When Paul was rejected, he didn’t quit. As my good friend and wise mentor, Howie Hendricks, often says, “Where there’s light, there are bugs!” The brighter Paul’s light, the more the bugs. And in that situation, those bugs had stingers filled with poison.
What grit! Paul didn’t back down an inch in his response to open rejection. The result? Not surprisingly, the Gentiles in the crowd rejoiced in the good news he had for them. How exciting! What started as a smoldering ember of religious curiosity burst into flames of faith.
Why were Paul and Barnabas able to persevere? Neither man set his affections on temporal things. What discipline. If you want to get caught in the net of disillusionment, allow yourself to get tangled in the tangibles. You’ll not only run shy of courage, you’ll sink like a rock in a country pond. Why? Because others’ opinions will start to mean everything. When you allow their responses to be the ballast, then their applause becomes essential to keep you afloat, and their assaults drag you straight to the bottom. That formula for failure can be found in all people-pleasing ministries. You’re doomed to disillusionment if you don’t focus on the eternal.
Lee lacocca, not long after leaving the automobile business, said, “Here I am in the twilight years of my life still wondering what it’s all about. I can tell you this: fame and fortune is for the birds.”
You may be one who lives your life pursuing fame and fortune, depending on the applause of others. Bad plan. To begin with, fortune has shallow roots. The winds of adversity can quickly blow it all away. “Riches certainly make themselves wings,” writes Solomon, “they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:5 KJV). And fame is as fickle as the last response from the crowd. Learn a dual lesson from this fine man who had wisdom far beyond most of us. When you’re praised and applauded, don’t pay any attention. And when you’re rejected and abused, don’t quit. It wasn’t human opinion that called you into the work you’re doing. So don’t let human responses or criticisms get you sidetracked. Keep going.
Don’t get tangled in the tangibles!
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.