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Being persistent, not stubborn
Emily Krill
by Emily Krill
September 25, 2023

Today I want to talk to all the dreamers out there. I don’t mean the nighttime dreamers; I mean the other kind. If you are the kind of person who is constantly envisioning and passionately pursuing big ideas, hopes, aspirations, or wishes, this blog is dedicated to you.

Dreamer: How often do you get accused of being stubborn? I do. It has become very clear to me recently that the very best dreams we have are often accompanied by a stubborn streak. We identify something amazing—a concept, an invention, an event, a connection—that is a complete game changer. Then we hold on to it with every ounce of our being, hoping to see it go from dream to reality. Something within us just can’t give it up.

It might be the dream of having a marriage and a family.

Maybe it’s the dream of a specific career or position or accomplishment.

It might be something more abstract like a new take on an old principle or reinventing an outdated experience.

Your dream might be something very concrete like freedom from debt or physical limitations.

Whatever the dream is that you’ve been championing relentlessly and “stubbornly” holding on to, I bet you’ve even prayed about it. If you’re like me, you’ve probably prayed about it a lot. I’ve even spent time in prayer telling God that I appreciated his gift of stubbornness because it has seemed to help me overcome obstacles and struggles in the pursuit of my dreams.

But then God showed me something about this “gift” of mine.

He showed me there is a difference between my stubbornness and his actual gift, referred to in the Bible as “persistence.”

(Yes, I’m about to do that cheesy thing where I literally share what the Oxford Language Dictionary says.)

  • Stubborn, adjective: Having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
  • Persistent, adjective: Continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Right away I noticed two key differences between stubbornness and persistence. Stubbornness is an attitude or position (whereas persistence is a course of action). Also, stubbornness is done in spite of good arguments (whereas persistence is in spite of difficulty or opposition).

When I think about examples of stubbornness or persistence in the Bible, it becomes even more obvious that only one is a blessing.

  • Stubbornness: God refers to stubbornness several times in the Bible, calling it a “hard heart.” For example, Zechariah 7:11,12: “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.”
  • Persistence: God praises several people in the Bible for their persistence, including a widow who is rewarded due to her persistence (Luke 18:1-8) and Jacob, who is blessed by God because he persistently wrestled with God even through injury until God blessed him (Genesis 32:22-32).

So now it is with prayerful persistence that I will press on toward my dreams. I will try to embrace action, not just words. I will try to keep a humble, soft heart that is open to God’s will even if it’s not what I hope to hear. I will read my Bible to search for his wisdom and seek out Christian counsel about my dreams. And I will continue to expect trouble, difficulty, and opposition as part of the journey.

What about you, fellow dreamer? How will you substitute persistence for stubbornness? How will you prayerfully put a course of action into place with a soft, Jesus-minded heart, leaving space for his wisdom and guidance along the challenging-but-not-foolish way?