Stubborn VS Determined

As writers, we often run into words that mean the same thing but have a different connotation. Depending on what “feel” we want a character to have will determine if their hair is “oily” or “slicked.” One of these descriptions gives an image that the person is creepy, and the other, an image of a person that takes care of their hair.

I never really thought about the fact that, as a person, the words we use to describe ourselves have the same connotations and, therefore, the same effect on how we view ourselves…

The word “stubborn”.

I’ve always described myself as a stubborn person…that is, I described myself that way until one day, my mentor asked me a question.

“Are you stubborn or are you determined?”

I sat for a moment, stumped. If you think about it, in action, they mean the same thing. Both mean “someone who won’t stop, who won’t quit, who won’t be deterred.”

“Well,” I finally asked, “what’s the difference?”

He smiled and told me to find the answer (which is a really annoying but really good mentoring technique) and report back, so I did some thinking. What was the connotation? What was the feeling of the two different words that essentially meant the same thing?

I broke it down.

Stubborn is…

Resistant                            Unmoving                          Prideful                               Hurtful

Whereas determined is…

Focused                              Resilient                              Steadfast                            Helpful

This left me with a question…which one am I? How do I tell?

The heart issue.

Oftentimes, our worst traits aren’t actually our worst traits. They’re characteristics that God has given us, that the enemy has perverted.  God gave me my determination, and it’s been corrupted to occasionally show up as stubbornness…if I accepted that I was stubborn, I would then be speaking over myself the negative connotation that comes with the word.

And if God gifted me this character trait, and it’s being misused, the question I have changes. In the Bible, God is often more concerned about the heart than the action. Our actions often reveal the nature of our hearts, but it always comes back to that. Your heart. At my heart, what’s the reasoning for my stubbornness/determination?

Stubborn is a heart issue, alright. And don’t get me wrong—I have been plenty stubborn in my life. God will bring about something in me He wants to grow me out of, and stubbornly, I’ll turn up my nose and look the other way, pretending I don’t see it. Stubborn is the pursuit of the selfish desires in your heart.

But when you look at what God wants you to learn and grow in, or what the Word of God says, and you sit back, and say to yourself, “No matter what…I’m going to do what God tells me to do.”

Well…that’s determined.

Which are you?


A great way to keep up joy in the winter is by doing something fun! And what’s more fun than joining a writing contest? Probably Disneyland. But a writing contest is free to join, so check out the contest I’m judging!

Reading is also a great way to spend your time in the winter, so don’t forget to pre-order Lawless!

Upgrade your Joy!

Sign up with your email and I will send you a free devotional, once a day for five days. Together, we’ll explore five different areas of our faith and what joy there is to be found in them!

You've subscribed! Thanks!