Meddling and Me

Every January, I ask God to give me a word that describes the focus He has for me that year. This year my word—a phrase, actually—is pull back. I believe He wants me to pull back from things that are not in line with His purpose for me.

God continues to clarify for me how He defines pulling back. Sometimes it relates to meddling. Hmmm . . . I don’t like that.

“But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler” (1 Peter 4:15 ESV, emphasis mine).

I forced myself to ask, Why is a meddler listed along with those other really bad things?

Dictionary.com defines meddling as involving oneself in a matter without invitation. The Cambridge English Dictionary says it’s to try to “have an influence on things that are not your responsibility.”

My friend Amy gave me an example: “I often want to use my gift of discernment to ‘share’ with my husband ‘insight’ I think he needs to lead others. But my sinful flesh has definitely gotten mixed in with that insight. These areas are not my responsibility. I had been meddling.

I began to see the connection between pulling back and meddling. Sometimes I need to pull back my involvement to keep from meddling. But not always.

Allie1 is going through a horrendous divorce. She is not my responsibility, but she is a friend and I do have an invitation. I am not pulling back, I am reaching out.

My husband, Bill, and I are leading a sabbatical team for Jay and Carrie1. Our role is to ask questions that allow them to discern what they are hearing from God as opposed to giving advice or offering direction. I am not pulling back from asking questions; I am pulling back from giving advice.

In our Sunday School community, I serve as one of the shepherds, being a friend to some of the women. I initiate, I listen, I pray. But I don’t carry responsibilities for other parts of our community. That’s where I’m learning to pull back. They don’t need all my wonderful ideas! My friend Marion says, “It is soooooo much easier to give advice and even think it is wanted!” Bulls-eye!

Then there are our grandchildren. Often I (we) need to discern where our participation is welcome and where we need to pull back.

My dear friend April shared her insight. “When I am inserting myself into someone else’s place, I’m assuming someone else’s responsibility and missing my ‘good work.’ All good things are not my good things.”

The applications of pulling back continue in little decisions and big ones.

If I don’t pull back, my time, capacity, and energy to give myself to God’s purposes for me are in jeopardy. I need to pull back in some areas to cease meddling. This is offering me the freedom, the capacity, the energy I need to follow God’s purposes, His good work for me.

The very next verse in 1 Peter 4 gives the alternative to meddling, “but let him glorify God.”That’s my heart.

1Names have been changed.

Adapted from “God, Me, Pulling-Back and Meddling,” Echoes of Grace, March 4, 2021, Copyright, Sue Tell, February 2021.

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