Three Questions for Those Who Have Experienced Rejection in Leadership

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Rejection and unforgiveness are dangerous and often hidden enemies of a leader.  How can Bible leaders maintain a soft and flowing heart over the long haul?  In this episode, Pastor Mark and Brandon offer three questions that will help any leader think carefully about how they’re responding to bitterness of the heart.

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Three Questions for Those Who Have Experienced Rejection in Leadership


Carter: What’s up everybody. Today I’m excited to talk to you about how to deal with some of the pain of rejection. They can come to all of us, but especially those who are in leadership. This comes from a post on the blog, called “Rejected, Welcome to the Dead Prophets Society” and we’ll explain that in the episode. But I wrote this because, I really do empathize with those who have undergone a lot of hurt and rejection. I’ve undergone a lot of that myself as a leader and I hate the idea of people not realizing how some of their under processed pain may be affecting their leadership. So, before we do that, let me just go ahead and thank you for listening. If you find today’s content helpful, would you do me a favor and consider sharing that on social media? Leave a review on iTunes, that really would mean so much. If you’re new to the podcast and you’d like to find out more, you can head on over to where there’s new content posted regularly. Hey, let’s do it. Let’s dive into three questions for those who experienced rejection in leadership. Let’s get after it.

Waddup everybody, welcome to the Bible leadership podcast. My name is Mark Carter. I’m here with my boy, Jam Master Dizzel Brandon Adkins. He is the worship leader here at Torch of Faith. And once again, we’ve got an important Bible leadership topic to talk through today.

Brandon: Jam Master Dizzel Brandon Adkins here. Yes, we do. Man, I’m super excited. So, we’re talking about how a leader can recover from bitterness and unforgiveness. Mark, why is that a problem for leaders?

Carter: Yeah, I think it’s a problem because it’s unavoidable. I think no matter who you are, what you do, you are going to experience rejection, whether it’s being left out of something, it’s a decision you didn’t get to be a part of, it’s a spouse that pushes you away. It’s a friend, it’s accusing you of saying something that you didn’t, you don’t think you said or even sometimes, as I think especially in church world, I mean, I certainly found, it seems like there’s people that are going to be mad at you, no matter what you do. Like they just decided, maybe they just don’t like you.

Brandon: You’re the guy that they’re going to be mad at.

Carter: Because like maybe you made a decision that affects them in a way that they don’t like. So, I think we’re all going to have to deal with this at one time or another.

Brandon: So, you know, the world would probably tell us like, get even. But also, to just, you know, toughen up and move on, stuff it down and get work done. Right? Why can’t we just do that?

Carter: You know, I think to a degree, you can do some of that. So, I don’t know that the world is totally wrong. They’re just wrong in how they’re going about it, and they’re including some things you can’t include, like get even so you can’t get even. But I think there’s some truth to the idea that you gotta move on. There’s some truth to the idea that yes, it might be that the Spirit of God is trying to toughen you up a little bit, so I think we need to be open to that. The problem is, when we’re really hurt, that the thing we don’t discern is that it’s changing us in a bad way. So, when our heart hardens up, like that’s going to have an impact on the people around us. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 says above all else, guard your heart, for fix everything, everything you do flows from it. Like we need to recognize, like that’s a super deep, important leadership principle. Because we’re trying to be a people that are led by God; like that’s where our leadership ultimately comes from, is we’re being led by God and then going to try to lead people. When we’re bitter, unforgiving, part of us hardens up, and we get a little callous to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because He’s not going to bless grieving the Holy Spirit, you know what I’m saying? As much as yes, I’m sorry, that happened to us. Even so, we’re obligated to forgive in obedience to Him. And so, when we don’t do that, our direct ability by Him gets shut down, which just means He can’t lead us very well, so we can’t lead others very well. So, I think it’s a big deal. I can remember my first real experience with a leader that let me down. I was a leader, but another leader who was, you know, my mentor of sorts to me, He let me down, let my family down. He just did some things that were real betrayal, he has real integrity problems. I was so young; I didn’t really totally understand that. But what that did was, it gave me a little bit of an alibi of like, well, here’s why I’m just gonna be mad at this guy for a while. At one point, I just had to decide, look man, I can either get frozen here or I can move forward, but I can’t let this guy be an alibi of why I’m not moving forward; like the Bible is still true, you still have to forgive and so, I’m not trying. I don’t think today, Brandon, that we’re trying to be insensitive to anybody. But we are talking about Bible leadership and Bible leaders have to decide, as painful as this is, I’ve got to have a strategy for getting through it. Everybody has the opportunity to buy into bitterness and unforgiveness and we just can’t, we got to resist it.

