I am made to be a leader.
I was born as the eldest of five girls and one boy. As the oldest, I carry the expectation of responsibility, service, and care for my younger siblings. In my younger years, I sometimes abused my position, and sometimes felt overwhelmed by it. Since my siblings seldom seemed interested in following my orders or advice, it was easy to assume that I had no influence over them.
I have learned that the sister’s war is one that takes seriously the immense weight of my influence. Whatever I do or do not do, my siblings take note of it. Whatever wins me applause or earns me scolding, they consider. Whatever I get away with or confess, they watch. Whatever I say, for good or ill, they echo in their own words.
It frightened me the day that I realized that my siblings did not simply watch me. Whatever I did was not simply repeated in them, but multiplied.
If I grumble about my parents and their faults, my siblings do the same—five-fold. Whatever I begin with a wrong attitude, they finish with an amplification of that same attitude. My leadership does not simply trickle down in a proportionate amount; it multiplies exponentially.
Likewise, if I show a willing and gracious attitude, my siblings are encouraged to adopt that attitude, and as each new person becomes involved, we reinforce that attitude in each other.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in this area. At times, I’ve led my siblings into error, or failed to affirm the truth at a critical time. I am made for more than this. I am not made to be just a sister. I am made to make war on behalf of my sisters and brother.
I am made to be an example.
I war for my siblings when I war against my own sinful nature. If it looks ugly worn on their faces and coming from their mouths, it looks ugly on my face and coming from my mouth. I can choose to respond to difficulties in a way that I wish my siblings to respond. It’s not enough to tell them the truth. I must model it, in every way I can. I can’t simply talk like the noble people they should become; I must be that noble person whom they should become.
This is impossible in myself. I’m glad it is, because Christ’s strength in me is so much better than my strength on my own. I can’t be the example I need to be, without His example to guide me, and God’s Spirit to empower me. That is why the sister’s war must be fought on my knees as well.
I am made to be a prayer-warrior.
Praying for people changes how I feel about them. When I pray for a sister, I identify with her needs and her problems, and take joy in her joys. Sometimes I want to pray about her: “O Lord, please teach her to be kinder with her words, because she’s driving me crazy with her negativity.”
But that is a way of self-righteously proclaiming that my perspective of her attitude is correct, and God must work in her life according to my perspective. What if my perspective needs correction as well?
Instead, I am better off praying for her, and for my responsibility in my relationship with her: “O Lord, thank you for my sister. Please mold her into the woman You desire her to become, and teach me how to encourage her in that pursuit. May my words edify her, and encourage her to edify others.”
I am made to persevere.
I have heard women struggle with the ways in which their sins have fed their children’s sins. This is a real concern. What we do does affect those we care for. But it is also a matter for discernment. As much as my example is powerful and will be called to account, it is also not the final determination of my siblings’ choices. I cannot make someone sin. Each person sins by his own choice.
I have to learn, like many women before me, to repent for any sin I have made, but to let go of my guilt over others’ sin. I have seen women so crippled by this guilt that they fail to take up the sword again, so regretful over past mistakes that they miss present opportunities.
I will not be that kind of sister. If I fail, I will repent and ask forgiveness for my poor example. Then I will take up my spiritual weapons and fight again.
I am made to speak wisely.
My words war for my siblings. I can tear down or build up.
I recall a moment when my sister was struggling with something very difficult. I did not know the circumstances at that time, but I sensed her troubled spirit. I told her some of my own struggles and reminded her, “I am as weak as anyone else. The only thing that keeps me from stepping over that line is Jesus Christ. He won’t give up on me, so I won’t give up on Him.”
I don’t know if my words were a direct catalyst to the difficult and right decisions she made soon thereafter, but I know they were among the weapons she used to fight her own war.
This is every sister's war.
I have spoken as an older sibling, but I know these things are true for younger siblings as well. At times, my siblings have called me to account for things that needed to be addressed, or have spoken words of encouragement that empowered me in my own fight. It is humbling to receive correction from a sibling who may be more than ten years my junior, but it spurs my growth, so I am willing to receive it. And it is beautiful to hear “well done” from someone who looks up to me, and takes courage from my lead.
I am a sister, and that means I am charged with the mission to strengthen my siblings, and to be faithful in the Sister’s War.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.