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 biblegateway.com and biblestudytools.com
- 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.
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