Small Investment. Big Return.

The American College of Sports Medicine recently stated that “exercise lite,” in which a total of thirty minutes a day is broken up into smaller segments, will help maintain, although not build, fitness. Even if you have no time for long workouts, you can still benefit by doing mini workouts.

What if paying attention worked the same way? What if you were to make a habit of paying attention to someone for just 30 seconds each day?

To develop a habit, you follow a certain behavior pattern regularly until it becomes almost involuntary. For example, a parent teaches a child the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street. With regular practice, before long, the child develops the habit.

What if we could develop and practice simple habits throughout our day that helped us pay attention to people? These small attempts count. The more we practice, the better we get.

Paying attention reaps huge benefits. The single most significant benefit is that it transforms us. We begin to see others, ourselves, and even God differently. People that we never noticed before (not because they weren’t there, but because we never paid attention to them) quite suddenly matter to us in ways we can’t explain. We find that the more we pay attention to others, the less we are absorbed with our own agenda and life.

This is not another thing to put on your “to-do” list. It’s a way of living that causes regular intersection with God’s activity in the frantic routines of your ordinary life. You don’t have to assess who is a Christian and who is not, just practice paying attention to whomever is in your periphery and see what develops. Look for what God is up to in people of all kinds, wherever you normally go.

This practice transforms you into a spiritual archeologist, discovering God’s activity in people all around you and becoming more and more fascinated in what you find.


  • What new patterns or small changes during your day would help you begin to develop the habit of paying attention to people?
  • What do you think the term “spiritual archeologist” means? Could you consider yourself one? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of anyone in your own life that fits that description?

Make sure to read On Q again on Wednesday, when you’ll have a chance to hear Sharon’s reflections on paying attention and her own “big return.”

This is an excerpt from The Art of Noticing module 1.2. To access the entire module and all of the other 36 modules of The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations Beyond the Basics, register to be a Qplus member! As a Qplus member you will also get access to other resources and tools to help you engage others in ongoing spiritual conversations.