Act 23: Attention

The pace of life rockets up year by year. As it goes up, our ability to observe what others need tends to go down. So, offering people your absolute full attention is a gift that’s only going up in value. It’s a good time to invest. Let’s take some of the biggest attention-drains from modern life and knock them on the head.  

 Choose how you’ll complete today’s act:
Green:
Today, take a break from phubbing (that’s ‘phone snubbing’ – ignoring others in favour of your phone).

Amber:
Respect people’s time if you’re a chronic late-arriver. Show up on time, or make sure you don’t hold them up if they need to get away promptly.

Red:
Know someone under pressure? Help them get done what they need to get done. Do some tasks for them, take a responsibility off their hands, or keep them caffeinated.

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“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
(James 3:13 NIV)
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Your thought for today:

‘You’re not really listening are you?’

The shift in tone of my wife’s voice lifts it over the general hum of the other ‘stuff’ vying for my attention. She’s right. I’m not. I mean, I kind of am. I’m uber-tasking. At the same time as hearing my wife download her day, I’m pinging out humorous gifs to my WhatsApp prayer group, selecting this weekend’s Fantasy Football team, and watching last night’s episode of Detectorists. As the apostle Paul probably wouldn’t say, ‘I’ve become all things to all apps’.

Imagine ordering a full-English and ending up with half a German sausage and six baked beans (the wurst!), yet that must be how my wife feels when my attention is less than lackadaisical. I’m constantly distracted and distraction destroys depth. She shouldn’t have to ask for my attention. I should willingly give it to her out of joy, love and a recognition of the responsibility of relationship.

You see, hearing is about vibrating eardrums, but listening is about going deeper than the noises and attempting to understand. Hearing is science; listening is relationship. And relationships require attention.

The best model of this is Jesus Christ. In Mark 10 Jesus is surrounded by a huge crowd. Yet, in the midst of the gig-like chaos he hears a blind beggar calling out and, we are told, ‘Jesus stopped’. He stops, the crowd stops and Jesus listens. He properly listens.

And Jesus’ attention-giving finds its climax at the cross. At 33 He had plenty of ‘time’ left yet He allows it to be cruelly cut short so that ours might be eternally extended. On that awful yet awesome day Jesus gave His full self.

As well as being eternally thankful, I think that’s a good reason for me to stop, down my apps and give someone my full attention.



Written by Sam Gibb
Sam is a London-born, Midlands-raised church pastor, desperately clinging on to his 20s while planting a church in Central London. He loves telling people the glorious gospel of grace revealed in the pages of scripture. When not planning church planting and preaching Sam enjoys decent beer, reading Asterix comics and watching YouTube videos of Alan Shearer. He is married to Charlie, and has promised to give her his complete attention when she comes home from work tonight. 


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