At Imperial Academy, we have a code of conduct that we encourage our students to keep on them and reference throughout the day.
Rule 33 in that code is: “Become you perfect. Push yourself to always be growing toward perfection. Develop into the kind of person others will want to be around and the kind of person God wants you to be. Make sure your life has God, family, laughter, adventure, good food, challenge, change and the quest for truth. Do this and you will be in a better position to learn from your mistakes, help others and give advice because you’ll be a stronger, healthier and happier person.”
There’s a lot packed into this rule. It all points to perfection. What a goal that is! “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Being perfect means to be able to think, speak and live like Christ. We learn everything we can from the Bible, then we do it. We are incapable of putting this into practice ourselves and becoming perfect. There is nothing pre-programmed into our minds that is wired for success. There are no presets. We must learn it.
The family is the training ground for personality development. That is where it starts. And even if you are an only child biologically, your school—especially if you are in Imperial Academy—is an expansion of your family. Your congregation is an expansion of your family. You are surrounded by “siblings.”
Matthew 12:46-50 read, “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
Christ was saying that it’s not about flesh-and-blood relations: His family was those who would do His Father’s will. Those who were with Jesus, learning from him about the Father—they were Christ’s brothers and sisters.
The government in the home contributes to perfecting you. The same government exists in the academy, in the college, and in the Church overall. As children, you have a special role under the head, and it is a crucial role: Children complete the family and ensure that the family plan continues!
How is your training going? Strong families produce strong sibling relationships.
So let’s examine two points to become a more perfect sibling.
1. To become a strong brother or sister, know your role as it relates to the parents.
The fifth commandment tells us to honor our father and mother. Honor is shown by showing respect for the parent’s office and the authority that comes with the office. This is done, in part, through cheerful obedience to what you’re told to do.
Perhaps you have your own notions as to how things should work, but in a family, you set that aside. You focus on what the head is telling you to do, and you embrace their directions.
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 23: “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” (verses 24-26). Are your ways bringing joy to those over you? Are you making your parents glad? Do they rejoice over the things you say and do?
To be a strong sibling, you must know your role. When you give your heart to the program and look to the leadership, you bring honor and happiness to those who are training you. One way to thrive in your role is to show gratitude and appreciation to your parents.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages: “I frequently receive large cards—often beautifully illustrated or decorated—signed by the hundreds of local members of churches, giving encouragement and assurances of loyalty, backing and support. Lay members scattered over the world simply cannot conceive fully how much encouragement and inspiration this gives the one Christ has chosen to lead this tremendous worldwide activity, God’s Church!” Mr. Armstrong wasn’t asking for a grand display of appreciation. The members sent them out of genuine love and appreciation. These cards and encouragement brought him a tremendous amount of encouragement and assurance.
This is not about writing cards (although cards are welcome to any parent). Displays of gratitude don’t have to be grand and sweeping. But for a parent, it is very simple: Be happy about what I’m telling you to do, and show gratitude. That is the sibling’s role in relation to the parent, and that sets you up to be a strong brother or sister. Be obedient, happy, and show gratitude.
What is not helpful is when a sibling promotes themselves to the role of Little Mommy or Little Daddy. These always arise in sibling dynamics. As you grow older, authority is sometimes delegated to you. But that is very different from taking it upon yourself to boss others around. That is one way to not create a strong sibling relationship.
2. A strong brother or sister learns to work well with the others.
My wife and I have a larger family—five children. We have big meals, so we would often give the kids the task of cleaning the kitchen after dinner. Every member of a family knows the dynamics that shake out among siblings with a simple task: Clean up the mess in this room.
One sibling beelines to the bathroom. Another sibling huffs, “Not again!” and chases after them, pounding on the bathroom door. Of the siblings left in the kitchen, one can’t handle the drama; they just leave. And the lone sibling remaining will keep their head down and do their job, and only their job. The result? The kitchen does not get clean!
We can all slip into one or more of these categories. That’s not strong sibling relationships.
The Revised Standard Version renders Romans 12:9, 16, 18: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good. … Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. … If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.” There is a way to work together that creates peace and harmony.
Make sure that you show up to your job, whatever it is. Families are interdependent relationships. It is really hard on the others when you aren’t there. And do the job to the highest standard; there are no shortcuts to good work. This is all within the context of working well together as brothers and sisters.
Keep upbeat. Stay positive. Negativity is a productivity killer.
When your work is done, go help someone else. In a family, your job isn’t done until everyone’s job is done. Family life is productive—one job to the next, one event to the next. It is a creative process—plan, execute, clean up, evaluate, adjust, repeat. But it’s not about what you get out of it for yourself; it’s about what you’re contributing to it. It’s about becoming a perfect member inside a family.
In every opportunity we have to work together, our aim should be to grow closer together. That can only happen by bringing God into our work. We know Satan’s tactics. He wants to divide families; he wants to divide siblings. Satan gets us to dwell on imperfections and deficiencies in other people. But Paul writes: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (verse 10; KJV). This applies to physical or spiritual siblings. Families are a training ground.
I give my children three things they can do in my house to be a good sibling: 1) Set the right example. Don’t boss others around, just live it. 2) Encourage one another. 3) Pray for one another.
We are here to grow, change, develop into a close-knit family composed of strong brothers and sisters—strong sibling relationships. Know your role as it relates to those in authority in your life. Strive to bring those over you joy through obeying with a good attitude. Be sure to show gratitude often. Learn to work well together. Do your job. Be positive, not critical; build up, not tear down.
Again, Rule 33: “Become you perfect. Push yourself to always be growing toward perfection. Develop into the kind of person others will want to be around and the kind of person God wants you to be. Make sure your life has God, family, laughter, adventure, good food, challenge, change and the quest for truth. Do this and you will be in a better position to learn from your mistakes, help others and give advice because you’ll be a stronger, healthier and happier person.”