covered with flowers. Along the edge of the narrow way is shrubbery which hides from the child’s sight a deep precipice. The child is unconscious of danger, charmed by the flowers and not seeing how one misstep would hurl it to death. Over the little pilgrim’s head hovers a shadowy angel form, scarcely visible—but with eager, loving interest in his eye, while his hand gently touches the child’s shoulder; his mission is to guide the child’s steps, to shield it from danger and to keep it from falling. The picture represents a truth in the loving providence of God. There are angels who guard, guide, shelter and keep God’s children. They are ministering spirits. They keep us in all our ways. Over each one of us a guardian angel hovers unseen evermore. But there is also a most blessed angel ministry of sisters in behalf of their brothers.

There is no need to paint here any picture of the perils to which young men are exposed in this world… Every young man who enters life, enters a fierce battle in which no truce will come until he either lies down in final defeat or wins the last victory and enters into joy and rest…Next to mother and father, there is no one who can do so much to help a young man to live nobly, as his own sister.”

May we each realize and embrace this truth, spurring our brotherly “princes” in maturity and love for our precious Lord Jesus. Remember that your own brothers are the future leaders (whether politically or otherwise) of our society, and that as the remnant of God’s people, they will be called to lead forth the new generation of the Church. They will set the tone of the future, the growth, and the maturity of the Church. Know the honor this gives you in the privilege of building them up for this high calling. Today you are given an opportunity to invest in and inspire them to greater things for God’s glory! Are you ready? Let’s go!

“Be ye therefore very courageous
to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses,
that ye turn not aside there from to the right hand or to the left.”
{Joshua 23:6}

Learning with You,