The Deadly Matrix of Rejection
by John Paul Jackson
Rejection, by definition, carries a crushing weight of loneliness. In that moment of pain, the rejected person feels as though they are the only person to have ever experienced such pain. Rejection’s clammy hand wraps around our throat and begins to choke the life out of us emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Over the past several months, as I have been working on a book about overcoming rejection, I have waded through memories and remembered the painful pricks that came with each specific moment of rejection. This has made for a long journey. Fortunately, it is not a journey that I have walked alone.
Almost every significant spiritual giant in the Bible had to overcome rejection. Noah persevered as others laughed at him for building a wooden boat the size of an ocean liner. Elisha’s remarkable ministry began in a swirl of ridicule as 40 youth insulted him. A Moabite widow, Ruth, was an outsider who was forced to scavenge for food in a foreign land. Gideon was the lowliest member from the lowliest clan of the weakest tribe in all of occupied Israel. David’s brave offer to fight Goliath was initially rejected by Saul. Isaiah was reviled for his prophesies. Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den by 120 rulers that he governed. Jeremiah, the “Weeping Prophet,” was viewed as a traitor by the Israelites for prophesying God’s impending judgment. Jesus Himself was rejected in His own hometown.
The character of these mighty men and women of faith was forged by their journey of overcoming rejection. They broke free of the issues that cropped up in their lives and pursued their divine destiny. They overcame, but others could not break free of this pitfall, and their stories were full of lost potential, loneliness, and pain.
King Saul might be the greatest and most tragic example of a man withered by rejection. When the prophet Samuel, who was prompted by God’s voice, anointed Saul to be Israel’s king, the future ruler was paralyzed by the stigma of rejection attached to his family: “Am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of Benjamin?” The statement was eerily similar to Gideon’s, but unlike that mighty warrior, Saul could not escape the matrix of his rejection. Even at his coronation, Saul couldn’t be found— he was hiding among the people’s baggage. Samuel needed a prophetic word to find the soon-to-be-crowned king.
The early days of King Saul’s reign were full of revelation, victory, and unity. Saul prophesied, and the people rallied to him. But the flaws in his character, many caused by a fear of rejection, were soon revealed. Saul began to overstep godly authority, disobeying God’s word, laws, and authority structure; he offered his own sacrifices out of season. Defeat came, and Saul demanded vengeance. Eventually, Saul disobeyed direct orders from God—sparing those he should have slain. Samuel came to Saul to correct him, but the king refused and said defensively, “But I did obey the Lord.”
Nevertheless, God had no choice but to reject Saul as king and instructed Samuel to anoint David as Israel’s future king. As the young shepherd grew in favor with the Israelites after slaying Goliath, women would sing in the streets, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands,” which only added to Saul’s wound of rejection. Saul became very angry and opened his heart to an evil spirit. Afraid for his throne, Saul threatened David and tried to murder him on
Saul was in a complete freefall, due to rejection’s grip in his life. He was desperate to be freed, but nothing worked. Eventually Saul killed himself; his greatest battle, which was his inner one with rejection, had been lost. From that day on, the Bible says that Saul’s house “grew weaker and weaker.” Sadly, while Saul had known God’s voice and favor and had been chosen by God to rule, he could not conquer the spirit of rejection in his life; thus, he became self-destructive.
Breaking free of rejection can be a long, tedious process, but unless we seek healing for our wounds of rejection, we will fail to accomplish all God has purposed for us. Only when we truly experience God’s healing touch and transformation power will we be able to walk into our divine destinies. The choice is yours. Don’t shrink back. Seek God today.
Rejection is a make-or-break test for Christians. We all experience it, but the question remains: will we allow God to heal us from it as He did with many of our biblical heroes, or will we let rejection destroy us as it did King Saul?
I’m not sure there is a typical modus operandi for a spirit of rejection. But as I asked God to help me identify the effects of rejection in my own life, He began to show me some things that I later discovered are common to many who have experienced rejection. I came up with a self-assessment checklist of 14 questions that can help you discover if rejection has a stronghold in your own life.
