When I entered the world of charismatic Christians about five years ago, the term “spiritual brother” was as foreign to me as “courtship,” “side hugs” and the “laying on of hands.”

Needless to say, my christianese has improved in recent years, and with that, the importance of men in my life has somewhat shifted. Before I found Jesus, I was quite the serial dater. It was not at all weird for me. I was frequently asked out by handsome men, and I enjoyed spending time with new and exciting people.

It was not until I fully committed my life to God that things started to change. I wondered if something was wrong with me because I was pursued less. Men were more cautious in their approach toward me. I realized I was in a transition where God was teaching me to see men as He saw them, and by putting down the expectation of marriage for a season, I allowed myself to experience what a true brother could be in my life. I never had an older brother but it sure feels like I do now.

Here are a few examples of the what my Christian brothers have done for me and meant to me.

1. They speak identity over me

I met this particular brother two years ago in the registration line of a Bible College we were both attending.

I had just arrived in the United States from South Africa. He was instantly bold and charismatic, striking up conversation with perfect strangers in the registration line. He asked me about my journey to the US and after telling him a bit of my testimony, he responded with,”God likes you a lot. I want to be your friend.”

It’s been two years since then, and I can say he has shown me so much. Whenever he would see me, he would compliment me. I do not come from a culture of affirmation, and as a Southern boy, he lloved nothing more than affirming those around him. He would compliment me on the simple things, like how I dressed, as well as the big things, like calling out my identity and the amazing things God saw in me. I remember asking him, “why do you compliment me so much?” and he replied with “I have to because you don’t know how to receive a compliment! That’s false humility. You deserve to be celebrated!” At times, it’s still hard for me for to receive affirmation, but the actions and words of brothers like him have made it so much easier. They give me what my heart needs even we I’m not aware it’s needed.

2. They guard my heart

I remember my first of two break-ups in a christian environment.

This break up really affected me because I had invested a lot of time into him and perhaps overestimated his commitment. I was disappointed with the way he handled the break-up. He felt like an on and off switch – hot and then cold. I felt embarrassed, to be honest. Break-ups in church are the worst.

But one of my Christian brothers stood up for me. Break-ups often split friend groups apart, but he chose to stick with me. He told me he valued my friendship and was not going to allow me to be treated poorly. I remember him letting me cry on his couch, even spending his New Years with me as I sulked and sobbed. He told me give it time, to be patient and not to be so hard on myself. I remember his phone calls and visits of encouragement telling me I was worth it and not a failure. I would get over this break-up. I did and I could not have done it without this brother keeping a watchful eye over me. We remain good friends to this day and even though we’re miles apart, he is still encouraging me in my walk with God.

3. They know what my heart needs in the moment

For a single woman, Valentines Day is super weird because you can’t go anywhere without something screaming cupid hasn’t come yet. I remember the time I got three bouquets on Valentines from three different admirers. Did salvation really change how I was pursued?

I woke up on Valentines this year to a package prepared by my spiritual brother. In it was my favourite flowers, cookies and chocolate with him standing at my door saying, “You are valued sis, one day doesn’t define who you are. Happy Valentines Day!” That was the best Valentines I have ever had. The fact that someone knew I would feel a certain way and stepped in before I could even allow myself to ponder on my singleness meant so much to me. It was so intentional.

4. They help me understand how men operate

When my spiritual brother’s girlfriend broke up with him (after he had invested so much into the relationship), he wasn’t the only one disappointed. I became the sister who would be a safe place for him – a place that allowed him to be angry without judgment and process the emotions he was experiencing.

When everyone was expecting him to just get over it and be a happy christian, I was allowed to see him weak – to see the heart of a broken man. I got to see how men are affected when relationships don’t work out. Journeying with him was one of the most insightful experiences of my life, seeing strength and insecurity, pain and victory. I am now so protective of him and determined that the next woman coming into his life must be amazing. He deserves nothing less. Big sister says so!

5. They share their failures with me

When one of my spiritual brothers got his girlfriend pregnant, he was extremely disappointed with himself. They had been waiting for marriage and really committed to walking out purity. They didn’t want to be pregnant, let alone be having sex before the wedding and I knew that despite this mistake, their hearts were committed to each other and to the Lord. In a time of challenge, I was given an opportunity to stand in the fire with them. She was a pastor’s daughter and people so readily want to crucify PK’s for even the slightest misdemeanor. You can imagine the circus that ensued.

I told them I would help plan their wedding and even got the privilege of being at the first ultrasound. I was closer to him than her before they began dating, but by the wedding, she had become one of my closest friends. I got to name a son of theirs and see them come out through disappointment and into joy. And our friendship didn’t end at marriage. The dynamic shifted of course and I remain blessed by their friendship to this day.

6. They set the standard for how I expect men to treat me

I was growing in a relationship with a guy and things were getting serious.. He cared about me and respected me. Things were good. On paper he was a perfect fit. But after being surrounded by so many solid Christian guys in my community, I realized I was settling being in a relationship with this guy.

I thought about how my spiritual brothers treated me. One brother in particular would invest in my dreams. If I was going on a mission trip, needed money for visas or my next ministry trip, or tuition for the next school year, he would send me money without me asking and tell me I was worth the investment.

My boyfriend certainly spent money on me. He took me out and was generous in the way that he treated me but was never really invested in my dreams. He didn’t take ownership of my passions and desires they way my brother did. That’s something I need in a husband. I wouldn’t have known that if my brother hadn’t set the standard. To truly love someone means to be invested in their dreams, even to the point of sacrificing financially to see them get there. I couldn’t stay in the relationship after that. The standard had been raised.

And this has applied to so many other areas. I expect respect, affirmation, commitment, and many other things from a man because I received them from my Christian brothers.

7. They have restored my faith in men

If you have ever been through a difficult relationship or had a difficult childhood, sometimes the lines get blurred. Your view of the opposite sex can be deeply affected by your experiences. Whether it’s your father, brother, an ex boyfriend, or even just a male friend, it only takes one wound to change your perspective on men and form a biased ideology.

Over the last five years, my spiritual brothers have completely restored my faith in the opposite sex. The way I feel in their presence assures me I am a respected and valued daughter of God and a woman of purpose. I am not only treated but also shown love that isn’t perverted or manipulative. It is a genuine love that reflects our Heavenly Father’s love, and it is one of the greatest representations of the phileous I have ever experienced.

Thank You

Thank you to my brothers. Thank you to men who encourage their sisters in the faith and believe in our dreams and desires. Thank your for raising the standard on how we expect to be treated. Thank you for fighting for purity, leading in kindness, and trusting God with your whole lives. Thank you for displaying Christ and revealing the Father to us in your day-to-day lives.

I know that sometimes we give you a hard time. Sometimes we give you headaches. Sometimes we make it difficult to interact with or understand us. But in all honesty, I think I speak for all my sisters when I say we are beyond thankful for your presence in our lives.

Thank you!