Is stubbornness holding you back?

Stubbornness is something we singles take a strange attitude toward.

We find it offensive in others but consider it noble in ourselves.  We think our refusal to consider other possibilities is a virtue, as if it's us against the world.  Sadly, we can turn into loners by being so obstinate other people find us disagreeable.

If I hadn't had this problem myself, I wouldn't feel qualified to talk about the devastation it can cause.  Our society has become increasingly contentious because of stubbornness--which is just another form of selfishness.

For years I sabotaged myself because I refused to compromise on what I thought were life-and-death issues, when they really weren't.  I was so narrow-minded I overlooked opportunities for friendship, because I couldn't imagine enjoying being around someone who was different from me.

Lest you think I was a totally obnoxious guy, I did get some things right.  I did hold out for some worthwhile principles.  I was able to identify what was worth fighting for.  On the other hand, it took me years to realize some beliefs I had weren't nearly as important as I thought.  Others were outright wrong.

So let's look at some ways stubbornness may be holding you back from what you want in life.

Stubbornness:  What causes it?

Most of us identify with a group, sometimes several groups.  We tend to think the way others in the group do.  Often the leader of the group tells us how to think.

There's security in being accepted by the group.  It's easier to be part of a group than to be independent.  You get affirmation from others and feel you belong.  You feel comfortable among people who agree with you.

We get a certain satisfaction in fighting for our "cause," even if that cause is wrong.  Of course, everybody believes their own cause is right.  No one ever questions their own cause. 

In the single life, we get into our own little habits.  They make us feel secure, and soon they're part of our individual identity.  We cling tightly to our ways and opinions because we feel threatened by something different.

Over time, we take pride in our outlook, becoming defensive about it.  If we're really insecure, people who question our beliefs become "The Enemy."

None of this sounds like a problem--unless some of our deeply held beliefs are flat-out wrong.  But how do we know whether they are?  What standard can we use to determine whether we're mistaken?

Appeal to the highest wisdom

Society sets low standards.  Society often fixes standards by who shouts the loudest.  Especially when it comes to moral issues, government and popular opinion simply can't tell the difference between right and wrong.

In a world that does not recognize God as its ruler, is it any wonder that the culture's standards oppose what God says is right and wrong?  If you don't believe there's a God at all, the concept of offending him through sin has no meaning for you.

That's why we can't rely on society or the government in setting our own personal beliefs.  Society thinks everybody has the right to be happy.  God says the pursuit of happiness must not include sin.

God's standards are set forth clearly in the Bible.  Our beliefs and conduct should be guided by The Ten Commandments, as well as the command of Jesus:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’’” (Luke 10:27, NIV)

Ouch!  That's pretty tough stuff, especially when you consider that loving your neighbor means not encouraging him or her to sin.

When we base our beliefs on the Bible, we can be stubborn about them because we don't have to wonder whether they're right.  They may offend a lot of people, but God's truth usually does. 

Our duty as Christians is not to endorse sin so we can be more popular.  Our duty is to honor God.

How to fix stubbornness

We can't fix this kind of obstinacy in others.  We have our work cut out to fix it in ourselves.  And, we can only identify it--and fix it--with the help of God.

First, we have to admit it's a problem.  Our grudges or prejudices are holding us back.  Remember that part about "love your neighbor as yourself?"  When we find those attitudes that cause us to hate someone, we have to stop rationalizing our grudges and start doing what God tells us.

Second, we have to grasp the truth that God's standards are more wise than our own.  When we get rid of our own immature beliefs and replace them with the wisdom of God, we grow closer to him.  We become more like the person God wants us to be--the image of his Son, Jesus.

Third, as I found out over a period of years, I didn't "lose myself" when I gave up my wrong, stubborn beliefs.  Our true worth comes from our relationship with God, not our achievements, our appearance, our possessions, or anything else.  You are valuable because God loves you.  Period.

Walking in the ways of God, based on the Bible, isn't restrictive at all.  It's liberating.  You don't have to fight and be stubborn, clinging desperately to an opinion society tells you you must have.  God always knows best.  Go with God.

Stubbornness isn't a virtue for singles, but following Jesus and living in his love is.

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