Summary: A look at sibling rivalry from a biblical perspective.
Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry
Rev. Brian Bill
Most of you know that I have four sisters and no brothers. Do you feel my pain? The only good thing about this arrangement is that I’m the oldest. Being a brother, I was always on the lookout for ways to torment my sisters. It didn’t take me long to figure out that if I teased my sister Cathy she would scream and then she would get in trouble for screaming, at which point I would just casually leave the room with a big grin on my face.
My wife Beth received a birthday card a couple years ago from Cathy with this caption, “For a Great Sister-in-Law. Now that you’ve been in the family a while, you’ve discovered our funny little secret…In fact, you’re married to him!” Real funny. I have no idea why she would say something so mean, though it could go back to the sympathy card I sent to her husband Chip right after they got engaged. I still remember that card. The front of it said, “So sorry to hear about your loss…” I can’t believe that Cathy would wait more than 15 years to get back at me!
I may have mentioned before that one of my goals growing up was to get all four of my sisters to cry at the same time. This was actually quite challenging but I’ll never forget what happened one evening when I finally accomplished my goal.
We were driving in our station wagon on a Friday night heading to our Grandparents’ house in the Promised Land. I decided that this was a good time to launch my attack. I pinched Cathy, pulled Jean’s hair, insulted Mary, and threatened Beth. As I sat there with a big grin on my face while they cried in surround sound, my dad, who is normally a soft-spoken man, said, “All right. That’s it.” He then pulled over to the side of the road, slammed on the brakes and said, “Get out. We’ll pick you up on Sunday.”
I couldn’t believe it. I had finally accomplished my elusive goal and here I was standing on the gravel shoulder on a deserted country road in Wisconsin. As I shut the car door, my dad pulled away and drove off…
As we continue in our series called, “Hope For Your Home: Learning From the Families of the Bible,” we’re going to tackle a topic of great interest to parents: Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry. Incidentally, if you could have interviewed my parents when we were all growing up, I think they wanted to keep my sisters and lose me!
Two weeks ago we learned that part of our parenting role is to shape, sharpen and then release our children like arrows aimed at the target of God’s glory. We must guide our children and then let them go. We also established this truth regarding families: If God doesn’t bless, they will be a mess.
Last week God messed with each of us as we admitted that we all have a problem with blaming: Don’t play the blame game; own it by name and avoid the shame. In an effort to keep that sermon alive, let’s spend a few minutes debriefing about one of the take-home assignments. We passed out “No Excuses” signs and encouraged you to put them in a visible place. We also agreed to say the sound a buzzer makes when we hear a child (or a parent) placing blame or making an excuse: mommp!
I’d like to hear how your week went in this regard. Did you notice less blaming or more excuses because you were listening for them? On Sunday afternoon I purposely bumped into Beth while she was holding a cookie which ended up being smashed. She said, “Look what you did!” I was quick to buzz her and told her that she was blaming. To which she responded, “I’m blaming you because you are to blame!” When I came in to my office this week I noticed “No Excuse” signs next to my Packer rug and my Cheesehead hat. That’s just not right. Carol Schwartz also put up a sign above the clock in the back of the room as a way for me to not make excuses if the sermon goes into overtime. Mommp! Just for that I think I’ll go long today and then you’ll just have Carol to blame!
I heard a funny story this week from a mom. She told me that her son wanted to know how long the series was going to last because he’s tired of trying to not make excuses around the house. He was playing the Blame Game and got a Mommp! He said he can’t wait for the series to end.