Dealing with Personal Rejection

How do you respond when rejection comes your way? Everyone experiences rejection from time to time. Friendships cool off and sometimes come to an end.  For most people popularity is a fleeting thing. One season your presence is welcomed and another it is not. An actor or an athlete can experience a period of unparalleled success and suddenly, they are yesterday’s news.

In the world of ministry, a church or a leader can have a season of awesome bliss and meteoric success. Everyone wants to be associated with them. Time passes and seasons change; suddenly there is a new personality, church or ministry on the horizon and in the spotlight! The light fades and the crowds become less enthusiastic or lower in number. It is natural to look for potential reasons. To be certain – detractors, fair-weather friends and troublemakers will begin to prophesy your demise. So what should you do?

Well, that depends upon whether or not we are real men and women of God or merely, “actors on a stage”. If we are real and sincerely devoted to who we are and what we do, we press on and continue to be the best us we can be.  We pursue a life of pleasing God as contrasted with longing for the applause of man! It also depends upon whether or not we have a Biblical view of gifts, callings and anointing.

Certainly, we must adapt (without moral compromise) to cultural shifts, technological developments and social trends. Relevance may demand some of that. However, we don’t change our character, our values or our motives in order to regain popularity or momentum.

Let’s observe how John the Baptist handled Himself in such a season of life! At one point, throngs of people from all walks of life came to hear him preach and be baptized by him. Even Jesus came to him for baptism (Matthew 3:5-17).  However, though he remained popular with the common people, two things happened:

  1. He ran afoul of the modern power brokers – namely, King Herod and his wife (Matthew 14).
  2. Jesus arose to prominence in ministry, thereby producing transference of the interest and following of the Jewish masses away from John’s ministry. Jesus would even speak boldly about a different and more complete expression of baptism everywhere he went. Talk about perceived competition!  What did John do?  Did he panic and pursue a manmade “makeover”?  Did he attack the credibility of Jesus?  Did he hire a public relations firm to revitalize his popularity?  Did he stop doing what he was called to and doing it with all of his heart?  Let me declare an emphatic “NO” to the preceding questions!

John watched, waited and remained faithful to his calling. He sought out witnesses and inquired as to the message and ministry of Jesus. When he found it valid – remember, John himself had prophesied that One mightier than himself would soon surface (Mt. 3:11) – he made the appropriate adjustments. Upon verification that Jesus was the One, he relinquished all prideful inclinations and submitted to the plan, will and purpose of Abba.  Here is his public response which was validated by his public actions:

“HE MUST INCREASE, BUT I MUST DECREASE.
HE WHO COMES FROM ABOVE IS ABOVE ALL . . . “ (John 3:22-30).

How could someone in his position be so humble? It’s simple! He knew who he was and who he wasn’t! He even made the prophetic declaration in Matthew 3:11 – “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John was comfortable in his own skin. He had no need to pretend to be someone or something he wasn’t. As a forerunner to the coming Messiah, he had no interest in perpetuating his own popularity or exalting his own “ministry” (something which is so common – even to the point of vain and idolatrous levels today).

John simply continued to stay true to his calling and his unique anointing. He ran well and finished strong. Undoubtedly, his name has “highlights” around it in the Lamb’s book of Life (see Revelation 13:8). Ultimately, the rejection of John by governing officials led to his execution. There was no swift resurrection as was the case with Jesus. However, there was most certainly, eternal life for this great man of faith and courage. He has surely found his reward, indeed, the greatest reward in heaven!

There are other parallel ministries in the Bible which demonstrate this very noble aspect of ministering respectfully in concert and coming alongside parallel ministries, without prideful competition and exaggerated claims of self-promotion or personal gift projection. Think Barnabas and Paul, Peter and John, Timothy and Silas, and the list could go on endlessly throughout the ages of time.  Comparative analysis using such words as good, better or best are divisive.  Judgments such as “anointed”, “more anointed” or “most anointed” do nothing to enhance the effective reproduction of the ministry of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament refers to a collective coalition called, “The Body of Christ” as the labor force for genuine Christian ministry. There should be no hint of celebrity among us. There is no room for “hero worship” in our ranks. Promotion comes from Him for His glory and His glory alone!

Pursuing God’s Best for Your Life

Do you want to keep living beneath the inheritance God has provided for you?  Here are three major keys to finding and pursuing God’s best for your present and future.  There certainly may be more; however, these three standout foremost in my mind.

