I grew up in a military family. We moved to a new place every two years, which often left me feeling insecure and lonely.

So I handled these transitions by learning how to make friends quickly – and superficially – by using flattery, being funny, and making everyone feel like they were my best friend.

I became very good at being the center of attention and figuring out how to get everyone to like me. I was even voted ‘best personality’ in a school of 5,000 students.

Choosing attention over intimacy has been and continues to be a lifelong struggle. Over the years, I’ve learned that getting attention is a lot easier than building intimacy, but ultimately leaves me and others empty and alone.

I now know that only intimacy with God can satisfy my soul, and having a deep relationship with God will help me build deep relationships with people around me.

This study will help us learn how to choose intimacy over attention-seeking. 

How do I know I’m an attention-seeker?

Much of my life has been about finding a quick fix for my insecurities and desperate desire to be accepted and loved. Yet, God has always been working to help me see the futility and emptiness of this pursuit.

In order for me to change this deeply rooted pattern, God has had to show me when I am absorbed in attention-seeking. For those of you who, like me, can’t seem to be content or happy unless you have the approval or praise of others, there is hope. It starts with understanding who you are.

That’s why it is hard to see how true faith is even possible for you: you are consumed by the approval of other men, longing to look good in their eyes; and yet you disregard the approval of the one true God. 

John 5:44 – Voice

Jesus makes it clear that we can not have faith when we are consumed with the approval of people instead of God. In fact, attention-seeking is so powerful it can make us disregard our relationship with God completely.

So, it is crucial for me to understand when and how attention seeking is exerting its control over me. I have discovered that there are three different types of attention seekers.

Why Do I Choose Attention Over Intimacy? 3

1. Attention from people

You’ve made your choice. Your ambition is to look good in front of other people, not God. But God sees through to your hearts. He values things differently from you. The goals you and your peers are reaching for God detests.

Luke 16:15 Voice

People who crave attention from other people are consumed with looking good in front of people not God.

2. Attention from power

When Simon saw how the Holy Spirit was released through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he approached them and offered them money, [19] saying, “I want this power too…

Acts 8:18-19 TPT

People who are hungry for power want the feeling of being dominant over others. This gives them a sense of being in control.

3. Attention from praise

For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

1 John 2:16 NLT

People who desire praise work hard to achieve and be successful so they can earn the praise and admiration of people rather than God.

Attention-seeking can become a way of life. When it does, it replaces the richness and fullness of an intimate relationship with God. What we all really want is unfailing love (Proverbs 19:22), and only God can truly fulfill that desire. 

Reflection questions

  • What kind of attention seeker are you?
  • Do you need frequent approval from others to feel loved? 
  • Do you need to be the one in control and dominant in your relationships in order to feel confident?

Why does attention-seeking leave me wanting more?

Look at that man, bloated by self-importance— full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.

Habakkuk 2:4 MSG

I have spent many nights and mornings experiencing what I call an “attention hangover.” While I soaked in the attention, it did nothing to meet the needs of my soul. When I am soul-empty, I feel fragile, panicky, and insecure.

You would never know it from the outside, but attention seekers are very lonely people. My life was filled with experiences that had no meaning, and many acquaintances but no real relationships.

There was a hole in my soul. Without God, I became a black hole – sucking in the attention of others to try to fill the emptiness I felt inside.

When I started focusing on building depth with God, I began to experience breakthroughs that helped me get my life back. I discovered that undealt-with sins like bitterness, jealousy, and self-consumption were preventing me from experiencing God’s love.

God is the only one who can satisfy my soul. Here are a few scriptures that have helped guide me back to God.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14 NIV

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God’s approval. They will be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6 GW

Reflection questions

  • What feelings and emotions do you experience l when you’re ‘soul-empty’? 
  • Where do you go to fill that void?
  • What can you do to start building a relationship with God that can satisfy you?

How do I build intimacy with God?

As for me, all I need is to be close to God. I have made the Lord GOD my place of safety. And, God, I will tell about all that you have done.

