Is it sinful to want attention?

(Victoria White) #1

I’ve been an attention seeker for a lot of my life, being an only child and being left out often in school kind of makes you want attention. When is it okay and when is it not? Where do you draw the line?

Discuss! :slight_smile:

(Kathleen) #2

Hi, @Victoria_White! This is an interesting question. Thanks for bringing it up. :slight_smile:

Like most questions like this, I would say, ‘It depends’. The desire for attention is not necessarily a ‘bad’ one. In fact, I think it’s pretty central to the core of humanity to desire relationship and connection with others. After all, to be paid attention to is to be valued in a way, is it not? Though same people may claim to, I would venture to say that no one wants to go through life being completely ignored.

However, like most desires, when we are controlled by them, they can lead us into some pretty dark places. So that’s when we ask ourselves why we want the attention? It could just be that we’re feeling lonely and craving connection. But a more subtle reason could be that we have a deep deep need to be approved of. The pursuit of approval can then lead us into some places relationally that we don’t want to be!

This is just a quick start. I’d love to hear what others say!

(Ken Rose) #3

Greetings Victoria,

I think you bring up a very sensitive and important question. At first glance, I would say, ‘I don’t think so’ to your question. Rather, it’s best to keep things in balance.

Jesus speaking on the Sabbath to a group of Pharisees (Jewish, conservative religious experts), counseled them not to seek the most import seat when invited to a dinner (Luke 14:7-11). Rather, take the lowest position and wait to be invited to a better seat. This parable leads into the Parable of the Great Supper (very important), many of Jesus’s teaching center around social occasions. Due to the importance Christ places on social occasions, I believe He deeply cares about social events, and our ‘place in the crowd’.

I was attracted to your question as I believe I’m you polar opposite; lol. I’m very introverted, preferring to be the ‘ninja in the room’, and not say anything. The Holy Spirit and Paul’s statements about the priesthood of all believers has helped me greatly to find balance. There are times to speak up and ‘represent’ rather than giving into my nature to stay ‘invisible’.

Each of us as humans have needs for love, being accepted, having friends, etc. Each of is different and uniquely created. Christ knows us better than we know ourselves. As long as our identity is in Him, His Word and the Holy Spirit will help us chart the right path.

Sorry to attempt at a lengthy answer. Again, I think your question is very important. God Bless.


(Keldon Scott) #4

God has made each and everyone of us different. I have a tendency to seek fun and desire approval for my conduct as one of my built-in needs. I do not believe it is wrong however the motivation upon which drives us should be examined. Jesus seeks attention from us not for his own needs but for our needs. Shifting that Focus to provide love to those who need it can very well provide the attention that provides you satisfaction in connection. You seek the attention of others for their benefit not your own, and thereby your desire for attention is inherently satisfied. Providing encouragement, assistance, kindness, gentleness etc. will be a magnet for you and your desire for attention not in a sinful way at all. God bless your concerns and your path.

(C. C. Mas) #5

As a parent of a Christian household that has taken in foster children and children of others it always helped to get the issue solved by asking the attention seeking child what the attention was to be for: themselves as a person or their actions. Then when it turned out it was in fact appreciation they were after, a plan was set up. The first step was meditate on how they could make themselves useful and start giving love in order to make it natural to give and bring an attitude to contribute and help with everything you do, see and deem necessary. You know, as in: seek first to give then to receive and … in what you give shall be given back to you many fold. Proverbs 11 - 24:25.

(Lakshmi Mehta) #6

@Victoria_White, I am so sorry to hear of your bad experiences in school and I pray for complete healing from your expereinces. All of us are made in the image of God and are intrinsically valuable and deserve to be treated with dignity and love. We are called to honor one another as children of God. Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. There are times in our life when we need more attention from others to just cope with a difficult situation and we can seek attention from appropriate people. There are also times when more credit is due based on one’s role, responsibilities or accomplishments. Pastors are worthy of double honor because of the enormity of task and God rewards us all according to our works (I Tim 5:17-18).

We need to ask what kind of attention are we seeking? Seeking attention can be sinful when we desire more attention for ourselves over others, when we seek attention from man more than God and when we seek more attention than we really deserve or when we seek attention at the cost of others. Seeking attention is common to all of us to different degrees in different areas because of the fall and we can seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in prayer to show us where He desires our transformation.

We are surrounded by a world where attention is given based on what we can do and how we identify ourselves with it’s values. When people reject us, we look inward and wonder what’s wrong with us? In response, our natural instinct may be to isolate ourselves out of fear or work harder to be accepted by those around but this does not bring us hope. The only question we need to ask is where we are in relationship with God? When we are rejected, we can have hope that God understands us. Today, I happened to read 1 Samuel 1 where God hears the heart of Hannah when she was provoked by Peninnah for not having a child. It is only in God’s eternal promises that we can fully satisfy our need for honor. The conditional approval of others will not fill our needs. When we depend on others for attention we will be unconsciously manipulated by their values or wishes but when we immerse ourselves in Christ’s love we will have freedom to be who God created us to be.

Gal 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men or God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still striving to please men, I would not be a bond servant of Christ.

Rom 8:33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.

Whether we receive attention from others or not, we always have God’s complete attention and are deeply loved. God bless you Victoria, you are in my prayers.

