Monday, May 4, 2009

Selective hearing

Proverbs 2:1-5
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you; turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding; and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding; and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

My wife is always telling me that I don’t listen to her. This happens mostly when I forget something at the store, or I forget to take out the trash, and quite honestly, I don’t always hear her. If you put me around a lake with my camera, I’ve been known to hear a half-inch frog jumping on an oak leaf, from 20 feet away. The word for this is selective hearing.

We are not born with selective hearing; it comes on gradually. When our body and mind are subjected to the same things all the time, they become immune to their effects, and that includes the senses. When we get to a point of complacency, we have to retrain our minds to look and listen for the things we take for granted.

One of the things people take for granted is wisdom. It’s not always easy to hear wisdom because we grew up with it always present. Proverbs 2:1-5 says we can “understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” If we accept his words, and store up his commands within us, but before we can do that we have to hear what he has to say. We have to retrain our minds to hear what wisdom is saying and we can only do that by eagerly searching for it. We need to replace the complacency with a firm desire to gain knowledge. As verse 4 says, “look for it as silver, and search for it as for hidden treasure,”

Once we start to hear wisdom, we can take its teachings into our hearts.

Challenge: Retrain your heart and mind to listen for wisdom. You might be surprised what you might learn.



  1. Oh this is wonderful, Allen! I really needed this one. Thank you so much for your willingness to pass along the insights God has sent to you.


  2. Thank you for the comment Sandra. I appreciate the encouragement.

  3. The opposite of selective hearing is ADD. The important thing is learning to filter appropriately-- the human brain can only accommodate 5 to 9 things at a time, and you are experiencing literally hundreds of stimuli at any given time, not counting your own internal state.

    In interpersonal relationships, the important thing is to develop the ability to communicate well and with caring. Developing a standard pattern of content acknowledgement -- "I'll take the trash out shortly" rather than "okay" -- allows each person to feel certain that the communication has occurred. If that's the pattern for a received communication, then your wife will know what has NOT been received.

    It's also helpful to decide in advance that the other person's communication is important to you. Just like that small voice of wisdom.

  4. I agree completely Dal, The biggest struggle in my life is dealing with the distractions. my a.d.d. is a big issue, but slowly, I'm starting to gain a little control on it. I usually take notes when someone says something I need to remember later. I'll get there, it'll just take time.

    Thank you for the comment.