Have you heard of the “Rejection Hotline”? Apparently it’s no longer active, but for over 10 years, up until 2013, if someone asked you for your phone number but you didn’t have the gusto to say, “I really don’t want to give you my number, but thank you”, you had the option of giving someone an actual phone number to call. And if they indeed called it, this is what they would hear as the phone picked up:
“Hello, this is in not the person you were trying to reach. You have reached the Rejection Hotline! The person who gave you this number did not want you to have their real number. I know this sucks, but don’t be too devastated. So, why were you given the Rejection Hotline number? Maybe you’re just not this person’s type. Note: This could mean short, fat, ugly, dumb, annoying, arrogant or just a general loser. Maybe you suffer from bad breath, body odor, or a nasty combination of the two. Maybe you just gave off that creepy overbearing, psycho-stalker vibe…Regardless of the reasons, please take the hint. Accept the fact you were rejected, then get over it. And please, do your best to forget about the person who gave you this number, because trust us, they have already forgotten about you.”
At their height, the Rejection Hotline was a 2.5 million dollar annual company with over 60 million callers being rejected or at least calling the number to get in on the joke.
Rejection is a terrible thing, isn’t it??
Maybe you’ve been rejected by someone you thought would be a perfect future husband or wife. Maybe you had a business proposal that was turned down. There’s no doubt that someone reading this has been fired because you weren’t what the boss was looking for.
We have all faced rejection at some point. Especially those of us who survived middle school.
Even though rejection is very difficult and can be discouraging, rejection can also be the catalyst to redirection.
Jesus, in Mark 6, went back to His hometown of Nazareth. However, the reaction of the people Jesus grew up with was worse than indifference. It was rejection. Can you imagine? Jesus was rejected by the very people who should have known Him best. So how did Jesus handle the rejection? There are 4 things that Jesus does in that moment that are very instructive for us:
1. Shake it off.
Jesus says to His disciples as He sends them out: “And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them” (v.11). Jesus is equipping His disciples to go and do what He was doing. If Peter and James went into a town and the people rejected them, they were merely to shake the dust off their feet and go to the next village.
Isn’t there a popular song recently about shaking off the haters? Jesus is saying that dust represents their rejection and shouldn’t even stay on your feet. Have you been rejected by someone you cared about? Did a potential spouse or business partner or company turn you down? Do what Jesus did! Leave their rejection with them and move on.
2. Go where you’re received.
Jesus immediately turns from Nazareth, and Mark 6:6 says, “He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.” Jesus departed from the places that rejected Him and continued to minister, this time in places that would welcome Him. If you’ve been avoided for a job offer, don’t sit and sulk. Go and apply at another company that will pay attention to your resume! It’s important that we don’t waste time kicking doors that simply will not open. Does that friend not call you back? Keep persevering; but also look for relationships where you are valued and accepted, and where your friendship is reciprocated. And if you’re really really bold, just unfriend them. It’s hard, but so worth it.
3. Focus on your gifts and strengths.
Jesus doesn’t look at what their criticism was: “He’s just the carpenter. We know His family. We know His history. He won’t amount to anything. His past will define His future.” Criticism can be very instructive, even from those who are our enemies. But if we dwell unnecessarily on the critique, rather than our strengths and gifts, we will stay unproductive and bound. Jesus moved on to do what He did best: teach. So should we.
4. Use your energy to equip others.
Jesus could have sat in a corner lamenting His rejection. But He immediately begins teaching and then equipping His disciples to go and minister. I’ve found the greatest way to escape discouragement is to pour into others. At King David’s most desperate moment, as he was hiding out in the cave of Adullum, running from Saul and other adversaries, he begins to realize he is overwhelmed and in despair. Psalm 142 was the song David wrote while in the cave, and he feels completely alone. However, right after that, a large band of troubled men went to join him:
1 Samuel 22:1-2
David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. 2And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.
David began to lead these men, becoming ‘captain over them’, and then begins to rebound from his discouragement. If you’ve been rejected, find some people who receive your ministry and begin to pour into their lives. Rejection isn’t easy to handle, but we can follow Jesus’ example and allow rejection to become redirection in our lives and ministries!