Time for an assiduity check…

February 14, 2021

Pastor Freed recently used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“The heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.”  (Noah Webster)

Yes, I had to look up the word “assiduity”, too. It is certainly not a word that I drop into casual conversations or that’s I’m even likely to ever use again.

as·si·du·i·ty

/ˌasəˈd(y)o͞oədē/

noun

  1. constant or close attention to what one is doing.

“the assiduity with which he could wear down his opponents.”

2. constant attentions to someone.

I suppose that one could say that a person should display assiduity to the one that they love; however, no one would understand what you were saying that would probably just think that you are being pretentious.

All pretentiousness aside, it is actually good advice to pay close and constant attention to the ones that we love. That is not the same as overbearing attention, which might smother the relationship or sour it due to concerns about personal space and control. Rather it is to say that one should pay attention to the needs of the other person, whether they be physical or emotional needs.

A perceived lack of sensitivity to the needs of a partner is one of the leading causes of friction within relationships and that is due to a lack of assiduity to the needs of the partner. Men, in particular most often allow themselves to get so wrapped up in their work and careers that they lose focus upon the needs of their families, especially their life-partners.

So maybe keeping this weird word in mind – assiduity – will help you remember to pay attention to your significant other and not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

In our faith lives, God, too, demands your assiduity. We are told in Hebrews 2:1 – “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

It is not so much that we overtly sin, as much as it is that we just lose focus and drift away from God. I have written here before about the voice of God in our lives being like a whisper that one must strain to hear and listen to intently, with great assiduity (see my post on Rebooting yourself by listening for God’s whisper).

Is it time for an assiduity check in your personal life? How about in your faith life? Maybe you can write the word assiduity on a little piece of paper and tape it to your mirror as a reminder to pay attention to God and those that you love. If it gets your attention, that’s a good thing.

Can one say, “Have an assiduitous day”? Not sure and not going there.

Just pay attention today!


A hard lesson to implement…

January 24, 2021

A quote used some time ago in the Jack’s Winning Words blog seemed to be worthy of comment – “I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.”  (Diane Sawyer) 

The reason that this lesson is so had to implement is that, so many of us are so wrapped up in ourselves and what we think is important for us to say or to share with others, that we seldom pay close attention to what they are saying. Oh, we get a few words and then start formulating our response. You know that you are bad at this when people often stop your response and ask, “Did you even hear what I was saying?” The truth is, No, you did not hear what they were saying. You weren’t paying attention.

Really paying attention to what someone else is saying requires that one focus on both what the words are that are being used and what non-verbal messages are being shared – the demeanor and body language that the speaker is sharing. When does, “I’m OK” really mean I’m not OK and need help? If you are paying attention you will see the hidden message. When does a seemingly polite “Thank you for asking” really mean, please ask more questions? When should the acceptance of an apology with , “that’s alright, don’t worry about it” really worry you, because it is not alright? Pay attention and you will see those non-verbal signals.

These are all examples of opportunities for further interaction that are easily missed by not paying attention. It is not that you were trying to be dismissive of the feelings or pain of the other person, so much as that you just weren’t paying enough attention at the time. This often leads to the phrase, “If I knew then what I know now.” Well, you could have known then, had you been paying attention.

Although this is a hard lesson to actually implement, it is one worth putting some effort into on a daily basis. I have posted here a few times about one of the best listeners that I know – Pastor Doug McMunn of the Milford United Methodist Church. You can actually see Doug focusing upon what you are saying when you speak with him. You know that he is listening what you say and making that the most important thing for him at that moment. His responses are always thoughtful and contextually correct, because he has made the effort to hear and understand what you are saying, instead of letting his mind race ahead to what he wants to say next. We would all do well to use him as a model for paying attention.

A side benefit of paying attention when speaking with others is that you might actually learn something from the conversation. If nothing else, it might provide you with insight into a different point of view on whatever topic is being discussed. A really effective communicator will seek to better understand and evaluate those different points of view, rather than just trying to debate it or superimpose one’s own point of view over the views of the other party.

Perhaps you can start your day with the resolve to pay better attention during the interactions that you have with others during the day. I suspect that you will end the day with a better understanding and appreciation of those that you encountered. Who knows, you might learn something, too.

Now, what was it you were saying? I wasn’t paying attention.


Pay attention to the most interesting of all…

May 2, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come s today’s inspiration – “There are millions of interesting things in this world, but they don’t actually become interesting until we devote our attention to them.”  (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

When you think about it there are interesting things all around us that we ignore in our day-to-day lives. Sometimes we only pay attention to them if someone makes a television show about them, whether it be interesting buildings in our town or the local flora and fauna that we drive or walk past every day. Somehow they become interesting enough to us to pause and take notice.

Log CabinObjects can be interesting because of the stories or history that might be behind them. IF you go to our local Milford Historical Museum you can see lots of things from the past in the Milford area, stating with a replica of the interior of a typical log cabin that the first settlers built. You come away amazed at how resourceful they were, even though they had none of our modern conveniences. Believe it or not l, they were able to get by without smart phones or TV’s.

Perhaps the most interesting things that you can focus your attention upon are the people that you encounter as you move thorough life. Just think how many people you pass by each day without having any idea about them, their life and history. What stories you will never hear, if you never take the time to meet them and then pay attention to what they have to say. Objects are great, but the stories behind objects often involve how and why people used them and for what. Once you start paying attention to people you will really find out some interesting things about them and the other people and objects that have been a part of their lives. That can be very interesting.

handshakeSo, if you are looking for something interesting to do, meet someone new and start paying attention to the story of their life. You will probably get the chance to share your life with them, too; because they will find your life interesting, too (even if you thought it was boring). What makes meeting and talking with other people so interesting is that they have done things and gone to places and had experiences that we haven’t, so they provide new knowledge about things that we may not have even thought about. You would be surprised at the things you can learn from someone whom you may have always seen as a boring, normal person – maybe a quiet and reclusive neighbor or the timid wallflower who never seemed to dance with anyone or perhaps the great uncle that you had never met.

If you don’t take the time and make the effort, you will never know that the little old lady, now crippled and stooped by age and arthritis used to be a ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet or that the humble old man who is now a school crossing guard served in the Viet Nam War and received a Silver Star and the Purple Heart for heroism during an enemy attack. If you don’t pay her any attention you will never get to discusslistener with the nice little lady at the library desk her vacation trips to the Amazon jungles and her encounter with tribes of natives who are still living as they did centuries ago. Who are these people? They are the people that you past every day without paying any attention to them.

Meet someone new this week and pay enough attention to them to uncover their story, their history the things that make them interesting. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll be enriched by what you might learn about and from them. There is nothing more interesting in this world than those all around you.