Two things before we dive into our discussion today. First, Sarah found this podcast interview with Barnabas Piper and wanted you to know about it. I’ve downloaded it and look forward to listening to it this week. Second, today we are going to have bit of fun and you will have a chance to win a copy of our next book.
But before that, today’s chapters (4-6) in The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life by
Piper reminded us on page 63 that “Christians should have a different value system.” While we, on the field, espouse valuing what God values, we too need to stop and evaluate our lives every so often. He continued, “But we still fall prey to the cultural value systems that says knowledge is only as valuable as what it will gain you. We still look for the earning angle, the pragmatic angle.”
I love much about being an American (just as if you love much about your passport country). But I can see how my default on “value” is tied to being “useful.” Being useful does reflect part of God, it does. Several times in this book, Piper talks about binary thinking—when something is this OR that. Part of curiosity is related to challenging binary thinking when we encounter it. How often have we from the west been trained to think in terms of opposites? The opposite of hot? Cold. The opposite of tall? Short. The opposite of rich? Poor. The opposite of useful? Ah, binary thinking limits us.
Piper pushes us to move beyond something being useful to it being formative. Does this knowledge, experience, conversation form “our intellect, our mood, our work, our faith, our outlook, our awareness of the world.”
I absolutely loved on page 66 when he talked about being curators of our lives. I came upon this idea last fall during the presidential elections in the U.S. A podcast I listened to challenged people to be curators of their life—to be the gatekeeper of what got in and who you listen to. Instead, too often we let something like our Facebook feed or a certain new station decide for us what gets in.
You know as well as I do, that many of those places are based on driving numbers, so they have to go for the inflammatory, the binary thinking, the horrors of the world. We do need to be informed on atrocities and deal with them (just think of what we can learn from our Catholic brothers and sisters and how sexual abuse was handled for years), but we also need to curate in the way that Piper discusses.
“A curator is the person who not only organizes and keeps recored of a collection but also sees where the gaps are and looks for new items to fill them. And that’s precisely what we will learn to do—see the gaps and fill them, learn what is valuable and how to care for it.” He goes on to explain that without curiosity, we cannot be adequate curators.
I also loved to hear how his parents helped him to think through whether to engage in a part of the culture or not.
His list of questions when it comes to the media was helpful! For any of you homeschooling or teaching a media class, this section could provide the basis for a helpful discussion. The teacher in me is turning her wheels!
Before we move on to the part of the book related to this week’s theme of Personality, I wrote several questions in my notes related to binary thinking. Where do you see binary thinking:
- in yourself?
- in your organization?
- in your host culture?
On the flip side, where do you see yourself, your organization, and your host culture being curators of life?
In Chapter 6, I loved the sentence, “Noticing is hard work.” It is! Finding the point of tension between being flooded in a situation and believing you already know takes practice. I appreciated how Piper teased out the difference between notices and experts. We need both! I can see how I am more of a noticer—I go broad in life, but not nearly as deep as experts. In your family or team, what is the fix of noticers and experts?
How does having only one type, or the other, or a mix strengthen you? How does it slow you down or get in your way when it comes to curiosity?
This chapter was the impetus for this week’s theme: Personality. I love personality tests. Two I would recommend is the Strength Finders test and the enneagram. Kimberly We will be talking about the enneagram on Friday so I won’t say more about it here. If you are not familiar with Strength Finders, God has wired 34 different strengths within humanity and the test (worth the small fee), will let you know your top 5. When I took the test several years ago and got my top five, it helped me have language to understand myself and see my strengths in action (and also why certain situations were very frustrating to / for me).
This is why it matters to be curious about ourselves and others we are in relationship with: “The thing about curiosity is that it sees endless opportunities for discovery, for learning, for relationship. It seeks truth in all places. Where others declare doom, it looks for light and opportunity. It does not settle for the easy or lazy. It takes action with heart and mind with whatever means, whatever methods, and whatever propensities the curious one has at his or her disposal.”
Now for the fun! Share a bit about your personality in a comment and be entered to win one of five copies of
- Share something from a personality test. Do you know your strengths? What’s your enneagram number? Are you a Myers-Briggs junkie? How about the DISC? (Um, I know my answer to all four, so, I think I might be obsessed with personality).
- What’s the personality makeup of your family or team? For instance are you a lone introvert amongst extroverts?
- How does your personality make more sense on the field? How can you see that God was wiring you from early on for where you live now?
- Any parts of your personality you feel are too much?
Share any or all of the above! I look forward to the comments.
What stood out to you from these chapters? Have you taken any personality tests? What insights did you gain on yourself and others?
See you in the comments!
September 12: Intro – Chapter 3
September 19: Chapters 4-6
September 26: Chapters 7-11 (Next week we finish the book!)