He was born in Calcutta, India, where his family belonged to Mark Buntain’s church. The family later moved to Australia, where he attended Fort Street High School. When he was 14, he tried out for the school debate team. This involved a two-minute speech in front of the class, after which the teacher would adjudicate and make her selection. When it came time to evaluate his speech in front of the entire class, she said, “Ian, never go into a job where you are required to stand up and speak in public. You just don’t have what it takes.”
One can only imagine how he felt when he heard those words. Humiliated, shamed, rejected? Words that would remain, “You just don’t have what it takes!” He had experienced rejection. About five years later, when the Lord first called him to ministry, he wrestled with the call because of the words that his teacher had spoken to him. Thank God for His grace to overcome this sentence that had been placed on his life. Eventually, he said yes to the call, went off to Bible school in New Zealand, and has been preaching the gospel ever since.
His name is Ian Peters. He became an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God. In the mid-90s, he moved to America and developed an international ministry that takes him around the world to proclaim the gospel. Later, he succeeded me as the leader of Omega Team, a ministerial network now called Global Apostolic Alliance. Not bad for someone who, supposedly, “did not have what it takes.” Recently, I heard him speak at a local leadership meeting, and after the end of the service, I said to him, “Ian, you’re preaching better than ever.”
Many authors and speakers have drawn attention to the effect of rejection on people’s lives. Carrol Thompson, who was a teacher at Christ for the Nations, in Dallas, Texas, wrote about rejection in this way, “The deepest bruise that can be inflicted by our enemy is the bruise of rejection.”Likewise, Noel and Phyl Gibson, authors of ‘Evicting Demonic Squatters and Breaking Bondages,’ wrote, “the greatest undiagnosed, therefore untreated, malady within the body of Christ today is rejection.”
CAUSES OF REJECTION
The causes are many and varied and may happen at any time between conception and death they include:
- Related to birth and timing of conception, experiences in the womb, the manner of birth, and a baby not being bonded to the mother.
- Factors in the family home, including being an adopted child. Relationships between family members.
- Actions taken by teachers and students growing up.
- Self-rejection caused by one’s own attitude and actions.
- Multiple causes in later life include failure, loss of a job, divorce, abuse, social or racial rejection, rejection by authority figures, including churches.
- We could go on and on.
Rejection is a common experience. Everyone has probably experienced it at some time in their lives. It is interesting to note that often famous people faced rejection. In a book of devotions for leaders, the author writes, “In 1902, an aspiring young writer received a rejection letter from the poetry editor of ‘The Atlantic Monthly.’ Enclosed with a sheaf of poems. the 28-year-old poet had sent, was a curt note: “Our magazine has no room for your vigorous verse.” He rejected the rejection, however, and went on to see his work published. His name was Robert Frost.
In 1905, the University of Bern turned down a Ph.D. dissertation as being fanciful and irrelevant. The young physics student who wrote the dissertation rejected their rejection and went on to develop some of his fanciful ideas into widely excepted theories. His name was Albert Einstein.
In 1894, a 16-year-old found this note from his rhetoric teacher at Arrow, in England, attached to his report card: “A conspicuous lack of success.” The young man rejected the rejection and went on to become one of the most famous speakers of the 20th century. His name was Winston Churchill.“
Before we end, let’s take a look back at the rest of the story of Ian Peters’s rejection by his schoolteacher.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Ian wrote a follow-up to his experience of rejection. “An interesting footnote to the story is that 40 years later, I was at my high school reunion, and the person the first person to walk in was this very teacher. I have not seen her since I left school, yet she walked up to me at the reunion, and the first words out of her mouth were, ‘Ian Peters, I will never forget that day you stood up to speak. You were so nervous, you fidgeted and stuttered as you tried to deliver that speech. So tell me, what are you doing now?’ When I told her I was a preacher, her eyes teared up, and over and over through the night, she kept coming back to me and telling me how proud she was of what I have done with my life.”
A CLOSING WORD
The bruising of rejection can often be very deep. I know from my personal experience how rejection can affect one’s life. In the next Langstaff letter, we will look at how to overcome rejection. In the meantime, let me finish with this. Jesus understands what you are going through when you go through rejection. You see, He too was rejected. In the suffering servant passage in Isaiah 53, it is said of Jesus, “He was despised and rejected by men.”
Jesus understands and can help us overcome rejection.