Having now provided housing for two married daughters in my own home, and pastoring a church family with every personality trait and disorder described in The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and living with a wife that often tells me I’m crazy, hear ye this: everyone is a little whacked in the head! And since we’re better in seeing the “faulty logic” in others’ quarreling, the temptation then is to get sucked into fixing every feud and falling-out that is within earshot.
But Wisdom says, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” – Proverbs 26:17
So here is my advice:
1. Before you enter into the fray to help a friend, think about this picture:
2. Is this a person who has repeatedly blown off serious, friendly, kind advice as a habit and refuses to “hear”? If so, then stay out of it and remember more wise advice: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” – Proverbs 26:4.
3. Wait until it is over if you can, about a day or two. To enter into the heat of a quarrel and give counsel is rarely ever fruitful. Emotions are too out-of-balance and quarrels rarely ever stay on subject.
4. As a principle, don’t get involved if you weren’t invited. To offer counsel where there was no invitation to speak usually means that they do not want to hear you.
5. Accept the fact that many people do not want help, even though they need it. Their pride is in the way and it may take a really bad fall to open their ears.
6. If you’re the kind of person who keeps getting bit, ask yourself, “Why do I feel the need to “help” everyone fix their problems?” Often the reason is that it feeds some kind of self-assurance/worth, or control issue, or the pursuit of a “perfect” world obsession.
7. Finally, if the quarreling is too close to your doorstep and is harming others near you, and this person just doesn’t get it, though many have tried, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love” – Proverbs 27:5. This may mean that when trying to offer advice becomes meddling, then a stern and short rebuke of truth is the medicine. Sometimes, the best thing to say is, “Your selfishness is ugly and sinful. And until you see your contribution to this mess you are going to continue to hurt yourself and everyone around you.” Full stop. Walk away. Don’t respond to the slander. Stay silent. Move on. Pray for them. Be open and ready if and when they want to talk.