Have you noticed that some people consistently attract what they don’t want?  Maybe it’s true for you, too. It’s as if you’re wearing one of those sandwich boards — visible to others, but not to you.  And, the distinction between what you invite and what you want may be subtle.

Years ago I attended a seminar called The Clearing. For the first time I was challenged to consider the invitation I am to the world.

What is it that I invite, as people come toward me?

By way of illustration, I have a good friend who’s now a marvelous pastoral counselor. He’s great at helping hurting people get on their feet. It doesn’t matter how deep a hole you’re in, he’ll climb down in and help you up. It’s a gift and he’s developed it well.

Several years ago, he planted a church. Annie and I were excited. We’d been on a church planting team before and longed to gather influential, world-changers who’d commit to transform the surrounding community.

The church kept attracting something else. 

Our pastor—and by extension the church—was an invitation for the broken, discouraged, and destitute to find healing and recovery. Though an important and beneficial ministry, it doesn’t invite the kind of folks who are up for building a world-changing church.

Maybe you’ve seen Burn Notice.  Michael Weston is a “burned” CIA agent who’s mission is to figure out who burned him and why. As a field agent, he has special skills. Skills to take down bad guys, right wrongs, con con artists, and foil plots against all things noble.

So, while trying to solve his own CIA dilemma, Michael’s an invitation to help people in trouble.  He does. It’s great entertainment.

All this brings us to me, then you.

In The Clearing, the challenge was to inventory what we invite. My answer was “advice”. People approached me in a conundrum and assumed I had some experience or expertise by which to advise them.

It was all quite flattering.

And a small, small game.

Rather than strengthening people’s capacity to trust Christ and address their own dilemmas, I invited the parade of people-with-questions looking for free advice. I suppose I could have busied myself for a lifetime bestowing advice and feeling good about it.

But, I believe God wants me to strengthen Christian influencers to live in such inspiring ways that those they lead—and the communities around them are transformed for Christ.

Since then, that’s the invitation I am.

What invitation are you?