How to be willing and not willful

Willing, God in control

How to be willing and not willful

Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. In a society that tells us to take action, be in control, do what feels good, YOLO; this can be a difficult passage to follow.  As a result, we forget to be willing to let God be in control of our life.

In my own life, in the people around me, and in my therapy clients, we all struggle with trying to be in control our life, sometimes even the life of others, and lose sight of being willing to wait and listen.

What does it mean to be willful

We have all experienced a willful child, right? The child who says “no” before he/she even hears all of the statement. Or the child who says, “I don’t want to.” when asked to complete a chore. Let’s not forget, the child in the grocery store, screaming and throwing a fit because they “need” the candy that is so conveniently placed at his eye level.  How often do we see that child and believe he/she needs to be willing to listen?

How often are we that way? Do you find yourself saying, “no” or “I don’t want to” to God?

Clench your fists as hard as you can. Go ahead. Try. What happened?

First of all, your hands will start to hurt. Then, if you clench you fists for too long, your forearms and biceps begin to ache. Before long, your shoulders, neck, and upper back feel tights.  The result of you clenching your fists for too long one day may even negatively effect you the following day.

This is true spiritually as well. We become willful when we try to take control of our life. We hold on so tight that before we know it, we start to hurt. If we remain willful, we stop hearing God and find ourselves in pain and aching. Sometimes with long-term negative effects.

Plus, can you catch anything when your hands are clenched?

What does it mean to be willing

Merram-Webster defines willing as: inclined or favorably disposed in mind; prompt to act or respond; done or accepted by choice or without reluctance; and of or relating to the will or power of choosing.

Ok, now, put your hands out. Open. Relaxed. What happened? No pain, right?

We are open to God’s purpose when we are willing to let Him control our life. As a result, we also are in a position to catch His blessings.

How to be willing to God’s good purpose

Hillary Scott has a beautiful song, “Thy Will”, that talks about being willing to follow God’s plan. I love her lyrics:

Sometimes I gotta stop, remember that your God and I’m not. Thy will be done…I know you see me Lord, your plans are for me. Goodness you have in store, so, thy will be done. 

Being willing to allow God to lead takes practice and continued self-reflection.

  • First, read the bible, as a result, you become familiar with God’s teaching. Two of my favorite bible reading plan websites are and
  • Utilize prayer daily as a way to connect with God and hear what he wants specifically for your life. Start with, “God I want you to be in control today. Guide me…”
  • Keep a prayer journal so you can look over your past entries to ensure you are seeking God’s path to ultimately glorify Him and not yourself.
  • Finally, take time for self-reflection to see if you have spiritually clenched your fists. Focus on each area of your life and actively identify ways you have been willing to allow God to be in control. Or, conversely, identify ways you have been willful, which are also likely the areas in your life where you are most distressed.

Remember, God gave us the gift of free will because He wants you to be willing to choose Him and allow Him to be in control.

God Bless,

Melissa Gendreau                  

Living in the Word - eWorkbook

Free chapters living in the word workbook

A Therapist's guide to becoming a stronger Christian.

Don't miss the opportunity to start your journey now!

Get the first 4 chapters for FREE!

Spam is not my friend. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

About Melissa

Melissa is a Christian mental health therapist, wife and mommy of two. She works with children, teens, adults, and couples to better manage their distress and hopefully become closer to God in the process.

10 comments on “How to be willing and not willful

    • It certainly can be a slow ache at first! We have to be focused on giving each day to God! Thank you for reading and commenting! God Bless!

  1. I absolutely love your last line about free will and our ultimate choice is to choose him daily. So oftentimes I struggle to open my clenched first, thinking that I can manage things my own way. That thinking never satisfies and always leaves me feeling wayward. Thank you for this reminder today.

    • I’m glad that you found the post beneficial. There are so many things in our lives that need our attention and focus. Then when it comes to allowing God to lead and be in control it can become difficult to give up the reigns. Thank you for reading and commenting! God Bless!

    • Thank you. The analogy is one that I have to remind myself of often! I can get caught up in doing life and struggle to take purposeful rest to give my day, my time, and myself to God. Thank you for reading and commenting. God Bless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *