Sir Richard Hadlee adored by the New Zealand public is less so by the English cricket fans, admired maybe but not adored.
You see Hadlee took too many English wickets during his stellar Test Career. But for those of us interested in the laws of
success and failure, you may be surprised to learn that Sir Richard actually bowled 22,000 balls to take his 431 Test wickets.
That means Hadlee bowled 21,569 balls that failed to take the wicket he desired.
Interviewed about his career, Hadlee however revealed his bowling strategy. He said that he had a jack, queen, king, ace,
bowling plan, which set the batsman up for the ace wicket taking ball. So in the midst of 21,569 balls of seeming failure not all
were wasted, in fact they were preparing for taking the batsman’s wicket.
In the area of invitation there will be seeming failures, when people say no, but perhaps we can invite people strategically.
Perhaps our jack invitation is simply to invite them to eat with us and another Christian friend. Perhaps our queen invitation,
is to invite them to do something fun with our Christian friends. Perhaps our king invitation is to invite them to a study involving
our friends, and perhaps by then our ace invitation can be to our home group, our church service, or into a relationship with
The jack, queen, king, ace of invitation
I once conducted a Seminar in church and knew that I had to finish the session by a certain time because the church had been double-booked. I didn’t bother to ask what the other event was as it was no problem as long as I finished on time.
With ten minutes to go, only I could see what was coming up the aisle of the church. As the coffin came up the aisle of the church followed by gowned clergy, my jaw dropped. It was almost one of those moments when the world slows down to a crawl. The coffin ended up 6 feet away from me as I desperately concluded the Seminar, skipping over my final few slides.
As the seminar was about invitation, one friend cruelly said afterwards, “well at least you got another one back to church!” Yes but unfortunately too late!
Travelling in Australia is always fraught with danger for the intrepid explorer. For example I am generally prone to be bitten by all sorts of insects and coming out in lumps. So imagine my slight discomfort on a recent visit to a diocese which I will not name for legal reasons (Rockhampton) when my lord Bishop (for that is how you should really address them) showed me my sleeping quarters. In the midst of the room there was a bed, but dominating my thoughts was the mosquito net handliy placed above the bed.
I went to bed on my first night with the Bishop assuring me in the grand way they do before a congregation during the Absolution that “You should be okay!”
I woke next morning surrounded by the net and several hungry looking mosquitos on the other side. This happened for three consecutive nights. One night I heard the mosquitos sawing through the net, on the second night I heard them trying to tunnel under the net, and on the third night I witnessed the most extraordinary Mosquito Parish Council Meeting where I and my blood were the only agenda items.
In the end despite one or two bites, I survived. I have been asked to go on a number of televsion programmes already to tell my story of bravery!
I want to say in the area of invitation “you should be okay!” You may face rejection, you may face a fierce response, you may even put your friendship at risk, but I want to say in the end “you should be okay” and more than that, you will have a tale to tell, maybe not as long as mine.
Before he retired from Test Cricket Shane Warne had taken more wickets than any other bowler in the history of the game.
He actually took 708 wickets. But many people will not realise that he had 40,700 attempts at taking a wicket. So he bowled
39,992 balls that did not achieve their desired effect. Not only that, he conceded 18,000 runs
This means that arguably the best bowler of all time had to bowl 57 balls before he took a wicket. In other words Warne endured
the failure of 57 wicketless balls, but kept on going because the law of averages said in his case that each failure increased
the chance for success
The law of averages strikes also in invitation. Not every invitation to something we love is going to result in acceptance. But
if we persist long enough our own law of averages in invitation will appear and if we endure or as old versions of the bible say “suffer long” (longsuffering) we will succeed.
Baby eagles learn to fly primarily by observing their parents. To encourage young eagles who don’t show an interest
in fledging, the parents sometimes fly around the outside of the nest with a choice piece of food in their claws.
Such gentle coaxing goes against the popular myth that eagles push their young right out of the nest in
a “sink or swim” flying lesson. While food is a great motivator, the young eagles are curious about the world
and like to imitate their parents. By perching on a nearby limb with a choice meal, the eagle parents are encouraging
their young one’s sense of curiosity–and its appetite–until the young eagle begins to leave the safe environment
of the nest on its own accord. It will then of course initially plunge downwards (the dip)
In the same way that eagle parents coax their eaglets to fly, Jesus used a similar pattern with the disciples.
We can think of Jesus sending the seventy two, Jesus inviting Simon Peter to walk on water, Jesus asking the disciples
to feed the five thousand. In each of these incidents there is I believe a substantial risk of failure (the dip).
The Seventy two faced rejection, Simon Peter sank, and the disciples panicked by saying “where could we get enough
bread?” Moments of crisis, but also moments of growth! Invitations of the seventy two accepted, Simon Peter walks
on water and the five thousand are feed. You see God the Father is right in the middle of the dip and its in the curve of
the dip, which of course are His loving arms that we find our identity and security. So try invitation and the dip.
Seth Godin American Entrepreneur, Author and Social commentator in 2007 wrote a little book called The Dip.
The Book teaches you when to quit (and when to stick)
The dip is a temporary setback that can be overcome with persistence –
and how to recognize if you are within one worth pushing through, or one worth quitting.
Within this concept I find one of the major ways that God trys to teach His children. Some examples from the bible
Moses 40 years in exile, Joseph in a prison, David faced by Nathan about adultery and murder, Jesus in the wilderness
The Apostle Paul in prison, the disciples betrayal. I could go on……..
It is in the dip (if we choose to listen) that God disciples and matures us.
Invitation creates eventually for most of us the dip, when we have to face the rejection of a friend and family member. Multiply
this across a whole congregation and you can have a whole church going through the dip together.
Some churches and people choose to take the easy way out by quitting and stopping invitation entirely.
While others discover at our lowest ebb that God is there and wants to deepen His relationship with us
Jesus went about inviting people to take part in the Kingdom how did he practice love. He said the following things
“Get thee behind me Satan”,
“Let the dead bury the dead”,
“You brood of vipers”,
“This one thing you lack”,
“you serve your father the devil”
The goal of Christ of course was to so love people as to call the greatness out of them in identifying the thing locking this greatness. Jesus held people accountable to the scriptures. Honest and bold speech is important and shouldn’t be dismissed so that folks can get along.
We can’t be careless with our words and we must be intentional about our language, for it reveals our heart, and it will be a way in which we are judged.
But Invitation can lead you into conflict and that often is a sign that battle for the kingdom has been joined!
Jesus said some hard hitting things at times In Matthew 7 he said “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.
Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
Grapes and figs are clearly good, thorns, and thistles we need to avoid. What thorns and thistles have I seen in my own life and the life of
Jesus’ church today?
(Out of step with God)
All of them can be identified and overcome through the practice of invitation
Fear is the emotion of the future the inability to predict what is going to happen next. The reason many people
say that they don’t invite their family and friends to something they love is fear. They can’t be sure what the reponse
of their friend or family member is going to be so they decide not to invite
Perhaps we can learn from Lord Baden Powell who made famous two words Be Prepared. The meaning of the motto
is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out
and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise. In the twelve steps of
becoming an inviting church step seven is practice the question “would you like to come to church with me?”
Perhaps we also need to practice the potential responses as well and then we would really be prepared.
You rarely regret the things you do, you regret the things you don’t do so by being prepared we can
overcome our fear and have less regrets.
The Lord’s Prayer says Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be left waiting for us in our graves
or whether it should be ours here and now on earth.
To be or not to be a disciple right now, that is the question