Today begins our Thursday studies of Godly character traits. I need to grow in these areas so much and I believe if we’ll ask God to help us to apply these truths to our hearts, we can each be a woman characterized by an inner beauty that will not fade away.
We’re going to begin today with Attentiveness – Giving attention; thoughtful of others; considerate, polite, alert, watchful
I will never forget the night one of our daughters came walking into the kitchen a good while after she had gone to bed. She walked a bit groggily as she headed toward the counter and opened a drawer. She reached in and got a pencil out and set it on the counter. The pencil rolled downward until it rolled off the edge and landed on the floor. A second time she placed the pencil on the counter. It rolled like a snowman in the making, and also hit the floor. Then in frustration, she opened the drawer, replaced the pencil to its home, closed the drawer and headed back to bed!
While her pencil mission was taking place, my husband and I were calling her name, but she was oblivious. The conclusion was that she was sleep walking! It caused us to be on alert after that; who knew when she’d have a mission to do something outside after we’d gone to sleep! The fact was, when she went to sleep, there was no waking her! That is usually true of most children.
Let your mind go now to the story in I Samuel 3 of the little boy Samuel who was taken by his mother to serve the priest, Eli. We read in verse 3, And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; This is a young boy. When a little boy goes to bed, his body is tired. He’s had a busy day! Samuel had been serving all day in the temple and he’s snuggled in, ready to go to sleep and dream of catching frogs and fishing in a nearby stream….and perhaps also of his dear mother whom he had to be missing. But just as he is laid down, …the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. The Lord called, and Samuel answered, believing that it was Eli who had called his name. Samuel was called, and Samuel answered three times before Eli realized that it was the Lord calling out to the young child. Now, a fourth time, And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
Why did Samuel answer? He answered because He was attentive. As a young servant, he was listening for the call of His master – all day long and even into the night. Once He understood that it was the Lord calling, God gave Samuel an important message he was to relay to Eli. Samuel needed to listen carefully to get all the details so he would faithfully deliver exactly what God had said. Have you ever wondered why God didn’t wake Eli up and directly give Him the warning? I wonder if it was because God knew he wouldn’t listen. God could trust Samuel because he was attentive. His ears were perked up, his eyes blinking in the darkness, seeking to catch a glimmer of light from the window.
That trait followed Samuel through all his life. He listened to the people crying out for a king and it broke his heart. He listened as God told him who to appoint as the king. King Saul debated his case to Samuel and he listened. In his attentiveness he heard the bleating of the sheep. In his observation, he knew Saul was disobedient. He was always aware of what was going on around him!
A woman of godly character will have the trait that Samuel wore so well; that of attentiveness. There are several areas in which we must apply this trait:
To be attentive, a godly woman must begin with an awareness of what is going on in her own spiritual heart. She will be ready to hear from God each day, saying sincerely, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears.” When we take time to not only talk to God, but also listen, we will have direction for our day and hope for the burdens on our heart! We want God to be attentive to us, don’t we? The psalmist said, Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. We can cry this out to the Lord, but then we must sit and listen to His answer. Be still (be attentive) and know that He is God.
Ask God to make you aware of where He is working around you so you can, as Henry Blackaby teaches, join Him in His work. Is there someone He’s put in your path that needs the Gospel? Being attentive will show you who and when.
Be wide-eyed at the blessings that God showers along your path each day. It’s easy to take things for granted, but an attentive person says, ” I see what you’ve done and want to say, Thank you, Lord!” Thank you for that delicious coffee! Thank you for my friend. Thank you for the cool morning. Thank you for my worn Bible. Thank you for a car to drive. Thank you for that little child that waved to me as he passed in the grocery store. Be attentive of blessings!
Attentiveness will enable us to bless even strangers by the fact that we’re aware of what’s going on around us. Little things like making sure your car is parked inside the white lines in the parking lot so that you’re not taking up more than your space, watching the lights turn green and being ready to move out of the traffic, keeping your grocery cart pulled out of the middle of the store aisle, not talking on your cell phone when doing public business are just a few small ways in which we can be aware of our surroundings and respond in a way that will help and not hinder others.
A woman who is attentive will also be aware of what is going on in the lives of people around her, rather than only being consumed with her own problems and agenda.
Recently I was talking with a friend and she said, “I saw_______’s head hanging down in church. Even from behind, I can see that he is really struggling with something.” That is being attentive to other’s needs! Just watching slumped shoulders, a wrinkled brow, and sadness behind the eyes can spur us to action. It may prompt us to write a card and let them know of our prayers for them. Perhaps a hand on the shoulder and a word of care spoken is what they need. Being attentive is the only way to know how to demonstrate the love of God. Be attentive when you ask how someone how they are doing. Look at them. Listen to them and care about their answer.
When we’re engaged in normal conversation with friends, are we showing them that we care about what they’re saying by being attentive? Look them in the eye. Don’t look beyond them at what’s going on behind them. Nod. Respond. Listen with your heart. Put the cell phone on silent. Give them your undivided attention.
We must learn to be attentive to our spouse. Do we put down what we’re doing, turn away from the television or computer and look him in the eye, and listen when they are speaking? Weak marriages can be strengthened by good communication, and it has to start with someone talking and someone listening. Good marriages can be even better by hearing and responding to what your mate is telling you. Do they need you to pray with them right then and there? Does he need a warm embrace? A loving gesture? You won’t really know unless you’re paying close attention. Be alert to know if he’s going through a hard time. Think about what day and month it is. Is there a reason to celebrate? Is this an anniversary of his job? Recognize it. If he washed your car or put gas in it, be aware and tell him thank you.
What about our attentiveness to our children? When your children are young, it can seem like they’re simply babbling and you can mutter, “Uh huh. Is that right?” and they’re good with that. But how often do you get down eyeball to eyeball and listen to what they’re saying? Be attentive to their needs and hear what they’re saying behind the gibberish.
When you are disciplining your child you need to listen. Proverbs 18:13 says, He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. Sometimes listening to your child will reveal their heart, giving you a better understanding of how to deal with the needs and sin in their lives.
An attentive mother will know where her children are and what they’re up to. Do you always know where they are at church? When you’re in a store? If you’ve been accused of having eyes on the back of your head, then you’ve proven your attentiveness! Way to go! Sometimes the Holy Spirit will prompt a mother’s heart to go check on a child. Being alert to His prompting will prove to be a blessing in the lives of your children, both spiritually and physically.
Teens and beyond also need a mom who is attentive to what is going on in their lives. Going in after your teen has gone to bed and sitting down to listen to them tell about their day can open up a means to counsel them in godliness. Your adult children will be blessed, not by a woman who is prying into their lives, but one who cares and is willing to listen and pray for their needs – if they want to share.
Developing attentiveness will allow us to hear from the Lord in times of worship, and in our own quiet time. It will also allow us to be a blessing to others. While I was sitting here writing this, the mail came. I received a card from someone who said that just by watching me, she’d noticed I had a heavy heart! She is a woman of attentiveness. What a blessing her note was to me today! I desire to learn to be that attentive so I can be a woman who is a blessing; so I can be a woman of godly character!
How has attentiveness been displayed to you? How do you reveal this trait to others?