Today's blog post is a guest post from Tisha Straup. Tisha and her husband Ben are the Senior Leaders at Bethesda Church in Vancouver, Washington. To discover more about their leadership and their church go to https://www.bethesdanw.com/
THE PAIN OF REJECTION IS REAL
The pain of rejection is probably the most difficult pain to overcome because it’s an attack against our greatest human need of belonging. And yet it’s impossible to go through life without experiencing rejection at some point. The question is not “will we suffer rejection”? The question is “how do we live as conquerors of rejection instead of victims to it?”
“So keep coming to him who is the Living Stone—though he was rejected and discarded by men but chosen by God and is priceless in God’s sight. Come and be his “living stones”
1 Peter 2:4-5 tPT
Even Jesus had to learn rejection. And if he had to graduate from the school of rejection, it means we do too. We are not destined to be “super seniors” at the school of rejection. We are destined to earn our degree in it and let it fuel our love for God and people. When we come to Jesus and tell Him that He can have our life, it means just that. Being born again means we let go of the old way of living and we embrace a life that mirrors His response to opposition and challenges. The problem is this; our old selves want to fight to be right, to be accepted, and exonerated. But our new self, hidden in Christ, embraces rejection because we know it shapes us into the living stones God chose us to be.
MY PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH REJECTION
As a pastor and leader, I had to learn rejection. To make it worse, I had a real people pleasing problem. Those two things combined created a massive issue in my heart that began to negatively impact my perception of myself and eventually my marriage. Rejection that’s not surrendered to Jesus builds a stronghold constructed of lies that protects a spirit of rejection.
When we entered into public ministry, the rejection from people was something I was not prepared for. Now I understand that people who are there to accuse, slander and criticize are suffering from rejection too! But when it first started happening, I thought there was something wrong with me. With every single person that complained about my preaching or questioned my motives, another rejection brick was laid on that stronghold. When someone would leave the church the wall would grow higher until one day that rejection turned into self hatred. There is no way a person can love others from a place of self-hatred. It’s impossible. We love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). So here I was in full time ministry, full of self-hatred and trying to love people. I was burning out fast. It got so bad that when people would compliment me, I believed they were lying to me. The spirit of rejection had convinced me that I was a failure and any sense of purpose or divine destiny over my life had become a lie.
IT WAS A DOWNWARD SPIRAL
Soon, I began rejecting my husband, because surely he must have wanted to be married to someone else. It was a downward spiral that finally ended on a night that I said out loud in the midst of a fight between us, “I want to hurt myself”. My husband was stunned as I laid in a ball, crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. How could this be? The thought of taking my own life had never EVER crossed my mind until now! I was the one who had experienced a miraculous encounter with the lavish love of the Father, and made it my life’s goal to show others how beloved they were to God. My husband held me and we cried together.
WE BEGAN TO PRAY
As the tears continued to stream down my face, my husband did the only thing he knew to do, He asked Holy Spirit for help. As we laid there, he began to pray for me. He prayed for the Spirit of Affection to break the spirit of rejection’s hold on me. He prayed that my true identity as a daughter of God would be my one and only conviction and confession. The Spirit of The Lord heard our cries and came to us and wherever He is, there is liberty! That night I received freedom from rejection and people pleasing and I’ve never looked back.
I don’t consider myself an expert on suicide but my story is my authority and I can tell you that suicidal thoughts always have a root of rejection. I believe when the voices of people or the Accuser become louder than the voice of our Father, we open the door to rejection, self-hatred and suicide. If your testimony is rejection and not Jesus, it’s not the people who rejected you that’s the problem. Jesus wants to wash away rejection with His affection.
LEADERS AND REJECTION
Leaders pay attention! We cannot lead people we are afraid of because perfected love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) It’s actually unloving to lead from a place of fear. People who traffic in manipulation and control will not like it when you deny their rejection a place of influence in your heart, because it’s a tool they use to get what they want. It’s only the fear of the Lord that leads to wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) not the fear of man. But there IS wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:19)! We have to be careful not to put on rejection glasses. Rejection glasses make healthy feedback feel like an attack and true wisdom like criticism.
Rejection is the foundation of instability and when we are afraid of rejection we lose our freedom.
I have met too many leaders that are disillusioned and tired. They are like the walking dead, sapped of the fire and boldness that they started out with. Some have even taken their own lives, leaving spouses and small children. My heart aches for them, but I understand. Our Bible colleges and seminaries are filled with classes about theology, hermeneutics and writing sermons but where is the teaching on how to process rejection? It’s time to talk about it. To lean into what God is saying and learn from our journeys together.
I believe God is raising up a new generation of leaders who will contend for the holy boldness our forefathers demonstrated. But its the boldness that only comes from the affection and affirmation of our Father in Heaven. Jesus didn’t go into the wilderness to face the temptation of the devil without the following words ringing in His ears: “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:17). And we shouldn’t go into ministry or continue in ministry without those words ringing in ours. It’s the truth of His love and affection that sets us free and keeps us free!