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The Practice of Paying Attention


When Moses fled into solitude, he didn’t set about trying to change everything about his life all at once. He kept grounded by doing what he knew: tending his father-in-law’s sheep. In fact, he was doing precisely that when God appeared to him in the burning bush. His time in solitude brought Moses to a place where he had slowed down long enough to pay attention when he saw the burning bush.


Learning to pay attention—and discerning what to pay attention to—is a key discipline for leaders, but one that unfortunately doesn’t come naturally. Too often our eyes are so fixed on our future goals that we miss what’s going on in our lives today. We wouldn’t notice a burning bush if it were in our own front yard.


In Luke 24, we read the story of Jesus appearing to His disciples on the road to Emmaus, following His resurrection. Though the disciples didn’t recognize Him at first, later—in the ordinary activity of sharing a meal—their eyes were opened. They looked at each other incredulously and said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). They didn’t understand why their hearts burned as they walked alongside the stranger on the road. But their willingness to note what they felt indicates they were willing to recognize and respond to the spiritual reality around them.


Spiritual leadership means having the capacity to not only see the burning bush, but to have the presence of mind to stop whatever you’re doing and pay attention. The discipline of paying attention alerts us when God is doing the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary.


Reflection Questions

What are some opportunities you may have missed in the present moment because you were focused on the future?


All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®. COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984 BY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY®.

“Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, ©2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.