A young writer struggles to complete his first novel. Living in a trailer, driving a broken-down Buick, and working as a gas station attendant, he really needs a win. So he sends his manuscript out to 30 publishers and is rejected by every single one.
The writer? Stephen King. The novel? Carrie.
This is a story about how to take rejection and move on. It is also a story about believing in your mission. King believed that he could write and sell books, and he ended up being right. He is the author of over 50 novels and ranks in the top 20 of the most published people in the world.
Obviously he did not let those first 30 rejections slow him down. He “shook the dust off his feet” and moved on to a place where his gift would be accepted and celebrated. And monetized!
In the sixth chapter of Mark, Jesus and the disciples were having a rough go of it. Jesus had just been completely rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, where the people knew him as “Joe’s son” and “Mary’s boy.” They scoffed at the notion that homeboy was the messiah. No worries, said Jesus. We’ll just keep moving on.
So he gathered his men and sent them out in pairs with very specific instructions:
Mark 6 (Common English Bible)
7 He called for the Twelve and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority over unclean spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick—no bread, no bags, and no money in their belts. 9 He told them to wear sandals but not to put on two shirts. 10 He said, “Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. 11 If a place doesn’t welcome you or listen to you, as you leave, shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them.”
There are times in our lives when people will turn their backs on us and refuse to listen. There are cliques and groups who refuse admission to newbies based on some mysterious standard for who should sit at the “cool kids’ table.” Even family can be cold when it comes to acceptance and hospitality. What should you do? Shake the dust off your feet and walk away.
12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should change their hearts and lives. 13 They cast out many demons, and they anointed many sick people with olive oil and healed them.
The disciples did what Jesus instructed, and because they were able to walk away from the drama of exclusivity, many people were included in God’s plan for changed hearts, changed lives, and total wellness. The disciples didn’t pout…they just got on with it. They believed in who they were, and they believed in their mission.
How about you? Do you believe in yourself enough to walk away from toxic relationships? Can you shake off the dust of rejection and put one foot in front of the other as you pursue what you are meant to be? Do you believe in your mission?
One place we are always received with open arms is at the heavenly banquet. God himself sets the table and invites all who repent to come in and “set a spell.” Everyone there is a “cool kid,” from the top of their heads all the way to their dusty toes. So just shake the other stuff off and walk on over. You’ll fit right in.