Where is your attention? The things you pay attention to, the people you focus your attention on, tells a lot about what your priorities are, and how deep your relationships will be. Your attention is more than just your focus. We try so hard to multi-task, thinking that it will maximize the use of our time, but does it really make a difference? True focus requires not multi-tasking in order to be effective. It has been said, “The mind is at its best when it is centered on one thing at a time. Avoid such things as fatigue, noise, and competing visual images during the time you are trying to learn.” (bible.org/illustration) The priorities in your life demonstrate where your attention is. The depth of your relationships demonstrate how much attention you are giving to the people in your life.
Priority: What attention shows
Where you spend the most attention is a hint at where your top priority lies. Luke 12:34 reminds us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I found some thought provoking questions regarding our priorities for time: “Isn’t it strange how two hours seem so long when you’re at church, and so short when you’re at a ball game? Isn’t it strange how difficult and boring you think it is to read one chapter of the Bible but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular novel? Isn’t it strange how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts or games, but they do whatever is possible to sit at the last row in church?” (ministry127.com) We think we know what our priorities are, but often the time and attention we spend on things demonstrates differently. How much time do you spend on social media compared to the time praying? How much time do you spend reading novels compared to the time in God’s Word? How much time do you spend talking with people about surface issues like the weather or politics compared to time spent discussing how God is working in our lives? Matthew 6:33 reminds true Christians to seek God’s kingdom first, then all the things we really need will be provided for us. So, less time spent worrying or pursuing frivolous things, and more time pursuing things that are eternal ... building up treasure in Heaven that lasts! (Matthew 6:19-20)
What things grab your attention? This not only shows your priorities, but affects your attitudes, and disposition. Are you focussed on the bad things going on, or the blessings that God is giving? Are you focussed on the things you don’t like, or the things that you can do something about? Are you concentrating on research, politics, or undesirable circumstances, or are you helping people see what God is still doing in our world? A bombardment of negativity distracts us from the joy God really wants us to have!a
Relationship: What attention does
The amount of attention you give is directly proportional to the depth of your relationship with that person. “We may know sports figures, their statistics, even their personal likes and dislikes, but we don’t really know them. How well do you know God? You likely know all about Him, you likely have studied His book, the Bible, but do you actually know Him?” (www.ministry127.com)
Focussed attention improves your memory. Someone once advised, “Telling yourself that you want to remember this or that fact and concentrating on it will improve your memory immediately. We remember what we WANT to remember.” (bible.org/illustration) When my wife is telling me something important, I need to drop everything I am doing, and listen carefully. This way I can fully understand what she is saying, remembering it, and I also demonstrate that I value what she is saying. Can we do the same for what God is saying to us?
Focussed attention improves your relationships. The best way to get to know a person is to pay attention to what they do and what they say, without any distractions. For a Christian, the most important relationship we should have, is our relationship with God. Deuteronomy 6:5 reminds us that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” That is top priority over all relationships!
Focussed attention improves your affections. Getting to know your spouse more, because you want to, usually results in growing in your love for him/her. Likewise, as you get to know God more, your desire for Him grows: to get to know Him more, to love Him more. Luke 10:38-42 describes when Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha of Bethany. Jesus commends Mary over Martha, for her desire to spend time getting to know Him rather than bustling about.
Bob Keeshan has said, “Attention is like a daily bouquet of love.” Where is your attention, and what is it’s quality? May your prayer truly be, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)