Fear of Rejection
All of us deal with fear, especially the fear of rejection. One definition of rejection is throwing something back. We’re going one way, and we’re thrown back.
You may be facing rejection from your job if you were laid off or “thrown back.” Perhaps you’re facing the ultimate rejection—divorce. Maybe you had dreams of playing professional sports but were rejected for not being good enough.
We try to build our lives around not being rejected because rejection hurts.
Physical Pain vs. Emotional Pain
Several years ago, I was lifting weights and one of the weights dropped on my big toe. My toe was broken in thirty places and had to be rebuilt. I remember how much it hurt at the time. I can describe the pain of crushing my toe, but I don’t feel bad about injuring myself anymore.
Yet the physical pain I felt is nothing like the pain of rejection.
When we were starting our church, a friend rejected me for no reason I could discern. Even today, that pain comes back and I can feel the grief almost as bad now as I felt back then.
Scientific data says the brain reacts more to being rejected socially than it does when experiencing physical pain. No wonder we have fear of rejection.
But there are healthy ways to deal with rejection and unhealthy ways.
Unhealthy Ways to Deal With Rejection
- Grow Rabbit Ears
There’s a saying in baseball that umpires can’t grow rabbit ears. What having rabbit ears means is when, as an umpire, you begin to listen to all the chatter around you. You hear people yelling about your call, questioning your ability to umpire. If you’re not careful, it can make you so crazy you’ll change calls and call things strikes that are way outside the strike zone.
As we look at the life of King Saul, we see the similarity of his fear of rejection. The prophet Samuel anointed Saul to be king before it was publicly announced. Suddenly, Saul begins to prophesy. But in 1 Samuel 10:12, we read, “A man who lived there answered, ‘And who is their father?’ So it became a saying, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’” Saul became the butt of a joke because his family did not have the best reputation. As we later see, listening to those voices affected Saul’s behavior in the future.
- Talk Bad About Yourself
Sometimes we try to reject rejection by putting ourselves down before someone else can. As we read further in the book of Samuel, we see how rejection caused Saul to lie and put himself down.
In 1 Samuel 10:15-16, “Saul’s uncle said, ‘Tell me what Samuel said to you.’ Saul replied, ‘He assured us that the donkeys had been found.’ But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.”
Saul was so terrified about being rejected that he didn’t tell his uncle that Samuel had anointed him to be king. The story goes on to say that when the people had gathered for Samuel’s announcement, Saul was nowhere to be found. He was hiding.
Eventually, Samuel presented Saul to the people, along with the king’s duties. But notice this: 1 Samuel 10:26-27 says, “Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. But some scoundrels said ‘How can this fellow save us?’ They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.” Talk about rejection!
- Toot Your Own Horn
Another way to increase the fear of rejection is to toot your own horn. Saul’s son, Jonathan, was a warrior. He and his dad fought side by side. The Bible says in 1 Samuel 13:3, “Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, ‘Let the Hebrews hear!’ So all Israel heard the news: Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost.”
Saul’s self-esteem was so brittle, he was unwilling to share the glory with his son. When you are with someone who always has to one-up you or who always turns the conversation back to them, they are insecure and are full of fear of failure.
- Go With Your Feelings
Feelings lie to us. They get us to do things to avoid that feeling of being rejected. Look at what Saul did when he went with his feelings.
In 1 Samuel 13:11-12, we read that Saul was instructed by Samuel to wait for him before offering a sacrifice before the Lord. When Saul’s men became anxious and began to scatter, Saul offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings without waiting for him.
Here is Samuel’s response in verse 10. “Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived and Saul went out to greet him. ‘What have you done?’ asked Samuel. ‘When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal and I have not sought the Lord’s favor. So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.’”
Samuel’s response is telling: “You have done a foolish thing.”
How many times have we ‘done a foolish thing’ by going with our feelings because we have fear of rejection?
Healthy Ways To Deal With Rejection
- Listen to the right people
Who are the right people? They’re the people in your life who will pray for you. They’ll encourage you. They’ll lift you up and celebrate with you.
- Talk to God
Listen to who He says you are. You are loved. You are valuable. You’ve been adopted, anointed, and appointed. You are loved beyond measure.
- Encourage others
Clap for others. Celebrate with others.
- Go with commitment, not feelings
Go with the foundation of your faith. Know who you are in Christ. You belong to God.
Pause and Consider
Jesus knows about rejection. He was rejected in areas and ways that we’ll never, ever, ever be rejected. Pour your heart out to Him. Accept Him and realize He has already accepted you. Then you’ll be able to have victory over the fear of rejection.
To learn more about overcoming the fear of rejection through an empowering relationship with Jesus, visit us in person or online at Fellowship Church. We’d love to share the life-changing message of God’s love with you.
Want to learn more? Watch the related sermon.