Invitations are special. The act of inviting someone communicates that:

  • I like you.
  • I like being around you.
  • I appreciate what happens when you join in.
  • I want to spend time with you.

And here is the most important part: an invitation communicates the same messages independent of whether the invitation is accepted.

There are many reasons why it is useful to invite family, friends, and colleagues to participate with you in life. My favorite reasons begin with two that I express in a negative way for impact (I’ve been told many times to write in a positive way, but I don’t want these points to be missed!):

  • To be on the outside and not included doesn’t feel good.
  • To have something to say and not get a chance to say it is diminishing.

In other words, not being invited can hurt.

On the other side, there is much to like about the impact of an invitation:

  • To be noticed is good for the soul.
  • To participate in life brings aliveness.
  • To experience the world is to see and feel it in a different way.
  • To be listened to is to have your voice honored.
  • To have a chance to contribute to someone else feels good.

Let’s take a fresh look at what invitations we might extend.

Years ago, when Cindy and I were looking for a new home, we invited our granddaughter, Haley, age 10, to accompany us on a house-hunting trip. We didn’t ask Adam, age 8. It wasn’t that we discussed and decided not to invite Adam. It simply never occurred to us because of our traditional thinking about what interests boys and girls. Luckily, Adam told us he wanted to join us, and he did.

At times, we don’t invite people because we don’t think they would be interested or they don’t have time or they’ve declined in the past. Especially teens may have declined invitations so many times it might seem they’re not interested in what we are offering. Look past this and continue to extend the invitation. Just remember—the invitation has value even if they say no.

Just keep inviting—who knows? Perhaps today you’ll get a yes!


“After that final no there comes a yes,

and on that yes the future world depends.”

—Wallace Stevens, American poet


For the next two weeks, every day think about someone in the family you might invite to:

  • Ride along as you run errands.
  • Help with cooking a meal.
  • Watch television with you.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Play cards or do a puzzle.
  • Go to a movie.
  • Help plan a trip.

Remember, it’s the invitation that counts, not whether it’s accepted. The invitation is about honoring the relationship—a relationship that is important to you.