I have been called stubborn a time or two.
In my growing up years, I might have been labeled dramatic, overly emotional and argumentative at times. I could have been a great prosecuting attorney or debate team captain, some say.
But as I enter into a more comfortable-in-my-own-skin phase of life, I look back and see something completely different than those labels people slapped on me way back when. I see a young kid who had a wealth of determination and who simply needed a little steering.
Stubbornness is the flip-side of the fantastic character trait Determination.
Determination sees a target, lines up with it and launches. No obstacle will hinder Determination from hitting that target. Determination knows where it is going and finds the quickest, straightest path to get there. Determination will endure struggle, sacrifice and being misunderstood in order to reach the target. Determination is not easily lured away by new targets en route. Determination is a quality worth having in your life.
Stubbornness is a character flaw — a juvenile, tantrum-throwing doppelganger to Determination. Where Determination sees a worthy target and finds the quickest path to it, Stubbornness sees a target every 3 feet and must hit every one of them. First. Or, maybe just decide that it will not be hitting any targets at all today, thank you very much. Stubbornness must be right all the time and push its own agenda at all costs. And if anyone is in the way, Stubbornness will plow right over them. Stubbornness is a brat and a bully, focused more on itself than anything else.
Since the two are conversely related, might it be possible to somehow morph this unwanted stubbornness and convert it into determination, then? Yes, I believe it happens simply by living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” — Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)
When you were still being formed in utero, you already had a personality imprinted into your tiny being. You were crafted by Love and were bestowed with talents and abilities and emotions. But because you were born under the Curse, those talents and gifts show up inside-out, in their carnal form — i.e., stubbornness instead of determination, manipulation instead of influence, control instead of release. The annoyances converse to the gifts. But once you give your life to Jesus, His Spirit breathes real life into you and everything begins to activate according to God’s original design.
A person submitted to the Holy Spirit will transform from death to life — depression becomes joy, mourning becomes dancing, pessimism becomes optimism, sarcasm becomes encouragement, cursing becomes blessing, and so much more.
If you notice a history of certain character flaws in yourself, or if someone has been so kind to point them out, bring them to the Lord. Ask Him what He called those things in His original blueprints for you.
As you take inventory of the items in your heart at the beginning of this new year, why not ask God to show you what He put inside you? Trade in your stubbornness for a determination to do the things He set out for you to do. Trade in your tired, worn-out ways of living for His amazing, breathtaking ways. Let go of the old, carnal methods of thinking and let God bring you fully to life through His Spirit.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with every-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” — 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NIV)