What is a strong-willed person?
Some people are born strong-willed. Others work into it. We might think of them as leaders, independent-minded, strong-willed, or stubborn. They do not go with the flow. Usually we recognize them in rebellion.
Let me draw a comparison. The majority of people are driven by emotion and beliefs. It has been said that facts are far less powerful than what people believe. These people feel that the most important thing is being sincere. Inconsistency means nothing. Life is lived as though relative. If they felt it at the time, they did it. They can be impulsive. I don’t mean they seem impulsive, but that they really are. (Wisdom can appear impulsive; if someone has an alert comprehension of a situation and an inherent sense of right and wrong, he will confidently choose very quickly and act on that decision.) If a person is always true to himself, he is able to be manipulated. His decisions are thus the floating, sleepy subjective of “follow your heart” – almost animal.
However, a different kind of person is always trying to match himself to an outside ideal, whether pragmatic or spiritual (at the altar of self, of parents, of a romantic interest, a hero, a political ideal, or of God). Sincerity is important; only he wants to sincerely be his ideal, and believes reformation of actions will cause the change. He still has that impressionable emotional side, but is not capable of being manipulated. His decisions are on facts, rules, and objective evidence. Standards are set by what he worships.
All humans are born not worshiping God. Self might be worshiped, in which case decisions are whatever self wants to do. Self will be glorified. Pain and bribery are nothing if the condition is not what the self wills. Particularly if subjecting to them would profane independence, the terms are not embraced. Or the idol might be another person, or a book, or TV show.
There are people who begin as the first type of person and are trained or converted into something else. Subjective manipulation can birth idolatry of a particular thing, rendering the person anchored, and not blown about with emotion any more.
Conversion can happen for a strong-willed person from one idol to another, but it is not a matter of manipulation. This is caused by more information about the idols. No amount of pressure effects a change of mind. I venture to guess that these people are not easily lied-to, either. They tend to have a comprehensive view of reality that discerns truth.
So eventually a strong-willed person will discover the truth or die in the process. Discovering the truth and accepting it are not the same thing. Many strong-willed people live in determined rebellion against God. They believe in Him, know what His purpose is, and are not pleased. They have chosen to worship self, and will not be supplanted. Like the demons, they believe the truth, shudder, but hate the truth all the same. In fact it is impossible to fully hate what is unknown.
God can convict even an independent person of their sin, and humble them. He can also establish formerly unstable, wind-of-the-moment-driven people as His worshipers. I don’t claim to know how He does it. I do believe that only He can. When a person is saved, his spirit is made alive, rendering the sinful nature dead with Jesus on the cross. Then the will has the power, by dependence on the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ life through them, to choose righteousness. A strong-willed person recognizes that worship is absolute. When his worship is given to God, his choices are made to God’s standard.
What he worships, he values supremely in a way that the first kind of person cannot understand. A strong-willed person understands commitment, is a zealous person, and expects fidelity from others. He sees priorities as life-statements, reflecting not only the preference of the minute, but the direction of the years. Yet he understands repentance, because it is a complete turnaround, a replacement of allegiance. Repentance is not simply the recognition that a particular action is no longer popular or pleasant.
A strong-willed person is not emotionless. He feels just as deeply, and must reckon with the emotions. But he cannot let them control him if they contradict his convictions. This can be simpler, but not easier. Some strong-willed people, when faced with intense emotional situations, feel torn in two.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn
PS: Remember. These are confessions of a strong-willed person. My conclusions might be a little biased. The object remains to aid communication between stronger and lesser wills. Let me know what you think.