“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, who merely deceive themselves. For if you hear and do not do, it is like looking into a mirror and, upon turning away, immediately forgetting what you saw” (Jms. 1:22-24 *paraphrased)
Absent-minded. On autopilot. Inattentive. Distracted. Unfocused.
In the age of immediately available information and instant gratification, our attention spans are suffering.
If you’ve ever checked your watch for the time and then had to re-check it again because it didn’t register the first time, you know what I mean.
Another commonality is when you enter a room and can’t remember why.
We attribute these incidences to “old age”, but the real reason this happens is because of our dwindling attention spans.
It’s simply a lack of focus – of not being present in the moment. It is usually harmless in most cases, but there are times when being distracted can be dangerous.
For instance, driving in heavy traffic while trying to talk on the phone, organize paperwork, eat breakfast, and keep an eye on the children all at the same time, is not a good idea. (But notice how often this happens.)
There are other, less life-threatening, yet still important instances, where being distracted is quite harmful.
Distraction is detrimental to the learning process.
In general, the brain can only handle one thing at a time (and make sense of it). What we call multitasking is really just multitask-switching.
The brain can switch between different tasks very quickly, but processing different data simultaneously – and actually comprehending it – is not it’s strong suit.
Furthermore, it is often difficult for the brain to digest information without testing, doing, or otherwise using it.
If you read an instruction manual, say, to build something a few days from now, it is unlikely that you will fully remember what to do when the time comes.
But when you actually build the thing, it is likely that you could replicate the process again later on – without having to refer to the manual.
That is to say, those who hear and do not do, will be unlikely to even remember what it was they were told to do.
Reading the word of God is great, but if you do not put it into practice, then it is unlikely to stick with you. And if it doesn’t stick with you, what’s the point of reading it (or anything else, for that matter)?
For best results: turn off the music, the TV, even the phone, and really zero in on the task at hand – whether you’re studying the Word or anything else. Focus. And then find a way to use what you learn so that it’s really hammered home.
“Study to show yourself approved.” (2 Tim. 2:15)