What Rejection Can Teach You

Rejection GirlI’ll never forget the Sunday years ago when a little old lady cornered me in our tiny church lobby. She didn’t say “good morning” or introduce herself. In fact, she immediately made it clear from her body language and facial expression that she was not happy! I had said something in my talk that pushed her buttons, and she was going to give this young arrogant pastor a tongue-lashing. By the time she finished, I was emotionally bleeding, and I went home that day ready to quit (again).

In my world, rejection rates right up there with having a root canal—it’s costly and painful. No one likes to be rebuked, unwanted or treated like gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe. Regardless of our apparent warts and wrinkles, we all long to be loved and accepted. It’s a fundamental human need.

As a teaching pastor, every Sunday my congregation evaluates me. New attendees compare me to their previous pastor. Regular attenders measure the value of the current talk or series to the last one. Unchurched folks appraise me based on their favorite speaker or TV host (yikes!).

As an author and blogger, other writers often scrutinize what I produce, and my copy editor sometimes rips me to shreds. Then, of course, the readers leave their mark by buying or not buying my books or by liking or ignoring my posts. (I, for one, am grateful there’s no such thing as a “dislike” button on Facebook!)

Rejected stamp

Simply put, I live with rejection on a regular basis, and surprisingly, I’m fine with that reality. Yes, it’s still painful, but more importantly, rejection has taught me much.

The top 10 things I’ve learned about rejection:

  • It teaches me to be humble.

  • It gives me the opportunity to bless those who curse me.

  • It helps me learn how to grow and not just go through disappointment.

  • It gives me empathy for others who experience rejection.

  • It sometimes brings needed correction to my life.

  • It reminds me to forgive as I have been forgiven and to offer grace to those who, like me, don’t deserve it.

  • It develops the character traits of perseverance and resiliency.

  • It reminds me to speak the truth in love even when it’s not easy to hear.

  • It challenges me to see the big picture and realize it’s not about me.

  • It causes me to focus on my audience of One.

Reject Audience of One

Do I love rejection? Uh, that would be no. But do I see its value better now in my old age than I did when I was young? Yup. Frankly, given the choice, I’d probably choose love and acceptance over the angst of rejection, but it’s much more of a speed bump in my life now than a dead end. How about you?

 May I pray for you?

Jesus, you know better than any of us how difficult rejection can be to live with and overcome. Help us to press through the pain of hurtful words and unjust accusations. Teach us to “count it all joy” when we encounter trials we’d rather avoid through people who know not what they do to our hearts. Somehow, make us more like You.

 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected

    has become the cornerstone.”

Mark 12:10  (NIV)

21 Responses to What Rejection Can Teach You

  1. It’s amazing that no matter how many uplifting comments you receive, the one “shredder” destroys it all.

    I’m continually reminded to watch my mouth, and speak life into those around me.

    I think I can speak for many people, we are thankful for you Kurt!

    TQ

  2. An excellent post, as usual. You are a master at using words, Kurt! Your list of 10 things you have learned about rejection will be helpful to me the next time I feel rejected. Thanks!

  3. Kurt, I really needed to hear this. God’s timing is amazing as always. I have a tender heart, capable of loving that others find unlovable, try to live at peace with everyone, have always had to be flexible in my life….STILL, in the last 15 years, rejection finds me and try’s with all it’s might to push me down and bury me…can’t explain it and I do to like it but I have had to find peace with it. All the points you made are so true for me. I have spent years praying for certain people who have rejected me and in truth, not everyone would or could do that-any accept and move on…it affects me so deeply that I continue to pray for those people and for God to continue to teach me through it all….it is sooo hard. I hAve learned to love more deeply because of this. I have learned that for the most part, the rejection rarely has anything to do with me even though I am the reciever of it. Thus, my ability to empathize has grown to a more mature level. I don’t know that I will ever like it, feel comfortable with it, etc…. I do know as long as God-the one and only, remains FOR Me, I will come through it each time -and hopefully be a better servant too.

    One of the heart breaks …. My brother won’t have anything to do with me. I have continued for years to love he and his family and it reached a point that it matters not what I do or don’t do. I have no control of the rejection. I only have two family members left…he and my sister…that’s it! I am a huge lover of family so you can see a little of what I have and do experience.

