I’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!)
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.
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)
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