Being stubborn can be a destructive character trait, says the Rev. Billy Graham, in response to a man who's not sure he wants to go to Heaven because he doesn't want to lose his freedom by having God tell him what to do.
In a recently published advice column, a person queried Graham about the concern he had about being a "control freak" and not wanting to give up his freedom.
"I'd like to believe in Jesus and go to Heaven and all that, but would I have to give up my freedom?" asked the person.
"Maybe I'm just a control freak (which my girlfriend says I am), but I don't like the idea of anyone telling me what to do or how to live — not even God."
Graham responded that he believed the person had "a very strong stubborn streak" which could present a major problem for him.
"[Being stubborn] can destroy us if we never listen to advice or won't change our ways — even when we're clearly wrong. Most of all, a stubborn attitude will destroy us spiritually if we turn our backs on God and insist on living apart from Him," wrote Graham.
"Don't let this happen to you. Instead, turn to Jesus Christ and by faith commit your life to Him. Then ask Him to help you overcome your desire to run your own life, and to change you instead into someone who is determined above all to live for Christ and follow Him."
Graham also noted that there will be times when being stubborn is a positive virtue, like when refusing to give up a benevolent viewpoint.
"It's not always wrong to be stubborn, of course — not if we're stubborn about the right things. Someone, for example, who stubbornly refuses to do wrong is to be commended," added Graham.
"We also rightly honor those who stubbornly work against the odds to overcome poverty or hunger or racism, and try to make the world a better place."
Graham is not the first Christian leader to speak about the dangers of being stubborn to a public audience. Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren wrote about stubbornness being hazardous in a 2014 devotional.
The best-selling author of The Purpose-Driven Life cautioned that stubbornness "makes us miserable."
"Stubbornness can ruin us. The longer it takes us to do what God has asked us to do, the further we get away from what He wants," wrote Warren.
"God wants to change your life. He wants to bless you in that one area you've been holding back from him. Will you let him?"