  4. Thanks for putting into words the rejection I believe most peeps feel at one time or another..NOW to put this into perspective of 3 teenage girls…I like how you write..warts and all.

    • Hmmmm…teenage girls…praying for you (raised a couple myself). All of us struggle with rejection, but it’s especially tough on teens. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  5. Thank you. That spoke to me in volumes. I have always wore my heart on my sleeves most of my life. I lost my dad at very young age in a logging accident. I was 2 he was 22. I was told by my mom and maternal grandparents he was an angel. We lived with my grandparents after that and they were very good to me,my older brother Rick and my younger brother Bill, whom my mom was pregnant with when my dad was killed. I did not understand death and feared it as a little kid. I had scary dreams of skeletons chasing me, but in my dreams my dad would save me and take me to heaven to see Jesus. I was raised Catholic and went to Sunday school in a small town in St Maries Idaho. My mother went back to High School while we lived with my grandparents on their ranch. They had horses, cows, pigs, on 160 acres with a creek that ran thru it with many springs and trees. Me and my brothers loved it there. When I was 5 my mom graduated from High School and remarried my step dad Jim who was a very strict Catholic and verbally and physically abusive. I hated him and told him so. I was shy and teased at school because I was a Tom boy. So I was teased at school as well as diciplined by my step dad on a regular basis with chores, verbal and physical abuse. My mom had 2 more children Tony my brother when I was 8 and Jota when I was 13. I loved my younger sibs but that was another chore that was added to my discipline as well as grounding. Needless to say between my mouth and my grounding I did not get out much. Although I did like school as it was a social outlet but I was still somewhat shy I did have friends who were for the most part also shy or over disciplined the boys. Church and was also about discipline and guilt as a Catholic. So I got a lot of Rejection growing up. Thanks Kurt. Nice to know I am not alone. I love Eastpoint the music and your message speaks to me. God Bless you!!!

    • Incredible story, Tina. So blessed that you were encouraged by this blog. Thanks for being a part of our Eastpoint community of faith. You are loved!

  6. Well, I finally read this. ;-) So good. I had to chuckle at a few of the points because I always say “It’s an opportunity to forgive”, YAYyy…..anyway love to read your ‘stuff’ whenever I’m not chasing my Grandbabies. ;-) We love you Kurt.
    Rebecca

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How to Succeed at Everything that Matters

Sucess Weakness KidIn our culture, we underrate failure, and overrate success, so it might seem pointless to add my voice to the plethora of opinions about how to succeed. In fact, I recently did an Amazon search for “how to succeed” and found 27,857 books listed! Seriously, that’s a lot of noise out there about success, but I fear too many insights about this issue have got it dead wrong.

Several years ago, a middle-aged man named Tom came to me extremely discouraged. He told me, “I’ve spent my entire life trying to succeed at something . . . anything . . . but the golden ring is always just out of reach.”

I asked him an important question, “Tell me how you define success?” Without blinking, he rattled off a list of measurables and goals that “must be met” (his words) for him to feel accomplished. Most of them had to do with numbers and recognition by his peers.

I gently pushed back and responded, “What if success is different than you think? Is it possible you’ve been reaching for the wrong golden ring?” The look on his face was telling as I took just five minutes to redefine for him how God defines success.

tumblr_mfkjr2o0fM1qewpleo1_500

 How God defines success:

1.    In God’s economy, success is faithful obedience.

We often measure success by the size of our assets or the awards or accolades given to us by others. God defines success by a very different standard. For Him, it’s all about the choice to yield to Him and to follow His path regardless of the financial or public rewards. We make God smile when we take risks and exercise faith in our pursuit of His kingdom. When we say yes to God, and obey Him regardless of the sacrifice or personal suffering, we are guaranteed the ultimate praise from the Father, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25).

Success Leap HQ

2.    In God’s kingdom, success involves embracing our weaknesses.

Most successful people will tell you they needed others in their journey. Many of us realize we can’t do it alone. Unfortunately, however, too many believe that to be successful they have to be strong. I disagree. In fact, I suggest that to be truly strong one must recognize how weak he or she is, and how desperate we are for support. We need God’s help. We must abide in the Vine to have life (John 15). And we find God’s strength only when we understand our weak human condition (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The path to success does not deny our weakness; instead, it embraces it in humble dependence on God the Holy Spirit.

