Competition for the attention of your soul

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My kids are screaming to get my attention.

Perhaps the word "screaming" is a bit dramatic.

They may not be screaming to get my attention, but I know that they want my attention. Not only do they want my attention -- so does my wife, and at times my father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother, grandparents and friends.

The dog wants to be walked twice a day. The cat refuses to drink unless a slow stream of water is running from the sink. Nor will he eat unless you shake his bowl (guess who has who trained.)

Oh, and did I mention that I pastor a church, so there are other people who want my attention as well? I guess I should feel fortunate that so many people think I am so important that there is a competition for my attention.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying: "The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated." For me, the phrase is: "The rumors of my importance are greatly exaggerated."

The truth is while my importance to those beyond my family is highly exaggerated, there is a competition for the attention of my soul. All of the aforementioned people want my attention, but not all should be equal in receiving my attention.

Paul, the persecutor of the church who became its greatest missionary, writes in a letter to a group of Christians in Ephesus saying, " ... [make] the best use of the time because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16)

No, this isn't another op-ed piece appealing for better time management and organization. This is a spiritual appeal from a pastor who knows what it is to have more on his "to-do" list than will ever be done. Someone who has figured out that unless you carve time out for the people and then the projects that are most important then every person and every thing will be equally important and no one will know they are important and nothing will get done.

What's thought of as big and labeled by others as "important" does not mean it's insignificant. God receives just as much glory, if not more, by the mom changing diapers for the umpteenth time as he is through the anthem that is sung in the grand cathedral.

There is a competition for the attention of your soul. Choose well who receives your attention.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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