“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill
Yesterday I found myself with a cold pumpkin spice latte in hand and a fresh copy of Preaching Magazine to pore over. That’s right, folks – I knew it was going to be a good day.
The magazine featured an interview with Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. When asked what his greatest challenge was, he replied, “attention span.” He went on to explain that the average American today has an attention span of 8 minutes, while a goldfish has an attention span of 9 minutes! Do you ever get the feeling that no one around you is able to focus for long… that no one is really listening? Well, that’s because a goldfish has more focus than the person you’re talking to!
Of course, we all know that people can choose to focus for extremely long periods of time when they want to. The problem is, we have trained ourselves to not be able to focus – to jump from one webpage or social media post to another, consuming information faster than kids consume candy on Halloween Day.
So why is this motivating? Because you’re not crazy!! When you try to explain something to your children and they’re staring at you glossy-eyed, you haven’t lost your mind! When you’re teaching in the classroom and not a single student is looking up, but are racing ahead in their workbooks, you haven’t gone insane! When you’re wrapping up a sermon and everyone in the room is giving their watch a death stare, trying to send you a message, there’s no straightjacket necessary! They’ve just got Goldfish Syndrome!
Try to think of creative new ways to keep things moving, to keep your listeners guessing, and you’ll be more successful with conversations in today’s “dog-race-dog” world. And the next time you find yourself listening to someone else, make a conscious effort to outlast that goldfish. Your brain is just a bit bigger than his, and your heart is too.