Handling Rejection

I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant. –Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

Don’t be surprised when someone rejects you or hurts you in any way. There is sin in the world. It does exist. People can be angry and evil. Hurt people will lash out at others. Rejected people will reject others. Rejection shouldn’t surprise anyone.

But what is the best way to handle rejection? One of the most helpful and practical things you can do is develop a plan ahead of time to help you deal with rejection.

Years ago, after coming on staff at Saddleback, I went to my pastor Rick Warren and asked him how he handled the anonymous letters of criticism from our congregation (I had received plenty of these from people in the church). I said, “Rick, do you ever get these?” He started chuckling! “Of course,” he answered. “I get plenty.” “So what do you do about it?” I asked. “I don’t read them,” he said.

It was one of the best pieces of rejection advice I’ve ever received. I never imagined that it was even an option!

The question of how to handle rejection becomes even easier when you answer a more foundational question: Who am I going to live my life for–God or humans?

If the answer is humans–you’re just setting yourself up for rejection. Why? Because you can’t please everybody. Period. The secret of simplifying life is saying, “I’m going to do what pleases God. If I live to please God, it’s always the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.”

You and I have a choice. We can choose whether we’re going to live for the applause of God or the applause of people. The crowd or God? Today’s Scripture tells us we can’t seek the approval of both at the same time.

God sees you differently than people do. People look at the externals; God looks at the heart. God always sees our potential. He knows who we are and who we can be. While other people look at the externals of our lives and accept or reject us accordingly, God sees the heart. He also sees us as His own children, wholly and dearly loved. That’s the perspective we need: that we are God’s children–and He never rejects His own.

Fully comprehending God’s love for us gives us power over rejection. His love is unconditional. He knows everything about us–and still loves us. His love has the power to stop our heads from moving side to side to see what others think of us. This love focuses our eyes on the One whose opinion really matters–God. Ephesians 1:4 describes it this way: “Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (NLT).

Wow. Without fault. That’s how God sees you. Nobody else sees you that way! Because God loves you, there’s no need to prove your self-worth. That is so relaxing…and freeing!

Getting our perspective straight and resting in the knowledge that He loves us–gives us the impetus we need to recover from the pain of rejection and to get busy living our lives for an audience of One.

1. If your closest friends were asked to comment on whether you live to please others or live to please God, how do you think they would answer? Why?

2. What is your personal plan for handling rejection?

1 Samuel 16:7; 1 John 3:2

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields is the senior director of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of leaders, teenagers and parents each year. He’s also the author/co-author of 50+ books including: Parenting in a Screen Saturated Culture; Intentional Parenting; 7 Ways to be Her Hero – the One Your Wife Has Been Waiting For; and To Have and To Hold. In addition to Doug’s speaking and writing, he is also the co-founder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and the youth pastor at Mariners Church. Doug has been married for more than 35 years to his wonderful wife Cathy, and they live near their 3 married children and 3 grandchildren in Southern California.

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