Brandon: Mark, I know in our relationship before you’ve identified the dangers of ministering in unredeemed pain or leading from a place of undreamed pain. And it sounds like we’re, you make leadership sound so appealing. We’re gonna get hurt. There’s going to be pain, there’s going to be rejection, and all that. You know, critics in the bleachers, and so how do we make it through with a soft heart?

Carter: Yeah, and that’s the big thing that we’re looking at today. And so, what I’ve got here is I’ve got three questions that we need to ask. Okay, so instead of like here’s ten steps; now, there’s nothing wrong with steps, but I’m just saying, for me, we very much need to look at what are the things we’re thinking, what are the questions we’re asking. And so, I’ve got three questions that we need to kind of turn on ourselves, in order to get down to the roots of some of this pain.

Brandon: I love it man, I can’t wait to dive in. So, what are the three questions for those who have experienced hurt in leadership?

Carter: Yeah, let’s do it, man. So, number one is how am I relating to God in this? God understands our pain; like Jesus was rejected, Jesus knew what it was like to have his childhood buddies try to throw him off a cliff. Man, that is cold, I’m sorry, that’s in Luke 4:29. That has never happened to me, like no one, nobody, my worst enemy has not tried to throw me from a cliff. So, I mean, I think that was a real day for Him, so Jesus understands our pain. And I think what we need to do then is go to the next step and realize He’s also like sovereign over all creation. He’s a portion of this experience to me for a purpose and one of them, I believe is to draw us near in the fellowship of His suffering. There’s a special relating that God does to us in suffering, where He says, I get you, I know what this is like. I think about Abraham in Genesis 22, where He says, this crazy thing, Abraham, I know, I gave you this child a promise and talking about it for a long time. Now I want you to go kill him. I want you to sacrifice your one and only son, and obviously Abraham didn’t go through with it. But there’s a heart thing, I believe that’s happening there. God’s like, I get you; I want you to understand what it’s like to be me in miniature for just a second. So, no matter what it was, whether we were passed up for promotion, whether our idea didn’t work, people didn’t support us, we feel misunderstood. Whatever that hurt is, like we need to hear God understands you dude; like God gets it, and He’s inviting us to draw closer to Him in this even though he doesn’t necessarily fix it right away. It’s just like we’re getting tighter because you understand what it’s like a little bit to be me.

Brandon: One example from my life where definitely God used a season of bitterness to invite me to get closer to Him. I was laid off from a church job, and I was young. It was kind of a dream job. I was making way too much money.

Carter: Was it because of your beard?

Brandon: Yeah. Well, I didn’t have a beard at that point.

Carter: I thought maybe you got beard oil on something.

Brandon: At the same time, I remember while I was being tempted toward bitterness and unforgiveness, I also felt the Holy Spirit really convicting me. Yeah, I hadn’t been seeking Him. I had been, you know, singing a lot of worship songs and doing a lot of ministry, but not actually keeping my relationship tight with the Lord.  And I think he used that season to really blow a hole in the side of my ship and really forced me to press into Him. And He saved me ultimately from I think, you know, a legacy of phony ministry, ministering from a place of lack.

Carter: And I think that’s a great example because what I’m hearing you say is, even though that was painful, there were things that needed done in your spirit, that you wouldn’t have known to do like you had no mechanism to do. And I think this is part of, you know, I wonder if there’s any of our listeners that need to hear that, that even though there’s things that hurt, we don’t know what we need; like Peter was sifted, he didn’t know that he needed that; we don’t know that there’s a certain amount of pain we need to redirect us. And, you know, I mean, I’m never excited that happened to you. I knew about that. And yet, I know that you came with me after that to plant a church and we couldn’t I think we paid you in, like Twizzlers or something at first, so I think that would have been a hard sell for you to leave that cushy job to come with us. So I’m just saying that we need to, we need to think through God is sovereign in allowing this and there might be some rewiring He’s trying to get me to lean into and again, this whole thing is about paying attention to yes, this hurt but what is God trying to do inside of me?

Brandon: Absolutely, man, it really was His mercy. I can see it now to save me from a legacy in ministry of just phony ministry like I was, I was ministering out of nothing. It was His mercy, I felt like the ship was slowly sinking and he just pulled up beside it and blew a big hole on the side of it so that I had to jump off and I think it really was His mercy to deliver.

