by James Rudy Gray
There are many things that make us different from each other. Apart from personality differences, our birth order is a significant way we can recognize differences. We did not choose our birth order, God did. We are who we are by the grace of God. There are no good or bad birth orders. They simply exist. We are where we are supposed to be when it comes to our birth order. As Christians, we are called to be like Christ. Knowing about the various birth characteristics may help us in our journey to be unique expressions of the living God in us.
If we separate birth order into three basic areas, we can discover some general characteristics that can help us grow personally and understand others better. First-borns (only children share the same traits but with more intensity) tend to be goal-oriented, perfectionistic, reliable, responsible, serious, critical, and organized. They believe in authority and ritual, and are usually loyal, self-sacrificing, and self-reliant. Typically, they want to please people. Over half of U.S. presidents were first-born.
Middle-born people are often referred to as contradictions because they are the most difficult birth order to characterize. A second-born (who may not be a middle child) is frequently the opposite of the first-born-especially if the first born was of the same sex. Friends are important to middles and they are more influenced by the peer group than any other birth order. Often growing up with somewhat of an identity crisis (i.e., John's brother, etc.), they are more independent that first-borns. They generally accept things better than the other birth orders and find it easier to do things differently.
Last-borns bear the title "babies" throughout much of life. They are usually known as the family clown or entertainer. A last-born often enjoys the limelight. They grow accustomed to being put down, and grow up to become perceptive people-persons. Fathers generally discipline the babies of the family less than the others. Babies of the family seem to be more sensitive to their parents' feelings. They often excel as salespersons, but can become manipulative.
As a general rule, if a person is separated from the next sibling by five or more years, the characteristics of birth order change. They become exceptions to the flexible rule of birth order traits.
Birth order certainly does not define who we are, but recognizing the traits of the different birth orders can help us understand ourselves and others better. Choosing our birth order is impossible. Choosing to praise God who is responsible for our birth order is healthy. "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well." A certain birth order cannot make us a better person, but through a personal walk with Christ, we can make our particular birth order better.