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Despised & Rejected: He was. You'll Be.

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No matter how many lives God uses you impact, or how many people walk with you as you walk with God, or how much good you do...

In spite of all of the help you have given to those who are hurting...

Jesus Christ was despised and rejected, and you will be too! 

It’s nothing to complain about, or feel sorry for yourself about, but it is something to be aware of. It can be natural to expect that those who God uses you to bless would bless you in return, or at least not seek to hurt you, but there will always be mean, miserable people who seek to discredit who you are. 

Christian ministry is a continuation of the work of Jesus Christ, but we not only share in the blessings, we also share in the suffering. God allows us to be glorified by filling us with God’s power, yet God allows us to be humbled through hurtful experiences we encounter, sometimes at the hands of those we’ve been called to help.

If you’ve experienced the pain of feeling despised and rejected, know that you’re in good company. Jesus Christ, who is everything, was considered nothing! This proves that you can’t do enough for people to make them see good in you. People will forget miles of good for an inch of what they feel is bad. Even with that, we have a responsibility to stay true to who we are, and what God has called us to do. 

As it is with Christ, so it is with you and I: How people see you does not determine who you are! 

After a disagreement earlier this year, I expressed to my dad my annoyance with people who repay my kindness with meanness. My dad taught me to keep helping the people who hurt me because my nature is to help, and if I let the ones who hurt me change me, I’ve given them a power to control me that doesn’t belong to them.

Those words of wisdom remind me not to let the inevitable experience of being despised and rejected provoke me to forfeit my identity. When we experience being considered nothing by those we serve, colleagues, strangers, or anyone else, we have a perfect example in Jesus Christ that shows us how to endure suffering. 1 Peter 2:23 says: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

Jesus trusted God through His suffering. While that’s easier said than done, it’s our key to surviving our suffering seasons. Let your trust in God give you the encouragement that is needed to be found faithful in a work that is sometimes hurtful. 

The fact that Jesus didn’t respond is a glaring part of his experience of being despised and rejected. I encourage you not to return revile for revile. Don’t give harsh words as an answer to harsh words. Growing up my mom would call it being “low down”. Don’t be “low down”! Let your validation come from God, and not people, and you can channel the hurt we experience in life and ministry as a push towards being better versus being bitter. 

Shade is coming.

Attempts to discredit you are coming.

Hurtful lies are coming.

Gossip and rumors will carry your name.

Those you help will hurt you (or at least try to), but I leave with you words from the writer of Psalms as both a word of advice and one of encouragement:

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalms 37:1-5 ESV

You may never receive honor, respect, or appreciation from those that your life is a blessing to, and hopefully you will, but if you don't, serve as unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Give as unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Live as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, putting your trust in God in the high and low experiences, and you will qualify to experience what the psalmist declared, that "he (God) will act". I'm a witness that God will act on your behalf when you trust God, although you've experienced being despised and rejected. 

Jesus proves for us that you can overcome every word said and deed done in effort to despise who you are and reject what you're called to be. "Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there's a cross for everyone, and there's a cross for me."

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On Ministry: "It's Not About You"

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On Ministry: "It's Not About You"

On Ministry: It's Not About You.

On Ministry: It's Not About You.

Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the 2017 Acadamy Awards for his role in the feature film Moonlight. I’ve not yet seen this movie, but I appreciate blackness being celebrated on major platforms like the Academy Awards. What struck me more than Mahershala Ali’s win was his acceptance speech. Before he thanked anyone who helped make his participation in the film possible, Ali referenced one thing his professors constantly told him:

"It's not about you. It's about these characters. You are a servant. You're in service to these stories and these characters…"

This is a humble acknowledgment that there is a bigger purpose being served in his work as an actor than being honored and awarded for what he has done. For him, the recognition is not the accomplishment, the service is. Artistry is his service to others.

Here’s a necessary reminder in a culture where branding and marketing so often take precedence over serving and making an impact:

Ministry is solely, only, exclusively, and entirely about serving! 

When your ministry is celebrated, it’s not about you.

When your ministry efforts are successful, it’s not about you.

When new doors open and opportunities become available, it’s not about you.

For Mahershali Ali, his work is about serving the essence of the characters he embodies. For Christian ministers, the work we do is about serving the essence of Jesus Christ. The essence of Jesus is love. Not fame. Not wealth. Not status. Ministry is the embodiment of love. When we embody love, we become servants and live in service to the greatest story of all, God’s gift of love through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

In her book Salvation: Black People and Love, bell hooks says that love does not bring an end to difficulties, it gives the strength to cope with difficulties in a constructive way. She defines love as a combination of care, knowledge, responsibility, respect, trust, and commitment. The embodiment of this kind of love, the love of God, must translate into clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, consoling the hurt, speaking for the voiceless, and continuing the work of Jesus towards all humanity. Apostle Paul says If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing (1 Corintiahins 13:20).

You prefer to just preach in a pulpit?

You prefer to just minister on a stage with a microphone?

You prefer to just do your “service” in the latest church fashions to church people?

Guess what?! Your preferences are inferior to God's purpose. It’s not about you. When we commit to growing beyond our personal preferences, we will most effectively minister “in Jesus’ name”.

To rephrase Mahershali Ali’s acceptance speech:

It's not about you. It's about Jesus. You are a servant. You're in service to the people who are broken, hurt, and in need of an encounter with the love of God.

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