Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Power of a Personal Invitation

Have you ever considered the power of a personal invitation – the potentially life-changing impact it can have on someone?

Recently a speaker talked about that, drawing from his own life. As he talked, I realized the influence personal invitations have had in my life as well.

I think of being invited to become a part of the high school marching and concert bands. My exposure to quality music, and how it’s created, has given me a lifelong love for music of most kinds. (I might need another invitation if I’m to appreciate hip-hop and bluegrass.)

There was the invitation I received to spend six weeks one summer with my uncle and aunt in Houston, Texas while I was a teenager. That experience taught me a lot about hard work, initiative, learning to persevere, and also introduced me to spiritual truth in ways I’d never seen previously.

Being invited to submit an essay for a local writing competition, then winning, gave me confidence maybe I had a bit of talent for the craft.

I can think of many other invitations that proved instrumental in my life – to attend someone’s church; to try something new from a career standpoint; enjoy the hospitality in the home of very special people; participate in meetings with inspirational leaders; attend conferences and workshops where I learned much personally, professionally and spiritually.

What invitations have been special in your life, opportunities that have helped to shape who you are – or are becoming?

There’s another side to this question: To whom can we extend an invitation, perhaps to meet for coffee or lunch, just to talk and get acquainted? Or invite someone to begin a mentoring relationship with you? Maybe you could invite someone – even a family – to a social gathering, a special event, or a setting you think they might enjoy or find meaningful?

In the New Testament, we see how an invitation changed the lives of people in an entire town. Jesus had spoken to a woman in Samaria, an act unthinkable for that time and culture. He showed genuine concern for this “woman at the well.” At the close of their conversation, the woman excitedly told the townspeople, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).

Curious, residents of the community went to check out this unusual individual. The passage later states, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). She had issued a simple invitation – come and see. Because of that, many lives were changed forever.

What invitation might you extend – or respond to? It could change you, or others, forever.

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