Ep. 264 Helping an Adult Sibling Who Is Not Walking with the Lord

Ep. 264 Helping an Adult Sibling Who Is Not Walking with the Lord

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Shows Main Idea – A child chooses to walk away from the Lord after becoming an adult. You want to help this person, but you’re not sure how to do it. It’s your sibling. How do you become part of the solution? You realize there are more underlying issues than the sibling’s rebellion. There has been been a pattern of family dysfunction. As you help your sibling, what are some of the reflection points you want to consider as you make your plans?

Life Over Coffee · Ep. 264 Tips to Help an Adult Sibling Who Is Not Walking with the Lord

Show Notes

You may want to read:


  • Children are manageable, but adults are not.
  • When they become adults, they have more freedom to choose their paths.
  • What do you do when one rejects Christianity—a sibling (Biffina)?
  • Someone has to volunteer for the Lord’s Restoration Team—(Biffy).
  • From a human perspective, part of their rebellion is because of the parenting they received. This episode focuses exclusively on the secondary cause agents: what can one human do to help another human come to Christ?

Describe the Family

Biffy will have to transition his thinking from his child’s perspective of his parents—Biff and Mable—to an adult (current) view of them.

  • Discern the shaping influences from the parents?
  • Describe their marriage.
  • Describe the family dynamic when they were children.
  • How was the dad with each child? E.g., biblicist, attentive, caring, authoritative, passive, angry
  • How was the mom with each child? E.g., courageous, gentle, faithful, insecure, angry, impatient

Biffy will have to understand the kind of person that Biffina is because there is a unique quality to her.

  • Identify the type of personality of the Biffina. What are her personality tendencies?

Sibling’s Shaping Influences

Clearly define other shaping influences from the past.

  • Friends
  • School
  • Church
  • Perceived faith in Christ
  • Activities

Helping the Family

  • Talk to those family members who will listen. Every family member will not be mature in their reactions to the prodigal adult. It’s the “talk to a fool, don’t talk to a fool” dilemma. Start charitably categorizing who is what.
  • For those who will listen, you want to address any guilt and repentance steps to clear up the complicating problems.
    • If there are things from a family member’s past that has contributed to where Biffina is today, you want that off the table.
    • Understanding repentance and how to walk it out with the Lord and Biffina is vital.
  • For those who won’t listen, you will have to pick your spots with them. Find pockets of civility and humility where you can bring up the problems and discuss them.
    • Word of caution: you cannot make Biffina’s problem and a family member’s role in how she got to this point the only talking point when you interact with this “unlistening” member.
  • You may need to help a parent guard their heart as they think about their daughter going off the deep end. The greatest fear for many parents is their children rejecting God. Everyone will struggle differently.
    • Let’s say a wife struggles with her husband’s lack of leadership while the kids were at home. You will want to help her; she may be murdering him in her heart.
    • Another area of struggle will be guilt, i.e., a parent who self-reflects too much with a “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” morbidity. You want to recenter their thinking on the Sovereign Lord and how He grants repentance, which is not conditional on a parent’s good or bad works. The family member cannot become a legalist in this matter.


Helping the Sibling

  • Communicate your deep love for Biffina and your conviction about what she is doing. It does not have to be a speech, but you do want to be precise. E.g., my brother.
  • Guard against the short game; plan on a multi-decade process to win her to Christ. If you don’t do this, you may attempt to speed up the process, which will shut it down.
  • Find those pockets where you can have discourse.
  • Discern what went wrong. Based on the information you gather, as laid out in these Show Notes, you’ll have a clue as to how she got to where she is. Of course, there will be other things, too, as you continue to reflect on the problems.
  • Do not bring this up too much. Biffina will know it’s coming and begin to distance herself from you. You can’t force the action, but let it come to you. Be patient and pneumatic.
  • Workout your view on “hanging with sinners.” She will associate with people that you would not. Who will you associate with and what places you will go with her?


  • Be there for her.
    • Perhaps she needs advice on buying a home or a car.
    • Maybe she needs some handiwork that you can do or you can find someone to do.
  • When you’re interacting without focusing on the problem, you’ll do some of your best relationship building, which is vital for the long-term.
  • It will also give you equity to speak the more challenging things to her.

Borrow Brains

  • Talk to a competent friend or two about what’s happening.
    • Gain their perspective on the situation.
    • Ask them to be part of your ongoing prayer team.
    • Perhaps some of them could be intentional about connecting with Biffina, but it can’t be contrived or artificial.
  • Guard your heart against all the pitfalls of over-caring or under-caring.
  • Make sure you have a competent, courageous, compassionate friend speaking into your life to keep you out of those ditches.

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