“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
Quarrelsome people make life miserable for themselves and for the people around them. This is true for any kind of relationship: at home, at work, and in our friendships. Whether male or female, nobody likes to be around a quarrelsome person.
Proverbs 15.18: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”
Proverbs 29:22: “A man of wrath stirs up strife and one given to anger causes much transgression.”
Quarrels don’t happen on their own. Quarrels happen because people make them happen. Yes, sometimes there are honest disagreements and agree-to-disagree situations, but that’s not what Proverbs is referring to. Quarrels are unnecessary arguments, the kind that wise people are able either to avoid or de-escalate.
Conflict is part of life. All relationships have some degree of conflict. We have honest disagreements. We have people who oppose what we stand for. There are people who need to be challenged or corrected. I call this kind of confrontation “creative abrasion” and “productive discomfort.”
The question is, how wise and effective are you when you have a conflict? Do you handle it with excellence and skill (hayil), or do you make it worse? Some people unfortunately make conflicts longer and more difficult, while other people know how to make conflicts shorter and much less severe.
The foolish person makes a bad situation worse. The wise person makes a bad situation better. It’s an R Factor discipline: Your R is most important when the E is most challenging. Don’t make a difficult situation worse by responding poorly.
Here’s a checklist of 12 things to determine if you tend to be quarrelsome:
- You are strong on truth, but weak on love. You focus on what you call knowledge, but you lack wisdom.
- When you argue, your goal isn’t to understand and connect with people. Your goal is to “win” the argument.
- You mistakenly think that having an opinion is the same as having credibility.
- You are combative about your opinions. You are looking for a fight. Every opinion you have is a conviction you think must be vigorously defended.
- You are quick to speak and slow to listen. You rarely ask questions, and when you do it is to accuse or to continue arguing your case. You are not looking to learn, you are looking to defend yourself and/or attack your opponents.
- Your model for ministry is Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
- You don’t look for and don’t see the gray area. Everything in life is black and white.
- You don’t give the benefit of the doubt. You do not try to consider arguments in context. You put the worst possible interpretation on other’s motives, and when there is a less flattering interpretation you go for that one.
- You have few un-expresed opinions. If you think it, you say it and argue for it.
- You do not try to understand or empathize with people who disagree with you.
- Your first instinct is to criticize; your last instinct is to encourage.
- You see life through a narrow lens, and everything fits in it. You are blind to things outside your lens. Worse, you are blind to your blind spots.
The common characteristic that these 12 things have in common is self-centeredness. Quarrelsome people are dangerously self-oriented.
Don’t be quarrelsome. Trust God, seek truth, and love people.