Many people struggle with rejection their entire lives. They live with hurt that God never intended for them to hold onto. They ask questions like, “Why didn't (or why don't) they like me?” “Why didn’t (or why don’t) they believe in me?”
The definition of rejection is the dismissal of a person, place, or proposal. Bo Bennett said, “Rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success."
Where does rejection come from?
Rejection could come from any source: family members, religious people, classmates, teammates, teachers, coaches, or co-workers. I remember times in my life where I didn't fit in or wasn't accepted by church people, coaches, and more.
Why does rejection happen?
Often, people won't accept you because of their own comfort level. They aren't willing to take a chance on someone who looks or acts differently than they do.
People might also reject others because of their own beliefs about race, personality, culture, family, religion, or lifestyle.
What should you do if you get rejected?
You basically have two choices:
- Live with the shame of your rejection; or
- Learn from the pain of your rejection.
The Scriptures teach us that God redeems and overcomes our rejection. For example:
- Joseph was rejected by his brothers, but was later elevated to a position of authority.
- David was rejected by his parents, but God chose him to be king!
- Jesus was rejected by His friends and also by the religious establishment. However, He triumphed over death, and He still reigns 2,000 years later!
Rejection hurts the most when it comes from people that we thought loved us unconditionally. However, God allows us to experience rejection because He has a purpose for it. He works rejection out for our good!
Let’s look at several of the positive things that can happen when people reject us:
1. Rejection leads us to redemption.
First Corinthians 7:23 tells us:
Redemption means "bought with a price." Jesus Christ, who is both fully God and fully man, accepts you. You belong to God. Jesus paid your ransom with His blood. He wiped your sin-debt away. You are no longer a slave; now, you are a beloved son or daughter.
If everyone accepted you, then you would never appreciate the fact that God completely accepts you.
2. Rejection leads us to self-evaluation.
Second Corinthians 13:5 tells us: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test.”
Look around you. Do you really want to be like everyone else in your circle? Why do you need people to like you? Ask yourself why you are holding onto past rejection.
Father God has a bright future for you. There is too much in store for you to be stuck on yesterday.
3. Rejection leads us to the right relationships.
Thank God you have been rejected. Why would you have wanted to waste another day with a fair-weather friend? Be thankful they showed their true colors. I'm thankful the few friends I've got have been there; will be there; and accept me for who I am, not for what I do or can do for them.
4. Rejection leads us to repentance.
Some folks need to hit bottom before they ask for God's forgiveness. We must be careful not to hinder God's sovereign process for someone with whom He may be dealing.
The New Testament message in the book of Acts was pretty simple: repent! The word “repent” means to change your mind and to change direction. Changing your mind and direction is how you receive a new start with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we experience rejection, sometimes it inspires us to change the way we think, and new thinking helps bring us into a better life.
5. Rejection leads us to right-standing with God.
The Bible calls right standing with God “righteousness.” Sometimes we get rejected because of our own sins and poor decisions. Sin separates us from God and others.
However, when we are rejected, sometimes that rejection is the wake-up call we need to get right with God and others. If we learn from the pain, experiencing rejection can help with our decisions and daily living.
So sometimes rejection is actually good.
Not only can God redeem it in the five ways listed above, but rejection can also be good when you’re rejected by the right people! I can think of three types of people by whom you should never want to be accepted—people you definitely don’t want to emulate:
1. The Has-Beens:
Sometimes people reject you because your history isn’t as shiny as theirs. Your glory days weren't so glorious. Your good ol’ days weren't that good.
How depressing life must be if it peaked at 18 -22 years old! It’s not God’s will for you to have a short period of glory and then live a mundane existence the rest of your life. The Bible says that God "makes all things new." So don't be upset if someone rejects you during their "peak" time, or because your history isn’t as glorious as theirs.
God's people continue to thrive throughout their lives. A Has-Been has a short window in which they can feel special, but then they spend the rest of their life talking about it. Their identity gets wrapped up in a few shiny years, and they never discover what God has for them the rest of their lives.
If you know any Has-Beens, celebrate their good fortune, but know that God has so much more for you.
2. The Wannabes:
Listen, there are people who reject you because they are jealous of you. These people are dreamers, but not doers. They can't recognize God's gift in people, and they often leave behind a trail of broken relationships.
Wannabes want you to fail because they can't stand the fact that God has gifted you in some way. These people have very little faith, and they never move forward. Wannabes reject others and gossip because they are desperate and lonely.
3. The Gonna-Bes:
The Gonna-Bes aren't bad people, but they will slow you up. They reject those who believe in change, in a bright future, and in better days. Why? Because they aren't willing to forego their own comfort and take a chance on someone else or risk taking a different path.
The sad truth is that Has-Beens, Wannabes, and Gonna-Bes reject others because they have been rejected. My best advice is that if one of these folks has rejected you, don’t get too down about it. Love them anyway and extend grace to them, but don’t worry about their opinion. Focus on God’s opinion instead.
I am a father of three, and I love my children. However, I still hope my children experience rejection:
- I hope they are rejected by anyone who would hinder God's plan for their lives.
- I hope they are rejected by the Wannabes, the Has-Beens, and the Gonna-Bes.
- I hope they are rejected by those who settle for fitting in with everybody else; because ultimately, rejecting leads to repentance.
What about you? Are you willing to learn from the pain of rejection and move forward with your life?
If we will learn from the pain of our rejection, instead of carrying the scars forever, God will redeem it. The pain of rejection will work for our good and bring us into right fellowship with God and with His people.