Because human beings are broken people we should not be surprised when they disappoint, hurt or reject us. Dealing with rejection, then, should be something we plan for rather than something we hope we never have to deal with.
Yesterday my pastor made the point that Jesus did not just suffer rejection; Jesus planned for it. That idea got me thinking about my own life.
A number of years ago at a former church I decided to become a licensed pastor. If you are uncertain about the difference between a licensed and an ordained pastor, a simple way to think about it is that a licensed pastor is planning on being in ministry temporarily and an ordained pastor is planning on lifetime ministry.
Applying for licensure was a big deal. At this church the process was a year long, including mentoring and spiritual vetting. At the end of the year I and two others seeking licensure were placed before the congregation for a vote of confirmation.
Little did I know that while I was outside the room someone was inside doing a character assassination on me and circumventing the due process of voting. As the Director of Worship Ministries I became the fall guy of worship tensions at the time.
When I came back into the room after the voting the other two had been confirmed and I had not.
I was devastated.
I kept it together while the meeting ended and then left immediately. Fortunately a close friend on staff caught up with me and we went out to get a bite to eat and talk it over.
A week later I had lunch with this man who talked harshly about me and he asked forgiveness for what he had done. The next year, and from time to time even now, I had to go back and forgive him again in my heart.
Eventually I was confirmed and I was able to work with this church elder again.
Since the fall of man rejection has become part of the human experience. Jesus knew this and knew that even his own father would have to reject him so he could fulfill his purpose.
I’m not perfect, but here are a few points that made all the difference in my experience with rejection.
1. Jesus is my model. He did not condemn; instead he forgave. My goal was to forgive and not become bitter, and I revisited that goal every time I thought about that experience.
You need to make this choice ahead of time.
2. I had a close friend. That night would have been radically different if my friend had not pursued me to see how I was doing.
You need to have a close friend.
3. I met with my detractor right away. I don’t remember if he initiated that meeting or I did, but dealing with it immediately was key.
Do not skirt the issue; deal with it as soon as you can.
4. I sought God. God is the only person who will never leave, forsake, or disappoint you. He will give you the strength to make it through tough times.
You need to make this a practice now and not just throw up random prayers in difficult times.
You may not know how or when you will experience rejection, but chances are you will experience it sometime in your life.
If you are struggling with rejection now you can begin these steps now. It’s never too late.
How can you better prepare to deal with rejection?