Success Resiliency

3.    With God, success is measured by our resiliency.

I know it has become cliché, but with the Father it really is more about the journey, not just the final destination. As Christ-followers, we’ll all end up in the same place for eternity, but what we learn in and through the struggle of life on planet earth is important. God asks us to keep going no matter what. He honors those who persist and resist regardless of the battles faced. God wants us to run with endurance, to finish the race, and to keep the faith (Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Timothy 4:7). From the perspective of that “great cloud of witnesses” watching us, the truly successful are those who stay the course in stubborn determination to finish well.

My friend, Tom, had an “aha moment” when he realized he’d been pursuing a culturally-defined idea of success rather than a God-defined objective for his life. Perhaps you need a different perspective too?

Success Telescope

 May I pray for you?

Father, the world often teaches us something counter to Your revelation. Help us to unlearn what is contrary to Your word and Your ways. Reveal the truth, truth that will set us free to see Your kingdom come and Your will accomplished on the earth as it is in heaven.

Success Finish the Race

6 Responses to How to Succeed at Everything that Matters

  1. Very good post Kurt. I have long feared as Christians many of us-self included at times, have our sights wrongly focused in terms of success. Preparing for our ‘real home’ somehow needs to be priority-we are only here for such a short time.

    We all have a destiny to fulfill here. In my mind, if we seek Him first and fulfill our destiny-our individual purpose for the ‘bigger picture’, everything else will follow.

    Just my opinion of course :) my heart is to be people driven vs success driven and there are times it is so very difficult!

    Success….great topic and thoughtful post. Keep ‘rockin it’ for Christ!

    FYI: you are one of the most successful individuals I know! Your genuine love for God, family, and others…well…THAT IS SUCCESS!!! What else really matters?

    • Great insights, Kathy. Love the part about being “people driven vs. success driven.” Thanks for joining the conversation.

  2. I like how you defined success. I have been allowing God to sift some issues in my heart and reading this just affirms my walk is where I need to be. He is my vine and I’m so thankful that he prunes my heart to keep me seeking more of Him :) Thank you Kurt for being so real and sharing yourself. You make a difference in my life……thank you!

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Hot Body. Dead Eyes.

LA VeniceAt the end of a recent trip to Southern California, my wife and I took the scenic route on our way to LAX for our flight home. On the way, we stopped in Venice Beach to get a cup of java at the local Starbucks. The place was packed. I hate to stereotype people, but most of the individuals in line fit the bill of California weird. Like a prom queen in a biker bar, I felt out of sorts in this strange place.

Two women immediately caught my attention. One black, the other white, both in their twenties, and both beautiful. Apparently, they were friends or co-workers. If it bothers you that I noticed they were attractive, then you don’t know men. We notice. That doesn’t mean I lusted or had any evil thoughts about them (I didn’t), but the way these two were barely dressed made everyone notice, both men and women.

We only shared a spot in line for about five minutes, but those two will share a place in my heart for a long time. And it’s not because they were gorgeous; it’s because they seemed so lost.

They had hot bodies but dead eyes.

Despite their attractiveness and attire, what struck me most was the hopelessness in their eyes. Everything about them said, “I’m beautiful and happy,” but the eyes never lie, and their eyes were empty and dead.

It’s been said, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” In fact, scientists have discovered that patterns in the iris can give an indication of whether we are warm and trusting or neurotic and impulsive. Simply put, our eyes tell all.

LA Dead Eyes

This idea of our eyes being a window into our soul probably stems from what Jesus said in Luke 11:34 (NLV), “The eye is the light of the body. When your eye is good, your whole body is full of light. When your eye is sinful, your whole body is full of darkness.”

A life filled with spiritual darkness, versus a godly life, is reflected in the eyes. In fact, when a person is filled with the light of God, it affects his or her entire being. Conversely, a broken life of moral decadence is also seen in the eyes.

