Paying Attention – Sunday, January 23, 2022

A few years ago, executives at a large theme park hired consultants to help them understand how to capture the attention of small children. The consultants spent a few hours in the park, observing the children to see what most interested them. What they learned surprised them: the children seemed to be most captivated not by the exciting rides, the costumed characters, or the colorful displays but, instead, by “their parents’ cell phones, especially when the parents were using them.”

As one of the consultants reported, “Those kids clearly understood what held their parents’ attention—and they wanted it too.” Even small children got the message that “cell phones were enticing action centers of their world”—more interesting, apparently, than an amusement park. Worst of all, “When parents were using their phones, they were not paying complete attention to their children.”[1]

A story like this one might prompt us to pause and consider what captures our attention. Does the focus of our attention align with our values and goals? Some interesting or entertaining things leave us feeling empty. On the other hand, we often overlook that which is most meaningful and soul-satisfying—worthy of our closest attention. But we need not be captive to what is captivating. We can choose how we will direct our attention.

We often use the phrase “pay attention,” and it’s an appropriate metaphor. Like money, attention is a limited resource. There’s a cost involved in our choices, and we get what we pay for. So it’s worthwhile to pay some attention to what we pay attention to. Are we making decisions that bring us the greatest value—decisions based on our values? Are the people we love getting a healthy portion of our attention or just the leftovers? We value what we pay for—not just with money but with love and attention.

Life can be demanding and chaotic at times, with so much vying for our attention. Pausing to focus on the things—and the people—that matter most brings clarity to the mind and contentment to the heart. We can make it clear, by the way we pay attention, what is of worth to us.

[1] Kare Anderson, “What Captures Your Attention Controls Your Life,” Harvard Business Review, June 5, 2012,


January 23, 2022
Broadcast Number 4,819

The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Guest Performers
Bells at Temple Square
Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble


Mack Wilberg

Richard Elliott

Lloyd Newell

How Firm a Foundation
J. Ellis; arr. Mack Wilberg

For the Beauty of the Earth
John Rutter

Carillon de Westminster
Louis Vierne

Tuya es la gloria (To Thee Be the Glory)
Latin American melody; arr. Mack Wilberg

I Will Follow God’s Plan
Vanja Y. Watkins; arr. Nathan Hofheins

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
American folk melody; arr. Mack Wilberg