rebelling against low expectations

Letting Someone Else Win


The final installment in the Brothers and Sisters series is written by the middle Mally sibling, Stephen. Stephen leads a discipleship group for young men and co-leads “Just Men” conferences with his father, encouraging young men to be strong and courageous leaders in God’s kingdom. Today he encourages all of us to strive for more than just an average relationship with our siblings… even if that means letting the other person win.

Before we get started, however, Stephen has supplied a few helpful definitions of key terms:

  • Home: a place where you can say what you think, but no one listens.
  • Argument: when two people are trying to get in the last word first.
  • Cooperation: doing what I tell you and doing it quickly.
  • Peace: the period of confusion and unrest between two wars.
  • Diplomacy: the art of letting someone else get your way.
  • Opinion: you can have your own as long as it’s the same as mine.
  • Females: people who take their time taking your time.

It all started very simply… You see our house is not very big and that makes it hard to find enough room for everything. One day, when Sarah was fourteen and I was eight, she started complaining that her desk didn’t have enough room. The real problem was that she had too much stuff. I, on the other hand, had a desk with lots of drawers, and because I don’t horde “stuff” like a few other family members [names have not been listed to protect the guilty] some of the drawers were still empty. Guess what happened next?

You guessed right. Sarah actually came and asked me she could use one of my drawers for her stuff. I (being the shrewd businessman that I am) said, “Sure! But for a price.” So, we drew up a rental contract for six months. We both signed it. She paid me the money, and I rented her the drawer.

About ten months later I said, “Sarah, get your junk out of my drawer! Your rent is up.” She replied, “I don’t have anywhere else to put it. I want to keep renting it.” But I said, “No, I’m not making that deal again.” She said, “Stephen, you have to! I have no where else to put it.” The pressure built as we both began to state our views more strongly, neither of us seeing any negotiable options until finally, I (being the shrewd businessmen that I am) took the drawer and dumped everything on the floor.

If you’re anything like me, you like easy things. When there is an argument going on, even over something foolish, the easy thing to do is to keep on arguing—it’s what comes naturally to our sinful hearts. We always want to get in the last word. The hard thing is to drop the argument and let the other person win, especially when you are sure that you are right and they are wrong (as, of course, is always the case). This requires meekness. Meekness is being able to give up our wants knowing that God is in control. Meekness is entrusting our pride, our possessions, our reputation, and every other aspect of our lives to God, knowing that He will take care of things. Meekness is understanding that vengeance belongs to the Lord, not to us.

Some people think that to be meek is to be a wimp. But when you really think about it, meekness is not being weak at all, because putting on an attitude of meekness and humility is an incredibly hard thing. It is actually the stronger person who will humble themselves and be willing to “lose.” As rebelutionaries, we cannot settle for an average relationship, or even an above-average relationship with our siblings. God wants us to be best of friends, working side-by-side in His kingdom.

The Lord never promised us that the Christian life would be easy, but He promised us that it would be worth it. Being best friends with our brothers and sisters and enjoying their fellowship and comradeship is just one of the amazing blessings. I challenge you, as I must constantly challenge myself, to follow in the steps of Jesus, taking the narrow, uphill road—the hard one—knowing that you will reap an eternal reward.

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Thank you so much for the post! It has been so encouraging seeing siblings working together in such a good way on this blog.


  • Thank you, Stephen, for that thoughtful post. I definitely see where meekness needs to be applied in my life. Thanks for the encouragement!

    God bless!

  • I loved this post!!! So good!! Thanks for writing that, Stephen, and thanks for posting this, Alex!

    I am the second oldest of 7. My two favorite people in the world are my older sister and my younger brother (23 months between us). Granted, we don’t always agree. In fact, I bet it wouldn’t be very hard at all for me to just let them be since they don’t see things the way I do. Tut, tut, tut… 🙂 Good relationships require sacrifice. I used to logically inform my sister that, “Hey, it’s YOUR turn to be unselfish!” (Seriously, I’m not joking) But I’m thankful that I made those sacrifices, spent “my” energy to help create a fulfilling, life-long relationship with my brother and sister, and to me they are sooooooo special. They both mean the world to me. Even though I don’t get to be with them as much as I’d like, even though there’s those things like MILES to separate us, they’re still my best friends and I treasure their relationship with me. I’m so glad for each of my 6 siblings.

    This series has been GOOD!!! Thanks again! I enjoy this blog. This is my first time commenting (I think) but I’ve been lurking for awhile :).

  • Thanks for linking me! I�m glad you enjoyed the newsletter; if I could only figure out how to add links to my blog there would be so many I would add, including yours. Thanks again!

    ~Jenn Joshua

  • Great Article. Kudos from the oldest of 8. I believe that you are totally right about the sibs. Appreciate it!

    Fight the Good fight!

  • grr… This one is hard for me because when I’m right, this means one thing… you’re wrong so get out of my way. I really liked this post and the definitions. Thanks.

  • So hard to let my brothers win…especially since I’m the oldest and all…mighty pride on my part. It’s not just with siblings…with anyone really…I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut and keep arguing the sense out of the topic. Thanks for the post! =)

  • Thanks for the awesome post! I am stuck right in the middle of 9 and it’s tough to keep from getting sucked into petty arguments with all those siblings,but these posts have been VERY encouraging to me. I just recently found this website and I love it keep up the good work!

  • This series is just what has been on my mind these past weeks. I’m the oldest of 5, and sometimes it’s tough to let others win. Thanks for the reminder, Stephen!

