Category Archives: Attentiveness

Focus on One Character Quality at a Time

You don’t have to teach your children how to steal, how to cheat, how to lie or how to be disobedient. That comes very naturally for all children. But you do need to teach them how to be truthful, how to respect authority, how to be kind, how to yield their rights, and how to forgive.

That’s the responsibility of every Christian parent. If God has blessed you with children, then He has given you the responsibility of teaching and instructing them in the ways of God. It’s not the responsibility of the church, the youth leader, or even the pastor; but it’s the responsibility of the Christian home. The Bible repeats time and time again the principle, “teach these things to your children” (Genesis 18:19; Exodus 13:14; Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:6; Psalm 78:4-6; Ephesians 4:6).

One of the best ways to teach Godly character is to study one character quality at a time in order to understand its nature, its importance, and its benefits. Attached to today’s posting is a sheet listing 49 character qualities and their definitions. (http://hlm.org/files/CharacterDefinitions.pdf).

Go through that sheet of character qualities and ask each person in your family to list what they think is the ten most important qualities that make a successful family.

List all the qualities they have chosen.

Then put the numbers beside the quality that corresponds to the priority placed on it by each member of the family. For example, if your wife listed “kindness” as her number one priority put a “1” beside it. If your son listed “kindness” as his number three, then put a “3” beside it.

Then add the numbers together to determine your priority list; and the quality with the lowest total should be the first quality you study and learn.

We have created a website to assist the teaching of Godly character to your children. You can find it at www.characterjournal.com. It provides Bible verses, stories, illustrations and games which you can use with younger children. This has also been used effectively with Bible clubs and the AWANA program.

In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…” As you look through that listing of 49 character qualities, all of these qualities are personified in the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot get to know Jesus Christ intimately apart from understanding His character.

There are artists who have painted portraits of Jesus – trying to imagine what He must have looked like. We don’t know what Jesus looked like on the outside, but by studying these character qualities we get a beautiful picture of what He looked like on the inside.

Choose to Be a Mary

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42) .

The story of Mary and Martha is not a presentation of two different personality types. We are not destined to be either a Mary or a Martha. We must choose to be a Mary.  Jesus said, “Mary hath chosen that good part.”

The focus of true hospitality is upon the guest.

“Little Things” by Elisabeth Elliot

When we were growing up our parents taught us, by both word and example, to pay attention to little things. If you do a thing at all, do it thoroughly: make the sheets really smooth on the bed, sweep all the corners and move all the chairs when you sweep the kitchen, roll the toothpaste tube neatly and put the cap back on, clean the hair out of your brush each time you use it, hang your towels straight on the rod, fold your napkin and put it into the silver ring before you leave the table, never wet your finger when you turn pages. They kept promises made to us as faithfully as they kept those made to adults. They taught us to do the same. You didn’t accept an invitation to a party and then not turn up, or agree to help with a Vacation Bible School and back out because a more interesting activity presented itself…

When I went to boarding school the same principles I had been taught at home were emphasized. There was a hallway with small oriental rugs which we called “Character Hall” because the headmistress, Mrs. DuBose, could look down that hall from the armchair where she sat in the lobby and spot any student who kicked up a corner of the rug and did not replace it. She would call out to correct him, “It’s those tiny little things in your life which will crack you up when you get out of this school!” In the little things our character was revealed. Our response would make our break us. “Don’t go around with a Bible under your arm if you didn’t sweep under the bed,” she said, for she would have no pious talk coming out of a messy room.

“Great thoughts go best with common duties. Whatever therefore may be your office regard it as a fragment in an immeasurable ministry of love” (Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott, b. 1825).

It is not easy to find children or adults who are dependable, careful, thorough, and faithful. So many lives seem honeycombed with small failures, neglectful of the little things that make the difference between order and chaos. Perhaps it is because they are so seldom taught that visible things are signs of an invisible reality; that common duties may be “an immeasurable ministry of love.” The spiritual training of souls must be inseparable from practical disciplines, as Jesus so plainly taught; “the man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches! And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?” (Luke 16:10-12 JB).

From Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot, p.p. 83-84, OM Publishing, Carlisle, England, 1996.

The Wood Duck

How does the wood duck illustrate ATTENTIVENESS?

A pair of wood ducks work together in building their nest and preparing it for their young. When the nest is complete, the mother wood duck lays one egg each day for twelve to fifteen days. Amazingly, the egg that was laid on the fifteenth day hatches on the same day as the egg that was laid on the first day!

How does ATTENTIVENESS allow baby wood ducks to hatch on the same day?

All the eggs hatch on the same day because the mother and father wood ducks begin “talking” to their young while they are still in the eggs. In this way the young ducklings learn to be attentive to the voices of their parents. As the day approaches for hatching, the mother wood duck begins giving instructions to the unhatched wood ducklings. Before long, a chorus of “peeps” and “kucks” comes from the eggs, as the ducklings respond to their parents and to one another. These “conversations” between adult wood ducks and their young bond them together and help to synchronize the hatching process so all the ducklings break out of their shells within minutes of one another!

