Death and taxes may be certain, but so is rejection. Rejection is part of the human experience.
No matter who rejects you, it’s painful, and it hurts.
It seems to hurt more when the rejection comes from another believer, but worst of all, it is most painful when you are rejected by those who have authority over you.
So then, if rejection is to be expected, what should be your response?
(For the full message, watch the video. If you want the synopsis, read on…)
For several years I attended a church that appreciated worship flags during the service.
One of the reasons I was attracted to the church was because of the freedom to use and explore worship flags.
I created Catch the Fire Worship Flags while I was part of that church family, and the business changed from being a small cottage industry venture into a growing company.
I was invited to start and lead a worship flagging dance team at my son’s school, and I received many invitations to teach and train others to use worship flags locally, and around the world.
Then one Sunday during worship, I felt the familiar stirring in my spirit to express worship with colors and movement and I went to where the worship flags were usually kept. I had supplied many of the worship flags that the church used.
I didn’t see the basket of worship flags so I asked one of the elders (we’ll call her River) where the church worship flags were stored.
That’s when I found out, a new policy had been made that only “approved” flaggers would be allowed to dance with the worship flags at church.
I waited a moment, expecting her to tell me I was one of the approved flaggers (I mean, obviously, because look at my credentials.) It didn’t happen. I was not approved. I had been rejected.
I was shocked, surprised, and hurt.
I was really, really hurt.
Many thoughts went through my head, but the most dominant thoughts were, “Doesn’t River know who I am? “ and “Doesn’t she know I’ve been called and anointed by God to be a forerunner in the worship arts movement?”
Looking for Answers
I struggled with it for weeks and months. I had a lot of questions.
I was too wounded to confront River directly because I would have either sounded aggressively entitled, or emotional and whiney. I didn’t want to be either of those, so I kept silent.
I also didn’t talk to others about it, because I was wounded and I would have consciously (or unconsciously) attempted to build a tribe of supporters for myself, which would have caused division and animosity within the church family.
I still needed answers and I need to take my wounded feeling somewhere. What was I supposed to do? Where could I get answers?
I turned to the only other option I had… I talked to the Lord about it.
He wasn’t going to be put-off by my whining, and my self -justification wouldn’t discolor his thoughts about River. He loved us both and his thoughts and plans for each of us is eternally good.
Laying It Down
The first thing God told me was my identity was not in the gift.
I’ve heard it before. I’ve said it to others before. This time, though, I needed to let it sink in and take root in myself.
My identity was not in my gift, and it was not in my call.
I worshipped God because He is God, and worthy of every ounce of my expression to him, and not because of the accolades or the opportunities the gift offered me.
Whether I was ‘approved’ to worship with worship flags in the church, did not undermine who God made me to be, or what his purpose was for me.
I could, and would, worship him whenever and wherever I wanted because worship – the act of giving honor and glory to God – is a lifestyle and not an event.
At church, when there too many flagging worshippers than the space allowed, I always defered to others. Am I less of a worshipper? No, of course not. If Christ did it, should I not follow his example?
And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human!
Next, God asked me to let go of bitterness I held for River. It was much more difficult. I was holding onto the bitterness like it was my right.
God always knows better than we, doesn’t he? He patiently talked with me about my prideful attitude.
I was considering myself a Christian martyr for being rejected because of Christ, but when I cast myself as a victim then I was creating a ‘me and others’ situation which only leads to division and separation.
He lovingly corrected my error. I was not rejected because of Christ, because both River and I were passionately living in the full revelation that we each possessed.
She wasn’t opposed to worship flags, and she wasn’t opposed to me.
We were both ‘in Christ’, and therefore I could not whine that I was rejected and despised because of Christ.
Instead, God showed me the value of
1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins.”
If she had sinned against me by rejecting me, then I could still love her intensely because love will act as a canopy, or a covering for all kinds of sin or grievances we have towards others. The relationship with people always comes before the gift.
All of a sudden (after several months), I was free from my bitterness, and self righteousness.
It was easy for me to lay down my worship flags in the church. I still worshipped with flags, but I did it outside. I was still operating in my gift in all the other open opportunities but I could let go of my entitlement to flag at church.
God has called you, he’s anointed you, and he’s given you a gift. His favor is on you, so why isn’t it happening for you yet?
The answer is, you, me, we all have to grow in favor with people too.
You may be held back because people around us also need to understand how your unique calling and gift fit into their organized world.
If you try to force change, it will drive a wall, and a division. Trust God to be your press release that will prepare the way for your calling.
As Jesus grew, so did his wisdom and maturity. The favor of men increased upon his life, for he was loved greatly by God. Luke 2:52
I wasn’t rejected because my gift wasn’t understood; my church loved worship flags.
Many others who are breaking up hard ground, especially in the worship arts area, it may take a lot of time and patiently bringing awareness so the leaders and congregation feel comfortable with something new.
Even so, I still required favor from River, and the other elders and leaders in the church. God worked it out, and in the process, I gained even more favor than ever before.
About a year later, I met with the lead pastors; we discussed the issue of being rejected as an ‘approved’ flagging worshipper. They weren’t even aware that I was not given freedom to use worship flags (remember, I hadn’t confronted River, or talked to anyone else about it).
Immediately, they acknowledged the gift and call on my life to lead worship with flags; and they were impressed (giving me favor) that I was willing to lay down my flags and honor the River’s decision. They assured me that I was approved.
I appreciated their affirmation but I said because I had been explicitly told by River that I was not approved, she would also have to officially invite me back into the band of approved flaggers.
The next Sunday, I was at the back, worshipping with my arms wide, eyes closed and lost in my gratitude and wonder of God. I felt someone place an object in my open hands. I opened my eyes and looked to see who and what it was.
River was in front of me, and she had just placed a pair of flags in my hand. Rejection had been broken.
The best part is that the pastors had not talked with River about it. It was God who prompted her, and made things right.
Finally, consider if God is creating a new sphere of influence for you to use your gift. If the door is closed on the inside, the heavens are open outside.
When you can’t stay where you are, you need to move.
If David was not banished from Saul’s court, he never would have developed and trained the band of mighty men who fought with him, and later for his army when he became king in place of Saul.
If the early church wasn’t persecuted, the gospel wouldn’t have spread so far and so quickly.
If the actions of Saul (turned Paul) hadn’t have made the new Jewish believers fearful to include him in their churches, he might never have been directed to preach the gospel to Gentiles.
We are all rejected by our leaders, or peers. I wish it wasn’t part of the human experience but it is.
Dear one, there is one who never rejects you, and His name is Jesus. We don’t have to pretend it doesn’t hurt, or be afraid to whine and complain to him. He loves to listen to us, because he understands it all. He was rejected. He was hurt, wounded and exhausted from the turmoil of it all.
When (not if) you are rejected, run to him. He will heal your heart, and he will direct your steps.
One of the ways, I cope with pain and rejection is to lose sight of my problems and focus on Jesus through worshipping him.
My situation will not change in 30 minutes but my perspective definitely does. The worship flags I always pick up when my heart hurts the most are Beautiful Offering.
They are my costly offering that is poured out at his feet. I bring my hopes that have been hurt, break open the alabaster jar and pour the perfume of my dance over him.
When you’ve been hurt, which worship flags do you pick up to lose yourself in his glorious presence?