Don’t misunderstand my point, I’m not judging these women or claiming to truly know anything about their lives, but this is one of those times where a picture really is worth a thousand words. And the image of these two still haunts me.

All around us are people who look pretty on the outside, but they are desperate for hope, freedom, joy, and real life. In fact, sometimes the ones who look the best are hurting the worst.

LA Legs

So what?

As I got back in my car and drove away from Venice Beach, I prayed, “Jesus, let me see people the way You see them. Once again, break my heart with the things that break Your heart.”

For the next five or six hours, I was surrounded by large crowds of people in the airport and on the plane, and the thousands of empty eyes everywhere overwhelmed me. It literally hurt. Now, more than ever, I want to be a light in the midst of the darkness that cries out: There is hope; His name is Jesus.

May I pray for you?

“Father, give us ears to hear and eyes to see. Give us your heart for the billions lost in darkness. Driven by compassion, as Jesus was, give us boldness to be beacons of grace to a world bound by darkness. Amen.”

Winters Tale Rescue-me

14 Responses to Hot Body. Dead Eyes.

  1. I thank you Kurt for this it was very eloquently put. I myself have seen these dead eyes in so many from family members to the average Joe on the street and even for a long while without knowing it even in myself. What saddens me most is seeing it in the eyes of children that lost hope, that have lost it, that silently cry for help because they are lost. I take comfort in knowing that God has a plan and that those who follow him those with the holy spirit thriving with in them are perhaps just what those people need who have lost their way to help them find it again to live again. Again thank you and God Bless

  2. Like Kolae said above, it hurts the most when it’s kids/teens that have already lost hope.

    I find we are often more concerned with our comforts than caring for the most important things for those surrounding us on a daily basis…whether co-workers, the lady at starbucks, and even more shamefully our friends and family.

  3. WONDERFUL POST!!! I have always loved the way you think and your heart for our Lord. This last years prayer theme for my life has been for God to lend me his eyes, ears, and heart so I can see those around me the way He does-thus, breaking my heart for what breaks His.

    Such wisdom flows from your heart pastor Kurt! Thanks for being exactly who you are in Him. I am always encouraged and inspired to ‘raise the bar’ in my relationship with God and with those around me.

    May God continue to bless your family as you continue to follow Him :)

  4. Just wanted to share something encouraging. I heard That Central Valley School district. Is negotiating and trying to buy the Old Yokes next to Eastpoint church to change it into an Alternative school to replace the Barker Center currently on Broadway between McDonald and Evergreen and moving it to Sprague and Progress. I find this encouraging because I was a Juvenile Probation Officer for 20 years. We have to be an example to our kids. Who was the greatest example of what a father should be God he was such a great example that his son was willing to die for him and for us. The only way we can come to god is through Jesus. So how do we get our children to Jesus? Jesus was our last chance. Then god was so loving that he gave us 2014 years after his death to get it together and we still have not done that. We destroyed his trust by not listening to his word in the garden about what would hurt us and listened to the devil. Then we lied about it and blamed each other. So we were cast out of a beautiful garden that meant our every need. We further disappointed him by not teaching our children to follow his word and one child murdered the other. We did not listen to any of his prophets or his 10 simple rules. Has anything changed? Nope!! We are all still worshiping idols the internet our phone our cars our money our homes. We have destroyed our air, our water our animals our plants our land atmosphere and every beautiful thing he has given us we are still spoiled brats. We are still murdering our brothers,sister and arguing about which child or church is better. We all still have specks and logs in our eyes. Jesus died for us all and we still deny him. We have not learned a thing from history or the Bible. We all deserve death. If we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. We are all sinners and all his children. What did Jesus do forgive, forgive,Love,love unconditionally. He’s an innocent and we abort him and crucify him every day Yet we still are breathing for now. As god said even his son will not know the end of days.So everyday love Jesus and each other and follow his commandments and crack open his book because it will apply for all times and all ages. As he will come like a thief in the night. So help those children in that alternative school and their families and help our own children and ourselves to know god and Jesus and his word. What so ever you do for the least of my brothers or sisters that you do onto me. Give them Jesus,food,shelter and clothing because we are all bankrupt in Spirit and in everything else from East to West from north to south on In all ages all churches and all classes from the rich to the poor and we are all his children. God already said this a 7 Billion times.

