The Design of God in Rejection

The following is taken from God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola author.

Rejection is designed by God to bring brokenness into your life so that you may minister more effectively.

We live in a day where the popular idea behind ministry training is to focus on developing one’s gifts. Gift inventories, personality surveys, and strength indicator tests are the rage among those who want to be equipped for ministry today.

But these kinds of tests set your eyes on your gifts. They put the focus on your strengths and your natural abilities. They make you the center of attention.

However, the Lord is far more interested in your weaknesses than in your strengths. He’s interested in breaking you. Why? Because when there is less of you in the way, there is more room for Him to work.

Apart from me you can do nothing.17

It’s so easy to buy into the me-centered ministry culture today—the building up of one’s self-esteem by focusing on human goodness. But God’s goodness, and not ours, is the basis for our worth.

After talking at length about his sufferings and weaknesses, Paul makes this surprising statement:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.18

God’s idea of ministry training is a broken vessel. His idea of spiritual preparation is suffering, which includes rejection.

Here is the biblical recipe for ministry preparation—a recipe that’s glaringly absent from the pages of most ministry training manuals today:

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.19

Criticism and rejection are God’s tools for liberating His servants from human control and the desire to please men.

To be a useful vessel in God’s hands—“fit for the Master’s use”—He will sovereignly bring rejection into your life. Jacob is not alone in encountering an angel who will break his natural strength and leave him with a limp.

The crippling touch of God still disables those who rely on their own gifts and talents.

While modern ministry training is aimed at developing your natural abilities, leadership skills, independence, and self-confidence, God wants you to rely on Him instead of yourself. Why? So that any power you utilize may be completely of Him. And in so doing, you will discover the secret of being weak so that He may be strong.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.20

As we survey church history, we discover that A. W. Tozer’s piercing observation is most accurate: “All great Christians have been wounded souls.”21

Indeed, God breaks us to build us. And the more naturally gifted a person is, the more breaking is required. So from God’s standpoint, it’s a privilege to be among the walking wounded.

While brokenness is difficult, it’s beautiful because it makes God look good. Your natural gifts draw attention to yourself while brokenness draws attention to your Lord. With this in mind, power is dangerous in the hands of an unbroken vessel.

Hemingway fittingly said, “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”22 The Christian understands that God is the One who breaks us, and He uses the world as His instrument for doing so.

This brings us to the subject of loss. From childhood, we are all taught how to win. We’re taught how to gain advantage and get our own way. Yet the secret of fruitful ministry is in learning how to lose.

When we’re always winning and getting our way, Jesus Christ isn’t getting His way. So the way to gain with God is to lay down our lives and lose.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it … ”23 

Jesus talked a lot about losing, taking up our cross, denying ourselves, and laying down our livesLuke 9:23.24 These are the fruits of brokenness before God.

It’s not hard to spot a Christian in ministry who isn’t broken. An unbroken person doesn’t know how to lay their life down and lose. They only know how to try and win.

If he or she is criticized, they retaliate. If they’re attacked, they return fire. If misunderstood, they defend in anger. They are capable of doing all sorts of damage to others in order to save their own ministries and keep their reputations.

On the contrary, the person who has been broken by the hand of God knows how to turn the other cheek. They know how to go the second mile. They know how to give their coat when asked for their shirt. They know how to speak well of those who misrepresent them. They know how to return good for evil. They know how to lose. And in so doing, they exhibit the Spirit of the Lamb and allow God to win.

In the words of E. Stanley Jones, “The God I find in Christ is a God who overcomes evil with good, hate by love, and the world by a cross.”25

Again, it is through the wounding and the breaking we experience that the life of Christ can be released through us. And that is where the secret of fruit bearing lies. So don’t nurse your wounds. Let them turn to gold and not hyssop.