Would you agree that some children show almost from the time they are born that they are going to be a “strong-willed child”? They are determined and delightful, stubborn and spirited, bossy and bright. They like to make their own rules and to understand the reason behind directives. Parents can find themselves exhausted, irritated and frustrated as they try to work with such a headstrong offspring. It takes patience, huge amounts of positive reinforcement and a willingness to give options, when possible, in order to elicit cooperation from them. Very often these confident and capable children become leaders and entrepreneurs and grow up to accomplish remarkable things because of these very characteristics. They are willing to think “out of the box” and have inner direction and self-motivation that serves them very well as adults when combined with an understanding of themselves and other people.
Perhaps the well-known “runaway prophet”, named Jonah, was one of those strong-willed children. While obedience to his parents might have been questionable, when the time came for him to go to Ninevah, where God had told him to “go and preach against the wickedness there”, he went the opposite direction. His determination to live life his own way did not serve him well. In the end, after he had been in the belly of the fish and even witnessed the positive results of his preaching, he still displayed his tendency to anger and wanted to hold on to his own opinion. Isn’t it interesting that once again the Lord is patient and explains in very clear and picturesque language the reason that it was very important that the Ninevites had a chance to repent also. Too often the tendency to have to “learn things the hard way” persists into adulthood, doesn’t it?
When it comes to listening to the voice of God and eagerly submitting to his directives and will, would you describe yourself as more compliant or strong-willed?