Devotion: How Curiosity Kills the Cat but Catalyzes Lives of Significance

Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Teacher, where are you staying?”

He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.

This morning, I walked into a room filled with men who are not seeking success but significance.  Late and smelly, I stood near the back surveying the room.  What surprised me was the number of men in that room who have played a significant roll in my life.  As I looked around, I thought to myself, “Well, hell, this is going to be one big panel discussion. Where are the men like me that need to start living a significant life supposed to sit?”  Then, I strangely noticed that these men who are living significant lives already had their notebooks open and were leaning forward curious to grow.

There is a powerful TED Radio Hour on the power of creativity, and would highly recommend it.  One of the points made there (and again this morning) is that we should be equipping people not to follow their passions but their curiosity.

Passions ebb and flow; curiosity drives new discoveries, new discoveries drive new passions that causes more curiosity.  Curiosity becomes a reusable fuel that catalyzes lives of significance.

Look at the first followers of Jesus.  They followed Jesus out of curiosity not passion.  It was a vague invitation to come and see.  The first followers responded to his question “What are you seeking?”  with a question.

They pursued their curiosity, rather than listing their passions. “I am seeking…

  • the perfect fishing hole
  • a beautiful wife
  • a meaningful job
  • the epic fantasy football team
  • a significant life

You cannot pursue “significance,” significance is the wake of our curiosity.

For the disciples, they were merely curious to know where Jesus was staying.  Leaning into their curiosity they spent an entire day with Him.  This curiosity fueled the passion that ripples out of that day as they run to tell their brother, their friends, their neighbors, their community…curiosity fueled their passion that fueled their significant role in spreading the gospel.

When I was desperately seeking what God wanted in my life, I did not know exactly what I was passionate about (nor am I convinced I know it now).  Then one day, my wife and I attended a church multiplication conference (I was not even sure what that meant), as we sat there—my wife elbowed me and said, “Wes, you have been studying church planting for seven years…why don’t we just go and do it.”

A young mother of four, freed me to chase not my passion but my curiosity.  I had theoretically studied this for a long time, but now my curiosity was going to catalyze my transformation and we stepped out to simply “come and see” what would happen.

However, what tends to happen is that when we discover a passion, we try to capture it and then build a stifling environment that suffocates the initial curiosity.  Hours are wasted trying to keep dulling passions alive.

Look at how we schedule our children’s day.  We expose them to music lessons, to team sports, to french, to math, to art…we fail to let them be children but over schedule and overburden them.  Look at how we purchase Christmas presents: we notice that they played with a doll once so we purchase an elaborate doll house.  No longer do we have tubs of legos to build whatever the curious brain wants but 40 pages of detailed instructions so that they may have the entire Lego system’s Galatic Starfleet (sorry, I don’t watch StarWars).  Shelves are filled with dulled passions.

Once we notice an interest, we then begin to cram our days, our weekends, our travel schedules, our checkbooks, our routines, our playrooms, our offices with that thing because we assume we have “found our passion.”

Often though what we label as a passion has been simply a curiosity.  For at some point the passion fades, then the tears well up and the disappointment lingers for that child because so much energy and time as been spent on that curiosity that they feel trapped under the weight of a dwindled passion.

As I heard this morning, we focus on learning instead of growing; transferring information rather than cultivating a curious mind.

When I came home this past week, I found my son Jack reading a book. Now, Jack is the slowest of our family to read, and it has been a task to equip him. Lindsay, though, shared that during free time, he grabs his history book and reads it.  His curiosity has inspired him to persevere through the challenge.

Now that he has discovered this curiosity and is given the space to explore it, he reads and rereads the pages of a world history book.

He comes running up to my wife and points out where the dungeons are in a castle, and why the Assyrians have their heads cut off.  This morning I was greeted with an elaborate suit of armor made from construction paper and a tin foil sword as he said, “Halt, who goes there?” It’s not that he is passionate about the middle ages, but that he has a curious mind.  Like the disciples, he wants to discover.

I recently discovered that it is embarrassing to read a book about Donald Trump when I don’t have the privacy of an office.  Every Caribou customer had some comment to make about this book, and wanted to discuss politics.  What they failed to see is that I was reading not out of a passion for Trump (or politics), but out of curiosity for how someone could garner as much attention as he does.

Curiosity catalyzes us to discover who God is and who our neighbor is so that we may be better equipped like the first disciples to accept the invitation to “come and see” in order to invite others to come follow me following Him.

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