How ATTENNTIVENESS saves a wood duck’s life

When the ducklings are less than twenty-four hours old, their mother flies to the base of the nesting tree and calls up to her ducklings to leave the nest. This instruction could mean a jump of up to fifty feet for the ducklings. Ducklings that were attentive to their mother’s voice before hatching scramble up the side of the nest and jump. Usually all the ducklings (called a clutch) jump out of the nest in less than five minutes. This quick response is necessary because hungry predators also hear the mother’s call and will come to devour the mother and her ducklings if they do not find safety in a nearby pond. In the pond the ducklings continue to be protected by being attentive to their mother’s warnings. When they hear a warning, they must remain motionless until the danger is passed.

The Key to Attentiveness

Having “Spiritual Ears”

Scripture teaches that there are two types of hearing-spiritual and natural. Our natural ears can distinguish the meaning of audible sounds. Our “spiritual ears” can recognize the voice of God as He “speaks” to us through the Bible. Having “spiritual ears” is far more important to learning attentiveness than any physical listening we may do. In fact, without “spiritual ears” it would be impossible to achieve the level of attentiveness necessary to be successful in life. Notice the distinction between spiritual and physical hearing in the following verse: “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15).

How to get “Spiritual Ears”

“Spiritual ears” begin to be developed as we listen to our consciences tell us how we have broken God’s holy Law. God has written His Law in our hearts, and early in childhood we break every one of His Ten Commandments, which are:

1 Thou shalt have no other gods.

2 Thou shalt not make any graven images.

3 Thou shalt not profane God’s name.

4 Thou shalt honor the Sabbath.

5 Thou shalt honor thy parents.

6 T’hou shalt not kill (get angry).

7 Thou shalt not commit adultery (lust).

8 Thou shalt not steal.

9 Thou shalt not bear false witness.

10 Thou shalt not covet.

The just punishment for breaking any one of these Laws is physical and spiritual death. However, God is not only a just God; He is also a merciful God. In mercy, God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to pay the full penalty for our breaking His Law. If we listen to the Holy Spirit convicting us of our sin, repent, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the full payment for our sin, we will acquire “spiritual ears.”

You can become a believer in Christ by sincerely praying the following: “God, I confess that I have broken Your Law. I deserve to die, but I do now repent of my sin and receive Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the full payment for my sin. Amen.”

How to Demonstrate Attentiveness

to God

  • Spend time with the Lord first thing in the morning (Psalm 5:3; Mark 1:35)
  • Listen to the Word of God (Revelation 1:3)
  • Remove thoughts that distract from God
  • Use fasting to concentrate on the Lord (Matthew 6:16-18)

to Parents

  • Honor the presence of your parents (Leviticus 19:32)
  • Look at the faces of your parents
  • Look into the eyes of your parents (Psalm 32:8)
  • Remember the words of your parents (Proverbs 6:20-22)
  • Let them know where you are at all times

in Church

  • Sit up and lean slightly forward
  • Look at the speaker
  • Don’t watch your watch
  • Take notes on what you hear
  • Stifle yawns, coughs, and sneezes
  • Dress up for church
  • Sit as close to the front as possible

to your Civil Authorities

  • Pray for your civil authorities (1 Timothy 2:2)
  • Learn how God uses civil authorities ( 1 Peter 2:14)
  • Know and honor the law in your community

to your Employers

  • Learn the priorities of your employer
  • Protect the name of your employerDeflect praise to your employer
  • Demonstrate attentiveness to detail
  • Have the attitude of a servant – become excited about making him successful

Bible Verses Related to Attentiveness

Spend an evening (or several) looking at just one of these verses at a time. Don’t forget to ask your children the questions: Who? What? Where? Why? When? and How? Discuss with your family what each verse or story teaches about the character quality. Choose several verses to memorize together as a family.

  • Deuteronomy 12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest [that which is] good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.
  • Proverbs 1:5 A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
  • Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
  • Proverbs 4:10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
  • Proverbs 8:33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
  • Proverbs 19:20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
  • Proverbs 8:34 Blessed [is] the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
  • Proverbs 15:31  The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
  • Proverbs 15:32  He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. {instruction: or, correction} {heareth: or, obeyeth} {getteth…: Heb. possesseth an heart}
  • Proverbs 18:13  He that answereth a matter before he heareth [it], it [is] folly and shame unto him. {answereth…: Heb. returneth a word}
  • Ecclesiastes 7:5 [It is] better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
  • Isaiah 6:9  And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. {indeed, but understand: or, without ceasing, etc: Heb. in hearing, etc}
  • Isaiah 30:9 That this [is] a rebellious people, lying children, children [that] will not hear the law of the LORD:
  • Jeremiah 13:10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. {imagination: or, stubbornness}
  • Ezekiel 33:32 And, lo, thou [art] unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. {a very…: Heb. a song of loves}
  • Zechariah 7:12 Yea, they made their hearts [as] an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. {by: Heb. by the hand of}
  • Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
  • Matthew 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
  • Matthew 13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
  • Matthew 13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
  • Matthew 13:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
  • Matthew 13:16 But blessed [are] your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
  • Luke 6:27  But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
  • Luke 9:35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
  • Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed [are] they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
  • John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
  • John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
  • James 1:19  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
  • Revelation 1:3  Blessed [is] he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand.
  • Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.