by Tiffany S.
from Virtuous Daughters, April 2014~Volume 14, Number 1
I was stuck. Not figuratively, but literally. The muddy road to our pond proved to be impassible and I began sinking in miry clay. As I laughed in spite of myself, Gideon came traipsing toward me. His shoes were even less sufficient than my own, yet he reached out for my arm and said in a kind, authoritative tone, “Let me help you.” Grasping his strong, rescuing hand, I, the “maiden in distress,” thought back to fourteen years ago when he was a little baby and I helped care for him. How amazing that my “little” brother had become my “big” brother and was caring for me!
I always enjoy watching the reaction of those curious individuals who ask how many siblings I have. “Six brothers?!?!” they inevitably exclaim. It is such a delight to share with them the blessing of my brothers...their sweet companionship, their protection and strength, and their wisdom and encouragement which spurs me on to a deeper walk with Jesus Christ. I am eternally grateful to the Lord for my brothers’ friendship.
Seeking to encourage my brothers has been an exciting journey; I am grateful to the Lord for how He has led and taught me these past twenty-two years. With each brother, the most effective way to build him up is slightly different, depending on age and personality. For instance, Ethan loves to sit down for deep, heart-to-heart chats, while Gideon thrives on written communication. Justin relishes time spent together driving or working, and the twins and Nathan delight in stories, games, and snuggling. :)
I believe the Lord has placed us amidst our families “for such a time as this.” During these precious years at home, we have incredible potential to impact the lives of our siblings for eternity. Recognizing this truth helps us to live purposefully. Our brothers live in a time when it is very difficult to be a godly man. They need encouragement, as well as supportive affirmation regarding their biblical roles. As their sisters, we can help fill these needs through prayer, a servant’s heart, and godly edification. Have you ever pondered the fact that your brothers will someday be husbands? Wouldn’t our future sisters-in-law be ecstatic if they knew we had made a spiritual investment in their husbands’ lives? What an opportunity the Lord has laid before us!
One interesting phenomenon about younger brothers is that they eventually become “big brothers.” Though I have never truly had an older brother, as my brothers have become young men, they certainly fill that role! At 22, Justin is a grown man and I look up to him in many ways. The Lord has shown me that our relationship with our brothers is excellent training ground in leadership (for our brothers) and submission (for us). Someday as married women, our husband will be our peer rather than our parent, so what better way to practice than with brothers, who are close to our age and may occasionally make decisions that are less than optimal? :) Though younger brothers are not our authority per se, there are still many lessons to be learned as we heed their counsel and trust their decisions. (Instead of nagging or pushing our suggestions on them.) The more responsibility we place on our brothers, the higher they will rise. We shouldn’t burden them, of course, but we can trust them in a way that will facilitate opportunities for them to prove themselves as capable, wise leaders.
David said that the Lord’s gentleness had made him great (Psalm 18:35); that testimony has convicted me over the years! I truly believe that a meek and quiet spirit—gracious gentleness—toward our brothers is a true encouragement to them. What a blessing when we affirm them in their strengths and lovingly point out shortcomings (when appropriate). (Also see Proverbs 11:16a and 1 Peter 3:4.)
Talk with your brothers. Discuss deep issues, and don’t be afraid to ask them how they feel about certain topics. It creates excellent opportunities to “sharpen” one another spiritually; it also shows your brother that you value his opinion. Furthermore, the more frequently you hold these conversations with your brothers, the more precious and beneficial they will become to both of you. Because guys are different than girls, they don’t share their heart in the same way that we do. However, they do appreciate it when we value their opinion and seek to know them better so we can encourage them as effectively as possible.
Our brothers are also blessed when we seek to cheerfully serve them. Just as their opening the car door for us makes us feel like a lady, so our looking to meet their needs makes them feel like a man. My brothers are delighted when Brittany and I serve their dinner, do their chores, get them a glass of water on a hot day, or make their favorite dessert. :)
Another important aspect of encouraging our brothers is taking interest in their interests. This can be difficult, especially if you have several brothers with varied interests, but it speaks loudly of our love for them. If they are facing a difficult decision, they are encouraged by our willingness to listen to their perspective on it and they may even want our feedback. But if we furnish an impatient attitude, they are not as likely to share their personal struggles again. Our brothers need to feel our love and acceptance. Asking questions is an excellent way to express interest in their lives. “What are you studying in history?” “How is your work going today? Any interesting jobs?” “What are you creating on the computer?” “Did you enjoy the party? What did you think about what so-and-so said?” “How does such-and-such work?”
Look for ways to encourage your brothers in their walk with Jesus Christ. Perhaps be accountability partners in Scripture memory, daily Bible study, or in developing a particular character quality. I have found great blessing in having spiritual discussions with my brothers. Seeing their perspective on relevant issues has refined my own views, and also helps prepare me for marriage. Guys think differently than we do; it is such a blessing to learn how to relate to them in a day-to-day setting.
With brothers who are much younger than we, capitalizing on opportunities to “disciple” them is a worthy investment. It is such a joy to teach school, expounding on God’s providence in American history, or to outline a Bible story we read together and explain ways to apply it. I have been blessed to help point my little brothers to Christ by pointing out godly character or sharing what the Lord has taught me. Reading good books together has been a favorite pastime of mine and Ethan’s. We love discussing positive/negative aspects of the book and learning from them together. (Some of our favorites—which we highly recommend!—are Man of the House, Tip Lewis & His Lamp, and Her Mother’s Bible by Isabella Alden.) Having very young brothers has been so special; it increases my desire to someday raise little boys and girls “of my own” to live for Jesus.
Lastly, pray for your brothers. I will be forever grateful to the Lord for how He answered my earnest prayers for salvation for Ethan. It had been evident that even in his young, seven-year-old heart, spiritual battle was waging, and I will never forget the night he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. The joy of the Lord radiated from his countenance. He was truly a new creature in Christ; it was such a privilege to know that I had been interceding on his behalf. Other important prayer requests for our brothers would be spiritual growth, wisdom for decision making, a godly wife and future family, strength to continue in what is right, and any particular Scriptures the Lord has laid on your heart to pray for them.
Tell your brothers how much you appreciate and respect them. They are some of the most special people in our lives!!!
The Article Library
This "Library" contains articles that were published in previous issues of Virtuous Daughters. It will keep growing as we continue to upload articles from the 20 years of printing. We pray they are an encouragement to you!