Are you feeling defeated after experiencing rejection while practicing biblical hospitality? You’re not alone—here’s how to press on.
Rejection is a word that conjures up memories most of us would rather forget. Rejection on the school playground. Rejection from making the high school team. Rejection by that guy we had a crush on in college. Or rejection from what we thought was our dream job.
As humans, we don’t always make the cut, marry the boy or snag the job. And this rejection can spur feelings of sadness, jealousy, anger or anxiety. In our youth, rejection is confusing and sometimes debilitating as we are still maturing and learning how to process our feelings.
But even adults experience feelings of rejection—I would know! Rejection doesn’t discriminate by age, race or religion. Even as Christians, we are not immune to rejection.
So, when it comes to following through with biblical hospitality, we’re bound to run into situations where some people simply don’t want our offer of help or connection. Maybe it’s their awkward or prideful situation, maybe we make them feel uncomfortable or maybe they’re simply busy.
Either way, rejection still hurts a bit.
But as I’m working to live out my calling of biblical hospitality, I’m finding that those small twinges of rejection I feel nowadays are not as embarrassing or seemingly life-altering as I presumed them to be in my youth.
Now, with a little more clarity and wisdom, I can appreciate the process of sanctification that rejection can bring. Sometimes, God’s purpose is not acceptance on the part of the receiver, but instead, obedience on the part of the giver. (John Piper illustrates this well in his own story of a couple’s rejection of hospitality.)
For me, it’s about trusting God’s process for sanctification and continuing on the journey of biblical hospitality. Even when I feel dejected. Even when no one shows up. Even when someone in need doesn’t want my help.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”Philippians 1:6 NLT
Rejection is an unmistakable reminder to me that God does the work, not my flesh. My task is to carry out His will. And as the Bible promises, He will continue His work until Christ returns, in spite of me.
So what I see as rejection from others—an invitation decline, a shortness despite my warm welcome, no acknowledgement from my act of service or simply crickets when I reach out to them—just means that God is doing more work beneath the surface than I could ever imagine. And, of course, in His own timing.
“Be still in the presence of the Lord,Psalm 37:7a NLT
and wait patiently for him to act.”
My Rejection Story
We we moved to our new town, we made a point to seek out and build community. We had built a family plan for our new property with a cornerstone resting on community.
So after finding a church, I began to seek out other ways to get involved. I stumbled upon a local organization with a presence in public schools throughout the state. The organization works with local kids, families, agencies and community partners to support needy people in our county.
Though I help here and there with Thanksgiving and Christmas events, what I attend nearly every month is the Mom’s Group. Some months, we gather in a meeting room at the Board of Education. And other months, we meet at a park with our kids in tow if the weather is nice.
So far, I’ve met more than a dozen moms from these meetings. Some moms there are like me, wanting to reach out and welcome other moms in tough situations within our community. But the majority of moms are there to gather support, glean knowledge and let their kids run loose in a safe environment.
I’ve been able to get the phone numbers of several moms in an attempt to keep in touch between meetings. So many times, I’ve sent a simple text welcoming a mom and saying it was great to meet her, telling her we missed her at the recent meeting, asking how a sick child was doing or inviting her to a church event.
And so many times, I’ve heard crickets. No response. Only rejection. Completely ghosted.
At times, I’ve questioned my value to the group: Am I really helping these women or am I just eating the free food? What else can I do to make a difference and connect with them? How can I point them to Jesus?
But God is showing me that it’s not always about my value to someone else. Sometimes, it’s about their value to me as God uses that situation for my sanctification.
So, the older I get, with more life experiences under my belt and an ongoing maturity in my faith, I realize I am becoming less and less affected by rejection—especially when I’m doing what God’s called me to do.
You see, one of the first steps in carrying out biblical hospitality is obedience to God’s command of loving others. Despite the rejection, I have to follow through with what God has called me to do.
Even if the women don’t respond, I know that they receive my messages of concern and invitation. I try to compare this situation to a farmer sowing seeds. I’m not sure how many seeds will sprout in the soil, much less when the harvest will be reaped, but I know that the first step starts with sowing.
“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV
After months of very limited belated responses from members of this mom’s group, God surprised me one evening.
I had invited a woman from the mom’s group to our church’s alternative Halloween event. I was serving at the entrance to the event as a greeter, passing out hundreds of glowstick bracelets while being continually startled by older children with costumes that reminded me all too much of the underworld.
At one point, I looked up from my task to see a young girl wearing a quite realistic wolf mask with red eyes and a jaw that hinged. (Apparently, gone are the days of Disney character costumes.)
This mask sparked the memory of a conversation I’d had with a mom from the group. She’d purchased her daughter a wolf mask for Halloween, but couldn’t afford even a tail for the costume, and she was relating to me how she hoped the costume would be complete without it.
I’m here to tell you that the mask was very convincing, and if I was Little Red Riding Hood or one of The Three Bears, I would run the opposite direction—fast.
Once I snapped back to the present, I met this mom face to face and had the amazing experience to welcome her to our church. For a split second, she may have thought she won the lottery or at least a Publisher’s Clearing House check, because I’m quite certain my face lit up brighter than the neon glowsticks I was holding.
You see, I was so surprised she said yes to my simple invitation after dozens of nos or crickets from others in the mom’s group. I was literally so overjoyed that I shared this breaking news with my family pastor who was standing near me, who smiled and nodded in confused but supportive understanding.
Here’s the thing: God didn’t have to show me this small victory. Some of us press on in obedience for years before seeing any progress, much less outright success in pursuing our purpose.
But in His graciousness, as His ever-learning student of biblical hospitality, He gave me a glimpse of progress. He strengthened my reason and confidence in pressing on with these women. And I know that with or without my obedience, God will continue His work on this Earth.
I would hate for God to ask me one day: Why didn’t you keep pressing on? Why didn’t you trust me and keep sowing? Why did you get self conscious inviting others when your true confidence lies in me?
With the gift of eternal life, follows the weightiness and privilege of walking in His light and following through in obedience.
And so I continue to welcome and invite these women and other strangers, despite all outward signs of rejection. I send texts without being self conscious. I put block party invitations in neighbors’ mailboxes even if only two families show up. And I work hard to befriend the mom from the youth football team with a background so different from mine.
Biblical hospitality isn’t always easy to carry out, especially after rejection. Not everyone will like you or say yes to your invitation. But we must put our confidence in Christ to help us carry out our purpose of welcoming, serving and loving others.
Have you experienced rejection after showing hospitality?