Listen to Dave Gilpin’s Middle Child Syndrome message live on his podcast.
Get ready. You’re about to experience MCS – Middle Child Syndrome! Something or someone is about to enter into your world that will deflect all of the attention off you and onto them. It may be a new church in your city, a younger song leader or songwriter or a new whizz kid who does things ‘better’ than you.
You’ll begin to feel the fickleness of popularity. You’ll either harden up and ‘hate’ the next big thing, or you’ll pack up and take your ball with you. The right thing to do is the complete opposite.
For the prodigal son’s big brother (Luke 15), his challenge came at the return of his younger brother – refusal to go to the party, a great sense of injustice that a calf was slain for him, a feeling of disdain that all this could be done for a user of prostitutes!
He was miffed. And that’s what can happen to us. Traditionally, the older brother is the one Mum and Dad place their hopes on. Back then, they were tight on parenting. It created a huge sense of responsibility. A sense of over responsibility. Traditionally, the younger brother is the joker of the family – much more relaxed parenting, less pressure to perform and a chance to be a cheeky chappy to light up the world.
It’s the middle brother who feels invisible. Like he has to scream to get attention – weep to get heard!
If I feel a sarcastic spirit coming from someone or from an article they’ve written, it’s usually MCS.
If I hear someone infer that things are not as good as they used to be, it’s usually MCS rearing its head.
If I see someone move into either more Liberal Theology or more Calvinistic Theology or more Holiness Theology, it’s usually MCS.
Someone or something has come along and robbed them of attention. And that something is usually an answer to that person’s prayers! Pray for revival and when it comes and your name is no longer known, your friends are taken by others and your history of success lost in a river of God – you may not like the answer to what you prayed for. Pray for your city and a big brand church comes to town and takes away some of your flock, you may not be so keen that God answered your prayer – ‘Lord save the City!’
Yet, to be a middle brother has its advantages. It releases you from all expectations and takes you out of the limelight to reinvent and redesign your world.
Here are 5 ways to counteract the shadow of MCS.
1. Become Kingdom Minded
It’s not all about you. It is, and it isn’t. God’s Kingdom is bigger than your church and your gift. Pray for God’s Kingdom to expand and dedicate yourself to serving it, not leading it.
2. Celebrate the Younger Brother
A new gift arises. Stop looking for holes. There’ll be many because you used to be full of holes! Praise the next big thing. Encourage them, build them up and thank them in all they all!
3. Reinvent Yourself
Throw away the stuff in you that’s old and stale. Get inspired. Get reinvented. Celebrate your own unique addition to the Kingdom. Don’t dismiss who you are, redefine who you are and see that you’re essential in the plans God has for your City and Nation.
4. Be a Real Christian
Toss off jealousy, bitterness, doubt, suspicion and envy. Ask God to ‘create in you a clean heart’. Forgive, be gracious and exercise integrity. It’s your opportunity to have your heart cleansed and your motives renewed.
5. Echo in Eternity
Live for eternity and for Jesus’ reward, not man’s reward. Stop feeling ignored. You are forever in God’s spotlight – especially when you’re not in the publics’ spotlight.
‘His reward is with him!’ Live for that and do your utmost for his highest!
Middle Child Syndrome is one that can be overcome. Do it and say hello to the next stage of your life and ministry. Don’t overcome it and you’ll shrivel up.
Oh, and don’t forget, there’ll come a time that every younger brother gets into trouble. That’s where you come in – not to say ‘I told you so’ but to say ‘I’ll tell you how!’
Say no to MCS.