“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Ephesians 1:15-16).
I have three brothers, the eldest died several years ago leaving me with one older and one younger, I have been stuck in the middle of these two guys most of my life. They are good brothers and we have very distinct personalities. I will start with my younger brother the Pastor of a growing Christian congregation in North Carolina who has been in the ministry for more than twenty-five years. Having watched him grow in the ministry I have come to admire his personal consistency and commitment to his calling. Also, we have our long discussions about any and everything biblical, not spiritual, and there is a reason we do not I will get back to it shortly.
Our lives, as in Scripture, seems to reflect what God told Isaac; “And the elder shall serve the younger,” (Genesis 25:23) and God knows I have tried my best to be of service to my younger brother. I try to serve as a brother, friend, confidant, and occasionally devil’s advocate, a role he would never admit, but I know often wish I would replace with playing the piano or some other musical instrument. I enjoy our relationship too much to let it go and I am convinced my advocate’s role help us clarify our positions on biblical topics. There is one common personality trait among the three of us; we have our opinions and are willingness to defend them to the end.
“They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory” (Mark 10:37). My older brother, although not in church ministry as a minister wishes that he was, but has enough respect for the Word of God to realize that he has not been called just yet. Sitting in the high chair of sibling order, he has had the opportunity to watch his younger brothers grow in the ministry. However, we have a problem when it comes to me being in the ministry, I believe that he admires our younger brother as much as I do, but I do not have to question his lack of admiration or respect for my ministry. He makes it all too obvious and this makes it difficult to serve him as I serve our younger brother.
I feel the issue lie in the different roads his brothers traveled to end up in the same place, the pulpit. My younger brother changed his college education plans in midstream to attend seminary and pursue his call to ministry. I received my calling before our younger brother but I chose the Jonah road, I set sail with the US Navy (Marines), in trying to delay doing what God had called me to do. However, I have studied divinity, religion(s) and theology extensively, in and out of the classroom, but never for the purpose of receiving seminary credentials.
I am not opposed to anyone pursuing a seminary education should they choose to do so, I know in my heart that is not the route the Lord has placed before me. He knows the plans that He has for me and I have accepted them without question.
I am not certain if our older brother harbor some sort of resentment or feelings of having been left out, but he gives more validity to our younger brother’s ministry than he does mine. It also create some intense moments in conversations about the bible, spirituality or morality, three areas that guarantee to bring out the personality differences. Okay, back to the personality differences, my younger brother is the quiet, soft-spoken, passive aggressive type, speak softly and carry a big stick type. He swears the stick is for snakes.
On the other hand, my older brother is the proverbial “tempest in a teapot,” you can take the top off if you dare, but your hands better be insulated, this dude can go from sitting there to a full head of steam in zero seconds flat. When he agrees with you he agrees, but may the Lord help you if he disagree, you are in for rough weather. Also, because he is the oldest he likes to push his seniority around. “But so shall it not be among you; but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister” (Mark 10:43).
What about me? Well, I remain stuck in the middle caught between two extremes. Beyond the shadow of doubt I support the big stick option, especially for snakes, small and large, and one serpent in particular. Also, I have steamed my fair share of teapot handlers, as well as, set flames to a bridge or two. Here’s the rub, I am happy for my younger brother’s success and wish him nothing but the best, but as far my older brother is concerned that is a more challenging and different issue.
My patience with my older brother has grown thin and I have prayed for patience, love and direction from above to keep the peace with my brother. It is more than differences in faith or beliefs, it is spirituality, the spirit of love and mutual respect among brothers is missing and that bothers me. I love my brothers and respect each as brothers of the same Mother, as well as, men of the same faith. The challenge I am having is getting my older brother to accept the fact that we all are to be brothers of the same God and Father in spite of our different opinions or callings.
“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44). When one brother is a rose and the other a thorn it makes loving the thorn more difficult than it should be. So, I returned to the Gospel for guidance and took to heart what the apostle Paul said; “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” I have learned that in spite of family or friend’s disregard for my efforts to serve God according to His calling I must press on. As difficult as it may be, one fact is inescapable, I am my brothers brother, what being a brother means to me and what it means to them is a personal decision that they must make, I have made mine.
I place a higher value on the calling of God than the value given to the feelings, sentiments or opinions of even my brothers, brothers by blood or brothers by Christ. I have chosen to follow my brother Jesus and I have found acceptance in him in the Household of the Lord and that “is sufficient” for me. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ
- Our Brother, Our Savior, Our Lord (heidelberg26.wordpress.com)
- Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh (thegospeloferik.wordpress.com)