Steven Furtick — The Blessing of Rejection
So, my oldest son, Elijah, comes up to me the other day and said:
— "Dad, I figured out what, like one of my greatest strengths is"
— "Well, what is it? You know, you have so many".
— "I know, but there's one in particular that I have, and it's that I'm not scared of being embarrassed. Like, I don't care what people think of me. Like for instance, in my class, we're getting to dress up this week, and I get to be Yoda, and I'm totally painting my face green. Now, some people in my class, they wouldn't paint their face green, because they would think that people would think that they look stupid, but I don't care if people think I look stupid. I think it looks awesome! I mean, you get to be Yoda, and you get to have a green face! I'm totally doing it!"
I was watching him, thinking like, I hope he doesn't lose that. I mean, I don't want him to be a freak with a green face all of the time, but if it's his greatest strength that he's not really afraid to be rejected by people at this point, then perhaps it could be said that the greatest weakness of a lot of us is that we live our lives paralyzed by a fear of rejection.
As we're talking about being unqualified in the eyes of the world but knowing that we're called by God, sometimes having people tell us that we don't measure up, or maybe in telling ourselves that we don't measure up, but having to have an estimation of faith that believes what God says above and beyond what we feel or know about ourselves, I want to talk about the topic of rejection. And the way I want to put it may be a little interesting, but if you'll go with me, I want to talk about the blessing of rejection.
One time, Peter, the Apostle, the one who failed Jesus miserably, by the way, but found out that God often selects what man rejects when he was selected to preach on the day of Pentecost, as he was writing a letter to a church that was experiencing persecution, he began to speak to them about rejection.
In 1 Peter 2:4-8, he says, "As you come to Him, the living stone rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, for in Scripture it says, "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame."
Now, to you who believe this stone is precious, but to those who do not believe, the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. I wonder what rejections in your life God wants to build your future on. I heard a talk from a gentleman who was so paralyzed by his fear of rejection that he decided to do something about it.
So, he set about an experiment called "100 Days of Rejection". Some of you, I just described your sixth grade dating life, but He wanted to send a message to himself that it's not the end of the world when somebody tells you no, and he wanted to be an entrepreneur, but he knew that his fear of rejection stood the chance of keeping him from experiencing his dreams.
So, he made a list of things he would go and try to do, and he did a lot of crazy stuff, like he went to a fast food restaurant, and he asked if he could get a free refill on his burgers. They told him no. He went to a PetSmart pet shop, and asked if they would give him a haircut, like a German Shepherd, and they told him no. He showed up at a Super Bowl party and said, "I have chips, can I join you guys?" And they told him no.
But he said for almost every no, he got an equally surprising yes. He asked a police officer, "Can I drive your car for a minute"? The officer let him do it. There were some other ones as well that he was shocked by. He went in a Krispy Kreme and asked if they would arrange the donuts in the form of Olympic rings. Five minutes later, the lady came out and had made Olympic rings out of donuts, and she even paid for it. She bought it for him.
It was amazing for him, he said, because he realized that, you know, sometimes it's as simple as asking and getting a yes, but he said even in getting the no, something powerful happened inside of him, because he realized that no no is final.
Now, if you think about the concept of rejection in your own life, you really only have two choices. You can either live underneath the shadow of rejection, or you can live with the pain of regret. All of the things that may have been if you had tried, all of the things that could have been if you had dared, all of the things that had a possibility or a chance of happening, but you were so afraid of rejection.
And that's why I love Peter, because he comes in to tell us that in the case of Jesus, it was the stone that the builders rejected, the one they turned away from, that became the cornerstone of what God built, which was the church. Which will you choose, the pain of rejection or the pain of regret?
Maybe you've heard that Albert Einstein was expelled from school. Maybe you've heard that Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas Star. They said Walt Disney lacked imagination. Maybe you've heard that Steve Jobs was fired from his own company. Maybe you've heard that Oprah was fired once because she showed too much emotion. But her emotion has served her pretty well since then, and I think sometimes it's a matter of keeping rejection in perspective.
The way you process rejection has everything to do with the way you experience your future, and there are a few ways to process rejection. One is to retaliate.
Some people, when they're rejected, they're going to prove to somebody that they do have what it takes. They're going to spend the rest of their life trying to show that I am it, that I can do it. Retaliation. Sometimes this can be extremely violent, and a lot of the evil and terrorism that we see in our world today is the result of a root of rejection in somebody's heart that wasn't dealt with properly. And so, a lot of what we see sometimes as aggression is really nothing more than the manifestation of a rejection that was not dealt with. Because someone never finds their place, they spend their whole life retaliating.
That's one way you can deal with it. But far more often, I see people retreat when rejected. I just won't ask again. I just won't try again. I just won't move again. I just won't speak again, I always sound stupid when I do. I'm not going to put myself out there anymore. They didn't appreciate me the last time. So, I retreat. I go hide in my cave. I go hide in my feelings. I go hide within my ego. I go hide within a false construct of myself.
But, there is a third way that the Scripture gives us, and that is to redeem rejection, that the stone the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone. What am I trying to say? That possibly, the greatest rejection in your life could become, if you treat it the right way, and if you process it the right way, and if you bring it to God as an offering and learn what to do with it, it could become the building block for the greatest things that He wants to accomplish through you.
I want you to realize that when we celebrate what Christ did for us, and the cross that He died on for us, our blessing was only made possible because of His rejection. The grace that you stand in and that I stand in today because of Christ was only made possible because He embraced rejection.
In fact, Isaiah the prophet says, "He was despised and rejected". In fact, it says that, "He came to His own, and His own received Him not". I don't think there's anything more painful in the world than coming to people who should get you, who should accept you, who should appreciate you, and not being received by them.
See, it is not the rejections that you experience, but it is your response to those rejections that determines the trajectory of your life. So, what can rejection do? How can it become a blessing? How did Peter go from being a failure who went back to fishing to writing to us to say that the rejection in your life can become the very building block of your future?
A few things that will keep rejection in perspective. First of all, I believe that rejection reveals. Rejection reveals. When rejection comes into your life, it's an opportunity to prioritize and to allow God to reveal what's really important to you.
Sometimes, rejection comes into your life to show you that you don't want something bad enough to push through it. You don't want something bad enough to face the ridicule and if that's the case, maybe you shouldn't do it. Sometimes rejection comes into your life to reveal who's really with you.
See, I have a belief as a pastor, because sometimes people will leave the church, and it used to really frustrate me, and upset me, and disorient me, and sometimes I would feel like, you know, maybe the church was going to fall apart if a certain person left. But, I found out something about God, that He doesn't let anybody leave your life without having an upgrade in mind before they do.
So, when someone rejects you in your life, you have to understand that often, God is creating space for an upgrade in your situation. And, rejection is a valuable tool if you allow it to reveal sometimes who is supposed to be in your life and who's not supposed to be in your life for the next season that you're in. Rejection can reveal.