Psalm 73:28 ERV

We can learn from this scripture that all our soul really needs is to be close to God. Without intimacy with God, we will always go somewhere else – like attention-seeking- to get that need met.

God wants us to be close to him, so that we can experience a relationship with him that makes us feel safe, secure, special, important and satisfied.

I’ve often tried to make “my place of security” personal achievement or fleeting approval from people. However, this has never satisfied me. It has only led me to being more deceitful by trying to put up a front or image that would elicit attention and accolades from people.

Ultimately, the needs of my soul could only be met by an intimate relationship with God.

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. 

Psalm 139:1-2 TPT

Psalm 139 provides a blueprint of what intimacy with God looks and feels like. Intimacy begins with deciding to let God know everything about us – “our every movement of heart and soul” and “every thought.”

I’ve learned that to build intimacy with God and in any relationship, I must first admit and face why I am afraid to be known. Once I choose to be vulnerable about my fears and why I have them, I am able to see past them to understand how much God wants a relationship with me.

By digging deeper into the Scriptures, I learn how much God wants to be attached to me, regardless of my faults, flaws and failures. He wants to know everything about me: my desires, my feelings, my thoughts, my weaknesses, and my insecurities.

These qualities of God and his love are what inspire me to respond and open my heart to him, and embrace his purpose and vision for my life. Intimacy is more than a feeling, it is when I’m secure with God – initiating and wanting God to read my heart like an open book, wanting nothing hidden from God.

3 transformative decisions to build intimacy with God

1. Confront your fear of being known: Choose to reveal, not conceal

You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.

Psalm 139:3-4 TPT

Some questions to guide your thinking:

  1. What areas of your heart do you fear God and others becoming intimately aware of? Why?
  2. How has concealing your true motives, thoughts, and emotions affected your relationships? 
  3. Do you believe God draws closer to you the more you reveal your heart like an “open book” to him, and to others?
  4. Take time to pray honestly about your answers to these questions. Then share what you discover with 2-3 friends.

2. Resolve your unresolved past: Choose Scripture over emotion

You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.  With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.

Psalm 139:5 TPT

God can spare us from the harm of our past. He can help you resolve the pain of any experiences or relationships in your past that affect your attitude about intimacy.

  1. What unresolved past issue or relationship prevents you from trusting God’s Word and plan for your future?
  2. What Scriptures can you study and apply to help you resolve, forgive, and move forward to trust in God rather than your own past experiences or emotions? 
  3. Do a Bible study on how God’s plan and purpose is greater than our past. Biblical characters like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, or Ruth and Naomi are great studies for this.

3. Discover God through honest prayer: Choose vulnerability over superficiality

23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me.  Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. 24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—the path that brings me back to you

Psalm 139:23-24 TPT

We too often choose to be superficial in relationships because it is easier, convenient and requires no transparency of heart. Yet, vulnerability is the path to intimacy, and this begins in prayer. These verses give us some key steps to having vulnerable and honest conversations with God:

  1. Invite – Pray about the motives, difficulties, sins, desires, and dreams that affect and occupy your heart most. 
  2. Find – Pray about issues and relationships you ignore, avoid, and any secrets sins that create distance in your relationships, to find the truth at the root of these.
  3. Sift  – Pray about specific anxieties and worries that distract you from facing and the real obstacles and reasons that keep you from attaching to God.
  4. See – Pray through specific pain, disappointment, or discouragement that keeps you from giving your heart and being vulnerable with God and friends.
  5. Lead – Pray through how you are going to trust God to influence and lead your life because of your gratitude for him. Express to God what you need help with to deeply love others, to change their lives the way God continues to change yours.
Why Do I Choose Attention Over Intimacy? 4

Intimacy is a spiritual heart condition not an event or emotion. When we make these 3 decisions every day, God will respond by transforming our desires and hearts to be inclined to pursuing intimacy with him rather than attention.

4 Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.

Psalm 27:4 TPT
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This article was created by a member of the Deep Spirituality editorial team.

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This article was created by a member of the Deep Spirituality editorial team.

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