Strong-Willed Woman. Some people think that label means you’re bossy, pushy, too intense. But what if you’re a strong-willed woman whose heart belongs to God? All that great strength and determination translates into a mighty force for Him—when it’s headed in the right direction.
We tend to stand apart from the others, not necessarily because we are smarter or more gifted, but because we are, quite simply, bolder. In God’s army, we might volunteer to be in the Special Operations unit. You’ll find us in all walks of life—teachers, stay-at-home moms, CEOs, homeschooling moms, entrepreneurs, and more. Each one is a woman with strong convictions, willing to take the lead when called upon to use her passion, courage, and drive to withstand extraordinary conditions.
We’re in a battle between good and evil. There’s an enemy who is determined to steal the hearts and minds of children, destroy marriages, crush ambitions, and redefine ethics and spiritual morality. The stakes are higher than ever, and the outcome determines the destiny of every soul for eternity.
God doesn’t force us to serve, but when we voluntarily enlist in His service, we become part of something greater than any of us; and He uses our strong will to accomplish more than we could have ever dreamed. As Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 1:4–5:
“It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions” (The Message).
God gave us a strong will for a reason, and He calls us to use it for Him.
But we strong-willed women face some unique challenges when it comes to staying solidly committed to the Creator and Designer who made us this way. I can think of three big ones right away.
The Challenge of Becoming a Christian in the First Place
Words like repentance, submission, and obedience can sound suspiciously like we’ll be required to be more emotional or weak or needy. But as it turns out, it takes a lot of strength to lay everything down at the foot of the cross.
Repentance means actively turning away from sin. It’s the way to God—the strong and deliberate surrender of our will that gives Him the rightful first place in our lives.
Submission is the voluntary decision to turn our stubborn, independent heart and disposition over to the only One who truly knows what to do with it.
Obedience also comes by choice. God doesn’t force us to repent or submit, and He doesn’t make us obey Him. Our surrender to Jesus represents a victory over our own selfish will and desires.
That sounds like Christianity was tailor-made for those of us with strong wills.
The Challenge of Letting God be in Charge
Years ago we sang a chorus called “Jesus and Me.” I loved the idea that I was taking Jesus with me wherever I went. Then our pastor reminded us that Jesus says “Follow Me,” not the other way around. Oh. Wow. That’s a lot harder to do. That means allowing our wills to be transformed to His will—even if there are times when we’re sure we have a better idea of how to get things done.
I Corinthians 10:12–13 says: “Don’t be so naïve and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (The Message).
Too often, we can act as though God needs a little nudge or advice from us—as though the world would work better if He at least had a suggestion box. But it doesn’t matter how good our ideas are; if they’re not God’s ideas, they will ultimately fail.
The Challenge of Serving with Love and Patience
We can easily fall into the habit of being impatient with almost anyone. But if the desire of our heart is to honor God, we know our attitude and actions make a big difference. We always need to focus on being a credit to the message of Christ.
We have to remember that being strong willed should never be an excuse for bad behavior. Our obedience to God means we follow Jesus, and the most important thing is to find and do what God wants us to do.
So What Should the Church Do About Strong-Willed Women?
From the beginning of the founding of the Church of the Nazarene, women have been included in the leadership and ordained clergy. But what about those in the congregation? What if there are dozens of strong-willed women within the walls of your church who could come together through Christ to pray and fellowship and form a bond so strong that the enemy could not defeat them? What if these women could show others who think like they do how God can take the strongest will and use it for His purposes?
If I could add just two words to one of my favorite quotes by Elisabeth Eliot, it would read like this:
I’m not a different kind of Christian because I am a strong-willed woman. I’m a different kind of strong-willed woman because I am a Christian.
Let’s go make more disciples like that!
For more on this topic, check out the author’s book: A Woman of Strength and Purpose.