If you’ve ever set out to accomplish something significant, then you are probably familiar with the feeling of “rejection”. Fear of rejection can be one of the most debilitating emotions around; it prevents many people from even taking the first baby-steps toward their dreams. And yet, the stark reality is this: the first-hand experience of rejection is almost always required in order to achieve anything worthwhile.
Some Real-Life Examples of Rejection (from Entrepreneur.com)
- Colonel Sanders heard “no” 1,009 times before he finally convinced a restaurant owner to pay him for the use of his secret recipe; now his finger-lickin’ chicken is served at more than 15,000 retail locations around the world
- Sylvester Stallone really wanted to play the role of Rocky; after all, it was his baby – he had written the script. Stallone wanted it so badly, that he endured 1,500 rejections before finally finding someone to finance his project.
- The founder of Pandora approached 300 investors before he got someone to take a gamble on his novel music project; today, that same internet radio service boasts 70 million active listeners.
Jesus: The Ultimate Rejection
Usually, when people of faith think about Jesus, they remember him for his divinity, his miracles, and his resurrection from the dead. But sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Jesus was also human, just like us. He faced rejection nearly every day; John, one of his closest followers, described it this way: “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” Jesus’ critics continued to reject him, even after his death: they propagated the story that his disciples had secretly stolen his body from the grave.
What can we learn about rejection from Jesus ? First, we must acknowledge that rejection is coming and we must make up our minds to face it head-on. Jesus knew that the leaders in Jerusalem were conspiring against him, but that did not prevent him from fulfilling his mission: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” In other words, Jesus made up his mind to walk straight into the oncoming rejection.
Secondly, we must prepare those that we lead for their own imminent rejection. In one of Jesus’ most famous sermons, he encouraged his followers this way: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” It is better to be prepare those around us for rejection, instead of letting it take them off-guard.
Rejection didn’t conquer Jesus in the end, though. After his glorious ascension into heaven, Peter boldly proclaimed this message to the very men who had conspired to put him to death: “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Ultimately, the only way for Jesus to carry out his earthly mission was through the experience of painful rejection. If we aren’t being rejected on a regular basis, we probably aren’t trying hard enough! Let’s make up our minds to accomplish something significant. Then, let’s prepare for rejection, embrace it, and continue on… in spite of it. I think we will be pleasantly surprised on the other side!