“My mind is made up!” An often heard declaration, these words can be the source of joy or grief depending on whose they are. From the one who struggles to make and hold on to decisions, they bring relief to the hearers. But from one who takes pride in his or her iron will, they elicit sighs and exasperation. I know a thing or two about the latter because during my childhood and teen years, I developed a strong will as a defense against manipulation. Once my mind was made up on certain issues, that was it!
Having a strong will is in itself not bad. In fact, some of the people whom God has used to drive significant changes in His kingdom and in the world have been people of rock-solid wills; for example, Paul the apostle. Firmness of will is also a necessary virtue for Christians, if we must walk the narrow path to which we are called in a world where most choose the broad and easy way.
But — and this is an important one — a strong will must be enlightened by God if it is to be of use to Him and to His kingdom.
An enlightened will
I describe an enlightened will as one that is bathed in God’s light and whose raison d’être (reason for being) is to please Him. An enlightened will submits fully to the Lord and, by extension, adapts to others, within the confines of His will.
A will that is too strong to yield to God or to others at His command is a liability. And when one with such a will enters into relationship with the Lord and expresses a desire to love and serve Him, He — in His love and wisdom — breaks the unruliness of that will. His dealings in this regard are necessary, for He says in His Word that He will only look to and have regard for the one who is of a humble and broken spirit, and who trembles at His word.
A person who takes pride in her ability to make up her mind and not change it no matter what will not tremble at God’s word because her untamed will will override God’s will and the gentle promptings of His Spirit in her heart. She is accustomed to being her own boss and will bow to no other once the boss (herself) has made a decision. A person with this heart disposition cannot serve God effectively.
Sometimes, unknown to us, our wills may be broken in some areas of life but not in others. There may still be pockets of our lives where we rule and have the final say. When this is the case, the Lord passes us through dealings that dethrone self and bring our wills into full yieldedness to Him.
A yielded will in a wicked world
The risk of manipulation still exists in our world today and, I dare say, is more prevalent than when I was a child. I still dislike being manipulated. But I have learned to pass the responsibility for my protection to the Holy Spirit, who dwells in me. This has allowed me to relate more freely with others.
As we exchange our iron wills (or weak wills) for wills that are fully submitted to God, we find that His Spirit shields us from potential manipulators. He does this by granting us discernment, revelation, and wisdom, just as He did for our Lord Jesus Christ:
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. (John 6:63–64; italics mine)
The Holy Spirit also teaches us how to navigate our interactions with such persons:
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
His ministry, when fully received, releases us to be like our heavenly Father, firm and determined yet entreatable and considerate.
A yielded will in relation to God and an adaptable will in relation to others are essentials for living a life that pleases the Father and can be used effectively by Him. May the Lord bathe our wills in His light and work in us humility, brokenness of spirit and unconditional reverence for His word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 Matthew 7:13–14
 Isaiah 66:1–2