Strong-willed connotes stubbornness and refers to a person who is difficult to control or even manage! There are those folks, when given specific advise or directions, who must do it their own way to prove they are in charge. Trying to tell am obstinate person the proper way to do things is as the proverbial "peeing in the wind"!
Deuteronomy 21:18 "If a man have a stubborn (strong-willed) and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: 19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place... 21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die..."
"Stubborn" does not stand alone in these verses. "Stubborn" is coupled with "rebellious". Hence, strong-willed is attitudinal in context. If the attitude is rebellious to God (Violates the 1st Commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me.") or the parents (Violates the 5th Commandment "Honour thy father and thy mother") then the strong-will is negative. In fact, the 5th Commandment has a promise "that thy days may be long upon the land ". Conversely, a person who does not honor can expect to have a short life-span and be in agreement with Deuteronomy 21:21 above "shall stone him that he die"!
However, is strong-will always a negative or can it be a positive attribute? The synonym "stubborn" always appears in the negative sense in the Bible. It is most always paired with some form of "rebellion". It would appear that "stubbornness" is not a compliment at all, but a sin!
1 Samuel 15:23 "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry."
A strong-willed person has determination. Not just a desire to reach a decision, but a firmness of purpose. A desire to remain unchanged to the end. "Determine" and its components in the Bible are used in the context of "making a decision", not strong-willed.
Let's suppose that you believe strongly in the Bill or Rights because of the freedom you believe in and prefer over being controlled. You believe that way because it's ingrained inside you as right and proper. Furthermore, you abhor the thought of speaking and behaving in manners which are dictated to you by another. Then one day an official comes to you and says "We find your beliefs repugnant, and if you do not change, you can no longer have food, medicine, shelter or work." What would you do?
Would you submit? Would you take a mark or have an e-implant to allow you to buy and sell? Would you pledge allegiance to an evil government? If your answer to all these is "no", then you are a strong-willed person and are to be admired! It's in the attitude and what's wrong and right. (This may happen someday with the Anti-Christ).
Now, let's suppose that you're a wife! Your husband is judged by others to be fair and ameliorating. However, you've been taught feminism and women's rights. You dress androgynously, provide an income for the family and perhaps want to unilaterally make child-birth decisions. It's when and if you're ready and you alone. You get angry when your husband controls money management, child-rearing methods and even selection of churches. You make life miserable for him until you get your way and what you want. That's strong-willed! Your pride will not let you be submissive to another, even a loving husband! Your strong-will may be so strong that you will not even partner with him!
In the latter example strong-will is rebellious and negative! What would make it positive (or righteous) strong-will is resistance to your husband if he tries to break your spirit, although you're a dutiful wife and great partner. That's the difference.
You may disagree with me on what makes a good wife, but hopefully you still get the message: There is negative and positive strong-will based on attitude.
Some women, even Christian women, hate the idea that they are to be submissive!
Colossians 3:18 (KJV) "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord."
Yes, wives are to be submissive to their own husbands. That's God's plan. Women were provided by God to be companions to men, not rivals! However, men are to be fair in their treatment of their wives and they're not to provoke. (There are two sides to every coin!) Don't get hung-up on submission. The Bible tells us to submit to God, to submit to authorities, submit ourselves to the elders, submit ourselves to rules and laws and submit ourselves to one another! Submission is God's will and submission is righteous!
If one can't submit to another, how can he or she submit to God? It's all about pride! Being prideful leads to rebellion! Rebellion against God, rebellion against marriage, rebellion against authority, rebellion against the law and rebellion aginst each other! As an example, the situation between the Muslim Brotherhood and the supporters of the military in Egypt right now is rebellion. Each group refuses civility. They are in rebellion, they are non-submissive and determined. They are strong-willed! What will be the outcome? Death and destruction! That strong of will is not God's plan. That's stubbornness caused by pride.
Those church fathers who were martyred were determined, but they weren't strong-willed! They were determined to stand against self and for God! Their firmness in their faith wasn't for self-glory or for narcissistic reasons. It was because they respected God and did not see fit to belittle their creator by caving in to heresy. Those saints had righteous determination not founded upon rebellion, but liberty! In the case of martyred Christians, they were righteous in attitude! Are you categorizing your own strong-will with that of those who died for Jesus, or is your strong-will from self-indulgence? You see, it's all a matter of attitude and for most of us strong-will is rebellious and sinful!