Stubborn Versus Teachable

Have you ever been around a stubborn person?  Perhaps you have obstinate tendencies yourself.  I have experienced both.  I have been around people who refuse instruction of any type, and I have been that stubborn person.  The irony has been that I get so exasperated when dealing with an extremely stubborn person yet I conveniently forget that I can be obstinate in my own right.

Neither scenario is pleasant.  Sadly, many people who are stubborn simply cannot see that flaw in themselves yet they can detect it in another person.  Human nature can be hypocritical.

Determination and Stubbornness:  The Difference

Everyone needs determination to stand steadfast and avoid deceit from the enemy.  Determination and stubbornness are different although the line can be fine.  Determination is the God-given will to grow spiritually with the drive needed to press through challenges and difficult situations.  Stubbornness is being unteachable and never willing to learn anything new because you are set in your ways.

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When I was a child, I was very head-strong and willful.  I was determined to have my own way and was convinced that no one could tell me what to do. How wrong I was!  I am sure I helped contribute to gray hair for my mother’s head, but the Lord gave her the determination she needed to guide me to the correct my path.  My grandmother told my mother that some of my willfulness was good because it would keep me from allowing people to take advantage of me.  I believe this gave my mother some peace about my strong personality.

Even if you have stubborn tendencies, you can remain teachable and flexible to the degree that God can mold you.  That is where the deliverance lies for the stubborn person.  Fortunately, when I gave my life to the Lord, my zeal to live to give Him glory helped me to see where obstinance could hinder my relationship with Him.  I began to realize that I would have to crucify the flesh in that area of my life.  If you struggle in this same area, you will begin to experience freedom when you realize that you must be pliable and moldable to God.  We are not winning by remaining stubborn when we need to yield.

Do You Have Anything to Learn?

When we yield to stubbornness, we have a strong tendency to believe we know everything and have nothing to learn from other people.  That is a dangerous place to be in our lives!  We block God’s hand from moving on our behalf as well as hinder our relationships with others.

Certainly, I am not saying that we should become doormats for other people and allow them to dictate our lives.  We just need to remain flexible, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us as to when we need to stand firm on an issue or be humble.  It is a great challenge for the strong personality type, but we can do all things through Christ.

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There are some minor issues in which it is better to yield ourselves rather than appear to be right.  Some things are simply not worth the arguing and hindering of a relationship.  People are more important than getting our way.  This particular lesson took years for me to learn.  Unfortunately, I hurt many people along the way believing that I had to get the last word in an argument, and that I had to be right.  I could never be wrong.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Stubbornness Harms Relationships

During my stubborn bouts, I hurt my husband, my parents, children, and other family as well as co-workers.  Admitting I could possibly be in the wrong was painful as I am certain it is for some of you.  While it hurts to be wrong, the momentary pain of crushed pride is feasible when we look at the damage we are doing to our relationships with others, and most of all, to the Lord.

The scriptures have much to say on this issue.  Psalm 81:11-12 says, “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.”  The people of Israel could be very stubborn throughout the Old Testament.  They grumbled and complained when they did not get their way then refused to listen to Moses when he tried to guide them.  We need to be willing to accept guidance from other people, particularly if they are displaying wisdom in their own lives.  Here is a strong scripture concerning accepting guidance: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid,” Proverbs 12:1.  That hurts, doesn’t it?  People who will never listen to others, particularly the Lord, make themselves look unwise, and they are truly unwise!

Proverbs 29:1 states, “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”  Our stubbornness and refusing to yield will eventually bring about our downfall.

There are numerous scriptures that rebuke stubbornness, but since some very strong ones have been mentioned, I will give you what the Bible says is the solution to the problem.  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” 1 Peter 5:6.

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There is Hope and Deliverance

Stubborn people are like the rest of those with issues.  They are not beyond hope.  It is a matter of taking on humility which is a choice and willing our selves to submit to God.  The world will not come crashing down around you if you admit that you are wrong about something.  Trust me, I have had to humble myself many times, and I have found that it brings such sweet relief.  Be willing to take advice from someone who has been there.  Humble yourself.  If not, the Lord has ways of humbling you that are much more painful than crucifying the flesh.

  • Refusing to allow God to mold your stubborn heart will result in the wrath of God in your life (Romans 2:5).
  • Refusing correction is not wise (Proverbs 12:1).
  • Pray for a steadfast heart to overcome a stubborn nature (Psalm 78:8).
  • Yielding to your stubborn nature will cause you to move backward instead of forward in your life (Jeremiah 7:24).
  • There is wisdom in meekness rather than stubbornness (James 3:13).

The Bottom Line

Is your obstinance worth losing a marriage, a friendship, a job, or the respect of co-workers?  If you search your heart, I believe you know the answer.  Go before the Lord and ask Him to conform your will to His.  He does beautiful work, and you will have more peace and joy than you have ever known.