Side Effects of Uncuriosity and 6 Ways It's Killing Your Relationships

Barnabas Piper in his new book The Curious Christian argues curiosity can change the world, and destroy us, if not part of our daily lives. 

Curiosity begins at birth and evolves into the question phase during childhood. Why is daddy so hairy? Where does God live? How many days until Christmas? Why does grandmas house smell funny?

We enter elementary school and around fourth grade curiosity is no longer fostered. The child settles for data, yes and no answers, and rote memorization of facts. A curiosity of the world and its inhabits thrown to the side for a black and white sterile world. 

You may say curiosity is not important because that’s what children need. We are not children and have important adult things to do. And so, why care about this?

But that’s the kind of thinking Piper argues is killing our relationships, work, and the world. 

In the book he argues maturity is defined in unhelpful terms. Maturity is moving from acting like children to acting like adults. Fiscal management, big decisions, and never smiling. Childishness to serious and becoming responsible people.

 The problem with this definition is that Jesus said our lives are to be marked with “child-likeness.” That doesn’t mean acting like fools and not being responsible. It means having an awe and wonder of God, people, and the world. Asking questions, considering new ideas, while maintaining an adult filter on the situations of life.

People come into the Kingdom like children… not adults.

So what are the side effects of our “uncuriosity”? What if we forsake the call to curiosity? Piper gives six:

#1 Binary Thinking

The world is black and white and either/or. There is no room for complexity and sensitive situations. We always have an answer and have a hard time listening to a different perspective.

#2 Missed Connections

We make assumptions about people and see them as enemies or scary. We don’t take time to ask questions, get to know people, and hear their stories. A fear of the unknown settles in and we miss out on a connection.

#3 Depleted Friendships

Most friendships live on the surface and never move from the acquaintance stage. Uncuriosity doesn’t allow for deeper questions, and entering into the places of the unknown, and even pain. We would rather avoid the risk and the mess than be curious.

#4 Love Lost

In a marriage, without continued curiosity, intentionality, and work, our relationship becomes static and cold. Curiosity is a continuous pursuit to know the person on new levels. Discover gifts, passions, and warts and all. 

#5 God Is…?

Uncuriosity leads to a cold, formal, and shallow relationship with God. A faith built on flannel graphs and soundbites and not the deeper things of God. When we stop being curious God becomes boring and unnecessary. But with curiosity we can explore the deep mercies and beauties of God in new and fresh ways. 

#6 I Don’t Care

Uncuriosity leads to indifference. This massive God and beautiful world becomes boring. We’d rather settle for Netflix and TV and miss out on going deeper with God, people, and the world, We end up living these boring lives where cynicism and anger are the posture of our hearts. 

The side effects of uncuriosity are real. Dangerous if we ignore this skill.

But how do we cultivate curiosity?

1. Ask questions- where do I see myself in the above descriptions? Where do I judge and assume things about people and situations? Where have I given trite answers to complex issues? What relationships with others do I need to go deeper in? How do I see God in black and white terms with no room for mystery?

2. Take action- based on your questions what are you going to do? Curiosity is a skill and habit to be cultivated. How can you start new relationships? What books, websites, or conversations do I need to have to cultivate curiosity?

3. Read- I don’t know of any better way to stoke the fires of curiosity than reading. Books are merely perspectives and voice from different people on a certain subject. In the written word you can begin to cultivate curiosity when the perspective does not fit into your already synthesized ideas. 

Read fiction too. A growing imagination has scientifically been proven to make you a more empathetic and sensitive person. 

4. Learn a new skill- when you try to start something new it will automatically create more curiosity. You will have more questions than answers. You might have gifts, talents, and skills needing to be unearthed. 

5. Hang around curious people- spend time with people who don’t have rote answers and never ask questions. Curious people breed other curious people. Their curiosity will bleed into your own. 

How is your curiosity level?