Attention matters. Your focused concentration is highly sought after in today’s world.
How do you allocate your attention?
Most of us give continuous partial attention to almost everything. I cannot possibly give honest consideration to everything that comes across my screen. There aren’t enough hours in a day. I simply delete, without reading, many emails every day. Facebook gets a passing glance. No way can I attentively read every blog I follow. I haven’t had time to figure out what other social media I am missing.
By the way, thank you for following and reading this blog. I realize how much information is competing for your attention, and that you spend a little here is very much appreciated.
Ok, back to the point…How do we decide what deserves our attention?
Marketing experts are working diligently to earn it. Big data analysts are building algorithms to steer you, content producers are crafting articles and catchy titles to entice you, and in our materialistic society much of it is with the intention of selling stuff.
Your attention often means sales, donations, profit. That’s not necessarily bad; in many cases it is very good. It’s simply the way our economy is going. We should be aware that much of what comes to our attention is the fruit of very intentional marketing.
This week, prompted by a blog I follow, I invested some attention reading a few articles on Matt Chandler and mishandled church discipline. So did lots of other people. It is a painful story that deals with pedophilia, a broken marriage, and grace seemingly extended to the man and withheld from the woman. People feel strongly about all of these issues, so I can understand the attention that they received.
However, I wonder if my attention would have been better spent elsewhere. There are thousands of websites asking for the attention of people who care enough to invest a little time, some prayer, and maybe even a donation. A few that I am familiar with are World Relief, where my husband now works, Warm Blankets, where my daughter works, and Caris, where I used to volunteer. There are many, many more just like them.
True confessions: I don’t pay nearly as much attention to those three sites as I do to random trending stories.
So I decided to give my attention to those three sites just now. They reminded me to pray for the people actively involved in helping and the people needing help. I am thankful for good-hearted Christian people who are willing to invest themselves in these efforts. Even though they are dealing with difficult issues, I felt hopeful after visiting their websites.
So why do I spend time on stories that leave me feeling down, discouraged, and like I’ve just read the Christian equivalent of the National Inquirer?
Maybe I simply haven’t thought about it much. Now that I have thought about it, I resolve to give my attention more wisely. Refugees, orphans, and babies are the most vulnerable of people who are completely dependent on others.
They deserve more of my attention.