Imagine as a child that your family was chosen to meet and greet the President of the United States on behalf of your town. Imagine even further that your parents gathered and prepared all of the siblings for the meeting with one exception…..You. How would you feel? What emotions would you experience if this happened to you? You don’t have to imagine the concept too much because this paralleled what happened to David in 1 Samuel, Chapter 16.
The prophet Samuel, the equivalent to the most powerful man in Israel at this time, was tasked by God to go to the house of a man named Jessie because one of his sons was to be anointed the next King of Israel. One by one Jessie brings each of his sons before the
prophet. God's response to each young man is the same, "this is not the one". Finally, as Jessie brings his last son and God's response does not change Samuel asks Jessie in essence, "is there a chance that you forgot somebody"? Jessie responds with an almost comical oops and remembered this out-of-sight, out-of-mind kid he has tending sheep.
And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. 1 Samuel 16:5 (NKJV)
Commentators have speculated over why Jessie did not bring or recognize David. The bottom line is that David was not invited, not recognized, and not acknowledged as part of the family. David was the ultimate picture of rejection.
We have all experienced in some way the powerful emotion of rejection. The relationship which moved on when we wanted to stay. The pink slip from the employer we gave years of our creative lives to. The team we were cut from. The group we wanted to be part of that didn’t want us as a part of it. The teacher that discouraged us, the coach that demeaned us, the parent that disinherited us, the child that disowned us. Sadly, rejection is a universal part of the human experience.
While rejection is an unavoidable reality, I have found that there are some things I can do to mitigate or manage the emotional trauma that rejection generates in my soul. In other words, I have found ways to reject rejection:
I recognize a person’s right to be wrong about me. I have learned to love being underestimated. In 1984 the Portland Trail Blazers drafted Sam Bowie over Micheal Jordan. Sometimes the “experts” get it wrong.
I recognize my rejection is usually someone else’s opportunity. The converse is also true sometime, someone else’s rejection is my opportunity. Reminds me of the scripture in the book of Job. But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10 (NKJV)
I recognize that my rejection frees me up to another opportunity. My high school girlfriend broke up with me in the summer of 1977. This led me to a new college campus in a new state where I met my next girlfriend; 46 years later with 3 children, 2 children-in-law, and 4 grandchildren, we are still together!
I recognize the importance of having a greater appreciation for those who embrace me than concern over those who reject me. I refuse to give the second group and Satan more emotional power than the first.
I recognize that rejection does not need to be taken personally. In other words, people can reject my ideas, but it does not diminish my worth, People can reject my input but that does not invalidate my individuality. Accepting the fact that my value is not based on your opinion of me but on God's relationship with me is the key to rejecting rejection.
Over the years I’ve come to recognize that in being rejected I am in very good company. The greatest ideas and inventions of all time were almost all initially rejected. Consider the following statements from experts on some things that we commonly use today.
"This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
-- Western Union internal memo dated 1876.
"I do not believe the introduction of motorcars will ever affect the riding of horses." -- Mr. Scott-Montague, MP, in the United Kingdom in 1903.
"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
-- David Sarnoff's associates rejecting a proposal for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
"Who wants to hear actors talk?"
-- H.M. Warner (Warner Brothers) before rejecting a proposal for movies with sound in 1927.
Finally, I realized that the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus, God in the flesh, creator of the universe experienced rejection:
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. John 1:11 (NKJV)
When we experience rejection, it puts us in very good company, and like Jesus, rejection does not have to define us or deter us from the destiny God has for us.