Partial Attention Leads to Distracted Obedience

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Devotional | 3 comments


Like a tiny tornado, my two small sons whirl into the house from outside. They spill through the door, noisy as all get-out, asking questions like “What’s 65 plus 75?” and “What do eagles eat?” all while turning in circles and checking their pockets for rocks and small cars.

Into the din, I say, as I always do, “Take off your shoes.”

I always, always, always say this. We always take off our shoes when we come inside.


So, you’d think that my 4- and 5-year-old boys would take off their shoes.

Nope. Today, they start taking off their pants. (Yep, their pants.)

“Not pants. Shoes,” I correct, stuffing a laugh.

Believe it or not, this has happened on more than one occasion. My kids know that I told them to do something, and (I don’t know) maybe they’ve got to go to the bathroom, so they do whatever muscle memory tells them to do instead of what I actually told them to do.

Missing the Message

I often think about God, my Father. Does He give me instructions and watch while I kind-of obey Him?

He tells me to do something, and I do try — I make an actual attempt — but I’m too distracted to do exactly what He’s telling me to do.

What is God thinking at times like these?

(Amused) “Hm, almost. But not quite. You tried.” (Pats me on the head)

(Big sigh) “Why do I even bother talking at all? You don’t have ears to hear!” (Stomps foot)

In scripture, Jesus said on more than one occasion, “He who has ears, let him hear.” In other words, “If you’ve got ears, then use them. Listen up. Try to understand.”

I’m sure there have been times when God has said, “Visit that person,” and I responded with, “Yes, Lord, I’ll text her.” I’m sure He’s told me, “Take some time to pray,” and I responded with, “Does it still count as praying if I’m also washing dishes?”

Of course, this is not an attitude of flagrant rebellion and disrespect, but I’m not totally tuned in. I’m not as effective as I could be. It’s like I’m hearing God speak over crackling radio waves. Only bits and pieces are filtering through to me. I don’t get His full message.

Time to Tune In

When I’m asking my boys to take off their shoes — or asking them to do anything, in fact — they are about one-thousand-million times more likely to obey me (correctly) if they are …

… can you guess? …

…looking straight at my face when I’m speaking.

When their eyes meet mine, they are way more focused, and my voice comes through loud and clear.

Am I a more effective disciple when my eyes are fixed on Jesus?


My Father has encouraged me again and again to look at Him first and foremost, to set aside anything that interrupts the connection or weakens the signal (all those pesky distractions).

I’ll admit, there are many things that regularly get my full and undivided attention. My willing and enthusiastic attention, every single day.

Is Jesus one of those things? Is He regularly one of those things?

Partial attention and distracted obedience — do these really, truly honor Jesus Christ, the Savior of my soul?

He deserves so much more.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not about achievement or performance.

It’s about being wholly devoted to my worthy leader.

So, open up, ears. There’s a message coming through.

No Gospel Blog Articles Next Week

What?! It’s true.

Next week, we’re pausing our publication schedule because the Church is refreshing its website. And by “refresh” we mean a completely new (and fantastic) look with lots of useful information, links, and downloads. It’ll be worth the wait! 

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.


  • Sister Michelle Watson

    Sister Michelle Watson lives in the remote White Mountains of Arizona with husband, Brother Michael, and two miracle-born boys.


  1. Linda Scolaro

    Beautiful article. Love the analogy of looking straight in your boys’ eyes. As a teacher I often squat down to look into a student’s eyes… use the proverbial cue. 1, 2, 3, eyes on me… thinking about the spiritual paradigm and how the Lord does this to me hopefully without the frustration I sometimes feel.

  2. Brother Gary Thompson

    I so agree. Amen Sister. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lydia Zaino

    I really needed to hear this. A great reminder. Thank you for all you put into this


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Further Reading

Second to God

“Do you really love me?” my father would ask. With a smile, my mother would nod.  I felt warm inside when mother replied, “Don’t you know, you come second to God”* If you had a conversation similar to the above with your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, best...

Read More

Healing from a traumatic event

My dear brothers and sisters, I wish we could live in a world where nothing bad ever happened to the people of God. But, bad things—horrible things—happen to good people every day. This is one of the hardest concepts that we, as followers of Christ, grapple with....

Read More

Never Miss a New Article

Subscribe to Our Email List
Sign up and get every new blog post sent straight to your inbox so you always have the day’s devotional at your fingertips.

We never share your email address with anyone for any reason, and we use it only to send you Gospel Blog emails. Just articles, not ads!

Your Story for God’s Glory

Share Your Testimony on Miracle Monday

We devote Miracle Monday to sharing miracle stories. From finding a lost wedding ring to healing cancer on the spot, Jesus Christ has done it all, big and small.

And we want to hear about what He’s done for you.

The Gospel Blog Is Open for Submissions

We encourage devotional-style or scripture-based articles in the ballpark of 500 words. We are open to any topic that glorifies God and unites the Church.