WHAT TO DO WITH REJECTION
A few years ago, I went with a close friend to a local shopping area to approach people and share the Gospel. It had been awhile since I had gone out to talk to strangers, so I was nervous, but also full of anticipation about what the Lord was going to do. We were prepared for some powerful God encounters.
Things were going fine until we tried to engage in conversation with a certain man. Before we could even begin to explain what we were doing, he pulled out his wallet and flashed a police badge. He said, “I’m an undercover officer, and unless you want to take a ride in the back seat of my car, I suggest you walk away and leave me alone.”
Regardless of whether this man was really a police officer, and whether he could actually arrest us for trying to share the Gospel with him, the one thing I was sure of was that I hated the way the encounter made me feel. I remember that moment so distinctly. I walked away and immediately thought to myself, “I’m done with this. Here we are trying to share a message with people that can literally change their lives, and this is what I have to deal with? This is ridiculous. It’s just not worth it.” Any excitement I had to see people respond to the Gospel was gone. It knocked the wind out of me.
I am glad that I did not allow that encounter to cause me to give up on evangelism completely. And I have experienced a lot of others like it since. But I have learned from these occasions what I need to do. I get back up, dust off my knees, give myself a pep talk and get back on the wagon. Evangelism is not for the weak of heart or the thin-skinned. We need to toughen up a bit and learn to handle rejection with maturity.Evangelism is not for the weak of heart or the thin-skinned. We need to toughen up a bit and learn to handle rejection with maturity. Click To Tweet
Too often, believers are afraid to step out and share the Gospel because of the inevitable rejection that they will face. Here are four thoughts about rejection that can be useful to help us press through it:
1.) Do Not Take it Personally
While it may sound cliché, it is true that people’s rejection of the Gospel is not a rejection against us, but against the Lord Himself. We are simply communicating the message that Jesus has commissioned us to share as His ambassadors. We are not representing ourselves, but God. We did not create the Gospel, He did. So, we must train ourselves to not take it personally when people refuse the message.
Whether someone just brushes us off or whether they scream in our faces, at the very core they are rebelling against God. So, we need to put them in His hands. We are simply called to give them an opportunity to hear the message of hope that they desperately need.
To experience rejection and not take it personally is easier said than done, especially for those who are sensitive to it. But over time and continually training our minds, we can learn to walk through rejection with the grace of God and keep ourselves from getting offended.
2.) Realize the Enemy’s Role
When we share the Gospel, we enter into spiritual warfare. We are in direct conflict with the enemy, who has the whole world under his power (1 John 5:19) and wants nothing more than to stop people from responding to the Lord. And he knows the power of rejection to silence Christians. The Bible says we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers. (Ephesians 6:12) So, even when it is people we are conversing with, there is an invisible force at work that will do anything it can to shut us up.
Just a couple of months ago, my youngest daughter and I were giving out door hangers from our church to homes in our community. One lady looked out her door and screamed, “Don’t you ever come back here again, do you understand?” I told her Jesus loved her and we walked away. But the sting of that situation took the breath out of me, especially since I was with my five-year-old. It took everything in me to not jump back into the van and call it a day. However, I had to remind myself that the devil will do anything he can to keep us from sharing the Gospel. This woman was not my enemy. The devil was simply using her attitude to try to discourage me. This is a perspective that we need to keep, because it is so easy to get into flesh-and-blood thinking and forget the identity of our real enemy.
3.) Remember Jesus was Rejected
Hebrews talks about Jesus as our great high priest, able to sympathize with us in every way (Hebrews 4:15). Even the Son of God, who lived a perfect life and loved everyone experienced rejection throughout His life and ministry. John 7:5 says that His own brothers did not believe Him. He was constantly under attack from the spiritual leaders of His day. Many people rejected Him. And He was eventually put on trial on trumped up charges, humiliated, beaten and hung on a cross by the very creation that He came to save! So, in light of all the rejection our Savior went through to provide eternal life for us, maybe our perspective on dealing with rejection on a much smaller scale needs to change.
Jesus actually told us in advance that the world would hate us like it hated Him (John 15:18). He never painted a picture of an easy road when it came to following Him. So, it is safe to say that rejection will be par for the course at times. The sooner we embrace that reality and pray that the Lord will prepare us for it, the more effective we will be in living an evangelistic lifestyle.
4.) The Root of Rejection is Fear of Man
Identifying the root of rejection is important in overcoming it. Rejection is founded on the fear of man. When we care too much about what people will think about us, we are easily offended when they will not listen to us or respond in the way we think they ought to. The antidote for the fear of man is having a healthy fear of the Lord. God’s opinion of us has to become the sole motivator in our lives. We cannot operate in fear of people who have no power over us other than to physically harm us. Rather, we need to have a healthy fear of the All-powerful God that we serve.
If we are walking in the fear of God, and care more about what He thinks, then we can learn to share the Gospel free from the fear of being rejected. After all, if our aim is to please our Heavenly Father, then obedience to His Word—even when it costs us something—is all we need to concern ourselves with. We can leave the response of other people in His hands and rest assured that we did our part.
Of course, none of these principles come easily. I still allow the fear of rejection at times to silence my witness. But I am learning through each encounter to train my mind to think from these perspectives. And over time, it becomes easier. You learn how to talk yourself off the cliff as you continue to minister despite rejection. Because the possibility that the seed you are planting can help populate heaven becomes more of a motivating factor to share than the possibility of being rejected tempts you to keep silent.