  1. Learn from your past mistakes rather than mourn them.
  2. Grow with each new challenge.
  3. Commit to investigating new opportunities.

At the risk of parroting a tag line from a gospel tract, I truly do believe that God has a wonderful plan for your life. The mission of Jesus was one of redemption and reclamation. He gave His life voluntarily with the objective that mankind need not suffer futility of life ending it with a destiny of eternal damnation. Abundant life and eternal life are a package deal. The issue of futility of life seems to be as significant to the Lord as the ultimate reward of eternity:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Experiencing God’s best is never an automatic guarantee. We must engage life with eagerness, boldness and courageous risk taking if we are going to experience the fullness of life.

Learn from your mistakes! Hebrews 6:1 talks about “dead works”.  I refer to these things as actions or decisions which produced death rather than life. All of us have made bad decisions or choices in life. We may not be able to undo them; however, we never have to replicate them. Many years ago – actually a few decades back, a group of high school friends had spent an afternoon and evening at the beach. It was a great day and lasted late into the night. On the way home I was driving one car and my sister a second car as we traveled in tandem the hour it took to get back to town.  Each of us had classmates in the vehicle with us. We got into a road race on the two-lane highways we had to travel.  We achieved speeds as high as 80 to 90 miles an hour. Fortunately, nothing bad happened. Some time thereafter, I had two classmates and teammates killed in a tragic accident doing the same kind of thing. I was overwhelmed with grief and shuddered at the realization, it well could have happened to me.  Lesson learned – never again was I so foolhardy!

Grow with each challenge! Often a challenge involves some form of problem which can or does cause pain, regret, defeat or setback. Years ago a set of circumstances brought me to a pivotal decision. I felt the Lord leading me to resign my position and take an extended period of time to regroup, repent of bad decisions and rediscover my given purpose and specific assignment from the Lord. It was a dreadful choice to make. After I made it, I actually had a group of leaders come to me and strongly encourage me to reconsider, even offering significant incentives to me if I would. However, I felt that I was being directed by the Lord. This led to a ten-month period of ministry unemployment and all of the uncertainties which go with such a season. God proved more than faithful. He met our every need. More importantly, I learned some truths which could’ve been read in a book of someone else’s journey. However, my personal experience has transformed me and the way I approach life forever – let me say it again — FOREVER!

Commit to investigating new opportunities. Life has its seasons. Very few factors in life require the kind of faith involved in stepping out of  your norm and trying something new. However, the Bible tells us that “God’s mercy endures forever” (Ps. 118).  If we go through life paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake, taking a wrong turn or experiencing failure, we will be paralyzed and ultimately fail to become all that God wants us to be. It’s easy to find a rhythm in music and stay within its borders. It is easy to find a way which works and refuse to explore new and better ways. If we live in fear of failure or hesitancy to look outward and move upward we will stagnate and our dreams will fade into haunting fantasies.

It is ordinary for people to always take a familiar route to wherever you are trying to go. However, what’s the fun in that. BORING! You will never experience the fullness of life by always doing the same old thing the same old way.  When my wife and I travel about in everyday life – we certainly pick out the best routes to the preferred destinations. However, I have a theory – no, make that a conviction.  If all we do is take the familiar “best” route, we will never find new places and new things along different roadways, neighborhoods – much less new villages or cities.

I love to explore. As long as I have plenty of time, I don’t even mind getting lost. Many years ago, a short time after we had moved to northwest Illinois, we went for a Sunday afternoon drive. We had no specific destination in mind. We just wandered north along the Mississippi River.  We instinctively turned off of the highway and meandered up a county road around curves, up and down hills and valleys, etc.  The views were stunning.  Suddenly we saw a sign for a village inn and ski resort. We took the turn and found a great Midwestern treasure.  I love to downhill ski but felt it would be a rare experience requiring expensive jaunts far west, north or northeast.  After finding this resort, I have enjoyed fun and challenging ski recreation year after year for a fraction of the cost.

It’s important that we take the wheel of our own destiny. Certainly we want to follow and obey God. However, look at it this way. Looking at a map will give you a sense of direction for a road trip. However, the experiences, sights, sounds and feelings of the journey will never come alive and truly affect your life until you follow your heart and take the journey.

Walking with Jesus is an exciting journey if faith is the compass for our path!

PC