    • I’d heard this news and I’m excited too! In fact, we heard yesterday that CV School District has purchased this property! Thanks for sharing your heart, Tina, and thanks for doing what you do for the youth of our city. You are loved.

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A Friend Is . . .

“A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes” Proverbs 17:17 NIRV.

imageOver the years, I’ve had the fun-tastic pleasure of taking several motorcycle trips with great friends. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than riding the back roads of God’s country with the wind in my face and surrounded by buddies.

We laugh. We play. We ride hard. We see beauty beyond description and enjoy the delight of companionship.

Once on the way home from a trip to La Grande, I started to think about what makes a good friend. Here are some ideas I came up with:

• A friend is someone who invests time in the relationship.

• A friend is someone who listens (even when they’ve heard that story a hundred times).

• A friend is someone who protects you by pointing out the dangerous gravel and potholes along the way.

• A friend is someone who willingly shares with you (especially when you forget sunscreen or anything to clean your bug-smattered bike).

• A friend is someone who might tease you about snoring, but they’d never really complain.

• A friend is someone who is unafraid to say hard things in love.

• A friend is someone who looks you in the eye and says, “I love ya, man!” and you know they mean it.

What other qualities of a good friend can you think of? Do you possess these qualities as well?

What next?

If you read this and thought about a good pal, thank Jesus for that person, and pick up the phone to invite them to coffee soon.

If you read this and wish you had a friend, follow the advice my momma gave me decades ago, “If you want a friend, be friendly, and find someone looking for a friend just like you.”

May I pray for you?

Jesus, thank you for modeling perfect friendship so that by imitating you we can become friends who love at all times and help when trouble comes. Continue to show us how to serve each other in ways that please you. Amen.

image

7 Responses to A Friend Is . . .

  1. I was thinking this same thought this morning. i have always tried hard to be a good friend to listen and be there for anyone who needs me I am going through a rough divorce. However when I need a friend no one has time or me. I asked for my friends help through this but no one came. I am trying to understand that they can’t or won’t listen and praying but its a difficult time for me now :(

    • So sorry, Melissa. Praying for you right now. May Jesus give you His strength and grace in the midst of your struggle. You are loved.

    • Melissa, I don’t know if this will help, but I’ve noticed how nurturing people often have no one to turn to when they need nurturing! It’s not that friends don’t care. It’s that they don’t have the same gift. Also, they’re apt to feel scared when the strong shoulders they rely on start to slump.

  2. Kurt, your definitions of “A friend IS” points to our Great God as I AM. Your post also made me think of the church Body of Christ with each part of that body meant to be BFFs with the Lord and one another. Since church unity is a life prayer theme for me, I’ll highlight this in the Christian Poets & Writers blog – http://christianpoetsandwriters.blogspot.com. God bless your good work and friendship in Christ.

    • So true, Mary! Thank you for adding to the conversation and reposting this on your site. Love it, love you!

  3. Kurt thanks for your insight about a friend. I am so blessed to have you as my Pastor. I learned long ago that one can normally count on one hand their true friends. They are the ones who are there for you before you even ask for help, and no matter how many miles separate you, when you see them again your friendship hasn’t missed a beat. Remember, “What a friend we have in Jesus” we all need to go to him in prayer. He is steadfast, faithful, and above all he cares, and loves us beyond belief. Love you Kurt!
    I will pray for you Melissa.

What Rejection Can Teach You
I’ll never forget the Sunday years ago when a little old lady cornered me in our tiny church lobb [more]
How to Succeed at Everything that Matters
In our culture, we underrate failure, and overrate success, so it might seem pointless to add my vo [more]
Hot Body. Dead Eyes.
At the end of a recent trip to Southern California, my wife and I took the scenic route on our way [more]
A Friend Is . . .
“A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes” Proverbs 17:17 NIRV. Ov [more]
My BIGGEST Pet Peeve! (And why it matters.)
We all have things that push our buttons and tick us off. Even the gentlest and kindest among us ha [more]
I believe in you!
In the midst of some extremely tough losses and difficult decisions several years ago, my uncle look [more]