Monday, January 27, 2014

Controlling a Perfectionist Nature and Being a Good Leader

Raise your hand if you're the oldest of your siblings.

See if you can relate to this:

You are the sibling who loves chore lists, weekly planners, everyone doing something at the same time (i.e. schooling, reading), everyone completing their chore list at precisely the same time because of course we can't get off our schedule! You can mentally fill the rest in.

It is a natural born tendency for the oldest child to be control freaks.  We were taught from a young age to obey rules, and we feel we have to be the boss, be a good Javert and live by the law and teach others to or die trying.

Being the oldest automatically makes us perfectionists. Don't ask why. If I knew, I'd tell.  And if you haven't learned by now, take it from me, this nature is virtually impossible to allow to prosper in your family. Because living in a family is messy. Life is messy. Kids are messy. There is nothing about living with any other human being that is perfect. And there never will be.

So we are in the 'in charge' spot by birth order, and can't help it. BUT! We can help how we use/abuse that prestigious placing. It is an honor, and great responsibility.

In this new year, I've resolved that I will become that fun loving, relaxed sister who cuts out the extreme obsession/domineering over movie worldviews, song selections, and practice this amazing new concept...letting the parents be the boss! It's not my job to determine what is best for them, it's my job to love them and inspire them through my example and speech. And ultimately, to help build them in their love for Christ and to share this love.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24

With my parents wise counsel and encouragement, these are some things I've been praying about and trying to implement in this new year with my siblings. 

  • Letting them be kids...they shouldn't hear "clean up" their whole lives
  • Letting them make messes, and sometimes being the mess instigator yourself, if it means they have fun. Putting 'the joy in their hearts' first. 
  • Yes we are concerned with music/movies/literature they take in, but it's not our job. Bite your tongue over that song, because it's one less wedge that comes between you and that sibling. 
  • Do sporadic, fun things. Pile them up in the car for a surprise...even if it's just to Jack's for ice cream. It makes a difference
  • Instead of hoarding your hours of silence/reading time at night in bed, invite the older kids under you in for a game of cards on the bed. 
  • With little ones...get down on their level. You aren't above that! Have tea and imagine wild and silly things. Get in the mud with the little boys...even if you have to put gloves on. :) Little minds thrive on imagination and creativity.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14


Daniel Smith said...

Here were my thoughts when I read your post.

What a blessing it is to be put in this position of responsibility in which you feel compelled to be a good example, and to guide, help, and protect!
I think the oldest know that there are expectations for them and try to do their best.

On being too strict, it may stem from the good intentions of wanting what is best, purest, and holiest for their siblings, and in that not fully understanding the experience of life that the one has even already been through, and that everyone has learning experiences, which are, in fact, a big part of growth. Sometimes for our stubborn and nieve selves, the only way to really learn is the "hard way".

"It's not my job to determine what is best for them, it's my job to love them and inspire them through my example and speech. And ultimately, to help build them in their love for Christ and to share this love."
Well said. When you mentioned letting the parents be boss, I had the thought that you can function as a key helper to your parents, in helping them implement their desires for their other children, thinking up creative and effective ways to better communicate to the siblings the parents desire and intent, and, at times, even discussing issues and potential solutions with the parents.

Another thought, as your siblings grow and mature, perhaps think of the role less as "in-charge" and more as mentor, close friend, and someone they can count on to hold them accountable.

Lastly, if being a perfectionist is getting under your skin, you might as well try something new! However I believe that perfectionists are a great addition to our world and we could use more of them. We know that we are in an imperfect and fallen world, but do what we can to live a perfect life of being a perfect godly example to the world around us. We should constantly strive for Godly perfection. :)
Hello to you and your family from Auburn. Hope everyone is well.

Dolly Madison said...

Yes, yes. Thank you for this, Bria.

Bri said...

Thank you so much for this post :)! It sounded just like myself... maybe that is because I'm the oldest! But really, the Lord has been laying this on my heart this year, and your post gave great encouragement, thank you! Do you mind if I link to it on my blog :)?

Bria Crawford said...

Thanks Daniel!

You are welcome Dolly!

You may link to it Bri. :) Thank you.

John-Mark said...

Guilty here... [hand raised]

Great post. I wish you the best in this new endeavor. Stick with it. It will pay off.

As the oldest of 7 I can relate (perfection too). I was the boss until a few years ago when I realized that being the boss was different than being the leader. I had to learn to lead with grace even when they leave Legos on the floor us to step on. :-\

It has made life easier.


P.S. Like the line about getting down to their level. They will only be little buddies for a short while before they grow up.

Chris said...

I realize this more and more every day. Sadly I realize that it's almost too late! But better late than never, right? My younger siblings are growing up way too fast. :-/ Thanks for this post Bria. It's a great one.