Rejection of any kind is difficult to handle. And I’m not just talking doors slammed in your face or shouted slurs or something quite so obvious, because the tough reality of life and missionary work is that you will be rejected very often. It might not be a major rejection; it may be as simple as “I didn’t read the Book of Mormon this week” or “I don’t want to go to church this week” or something similar.
Take a word of advice from a seasoned Elder: don’t worry about it!
Throughout the course of my mission, I have been rejected hundreds of times. We are rejected multiple times a day, every day. A day will not go by that you do not face some sort of rejection.
It is rough sometimes. Scratch that—it’s rough most of the time. But when that one person accepts the gospel, when someone did do their readings from the Book of Mormon, when someone does get baptized or come back to church, it is all worth it. Seeing the simple joys of the gospel and the tender mercies of the Lord make it all worth it.
Here are some things you can keep in mind as member missionaries or as a to-be full-time missionary when the time comes that you face rejection:
- “There are no bad areas. We can baptize here!” This is a saying in my mission, and it’s true for anywhere in the world. If you are faithful and obedient, you will baptize.In Doctrine and Covenants Section 4, the Lord tells us, “The field is white already to harvest.” What did He say? To quote a talk I once heard: The Lord didn’t say, “The field is white already to harvest, except in [insert your mission here], which is brown, and must needs be burned.”
- Remember the words of the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.” I draw great strength from the power of hymns. The following is an excerpt from the third verse:Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.Be not dismayed. Fear not! The Lord will strengthen you and hold you up.
- Focus on finding those who are prepared. There is a section in Preach My Gospel called “Find Them That Will Receive You.” It reads:You are to build up the Church by finding “them that will receive you” (D&C 42:8). Such people will recognize that you are the Lord’s servants. They will be willing to act on your message. Many of these people have been “kept from the truth [only] because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12).If you focus your finding on those who are prepared, you will find those who are prepared. You will teach. You will baptize and reactivate. You will be successful.
- Ask the missionaries. They can help you! Go out with the missionaries in your ward as often as possible. Practice getting rejected. I went out with the missionaries quite often in the few months before my mission. I can only remember getting into two homes in the many times I went out teaching with them. But I noticed that they were never discouraged.Going out with the missionaries at home will give you a real taste of what mission life is like. Maybe even ask the missionaries in your area if you can go with them for an entire day. See what their daily routine is like. See how they react to rejection. Ask them how they deal with rejections.
- Laugh it off. I will never forget my most favorite door knock on my mission. And you guessed it—it was a rejection! We received a referral for someone living somewhere in our area one night and decided to contact this person the next day. When we got to the house, my companion and I knocked on the door and I immediately realized I recognized the house as belonging to a very bitter anti-Mormon man. The door opened slowly to a crack, and the man put his face in the opening and grunted out, “NO,” with all the hatred he could muster. He then closed the door just as slowly as he opened it and we walked away. We laughed hard over that one once we were out of earshot, then continued on throughout our afternoon.
As a missionary, you will have hard days. But you can do hard things! You will get down in the dumps sometimes, but you can pull yourself out. You will experience trials that seem almost too difficult to bear. The Lord will push you to your limit. But you are a servant of God. If you rely on Him, He will give you strength beyond your own. He will lift you up and support you.
Most importantly, learn to rely on the Lord. That’s why He lets us go through trials. If we let Him into our lives to bear our burdens. Christ lives! He loves us. He is our closest friend and our best ally. Put your trust in Him! The Atonement is real, and you know what? It even covers rejections given to missionaries.