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The Gift of Curiosity

"How does a caterpillar make a cocoon?"

My three young children are incessantly curious, asking questions of nature, of people, and of God. As their mother and primary answer-giver, I find their curiosity alternately fascinating and frustrating.

"Why does Emma have two daddies and two mommies?"

I used to relish curiosity. But lately busyness and the relentless demands of motherhood have sapped my inquisitive drive. Now I spend as much time saying "Because!" as I do trying to explain or inspire.

"Mom, why can't I put my flash drive/battery/wire invention in the electric outlet?"

"Because, honey! Just because! That's all I can tell you!" I say, a few decibels too loud as I attempt to write this post.

I spent four days away from my kids last month on a business trip with my husband to Las Vegas. To shed the role of mother, even for a few days, felt like taking off a winter jacket soaked with cold rain.

I left for a morning run after a leisurely breakfast, rather than my usual quick jog in the dark while the rest of the house sleeps. As I looked around this strange city, I found myself curious. "Why, God," I asked, "is this man sleeping on this bridge?"

"What is his story?"

"Are you here?"

"Why do you let this stuff go on?"

"What do people here feel about you?"

"How much do I shape how I see you with my white suburban-woman attitude?"

I was curious. And that is a gift. Curiosity is born of observation, of looking outside of ourselves with a desire to know the world. It is other rather than self-centered. It desires to ask and seek. A curious mind is open to new discoveries. A curious mind is open to God's dynamic and creative work in this world.

Curiosity sent Moses toward a flaming bush, saying to himself, "I will go see this strange sight, why the bush does not burn up." (Exodus 3:3) And God spoke.

Curiosity had Abram asking God, "What can you give me?" and "How will this be?" And God answered. (Gen. 15)

Curiosity had the shepherds scurrying off to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus, saying "let's go and see this thing that has happened, that the Lord has told us about." (Luke 2:15) And God showed up.

Curiosity had an important official of the queen notice a man named Phillip and invite him up in his chariot to explain the book of Isaiah, asking, "Who is this prophet talking about?" (Acts 8) And the Good News was known.

Yesterday I stood at the kitchen counter, a place where my feet wear grooves into the floor. I call it "my office" since I can spend the entire workday in front of the sink, washing yet another set of dishes, cleaning up yet another messy meal. My daughter scraped a chair across the floor and scampered up next to me. "Why can't I stir the brownies? Why can't we just eat it raw? Why can't I crack the egg? Why does …." I sighed, wanting again to stay in auto-mommy mode and answer, "BECAUSE!"

The Holy Spirit stirred in me, reminding me that God delights in me being like a child. That I bring my questions and curiosity all the time, and that He is infinitely patient with my wonderings. Can you do the same for your own? prompted that still, small voice. It was a comfort to know that God does not tire of my questions. It was a challenge to continue to let the little children—my own—come to me, so I can lead them toward the truth of our mighty yet intimate God, a God who delights in our curiosity, a God who never says, "Because."

First as God's children, then as leaders, it is a gift to be curious. Curiosity opens our souls to the unexpected. As leaders, curiosity has us asking the hard questions of ourselves and our ministries. It leaves the door open to creativity and change. And when those we lead see us model curiosity and openness to God's work, a deep sense of synergy can connect us all in the way we offer life in Jesus Christ in powerful ways.

Do you consider yourself curious? How has it informed your leadership? Where has God led you through your own wonderings and questions?

May25, 2010 at 6:01 PM

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