“Difficult People & Strong Willed Children” February 3


Difficult People & Strong Willed ChildrenHow do you handle difficult people? Do you respond with sinful anger and frustration or do you respond as Moses did? What about parenting difficult or strong willed children?


Today’s Readings:
Exodus 17 & 18
Psalm 18:28-36
Proverbs 6:16-19
Matthew 22:1-22


Exodus 17 & 18:

Difficult people

What a group these Israelites were! Once again they turn on Moses. Even though they were being led by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, instead of turning to God in prayer, they blame Moses for their thirst. His response is to go straight to God and again God meets their need supernaturally.

What do you do when faced with difficult people? Do you go straight to God or start talking to your girlfriend, your buddy, your co-worker, or someone else?

I wonder how many times God has been ready to help us, but we failed to acknowledge our dependence on Him by going to Him in prayer and asking for His wisdom and favor.


Strong willed children

Sometimes you have to wonder why God chose the Israelites as His covenant people. But these were the “children” God had chosen and asked Moses to shepherd. Whom has he asked you to shepherd? A strong willed child? A dawdler? A talker? Several unruly boys? An alien who inhabits your teenage daughter’s body? Or maybe it’s a class of rowdy 6th graders or a group of high school students?

If God has given you a child who is difficult for you, what is He doing in you? He chose that child for you just as He chose the Israelites. How does He want to use that child or difficult relationship to complete His work in you?

Ephesians 6.4 says, “Do not provoke your children to anger” and Colossians 3 warns against discouraging them (Col. 3:21).

crying pouting childDo you discourage that difficult child with your frustration? Do you provoke your children to anger with your inconsistency, your impatience, or your unkindness? Do you criticize or tease or compare them to others?

The goal of life, Paul said, is to please God in whatever we do (2 Cor. 5:9). We do that as we respond with His grace and allow this difficulty to grow us and help us become more like Christ (Matt. 3.17). What Christ-like qualities is He developing in you? Love? Joy? Peace? Some longsuffering maybe? Kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? (Gal. 5:22-23).

None of us will parent perfectly, but if we fail to seek God and ask for His help, we will fall far short of what we can and should do.

There are a number of good books on the subject. Here is a list of a few of them:
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo


Psalm 18.28-36

His perfect way

Verse 30, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

Not only is God perfect, holy, and just, but His way is perfect! He is never late, never wrong, always in control, and, if we belong to Him, always working for our good and His glory.


Proverbs 6.16-19

What the Lord hates

We all sin every day, but there are some sins which God names as those He hates!

The first is pride or contempt for others, often revealed though a haughty look.

The second is lying. He hates fraud and deceit.

Next he lists murder, the shedding of innocent blood. And no one is more innocent than a child, inside the womb or out, no matter how or when he or she was conceived. Our country, including our leaders and many others, will have a lot to answer for one day.

Next is planning and scheming wickedness. Followed by running to do evil. There are those who just seem to enjoy hurting others. In fact, they’re in a hurry to do so.

A false witness who speaks lies. Again lying is singled out in regard to giving a false testimony.

And the one He most emphasized when he said “yes, seven …” is sowing discord or disharmony among believers. When we gossip about one believer to another or plant seeds of discontent, we are doing what God hates!


wedding garments brideMatthew 22.1-22

Dressed for the wedding

Like the wedding guests the king brought in from the streets, we all come to Him dirty and without proper “clothing,” sinners in need of cleansing and forgiveness. The “wedding garment” is His righteousness offered as a free gift. Those who were properly clothed had merely accepted the King’s gracious provision. Have you? It’s only when we are clothed with His righteousness that we are able to love others with His love, grow through a difficult relationship, and one day, attend the wedding supper of the Lamb!


Closing Thoughts:

We truly are all sinners in need of His grace. And there is no sin too great for Him to forgive. But forgiveness involves agreeing with God about our sin, seeking forgiveness through prayer, and turning from our own way to His.

Do you know for sure that you are clothed in His righteousness? If not, you might read this or talk to a Pastor or friend who is walking with the Lord. Don’t let pride or misinformation keep you from a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.



You might also like:


It's Not Fair!

“It’s not fair!”

“Sleeping with Frogs”

“When You Try Trusting God & Things Get Worse”

“Parenting by the Book”


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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.

18 thoughts on ““Difficult People & Strong Willed Children” February 3

  1. Very true. I know each of my children have been given to me and my husband for refining purposes. And my husband and I were given to each other for the same! It’s hard, and I fail consistently, but God is Good. I get a little softer everyday.

    • With God’s help, we all will get a little softer every day. I know God blesses me as I learn to respond in more Christ-like ways to those strong willed people in my life. Blessings!

    • Brandi, I suspect we all do! And, you’re right, it does require a lot of prayer. But I can see how God has grown me has I seek to respond in more Christ-like ways. Thanks for reading and commenting. Blessings!

  2. I’ve always wondered how Moses could handle a “herd” of strong-willed children, but the truth is God took care of that. A strong-willed child might have to walk in the wilderness 40 years to finally learn the lesson. Thanks for sharing the truth. Chris Malkemes

    • And I guess we’ve all done our share of wilderness walking for our stubbornness in some area. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. Blessings!

  3. Great points, Donna! I especially agree with you, “It’s only when we are clothed with His righteousness that we are able to love others with His love.” I can only love difficult people with His help, it’s too hard on my own. But at least now I ask for help!

    Thanks for sharing at The Loft!

    • Yes, and it seems God brings difficult people into all our lives. Instead of crying “unfair,” He wants us to learn to love with His love. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Blessings!

  4. I appreciate how you addressed the fact that parents can frustrate their children – especially the strong-willed ones! 2 of my kids are strong-willed. Quite a few years ago, I was struggling with how to cope and manage my son’s strong-will and God spoke to my heart telling me that my job as his mom is not to get rid of his strong-will, but to teach him how to harness it and use it for His glory and kingdom calling. My son would need to lead his family one day, and if things keep going the way they are in this society, then he will certainly need a very strong-will to follow God! The same goes for my daughter who is strong-willed. I don’t know what God is going to call them to do when they are older…but He gave them a strong-will for a reason – to fulfill His calling on their lives. So, yes, my job is to guide them and teach them to honour God with their strong-will!

  5. Difficult people….there is no avoiding them. I’m sure had I been an Israelite, I would have been just as difficult as any one of them. Thank you for the reminder to take those difficult ones straight to God. So glad you linked up at The Loft with us!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing and for hosting a link up each week! This post is such a blessing as I do have a few strong willed children. I appreciate the wisdom and scripture. Blessings!

    • Amanda, strong-willed children can be a challenge, but isn’t it exciting to think about what God can do with that determination! Blessings!

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