Carter: I’m so thankful that we have a God that doesn’t always ask for our permission of whether or not He’s going to train us up the right way. And I just wonder if there’s anybody out there right now who as hard as this is to hear, there’s things God’s trying to do in you and there’s a better version later on, because of how He knows; He has confidence in you that you’re going to respond the right way to this, and it’s going to make you stronger. So that I can move forward and not get stuck.

Brandon: I love number one, how am I relating to God in this. What’s the second question we can ask.

Carter: Yeah man so the second is, how am I relating to others? This is hard, I’m not trying to be patronizing, but the truth is, when we’re in pain, it’s hard to remember that there’s other people in the universe, like there are other people and they’re experiencing suffering also, they’re experiencing suffering with you sometimes worse, sometimes not quite as bad. But 1Peter5:9 says, the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And so, I just need to like to be reminded in this moment, dude, you’re not the only one. Hello, welcome to the club. Like you’re not the only one suffering; like this is what it means to be a follower of Christ; you suffer for certain things, that’s not unique, you’re not unique and you’re experiencing of suffering. Everybody has pain, hopefully, it’s creating a little compassion in me to be like, oh, other people, oh, this is what they’ve been talking about. Ah, you know, there it is. One of the things that I try to do with some of our leaders is when they experience a certain amount of hurt, I’ve had this conversation, I welcome them to the Dead Prophet Society. And it’s a little bit of play on Dead Poets Society, but I’m taking it from Matthew 5:11 and 12, where Jesus essentially says, you know, at the end of this big, important Beatitudes section, He’s like, oh, by the way, when people are all kinds of coming against you, and trying to slap you around and hating you and wanting to kill you and lie about you, and all sorts of evil against you, because you’re mine, hey, you should be happy about it, you should be glad about it, you should be like, jumping up and down because your reward in Heaven is great. You’re part of like this exclusive society, that the prophets before you were a part of Jesus himself is a part of the society now. He’s just saying, hey dude, like, for real, there’s reward for you because of this; and so like, you need to recognize that rejection, sometimes it is a sign of God’s favor. And the truth is like, if you’re effective as a leader it’s likely you’re going to have a whole lot more rejection moments. And the Lord just wants to train us now, dude, to get in the Dead Prophet Society and recognize this is how I train my people, I allow rejection and I allow people to get hurt; it doesn’t mean I’m not going to be good to them, it doesn’t mean that my blessing is dependent on whether or not this happened. I’ve still got, you know, goodness to show them in the land of the living. And yet, I’ve appointed this to people and I’m trying to teach them some lessons and that’s what it’s about. It’s kind of about rejoicing in the fact that you’re worried to suffer. I think some of the trainings are the lessons that we’re learning in this are one, I don’t need for people to always be happy with me. I think if you’re really going to be a Bible leader, people just don’t always need to be happy with you. That’d be nice; I would love it if everyone’s just really excited about every idea I had, and whatever I felt like I want me to do, but they’re not. And I need to just be okay with Jesus liking it. There’s a certain number of people, there’s a certain percentage, it doesn’t matter what I do, man, they don’t like that I shave my head, or they don’t like my tattoo. You know what I’m saying? It doesn’t matter. They don’t like the sound of my voice, like, they don’t like me, man. And like, we gotta get over that. And I really enjoy, I mean, you know, I’m not like boasting about this. I’m just saying, I enjoy the fact that sanctification is real and there’s real progress. Like, I enjoy that there’s a certain amount of people like, I just don’t care. Like I care about them in, in the sense that they’re a child of God but it’s not gonna affect me. If you don’t like my decision, you’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. We’re still doing it.

Brandon: So glad you brought it up. I don’t like your voice. I can confirm.

Carter: This is a great place to out yourself about that.

Brandon: Yes, I actually have a list here.

Carter: Maybe that’s for another podcast. But I think the point being this is how God trains people; this is how He trained them in the Bible; whether it’s Noah or David or Joseph or Jesus Himself, like He trains us through rejection and hurt.

Brandon: Well is sounds like you said rejection really can produce; I’ve heard you say this before, even rejection can produce a heart that’s immune to rejection.

Carter: Yeah, it will if we let it.

Brandon: God will go put people in your life who just need somebody to be mad at and I think we all kind of have this a little bit if we take inventory and examine like, I’m mad at the government, I think taxation is theft and I think Ron Swanson should run the government, pretty much whatever he says is what we should do. Or you know, Blue Cross Blue Shield. Like there’s just there’s things, there’s relationships in my life that I can rant about and just be mad at.

Carter: I don’t have someone to blame so I’m just going to blame everyone.

Brandon: It’s easy, because I can dehumanize the government, and they’re the enemy. And I think that statistically, you know, as a leader, you’re probably attracting some of those people to your life, you’re going to get a few people where you’re in that category of my leader is, you’ll just have leadership issues. So, I think the question is, how are you allowing it to train you? You can do it either way. Are you allowing it to train you towards bitterness, shutting down and getting cynical and leading hurt or are you going to let it train you toward just a soft heart? Are you letting it train you to immunity?

Carter: Yeah, I think that’s it Grandmaster B because I think I think some of our listeners need to just ask and you and I need to ask ourselves this question is, is my leadership more cynical than it was a year ago? Like, am I believing the best about people more so or less so? You know what I’m saying? Is my heart more generous or am I getting less generous and more kind of suspicious? And I just want to humbly suggest, if it’s, you know, we’re getting more suspicious more cynical, my friends, something is wrong.

Brandon: Yea, my self-preserving and like, trying to hide from a relationship. That’s huge.

Carter: That’s understandable but it’s not the discipleship away. Like Jesus is trying to increase and enlarge our hearts, not make them smaller and nobody can do the hard work except for us. Like we have to do that with the Lord.

Brandon: That’s super deep man. Yes, number two, I can’t wait. What’s question number three?

Carter: So, number three is okay, so, I’ve taken inventory, how am I relating to God? How am I processing other people in this? But then also, how am I relating to myself? Am I feeling sorry for myself? Because that will shut down my discernment that just gets me inward, it takes away all my power, it messes up I really believe what God wants to do. And so, I think we just need to go back to good theology, I think great theology is it’s a great life. So, the truth is, I do evil things to people. I do it accidentally, but I also at times have done it purposely because I’m a creature of wrath apart from Christ. And I have hurt Jesus worse than my worst enemy has hurt me. I’ve hurt Jesus worse than my worst enemy has hurt me. Like, Jesus has taken it personally. It was my sin that put him on the cross every time I even now choose to sin again, that is a personal, you know, heart cut to Jesus. And it’s obviously you know, if you’re Christians under the blood, and you don’t have to walk in condemnation, but it’s still true that dude, that was personal; that took a cross to get rid of that.

Brandon: That puts it in perspective when you’re dealing with hurt from somebody else. That’s huge.

Carter: Yeah. So hopefully, when I realized I’m a recipient of ridonkulous grace, I can then start to think and so is this person worthy of my mercy and grace because of what I’ve been given? I should be extravagant because it’s been extravagant with me. And so, what should we do? I think, bro, we need to focus on two things. One is we need to keep forgiving. And we need to think about it as a leader of like, you’re going to always have to forgive; you have to keep forgiving because you’re going to stay on the planet for a little longer, and people are going to sin against you so we need to be kind with each other tender hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us. And then I think also, which, which maybe is a little bit deeper, we need to keep pursuing a soft heart because I can just say I forgive you, but again, am I getting more cynical? Am I getting more judgey as we go on? Proverbs 4:23 again, above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it, so that means I’m enlisting the Holy Spirit’s help; would you give me a soft heart, I’ve got a hard heart but will you give me a soft when I repent for my hard heart. Give me a soft one; God would you help me when I think about this person? Would you give me like power to project good motives on them? So, I’ve got I’ve probably got five you know, from this past year that wow, that really hurt. I’m still forgiven, I forgive them, but I’ve got to bring it to him every day in prayer in case I grow angry at them again. God would you bless them? Would you help me to think about them rightly? You love them, You want to work even my involvement in their life for their good, so would you just find a way to bless them and help me stay soft, so I don’t get weird about it?

Brandon: Dude, I’ve seen that go well. For me personally, I’ve had a few where I have to stop what I’m doing. Like I’m working, my head’s down, I’m working on something and they come to mind and before I know it, the enemy’s just got a conversation going in my head and I need to, I need to literally put what I’m doing down and pray aloud for their blessing.

Carter: Man, that’s bold.

Brandon: And give it the attention that the enemy is trying to get but just turn it against him and start praying blessing on my enemies.

Carter: Do you pray it out loud if they’re in the room?

Brandon: You know what, I haven’t tried that. I haven’t called them up yet or tweeted it.

Carter: What about yelling at their house?

Brandon: I you know, not yet.

Carter: I think that’s really good. Good job.

Brandon: Should I try that?

Carter: No, I think you should avoid that. I think you’ve done well so far.

Brandon: Well, I was gonna try punching too.

Carter: Yeah, you know, you’d think punching would solve some problems, but I hear that it just gives you more.

