vs. Unconcern
Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided concentration to his words and emotions

Key Verse

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
Hebrews 2:1

The operational definition of attentiveness is “showing the worth of a person by giving undivided concentration to his words and emotions.” Every person is valuable to God. He created us in His image and redeemed us with the blood of His own Son. God also shows our worth to Him by hearing us when we pray. Similarly, you can show others that they are valuable by being attentive when they speak. You give your undivided attention to others by carefully considering their words, listening with understanding, and showing concern for their feelings. Using your eyes, ears, and heart, be ready to show that you care. Being attentive is giving honor to others rather than drawing attention to yourself. (See Proverbs 25:6–7.)

The Hebrew root word for “attentive” means “to prick up the ears or hearken,” and describes how a son should attend to his father’s instruction. (See Proverbs 5:1).
Someone who is unconcerned about the person speaking or the task at hand will be easily distracted and, subsequently, switch his train of thought.

The opposite of attentiveness is unconcern. A person’s concern for himself can crowd out his regard for others. When he is busy pursuing what he wants to do, he may find it difficult to pause and listen to others. His mumbled responses indicate his disinterest as he pays little attention to the speaker’s words or facial expressions. He is easily distracted and unconcerned with remembering the details of what is being said. His self-focus deters people from sharing their hearts with him. He doesn’t notice when someone looks lonely or in need, so he is unable to look for ways to reach out and help. If you find yourself looking out for your concerns and not for the concerns of others, remember that God cares for everyone! You have the opportunity to communicate His interest in them when you take time to listen.

Evaluation Questions

  • As I read God’s Word, do I pay close attention and ask Him to speak to me?
  • Am I quiet before the Lord in prayer so that I can listen to His voice?
  • Would my parents say that I am eager to hear, understand, and obey their instructions?
  • When others speak to me, do I stop and look at them so they can see they have my complete attention?
  • As I speak with others, am I mindful of their words as well as their countenances and emotions?
  • Am I able to focus on my responsibilities and not be distracted by what I would rather be doing?
  • How often do I take notes to help me pay attention and remember what the speaker is saying?
  • Is my family aware that I value each one, or do I communicate that I am too busy for them?
  • Do I ask questions to make sure I understand what I am being taught?

More About Attentiveness

“Whosoever would understand what he hears must hasten to put into practice what he has heard.”
Saint Gregory
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Attentiveness with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Have a hearing heart.

“But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Luke 8:15

Learn to listen.

“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools. . . .” Ecclesiastes 5:1a “Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Psalm 34:11

Value people.

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” I John 3:16

Remember the message.

“And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” Genesis 9:16

Seek counsel.

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

Look at people when they speak to me.

“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.” Proverbs 4:20 “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.” Luke 4:20

Ask questions if I do not understand.

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” I Peter 1:10–11

Demonstrate honor to others.

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” I Peter 2:17

Not draw attention to myself.

“He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” John 7:18

Not be distracted.

“Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:27

Attentiveness in Scripture

Learning at the Feet of Jesus

“And she [Martha] had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.”
Luke 10:39
Jesus often passed through Bethany, a town not far from Jerusalem. In Bethany lived two sisters and a brother—Martha, Mary, and Lazarus—who were dear friends of His. Mary, who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and wiped them with her hair, enjoyed quietly worshipping the Lord while Martha tended toward actively serving Him. Efficient and practical, Martha welcomed people into their home and enjoyed ministering to their guests. One day, their brother Lazarus became sick and died. Four days later, as Jesus approached Bethany, Martha ran to meet Him. She expressed her disappointment that Jesus had not arrived before her brother died, but she also affirmed her faith in Him as the promised Messiah and the Son of God. When Martha received comfort and hope from the Lord, she returned to the house and told Mary, who came quickly to Jesus. Jesus wept with the sisters as they shared their deep grief over Lazarus’s death. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Martha and Mary rejoiced at the power of Jesus’ words! On an earlier occasion when Jesus had visited their home, how did one sister show Him that she valued His words? What distracted the other sister from their Guest? What words of praise or rebuke did Jesus offer these two women?

Revealed in Nature

White-tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer constantly listens to what takes place around it. It has extremely acute hearing. Even while grazing, it remains attentive to its surroundings and is on the lookout for danger. When nervous, a deer will snort through its nose to alert other nearby deer to danger.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through this study, children are motivated to readily accept instruction as they learn to value the speaker and his message.

View the Attentiveness booklet sample:

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Free Resources for Attentiveness

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
Those who listen best learn most.