My youngest son is learning about different character traits as part of his Bible curriculum. This week I taught him about being attentive. All six year olds need to learn how to be attentive. Let me correct that statement. Every child, regardless of age, needs to learn how to be attentive. I find myself repeating commands throughout the day, saying, “Listen to me!” or “Are you paying attention?” or “Have you heard what I just said?”
Shortly after we were first married, Dana brought home a Cocker Spaniel puppy that we named Jesse. This pup was out of control so we decided to take him to Doggy Obedience School. One of the first things the instructor taught us was that when we gave a command to only say it once. If you said, “Sit, Sit, SIT!!!!!” you would be training to dog to not obey at the first command. Since having children I’ve learned a few things. First, children are much smarter than animals. If a dog can be trained to sit, stay, and speak with the smallest of commands how much more should we expect intelligent children created in the image of God to be able to obey a simple command from their parents? Therefore, I’ve learned that the obedience of children will solely depend upon their training. Unfortunately, I’ve also learned that it’s much harder to retrain disobedient children than to properly train them from the beginning.
So, since this training is so important I wanted to really instill the trait of attentiveness upon my son. I took him to Proverbs 4:20-21, “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.” I explained that being attentive means to listen with your ears, with your eyes and with your heart. “How do you listen with your eyes?” He asked. “Well son” I said, “There are times that you can just look at mommy and know what I want you to do without me even saying a word.” “And son” I said “without putting that knowledge in your heart you’re not really paying attention.”
Since I am but a child and my Father desires my attentiveness I have tried to apply these truths to my life as well. How many times does He have to say to me, “Listen to me”, “Are you paying attention?” or “Have you heard what I just said?” Too many times I’m afraid. So I’m learning to pay close attention to my Father and listen to the Words He has to say. But, I’m also learning that I can listen to my Father with my eyes. Psalm 32:8-9 says, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” In other words, don’t be as an animal that must have incentive to come to their master. Don’t be like the out of control puppy that is trained to expect a treat. Be the obedient child that gazes upon the Father and willingly and joyfully attends to His words. I know that when my eyes are fixed upon my Lord that all He has to do is nod His head to get my attention. On those days He doesn’t have to say a word because His Word is already hidden in my heart. But, I can always do better for there are many times I take my eyes off Him. So Lord, my prayer is that you will forgive me when I’m inattentive and help my be stay focused upon You. After all, every child, regardless of age, needs to learn how to be attentive.