  • Thank you, thank you! I have 5 brothers and sisters and your articles have been sooooooo encouraging!!!!! Thanx! 🙂

  • OH, you are so right. Whenever my brother and I fight I couldn’t be more positive that I’m right. Thanks for helping me see that who’s “right” really doesn’t matter. I’ll work harder. 🙂

  • i have 2 sisters that i fight with (i dont fight with my 2 year old sister, which makes 3 sisters but i only fight with the 8 year old and the 11 year old) and this helps so much thank u Stephen!

  • Some people think that to be meek is to be a wimp. But when you really think about it, meekness is not being weak at all, because putting on an attitude of meekness and humility is an incredibly hard thing. Very true Stephen!

    You are so funny! Although I did not agree with your definition of a female ;). I guess I am just biased 😉

    Sarah. 🙂

  • Hey Stephen. How about these definitions:

    Males: People who hold the delusion that they are logical when the reality is that they only become logical after association with their female counter parts.

    Men: People who desperately need help opposed to people created by God to give help.

    Hope you agree! 😉

    Sarah. 🙂

  • this is especially hard for the older sibling to give in; we often have this mentality that because we are older we are “obviously” wiser and ALWAYS in the right-it often takes a younger sibling to remind us that by submitting or “letting someone else win” we are choosing to make peace & also choosing to honor and bring glory to God.

  • As the eldest of two, I AM ALWAYS RIGHT!
    Gonna have to change that mindset. And it won’t be easy!
    Thanks for these posts! And one of my friends has Sarah’s book “Before you meet Prince Charming” which I am keen to read!!

  • Hay I have made almost same deal only it was with my younger brother and it worked well till I got sick of him coming in to my room to look at something.

  • Wow! That was a great article! I live in a family of 7 and in a 3 bedroom house! so as it’s pretty cramped…like 3 of us in one room! so as you can imagine all my little siblings want me to play with me so I play with them, and usally let them win…BUT! sometimes they boast or say to others “Oh I won him in this or that” sometimes it’s hard to ignore

  • This is an interesting series. I enjoyed it and yet found myself in it. I have a hard time being meek, humble, having humility and all sorts of other stuff. I know that it’s necessary to have a good relationship with my siblings and it’s hard sometimes. I’m going to try to remember to come back to this series when I’m trying to work something out with my siblings. Thanks to all 3 of you!

  • This is a really good message!!! Me and my younger brother (18 months apart) are constantly getting at it and my personality makes me want to be right in every argument. I need to learn to let him win. Humility is hard for me some times. Thanks for the encouragement and the insight!!!

  • Thanks for this! Some people have a competitive steak…and some people are ALL competitive (like me). The trouble I have with my siblings is a) just sin–I want to win and win all the time; I’m working on that b) when I do let my siblings win, they keep taking. For example, if it were the drawer issue, they’d take that and keep on pushing for more of the space I have been allotted and the space I have currently been using. Any advice?

  • Stephen,

    I really like your blog! I have twin 8 year old brothers and they are so irritating when one is having a bad day they want everyone else to have one! like this morning my one brother kept making annoying noises and I new that the Lord was testing me through my brother! And I just ignored him and prayed a silent prayer and before I knew it he stoped and i passed! I know I am not a teen yet I am actually a tween! (12) But when you are young there is alot you can learn I loved your post and it gave me great advice and told me that even the little things in life need the help of the savior of the world! Great job!


  • Having to let someone else will is hard but once you do it you’ll be thankful you did. I know I will trying harder to get along with my sisters and, you know, give up a battle or two. ^_^

  • I’m 18 and the oldest of 5 (3 brothers and 1 sister). My little brothers and I have all shared one bedroom for years and we are homeschooled. Yea, I know you can see how crazy it was in your head… Well, it was worse than that! Ha-ha. 🙂 But we are stronger for it. We get better at getting along with one another everyday. (Hard to tell some days 🙂 ) As I watch them get older they get less and less irritating and more and more helpful. When ever they act out, I think, was I this way? My parents had to put up with me without an older brother to help! Everything they learn is easier for them to learn than it was for me, because I didn’t have a “cool big bro” like me to help out. (They have never called me that yet) Don’t worry big brothers and sisters! Little siblings do grow up! 🙂

  • Loved all three of these posts! Printed them out into a booklet for my 4 kids!!

    but I have to know…. how did the drawer issue get resolved???

    • In their book “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” they have the full story. A book I definitely recommend!

  • It’s always been hard for me to give into a fight with my little sister. Now that I read this, a verse from the Beatitudes in the beginning of Matthew 5 comes to mind-
    “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
    Reading this article made me realize that being meek is more than just letting my sister win and dropping the argument. It goes beyond that; it could even be used as an exercize to do a little hard thing in preparation to doing bigger hard things.
    I want a good relationship with my sister now and in the future, so I will take this advice and do my best to live it out. Thank you for writing this article!

  • im extremely greatful for this website. its an instructive topic. it support me remedy some problems. its an opportunity are so excellent and working style so speedy. i believe it may possibly be enable to all of you. many thanks.

  • One of my all time favorite quotes seems very fitting here “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.”–Jim Rohn

  • I would like to say thank you for this post it really hit home for me. I am the oldest of four girls me 14 my sisters are 9, 10, and 6. Honestly we get in LOTS of arguments and I am “always right” it is hard to just give up but As you showed it is needed even when the littlest one is arguing and is honestly wrong (like when she tried to tell me that door was spelled with b instead of d)

  • this made me realize that REAL humility takes GREAT courage. what God really wants is for us to trust our lives into him and humble ourselves. and I think that’s a great way to show our love to God.

  • As oldest I seem to get in the most arguements out of all my siblings. And that’s a LOT! Super helpful to be reminded that I don’t have to ‘beat’ my dad/brothers/sister in every arguement. Some things you just have to let go. God doesn’t care if my brother said the wrong friend’s name (or some such thing), He DOES care if I’m trying to get along with him and investing in a relationship with my siblings.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →