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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Overcoming the Fear of Rejection in Evangelism

The fear of rejection is a powerful force that can hold us back in life. It can prevent us from stepping out in faith, taking risks, forging new relationships, and deepening current ones.

However, Jesus made it clear that we will encounter rejection when sharing our faith.

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." John 15:19-20

Jesus endured rejection, therefore those of us who follow Him should expect the same, especially when sharing our faith.

However, even though we know we should expect it, we go out of our way to avoid it for three key reasons.

1. We want to avoid pain. Rejection can be painful. It can negatively affect our self-worth and sense of well-being. We want to be liked. We want to be accepted. We long to belong and tend to avoid situations where we feel like we don’t. 

2. We struggle with pride. When we think of pride, we often envision someone who is loud, obnoxious, and braggadocious. However, those of us who are more quiet and reserved people can be just as prideful. The fear of looking foolish or out of place can keep us from moving forward, taking a risk, or sharing the gospel.

3. We fear people more than we fear God. Have you ever backed down from sharing the gospel because you were worried what the other person might think? I have. At that moment, our fear of people and what they think of us outweigh our fear of God. We sacrifice obedience to God for acceptance by people.

These three roadblocks can be intimidating, but they can also be overcome. If you struggle with the fear of rejection when it comes to evangelism, here are some strategies to help:

1. Start each day in the Word. Make sure you renew your mind in God’s word daily. The late evangelist Billy Graham began each day reading the Psalms. He explained that when He did, it reminded him how big God is and how small everything else is in comparison, including what others thought of Him.  

2. Remember that God is your refuge. Jesus was able to endure rejection because He knew the Father loved Him and had sent Him. Knowing that your security and identity are in Christ and that you are His ambassador can help you endure as well. 

3. Pray for boldness. If we are going to overcome our fear of rejection, we need supernatural help. Just as the disciples prayed for boldness in Acts 4:29, so should we.  As Jesus said, we “have not because we ask not.”

4. Expect the best, not the worst. Studies have shown that 92% of what we worry about never happens. One of my most fruitful experiences sharing the gospel was with someone I thought would reject it. I was wrong, and saw God transform His life. Don’t sacrifice the blessings of watching God work because of your fears of what might happen.

5. Don’t take it personally. When people reject the gospel message we share, it is easy for us to assume they are rejecting us. Jesus admonished His disciples in Luke 10:16, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” When someone rejects our message, they are rejecting Christ Himself. Leave the matter in God’s hands.

6. Check your attitude. Sometimes our attitudes can hurt our evangelism. If our desire to be right overshadows our love for people, we have a problem. Make sure that if people reject the gospel, it is because of the message itself, not the arrogant attitude of the messenger.   

7. Don’t convolute the gospel with other issues. Ensure that if people reject your message, it is indeed the gospel and not your opinions about politics, denominations, or controversial current events. Such topics can cause people to argue or stop listening which can derail evangelism.

8. Don’t let rejection by one person keep you from sharing with another. Remember the parable of the sower. Some will reject the seed of the gospel, but others will hear. One of the most awesome experiences I have had sharing the gospel with someone came just after another person said they were not interested. Keep planting seeds and leave the harvest to God.

While the fear of rejection can be a formidable obstacle. It can be overcome. Ask God today to come alongside your struggles with this fear, and watch how He masterfully works in your life for His glory!

Copyright © David Souther, used with permission.

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