Last week my second youngest brother, John, turned 22. By the end of this month, all four of my brothers will be in their twenties. (Where did the time go?!?! 😵) Watching my brothers grow into young men has made me think more about the tremendous impact I, as a sister, can have in their lives! The words I speak to them, the attitude I have towards them will do either one of two things: Build them up or tear them down. Encourage them to be men of God or communicate to them that their opinions don’t matter.
I am so proud of my brothers, and it’s been incredible to watch them grow and mature into young men! I regret that I was not always the best sister, but I am so grateful that the Lord has allowed our relationships to grow in recent years, and that the Lord has taught me to be an encouraging sister rather than a nagging one. 🙂 I’m not perfect and haven’t got it all together when it comes to sibling relationships (far from it!), but I woud like to share with you some things I’ve learned along the way.
Not only does encouraging our brothers help them grow into the men God desires them to be, but we also see this command in Scripture:
“Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify one another.” (Romans 14:19)
“But exhort (or encourage) one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
The Bible tells us we are to “pursue the things which make for peace” and “encourage one another daily.” Think about how you talk to your brother(s) on a day to day basis. . . do your words make peace. . . .or strife? Does the way you interact with your brother build him up or put him down? Now, we as sisters are not responsible for and can’t change how our brothers turn out (that is up to them and God), but we CAN be an encouraging voice in their lives that will spur them on to become great leaders and men who are dedicated to following Christ!
I would like to share with you three areas in which we can encourage our brothers:
1. Affirm them
Let them know that they matter! Listen thoughtfully to their opinions, and by doing so your brothers will feel valued and appreciated.
In their book It’s not that Complicated (which I highly recommend for older teenage girls!), Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin talk about the issues of brother and sister relationships:
“Too many sisters spend their youth teaching their brothers to sit down, be quiet, stop asserting themselves, stay in their place, and take orders – only to grow up and wonder where to find a husband with guts and backbone. . . we viewed them entirely in terms of who (we thought) they were at the time. . . not who they might become.”
Most of us have had that pesky little brother who needed to be told everything he was doing wrong and put in his place, right? (*Raises hand* Guilty) If we don’t start treating our brothers as men when they are in their growing-up years, then how will we expect them to act like one when they’re older? Treat them like young men in training. 🙂 Listen respectively to their views/opinions. Let them take the lead and be “man of the house” when dad or mom is away.
For older brothers, let them take the wheel whenever you’re going somewhere. Coming from the girl who enjoys driving, this was really hard for me at first! 😊 I also had to learn to bite my tongue a few times when I didn’t like the way some of my brothers drove (Girls, guys don’t like to be told how to drive! ).
2. Be Involved
Show an interest in the things they love to do. Now, while fishing, hunting, and taking lawn mowers apart aren’t exactly what I would call thrilling subjects, I know it means so much to my brothers when they come in from a hard day’s work and I show genuine interest when they’re telling their latest feat or discovery. When I tune them out or act disinterested, it makes them feel unappreciated and sometimes frustrated. So ask questions! You may even learn something you didn’t know before. 😊
3. Show them Respect
Guys and gals are different. – VERY different. For most of us girls, probably our greatest need/desire is to feel loved. Guys have the need to feel respected. Respect is a HUGE thing for guys!
Shaunti Feldhahn, co-author of For Young Women Only conducted a survey where she found that two out of three guys said they’d prefer to be unloved as opposed to feeling inadequate or disrespected. And these answers were not just from married men; most young single guys were voicing this as well!
In our culture today, feminism has told women that if you show respect to a man, you are weak and under oppression. What the feminist movement has done (which may have to be a blog post for another day 😉) is totally reversed God’s roles which He has set up for men and women (1 Peter 3:1-7; Ephesians 6:22-28) in an attempt to destroy the foundation of the family.
In her book, Shaunti Feldhahan explains how our society looks at love and respect:
“We’ve come to think that love should be unconditional, but respect must be earned. Instead, what men need is unconditional respect – to be respected for who they are, apart from how they do.”
If we start to practice showing respect for the men in our lives now (i.e. our dads and brothers), those habits will flow over into our marriage. (If marriage is the Lord’s will for us.) Girls, this is your training ground!
4. Pray for Them
There’s nothing more powerful you can do for your brother than to lift him up before the Father’s throne! We cannot fix or change our brothers. The only One who can do that is the Lord of all creation, who alone has the power to change minds and hearts. Pray for your brother’s future. Pray for his spiritual growth. Pray for his future spouse.
Just this past year, I started making a habit of praying for one of my siblings each night. Every night I would pray for a different one. Making time to pray for each one personally (other than just mentioning their name in a quick prayer) has made a huge difference in my life, and I’ve even started seeing some fruit from that in our relationships!
I interviewed my three brothers still at home to get their input on this topic. (Which I would encourage every girl to do! It may be a little awkward if you’ve never had these types of conversations with your brothers, but there’s always a first!)
“Feed me donuts.” (Bet you can’t guess who’s the comedian in our family. 😊😄)
“I like to be listened to. It makes me frustrated when genuine interest is not shown in what I say.”
Jacob (19, soon to be 20):
“When my siblings and I are having a conversation and I have to repeat something five times before they notice me, it makes me feel like they don’t care.”
“I feel respected when siblings show appreciation for things I can do, and I feel disrespected when they don’t value something I’ve worked hard at.”
“I feel respected when I’m not criticized about the things I do. Especially when driving in the car.” (This is a big one I had to learn!)
“I don’t want the same respect like a father gets, but I just want to be treated like a man.”
“It helps my self-esteem when I feel respected. When I’m not, it makes me feel bad about myself.”
Do you have any brothers? What are some ways you have found to encourage them? What are some things you have struggled with in your relationships? I would love to continue this in the comments! 💗