Brandon: Yea it creates different problems. Got it.

Carter: Yeah, you might find yourself in jail, which would be great to minister to people. When you tell them why you’re there, that might also work against you.

Brandon: All right. Yeah. I hear you. So, this is super good man. And what I love about this conversation, too, is that it’s not three points. You know, it’s not here’s three tips; it’s three questions and it really feels like a pastoral conversation, more than just like a sermon or five tips to improve your leadership. And I think that part of why that might be is because this is such a simple lesson. And it’s kind of basic theology 101, forgiveness is absolutely essential. We know that it’s so easy to like, read a verse about it and be like, I already know that, but I think I think the theme I’m seeing is the Lord just gives you this trial again.

Carter: Yeah, here it comes again!

Brandon: You need the lesson again. You know it in your head, but you need it on a deeper level in your heart. I think that knowing that can be really even reassuring that, okay, I’m going through another season where the Lord’s taking this lesson deeper in my heart. He’s using it. I’m asking questions like, how am I relating to God in this and that’s really about taking inventory of my relationship with him. I’m asking questions like how am I relating to others? Am I being formed more into the image of Christ in my relationships? Or am I punching?  How am I relating to myself?

Carter: Too much punching is a bad sign.

Brandon: Yea, a little bit, but not too much. How am I relating to myself? Am I meditating on the highest truth?

Carter: I love that man. The highest truth.

Brandon: Like there’s truth, you know, even in the accusation that the enemy is handing you.

Carter: Yep, that hurts you. That’s true.

Brandon: That is true. Those events? Yes, that’s true. And even from a certain standpoint, you might be justified to be angry about it. Yes, at the highest truth, or can you apply? Can you give sovereignty to the Lord in this situation and apply higher truth? 

Carter: And I think that’s it, I think that is a place we all need to review. And I mean this sensitively, but at the end of the day, we don’t know what is just, we don’t know what we or anybody else needs. Like, we just don’t have the x-ray vision that Jesus has, like, I don’t know what will be justice. I don’t know what their motives were, I don’t know what else has happened in their lives that day, like I don’t know. And so, for us to decide that we even have the capacity to hand out those judgments, my friends, it really is just not Bible humility and we need to we need to back off of that thing real quick.

Brandon: That’s huge, man. I love it. Good word.

Carter: Hey, can I give you one more? This isn’t part of the questions, but I just want to encourage our listeners in case anybody’s wrestling with this. So sometimes, we’re hurt because something didn’t happen, and it’s connected to a specific person or a specific organization or specific set of events. And we’re like, well, now that that happened, not only did the bad thing happen, but all the good I expected to come from that, now that goes away too; and I just want to encourage everybody, hey man, other people do not have the power to keep God’s will from happening to you. Like God makes it happen. God saw the thing; He saw that it was going to happen. His will for you is still good. You’re still gonna see the kindness of God in the land of living.  Psalm 138:8, the Lord will accomplish what concerns me. And so, we really got to get our anchors out of other people and get them into, look, Jesus is the only one my blessing is attached to.

Brandon: I’ve seen that man. And what I’ve seen when I’ve been derailed, and I see people be derailed into bitterness, because their eyes are too much on somebody else and disappointment rejection. You’re really just giving way too much power to a human to put God’s plans on hold. That’s the only way that it could derail God’s plan and God’s will in your life is if you just let it and sit down inside of it.

Carter: Thank God for the Bible.

Brandon: Amen.

Carter: Well hey, everybody, let me recommend a resource here at the end. It’s actually two different books that have really helped me with regard to some of this conversation. One is a book by Bob Sorge called “Dealing with the Rejection and Praise of Man,” and this is like great for your devotional life if you want to, I’m not getting anything for this by the way; these are just books I think are helpful. But if you want to really dig in your devotional life and do some heart work, I would recommend going through that book. Also, I think “Necessary Endings” from Henry Cloud is another great one that’s just going to help you, especially if you are in a situation where you keep dealing with the same things over and over again, but you’re not really sure how to stop getting hurt from it. I would recommend that from Henry Cloud. Some great advice about when when enough is enough and then how to know when to move on from something. So, B, any other thoughts you’ve got for our people?

Brandon: No, I just you know, along with recommended resources, I am going to try the punching thing.

Carter: Okay!

Brandon: Next episode, I’ll report back.

Carter: Yeah, everybody pray for this dude because he’s taking a walk on the crazy side. Hey, thanks again so much for being with us today and we’ll talk to you next time.


Posted on January 28, 2019

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