[Note: a version of this post first appeared on Searching for the Called.]
In a recent TED interview, author Elizabeth Gilbert talked about creativity in terms of following our curiosity. We are often told to follow our passions, she said, but that is an all-in pursuit that can be both overly risky and quickly discouraging. For example, if we quit our jobs to write the book that is taking shape within us, we might not have money for groceries. And if that book bombs once it hits the shelves, we’ll have to muster a whole lotta moxie to put ourselves out there again.
Attending to our curiosity, in contrast, is more gentle. Instead of running out on our jobs, we ask, what’s going on in me? What is God nudging me toward? What would it mean for me to make a major life change? What would I need (externally or internally) in order to take that step? The ultimate outcome might be the same, but it would derive from discernment and come with a more settled spirit. The point is not to abandon passion, after all, just to probe it a bit. Or you might discover a previously-unconsidered way of being true to your gifts and faithful to God.
This curiosity is not just useful for individuals but also on group and organizational levels. Sometimes we’ll have a big vision for our congregations, or a member will bring an idea for a new ministry with hopes it will be implemented immediately. Asking questions can help flesh out initiatives, align them more closely with God-given mission, and stoke enthusiasm in others such that they are eager to join in. Or these queries might reveal that this thing is not right for this people at this time and plant seeds for other possibilities.
As you consider what is going on in and around you in this new year, where would a bit of curiosity help you listen deeply, plan faithfully, and move forward confidently?