My kids pulled a fast one on me one Christmas years ago. They teamed up, pooled their vast financial resources, and bought me a little motto to set on my desk. It was more than was convicting. In bold, black letters it read:


At first you thmile...then it makes you thad. Especially if you’re not thick of being thick!

There’s another thickness that’s just as bad. We could call it an “inner thickness.” I’m referring to insensitivity...being unaware, out of touch, lacking in insight, failing to pay attention. The Hebrew Scriptures occasionally mention those who are foolish and simple, as in the book of Proverbs (1:22–33). The original term means “thick, dull, sluggish.” It’s the picture of mental dullness, one who is virtually blind toward others...failing to feel others’ feelings, think others’ thoughts, sense others’ needs.

Professional insensitivity is painfully common. To some physicians you’re case number 23 today...a body, weighing so much...a mouth, saying words...a gall bladder needing removal.

And how about insensitive teachers or speakers? Talk about painful! A block of information is dumped into your ears from their mouths. Whether it’s interesting or well thought through is unimportant. The whole episode is about as memorable as changing a flat.

And have you come across an insensitive salesperson lately? You can feel the thickness. Your exasperation leads to gross impatience...and then, finally, confusion. You’re not sure if the individual understands only Swahili...or is recovering from advanced lockjaw.

Perhaps the most tragic shades of insensitivity occur in the home. Between mates, to begin with. Needs in the heart of a wife long to be discovered by her husband. She hides them until an appropriate moment...but it never arrives. He’s “too busy.” What cursed words! “Other things are more important.” Oh, really? Name one.

A husband wrestles with a matter down the “combat zone” of his mind. Lacking perception, the preoccupied wife drives on—never pausing, never looking into his eyes, his soul-gate, reading the signs that spell

I  A-M  H-U-R-T-I-N-G.

Insensitivity is painful. It’s damaging to our relationships, and it grieves our God.

To be thick is understandable. To be thick and tired of it is commendable. To be thick and tired of it but unwilling to change—is inexcusable.

Parental sensitivity rates desperately low these days. It’s part of the fall-out of our rapid pace. Solomon tells us that our children “make themselves known” by their deeds, their actions. He then reminds us that we have ears and eyes that ought to hear and see (Proverbs 20:11–12). But again, it takes time to do that. And again, we’re “too busy.”

Let’s think that over. A basic task you accepted when you became a parent was the building of self-esteem and confidence into your offspring. Without coming out and saying it, they look to you to help them know how to believe in themselves, feel worthwhile, valuable, secure in a threatening world. In dozens of ways they drop hints that ask for help. The sensitive parent spots the hint, deciphers the code, and wisely brings reinforcement.

In his fine book Hide or Seek, Dr. James Dobson lists the five most common barriers that cause our children to doubt their worth—even when they are deeply loved. The first barrier on the list is “parental insensitivity.” Our challenge is to counteract the world’s value system, which requires of our little ones either high intelligence or physical attractiveness. It’s impossible to shut out this value system entirely, but we must keep things in proper perspective—especially if our kiddos are neither smart nor beauties! Failure to do so can easily result in struggles with inferiority.

The key, I repeat, is sensitivity—tuning into the thoughts and feelings of our kids, listening to the clues they give us, and reacting appropriately. The sensitive heart rubs its fingers along the edges, feeling for the deep cracks...the snags...taking the time to share.

It’s worth clearing your schedule, I promise.

Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.