Points to Ponder: Stubborn? And proud of it!

Points to Ponder
Stubborn? And proud of it!
By Pastor Dennis Whitmore
Weekly Contributing Writer

Are you known to be a stubborn person? Some people will even admit that they are stubborn and say it with a hint of pride; as if it's a laudable character trait. But is it a good thing to be stubborn?
There are those who will stick to a moral or ethical principle and not budge. That's a conviction; it's based on something of higher authority. People of integrity and sound character will "stick to their guns," not willing to compromise on what's right or of a high standard.
But stubbornness is rooted in the heart of the individual. If you have a strong-willed child, you face this constantly. The child will do what he wants to do regardless of the instructions of his parents. In adults it's even worse. With age, maturity should come, as well as wisdom and increased common sense. But a stubborn adult will go on, ignoring wise counsel, blowing off their doctor's orders, disregarding rules they dislike, and even overriding the commands of a superior. These people frustrate the folks who love them. They can also undermine a team and give an organization's leadership a headache. The person may be the most talented and experienced in the group, but their stubbornness can also render them as the weakest link in the chain.
King Saul was "fired" by God when he disobeyed a direct command from the Lord. After being told to do a mission a certain way, he carried it out his way. When Samuel confronted the king for his insubordination, Saul defended himself, "But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission in which the Lord sent me..." (I Samuel 15:20).
Yes, he did; however, he did it his way so he could make a big religious event out of it. It was more about him than about God. Samuel reminded him of Who's in charge.
"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" (15:22).
What's the great thing about a worship service if independent disobedience is at the heart of it?
What grabbed me was the next verse in Samuel's rebuke of Saul:
"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (15:23a).
Stubbornness is as offensive to God as witchcraft, which is the recognition of Satan's power over the authority of God. Stubbornness is idolatry, in that one has elevated one's own will above the Lord's will.
You may not do that directly, purposely ignoring the clear word of God on a matter; but you may assert your own stubborn will in other ways.
Do you have a teachable spirit? If someone offers a critique of something you've done and is trying to advise a way to improve, do you become defensive? Do things have to be done your way? If someone else's idea prevails over yours in a group meeting, will you be offended? Sulk? Will you "pick up your toys and go home," as they say?

We see the idolatry of stubbornness in children. It really gets bad with teens and young adults. That's the age when you know everything and you wonder why everyone in the world is so stupid (except you).
But I also see this in older people; a rigid mind set that renders a lot of their wisdom and experience inaccessible. Their stubborn will rises above wisdom and good sense. Everyone sees it but them; and so people will humor them - tolerate them - but respectfully ignore them as a source of wisdom and experience.
"Better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more" (Ecclesiastes 4:13).
How do you tell someone that they're acting like a jerk? Many times you can't because they can't see life from outside themselves. The first step for each of us in this matter is to look at ourselves.
Do people tell you that you are stubborn? Though they may say it with a smile or cover it within a joke, are you a hindrance to those who care? Are you the center of your own life? If more than two people are saying the same thing about you - maybe you ought to listen. Maybe they are right.

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 10:45pm, both days.