The Strong-Willed Child… of God


I have a friend who insists that, as a child, she was very difficult to handle. I have always found this hard to believe, since she is now a delightful young lady and a dedicated Christ-follower. However, she told me that when only ten, she would secretly read a chapter ahead of her mother’s bookmark in James Dobson’s The Strong-Willed Child with the goal of implementing behaviors that would frustrate her mother, making her think the book didn’t know what it was talking about. Today’s passage opens the book on Jonah, a man who also made an ill-fated attempt to willfully stay one step ahead of his Father.

  • What is a behavior in your life right now that is really just an attempt to cover up disobedience?


1:1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. The role of a prophet during this time was to be a mouthpiece for God. What divine call occurred in the first two verses of the first chapter of Jonah?
  2. What did God want Jonah to do in Nineveh? Why did God say Jonah needed to do this?
  3. In verse 3, what three things did Jonah deliberately do to disobey God’s call? 
  4. What did Jonah think he was doing by going to Tarshish instead of Nineveh?
  5. When a command of God does not seem to make sense to you, or when you find the command too offensive or demanding, how do you react?


Seeing Jonah’s disobedience is easy. God told him to do something, and he didn’t do it. Seeing our own disobedience is much harder. I would guess that Jonah justified his behavior in much the same way we do. God says forgive those who have wronged you. But that person doesn’t deserve forgiveness. If I forgive, he’ll get away with it. God says not to forsake assembling together. But I’m so busy—I’ll do other good things this week to make up for not prioritizing Sunday. We hear a command that doesn’t conform to our lifestyle, so we decide not to do it. Then, we label it everything but disobedience.

  • Pray that God would show you where you are mislabeling rebellion in your life. Ask him to let you see your disobedience as easily as you see Jonah’s.