- Do you anticipate or elicit a negative response from others?
A remark, even one that’s harmless or intended to help, is received as negative criticism. We may even perceive others as always trying to hurt us.
- When questioned, do you become agitated or angry?
Through the eyes of rejection, a normal give-and-take interaction will easily become interpreted as a personal attack. The other person may be trying to understand us, but our emotions cloud our perceptions and escalate to destroy relationships.
- Do you need to be considered an expert on almost everything?
No one sees the whole picture, yet those of us who have experienced rejection often express a prideful and opinionated view, peaking as if we know it all.
- Are you known for being argumentative?
We believe that we must always be right, because if we allow others to be right, then we would feel invalidated. Therefore, to stave off the feelings of rejection, we fight to be right.
- Do you believe that you are on a higher spiritual plane and that your opinions should be favored above others’ opinions?
For many of us, there is a tendency to consider, almost exclusively, our own portion of “the truth.”
- Do you experience marked mood swings?
In the course of just a few hours, we can move from anger to giddy bouts of laughter; from quietness and standoffishness to periods of being very vocal and “the life of the party.”
- Do you do things to merely gain acceptance/attention?
Colored by the experience of rejection, we may express ourselves with volatility and aggression just to elicit agreement—or a response—from a spouse or co-worker.
- Do people often tell you that you are oversensitive?
Already wounded, we are easily hurt and protective, so we tend to withdraw and isolate ourselves quickly.
- Is your mood usually dictated by the moods of those around you?
Instead of finding an anchor in God’s love, the wounded person often flows with the emotional tenor of others.
- Do you over-value others’ positive evaluation?
It is not unusual for a person dealing with rejection to over-value praise. At the same time, simple criticism can become emotionally withering to us.
- Do you expect to be overlooked, and do you require special encouragement to participate in anything?
Those of us with revelatory gifts may feel overlooked in our local church and unsure how to exercise our God-given gifts. So, we may require an unusual amount of encouragement. When we carry the baggage of rejection with us, we expect to be rejected.
- Do leaders consider you inconsistent or unreliable?
It’s harder to provide a strong, consistent ministry while in “survival” mode rather than “conquering” mode. Leadership requires the ability
to accept criticism with an objective viewpoint, as well as taking responsibility when things go wrong.
- Do you seldom attend a Bible study, social event, party, or blend in with others, because you see yourself as different?
When dealing with rejection, we can become self-absorbed and inwardly directed. If we lack people skills, we may find it extremely difficult to reach beyond ourselves to minister to, or even be with others.
- Do you measure your personal value in the frequency of your spiritual revelations?
Sometimes a person with revelatory gifts may be tempted to embellish a prophetic word from God, in order to enhance his or her reputation within the religious community, thereby increasing their sense of self-importance.
The syndrome of rejection may be expressed in many ways. When I began to examine myself and allow the Holy Spirit to transform my ways, these 14 issues were the keys God revealed to me. These 14 points paint a sad picture of someone trapped in an isolating pattern developed from experiencing years of rejection.
Those of us who have experienced a life of rejection can find ourselves cut off from others and imprisoned in a “virtual” reality. However, God wants us to see even our painful experiences through godly eyes and to respond in a righteous way. With His help, we can break free of rejection—one step at a time.
(Adapted from the upcoming book, Breaking Free of Rejection by John Paul Jackson, © 2003 Streams Ministries International. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Streams Publishing House, PO Box 550, North Sutton, NH 03260)
John Paul Jackson is the founder of Streams Ministries International, an in-depth prophetic teaching ministry, and has been at the forefront to the prophetic ministry for more than 20 years. A popular teacher and conference speaker, John Paul travels around the world teaching on “The Art of Hearing God,” on dreams and visions, and on the realm of the supernatural. He served as senior pastor of two churches and he has also served on the pastoral staff at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, California (with John Wimber) and at Metro Christian Fellowship in Kansas City, Missouri (with Mike Bickle).