Many young people have younger siblings in their home. In every such case, there is a responsibility which is not always recognized. If older brothers and sisters knew the influence they have over their little siblings, it would make them very thoughtful.
It was a belief of the ancient Jews that every person was assigned a guardian angel, who watched all their steps from birth to death. Perhaps this is true. It certainly is a very comforting thought. But whether or not it is true that particular angels are assigned to care for people’s lives in their journey through this world, it is no doubt true that older brothers and sisters are Divinely appointed guardians for younger children.
The account of Miriam and little Moses is one of the most charming narratives of the Bible. While the baby lay in the basket among the bulrushes by the water’s edge, the young girl – with quick ear and keen eye – stood not far away. She was close enough to see all that went on, and to be of instant help in case of danger. In many homes, older sisters have played the role of Miriam to perfection. Many men who now occupy important positions in the world owe the opportunities by which they were enabled to rise to their position to an older sister, who kept sacred watch over their infancy and early years. There are many men today in high places in the world, who came from homes that were plunged into difficult circumstances; and they owe all they are to the sister who forgot herself, practiced self-denial, and toiled early and late so that the brother she loved might go to school and to college, and thus have a chance to rise to the honor which she had dreamed for him in her loving heart.
It may be worthwhile to call the attention of older brothers and sisters to the little child in their family who needs guidance, encouragement, and stimulus. Far more than you know, he or she watches you, and is influenced by your every movement. They will be impressed much more by what you do and what you are, than by any teaching they may receive from your lips.
It is important that you know just how to make the most of your influence over your younger siblings. You cannot do it by perpetually nagging at them; nagging is one of the most mischievous vices of the home-life. It is all the worse because it is practiced in the name of piety and virtue. The best you can do for them, first of all, is to be good yourself. When young Princess Victoria discovered one day that she might soon sit upon the throne, she said, “I must be good.” The thought of the great responsibility which someday might be hers impressed her most wholesomely. When you think of the influence you are to exercise over your little brother or sister, you should settle it in your heart – once and for all, that you will be good.
Another thing you can do will be to form a close friendship with your siblings. Take them into your confidence. Let them talk to you freely and familiarly. Teach them to trust you, and never betray their confidence. Be a loyal friend to them.
You can also answer their questions, and you ought to do so very patiently… You can guide their reading. You can quietly influence them in the choosing of their friends. This is very important! Little children cannot always discern between good friends and evil associates, and you can withdraw them from the company of those with whom it would be better that they were separated. You can set before them visions of beauty which will become influences to draw them toward the best things.
If your own heart is right, and if you keep yourself in the spirit of childhood, you will be able to lead your younger siblings in safe ways. The world is full of dangers. Your little brother or sister will hear many things on the street which they ought not to hear. You can quietly lead them so that they will instinctively repel all temptations to anything low or despicable or impure. You can turn their minds toward the possibilities of beauty that are within their reach… You can continually keep before their eyes things that are noble in disposition, conduct, and character – thereby quietly inspiring in them the desire to fill their own lives with such worthy things.
There is a great responsibility in having a little brother or sister. They are always around you, and you cannot get out of their sight. They have keen eyes, too; and they see all that you do. You dare not live carelessly in their presence, for you may become their stumbling-block. There should be nothing in your example which you would be sorry to see repeated in their lives. These little siblings love you, and they want to trust you. Your influence over them will be almost unbounded; you must see to it that this influence is pure and wholesome in every way… You must bring up your own life to the true standard of purity, sweetness, and beauty, where you shall be worthy to be a friend of Christ’s little ones!
Do you have younger brothers and sisters in your family? If so, how can you go about to guide them and influence them in the ways of the Lord, as they look up to you as someone whom they can trust and follow? How can you inspire them to fill their lives with those things that are noble and Godly and pure? How can you build a closer relationship with your younger siblings, so that they will become your most loyal friends?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this article! Please take a moment to leave a comment below and tell me how these words encouraged you or challenged you!
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for the King’s glory,
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on our website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.