Are You Paying Attention?

Coaches Corner      


Are You Paying Attention?




Whenever we act on our world, whether intentionally or automatically, we employ the function of the mind called attention.  Attention can be considered the ignition key of the mind. A vast array of our mental and physical actions follows what we attend to. There tends to be a continuum between our voluntary and involuntary ways of attending to things as the following two examples prove.


Brock was inattentive to how his role as a technology executive was taking him away from life at home and, as a result, of deeply sad he was over missing many events in his daughter’s life. Although he knew this to be a fact, he would not permit himself to sense that sadness for long because it led to additional feelings of guilt. And these emotions so frightened and overwhelmed him that he just kept them locked away in some distant mental storage trunk, safely protected from his conscious awareness.


What did God feel or think about the circumstances, and how did that affect Him? Was Brock aware of how God was affected by him?


Brock’s answers were instructive. It was clear that when he considered what God thought of him, none of it was very good. Guilt was the dominant theme, reflected in the fleeting images, sensations, and thoughts of God’s displeasure and disappointment with him. These impressions didn’t leave much room in his mind for the image of a God who loved him. And the likelihood of that changing was not very great if Brock wasn’t even aware that this perceived disappointment was what he was paying attention to. In their family, having a relationship with God meant following a set of rules and regulations set down by the church. Brock had no idea that the way he had developed emotionally in his family continued to influence his experience of God. Brock was oblivious to the many things that were influencing his experience of God and life. Ignoring these aspects resulted in his missing ways that God was attempting to capture his attention. Ignoring his brain was the equivalent of ignoring God.


The way we attend to various elements of our mind’s activity also greatly influences our relationship with God. On the surface this may not be hard to accept. What is difficult to contemplate is just how much we are not paying attention to, especially spiritually. Despite the fact that we believe that paying attention is important, the truth is, we live much of our lives inattentively. Thus, the question can be asked: How well am I paying attention to what I am paying attention to? 


It was the simple act of paying attention to something, something unusual in an otherwise bland landscape, that would change the life of Moses forever. Only on the far side of the desert was his attention awakened to things within and without him. There at the edge of the world he paid attention to the Voice that spoke to him in a dialect like none he had ever heard. His life likely would have remained the same had he not paid attention. Had he not paid attention, he would have missed the opportunity to “go over and see this strange sight.” Exodus 3:3


The way the biblical characters chose to pay attention had significant, sometimes life-threatening consequences. What they paid attention to, affected their lives. If you haven’t read the accounts of some of these heroes of the faith lately, it would be good to review them. Consider how and to what they paid attention.


The biblical account reveals that Moses actually regarded the bush. After he had attended to this natural phenomenon, he pondered his response. His action was not automatic, it was considered. Holy Scripture teaches that God speaks with Moses after He sees that Moses is willing to pay attention to Him.


The degree to which we pay attention to Him affects not only us it affects Him. God was pleased. So, God decided to talk with Moses. When God talks and we attentively listen, wonderful, beautiful, awesome things happen.


What are you paying attention to?

What are you not paying attention to?

Of the two examples, whom do you more closely identify with?


Perhaps you’ve wondered at few of these questions:

In a world that is more connected than ever before, why do I so often feel so alone?

Why do I find it so hard to change?

Why can’t I get past my past?

How does Jesus make a way for me to be freed from the grip of sin here and now, not just in the new heaven and earth?


One last question: What might a coaching conversation do for you?