Scripture reveals that sibling relationships are among life’s most important relationships. As I pointed out earlier this year, in 7 Reasons to Build Lasting Sibling Relationships, sibling relationships prepare you for your future family and future relationships. They also affect your Christian witness, your example to your siblings, the blessedness of future years, and your relationship with God. 

We all know we should spend more time with our siblings, but how can we? With so many urgent things to be done in life, can we really expect to find the time to build strong relationships that will last a lifetime? 

In the information age, it is difficult, but not impossible, to prayerfully and intentionally create strong sibling bonds. These bonds do not form by accident, but once formed, they are not easily broken. 

1. Realize what’s truly important. 

As Stephen Covey once wisely observed, we often allow the urgent to take the place of the important. He noted that the things we should spend the most time on are the things that are important, but not urgent. We should eliminate everything that is urgent but not important. 

God placed you in close proximity to your siblings so you could form lifelong bonds. This very proximity tends to breed neglect. We minimize meaningful sibling relationships because we think they’ll occur spontaneously.

We think our siblings will be around all the time, until the season of life changes. 

First, prioritize your siblings. Then, learn to say no as necessary in order to say yes to the most important. 

2. Build relationships through work and errands.

Before marriage, my wife Cassidy made it a point to take a sibling with her as much as possible. She created many memories painting, going to the store, packing DvDs, skinning varmints, and completing projects with her siblings. 

She realized a truth that we often miss. At the end of life, relationships are the only things that really matter. She viewed work and activities as a means to the noble end of investing in her siblings.

3. Purposefully invest your evenings.

For many, the evening is the only time of day when they are free from the pressures of work. Therefore, evenings are prime times for creating lasting family memories, discipling family members, and engaging in conversation.

While evenings may be the best times for most to build strong family relationships, they are also the easiest times to overcommit to activities outside the home.

Sadly, we have bought into the lie that business is godliness. We think that it’s fine to neglect our families if we’re doing good things. We find it easy to overcommit our evenings because we want to please all men.

My best memories with siblings center around evenings spent playing games or talking late into the night. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

4. Strictly regulate your smartphone. 

My sister Allison is one of the most intentional people I know with sibling relationships. She generally leaves her phone off or away from her during mealtimes and after supper.

She never allows her phone to replace real interaction.

I’ve always known that she valued me as more important than a text or phone call.

5. Slow down.

Sibling relationships are not just built through dates; they are built through small, meaningful moments that last a lifetime.

These moments include the following:

  • Forgetting about your projects in order to listen to an excited younger sibling talk about their day.
  • Taking five minutes to write a thoughtful card.
  • Praising a sibling’s character.
  • Asking about a sibling’s project.

These things help you cultivate an attitude of thoughtful attentiveness. They also help you become more aware of how you’re siblings are doing spiritually.

You can find these moments by creating more margin in your life for the things that matter most. 

My regrets 

Unlike some of you, my single days at home are over. Priorities have shifted. Though I had my brothers over last week for a competitive game Axis and Allies, I don’t have the same level of interaction with them that was available to me the first 20 years of my life. 

In retrospect, my greatest regret is not slowing down as much as I should have. For most of my life, I didn’t realize how important my sibling relationships were. There were moments when I viewed their interruptions as disturbances rather than as divine opportunities. 

If you’re still at home, I urge you to seek to spend quality time with your siblings so that you will have no regrets once you leave. 

It is never selfish or unreasonable to say no to other “important things” in order to say yes to building up God’s first institution of family, one sibling at a time.

You cannot spend too much time with your siblings. You’ll never wish you would have spent less time with your siblings. You’ll only regret that you didn’t spend more. 

Question: Which one of these points resonated with you the most?

For Further Reading:

10 Ways to Build Lasting Sibling Relationships

7 Reasons to Build Lasting Sibling Relationships

The Christian Family: Home-Making by J.R. Miller

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally

A Father’s Reward  by Phil Downer and Jerry MacGregor

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend books I personally have read and believe will add value to my readers. 

Categories: Family

8 Comments

Elizabeth Mitton · August 21, 2018 at 8:24 am

I had never thought of the error equating busyness as godliness…but thinking more along those lines, I know I have allowed that to happen in my life more than I would like to admit!
Thank you for the encouragement to treasure and do those things which are most important!

    Joshua Bontrager · August 21, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Elizabeth,

    I think one of our biggest problems is that we fill up our schedules in order to please others rather than to please God. Our first question must be, “What does God want me to do?”

    Someone once said, “It’s not enough to be busy. The question is, ‘what are we busy about?'”

    Prioritizing and finding balance takes a lot of prayer, evaluation, honesty, and soul-searching, but it’s always worth it knowing that your work is counting for eternity!

George Craig · August 21, 2018 at 9:29 am

Relationships are the only thing we take to heaven with us outside of our own character. It is vital to prioritize relationships as we make decisions in life. This takes discernment as we choose how to spend our time every day.

Sibling relationships are the longest lasting relationships you will probably have in your life. And they are largely formed during the childhood years. Wise parents will help children focus on the important things in life.

    Joshua Bontrager · August 21, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Mr. Craig,

    Very well stated. You definitely have prioritized strong relationships in your own family!

Allison Bontrager · August 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Josh, this is SO GOOD!!! I am over here shouting AMEN to everything you said!!!
I especially love what you said here: “You cannot spend too much time with your siblings. You’ll never wish you would have spent less time with your siblings. You’ll only regret that you didn’t spend more.”
This is so true. Thank you for being humble and honest. I love the way you are working to prioritize sibling relationships more than ever, even though you’re married and have your own family now. Your younger siblings adore and look up to you, and you should hear them when they come home from a special time with you! They love going to “the Cottage”!
Love you so much, bro. Keep up the good work! If one sibling heeds your words of wisdom and realizes how important these relationships are, this article will be well worth your while.
-Alli

    Joshua Bontrager · August 21, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Alli!
    Thanks for your sweet words! It continually blesses my heart to watch you pour into the ministry of family. You take your role as the oldest sibling at home very seriously. May the seeds you sow today reap a bountiful harvest of blessing!

Stacey Kao · August 21, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Thank you for sharing Mr. Bontrager! Your post made me ponder the preciousness of siblings! It can be so easy to let school interfere with our time with siblings! Siblings are God’s gift to us and we ought to treasure them more than anything our devices can afford us. Technology is a fleeting pastime, but, as you pointed out, we will never regret the times we encouraged and ministered to our siblings or allowed them to do so to us! Interacting with them may be our greatest opportunities to build up our character and exhibit the love of Christ. Through the home, we can live out as witnesses together with our brothers, sisters, and parents, shining forth in a dark society. God created the family unit because He never meant for us to learn, grow, and thrive on our own.

Tara · August 21, 2018 at 8:32 pm

Thanks so much for this! Point #3 definitely resonated with me as it is something that seems one of the biggest challenges for me in this area. It is such a blessing to see people who prioritize family like this in a world where it seems to often be neglected. God bless!

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