(Mark Gilliam) #7

Whether what we do is sinful or not is about our intent. I think you have to look inward at your motivations and strain them through Scripture. Some personality types naturally have a desire to be liked and demand more attention than other personality types. Tony Robbins offers a free personality test on his website. (I don’t know anything about Tony Robbins spiritual beliefs, but the test is a standard DISC profile which many employers administer.) If you take it you may begin to understand yourself better. All of my employees take it before they are hired to make sure we are matching them in the job in which they will succeed.

(Lakshmi Mehta) #8

@Mgilliam, that’s such a great point about personality bent. If one does have more of a tendency to seek attention because of neurological differences that does not make the person more sinful. There are a variety of mental illnesses that can fall into this category - anxiety, depression etc. We can pray all we want and have a desire to change in our spirit but we may have biological limits dictated by our genes. There is no shame in mental/emotional problems. I totally agree with you. Thankful for your comments.

(Patrick Teo) #9

Seeking attention is a universal human behaviour. The moment we left our mother’s worm, we naturally love attention. In our tiny mind, we always demanded undivided attention from whoever held us or looked us, the moment they did not didecated to they tasks, we would likely to scream out loud as if they were being tortured!!!
As we grow older, our attention seeking is more sophisticated. We always could not help whether people would pay attention to us. Those outstanding beautiful person would always get attention, normal people would get much attention but always longing they get one. This behaviour apply to both believers and non-believers.
Even if you are only holy, you would not be an exception! Have not you spend time looking at the mirror trying make yourself looking more beautiful and desire to be love by people around you. If you say your never, i would say you are a liar.
i see people spend time combing the few hairs which have left on their heads. I see females vertually ware nothing in the winter looking down the street!!!
I see enough of the famous evanglists, pastors and preachers gone astray after they become popular!
You will always long to be loved whether as lover or friend, None of us can escape this desire, Mick Jagger in the sixty sang that song ‘Without Love, there is nothing’ has the element of secular truth! Whether you like it or not, you will always want to be loved! Thank God, He love me even though i still long to be noticed :pray::pray::pray: :slightly_smiling_face::sunglasses:

(Patrick Teo) #10

Many spelling mistakes!:smiley::smiley::smiley:

(Butch) #11

Thank you for sharing. Great post

(Butch) #12

This is a great question. Much can be said from a theological point of view.

A lot of men struggle with this. Most men want to be the person catching the game winning touchdown. Or dream of being a great warrior that rescues and saves everyone and stories are told about them, Etc

A lot of women want to be the person that is the center of the stage. Have that nice dress or date that makes all the other women envious. Etc.

This is the world talking.

An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. Luke 9:46

When I am weak then I am strong. 2 Corithians 12:10.

We are to be humble and keep the focus on Jesus. We must exalt him. After Paul’s encounter with the Lord, his life changed to the point the only thing that mattered was to share the gospel no matter the consequences.

Once Jesus rose again and the disciples met with him again, nothing else mattered to them then to share the gospel. And to preach the good news about Jesus and salvation.

I’m over generalizing but we have few pastors/ministers these days that preach today the same as to how preachers use to preach.

It is normal to seek attention just as it is normal to want to seek wealth or fame. But once we are saved and Jesus changes us and we have the fruits of the spirit those other items become less important.

So much more could be said on this. And I dont want to over simplify it. Just remember attention, fame and wealth is only temporary. We are to look for things eternal.

(Helen Tan) #13

I was thinking that it would be helpful if we could back track a little to find the main reason(s) we desire/crave attention to hopefully shed some light on where our problem lies. So please bear with me as I try to draw a rough picture of what drives us to seek attention.

To begin with, God made us primarily for love (to love and to be loved); and we are never fulfilled until we possess love, particularly His love for us. Without His perfect love, there will always be a void which we will seek to fill, oftentimes from unsavory sources. The fact that Jesus came to die for us on the Cross tells us how majestic and irreplaceable this love is. It is this sacrificial love which places value on us and makes us whole and functional. While we can ‘feel’ the void when we fail to believe and receive this love, oftentimes, we are unable to pinpoint the root of the void and the means to address it. And that is why we end up pursuing solutions which are unsatisfying and more often than not, disempowering.

I would hazard a calculated guess here that when we seek attention, we are working in our own strength to fill that void in us. When we receive attention from someone, we somehow feel validated and valued. When someone listens to us, believes us, we are heard and take on greater significance, which we then may mistake for ‘love’.

Having said that, perhaps it’s reasonable to expect that a healthy dose of attention could put us in good stead to move forward. However, if we end up being ‘addicted’ to it, incessantly seeking it, it could lead to an unhealthy outcome that is self-centered and self-promoting, taking us away from focusing on God as our source.

Looking at it thus, I would say that attention seeking can be a useful first step to take us to God but when we fail to see what we actually need, we could miss what God has already prepared for us and settle for something much more inferior, that is, attention from someone else.

What then is the solution to the problem? Attention-seeking in and of itself is neutral – it becomes sinful when we are obsessed by it and abandon/devalue our only safe Source. Even as a baby cries for attention, we should acknowledge our helplessness and lean on Him with total abandonment. When seen in the right context and our position in relationship to our God and Savior, we would then be able to remain humble recipients of His love and grace to empower us to live this life for Him.