Monday, September 17, 2012

Building Character: Attentiveness

This week we are talking about ATTENTIVENESS vs. unconcern.

Attentiveness is sandwiched right between Alertness and Availability, which I think is useful because these three qualities are so much about putting others before ourselves.  And I don't know about you, but that is something that we really have to work on around here.

ATTENTIVENESS vs. unconcern

Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to their words and emotions.

Hebrews 2:1 - "For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it."

This lesson is two-fold -
First, we need to keep our gaze firmly fixed upon Jesus, our Savior. 
Second, "regard one another as more important than yourselves".  
Philippians 2:3
(I think I know our newest memory verse!!)

Easy to say, harder to do.  How often do we mothers just brush right past a child trying to tell us something because we deem it unimportant?  I know it is hard.  I know it very well, but I think we have to be conscientious about stopping what we are doing (when at all possible), kneeling down and looking into our child's face while they are talking to us.  We need to stop and sit in a chair and take a small child onto our lap, carefully listening, and looking into their faces.  Because if we want them to share the "big stuff" with us later on, we have to be willing to listen to the "little stuff" (that is really big stuff in their eyes) right now.   More is caught than taught.  If we want our children to learn to pay attention to Jesus and to us, we need to take the time to pay attention to them.  

And more than ever, we need to be willing to put away the distractions of technology in order to listen.  With mobile devices sending constant interruption, please show your child that they are more important.  In days gone by, if the phone rang at dinner time, most families would just let it ring, after all, dinner with the family was more important and phone calls could wait.  Reclaim family meals by banishing ALL screens from the table.  Do not answer your phone, your texts, your e-mails, etc... during family meals.  For the sake of your children and your marriage, reserve that hour for face to face time and listen to the voices of wisdom sharing with you that this is one of the most important ways to destruction-proof your family.  Show the worth of the people you love the most by giving them your UNDIVIDED attention during mealtimes. 

This week's Bible story:  Mary loved Jesus
Luke 10:39 - "And she (Martha) had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word."

John 12:1-7 - "Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil."

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were brother and sisters living in the town of Bethany and they were some of Jesus' closest friends during His life on earth.  Mary, in particular, showed her devotion to the Lord on two different occasions.  Mary gave Jesus her undivided attention and did not let the cares of the household, or concerns about money distract her from what was most important, which was Jesus himself. 

I do not own any spikenard, but I do own some incredibly lovely Arnica Massage Oil, so to demonstrate what Mary did, I rubbed each child's feet with the oil and looked into their faces while I did it.  I demonstrated giving undivided attention with each of them, getting very close face to face, shielding our faces with my hands to help bring them into focus on my face.  I smiled with them and said how much I loved them.  When we reviewed this lesson two days later, they asked me if I would rub their feet with the oil again.  I was so happy to do it!  

  • What does it mean to have undivided attention?  (Demonstrate this in a physical way.)
  • We cannot sit at Jesus' feet because He has gone up into heaven already, but in what ways can we give Jesus our undivided attention?  (Paying attention during worship and Bible classes, in prayer, being devoted to reading His word, etc...)
  • What can happen if we do not pay attention to God's word?  (discuss Hebrews 2:1)
  • How can we be attentive to others?  Role play a situation and put it into practice.
(For us, our children really need practice being attentive when other adults speak to them.  We practice shaking hands, smiling, saying hello, and answering questions.  We try to prepare them when we will be going into situations where lots of adults will want to talk to them, such as before a worship assembly.  We are making some progress, but still have a ways to go.) 

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