April 9, 2012


Every time I’m with my friend Alexis I pepper her with questions about her life, her thoughts, her experiences. Of all my friends, she is the most unlike me, or unlike any of my other friends for that matter. Alexis is not a Christian, nor does she have any previous church experience. In her world, I am an anomaly, not only because I am a pastor’s wife, but because I believe, and because I talk with her about my belief. We have great conversations, Alexis and me, about our families, the effects of divorce, the men in our lives, friendship, and about our goals and passions.

Although we have little in common, we share a mutual respect for one another. We also share, I’ve discovered, a deep curiosity about other people. Our friendship has developed and is fueled by this shared curiosity, by this desire to step into the other’s shoes, to understand the other’s perspective.

When we are together, our conversations have at the core an abiding wonder: What is it like to be you? 

After years of ministry, I’ve discovered that everyone has a story. If I am simply curious about others, if I show genuine interest in them, I always find that they, in some way, have walked or are walking a hard, broken road.
Spirit-led curiosity is our greatest ally in life, in ministry, and in friendship. Before I understood the gospel and its extravagant grace, I feared knowing and being known. What if I heard their stories of walking the hard, broken road and didn’t have answers? What if the gospel couldn’t handle their hurts? What if they heard mine and found me lacking? What if grace might not apply? I simply could not sit in the paradox of simultaneous brokenness and grace.

The gospel allows us the freedom, however, to listen and not have all the answers, to ask questions and not have to preach, to speak honestly and not recite formulaic responses, to hear and not make judgments, to love freely. The gospel is life; it brings life.

Curiosity about others is not busybody information gathering, but a Philippians 2:1-4 interest, where we seek to understand the context beyond what we see on the surface, where we gently uncover hidden shame, where we actively bless others right where they are, all so that we might bring the light of the gospel onto the hard, broken road.

This kind of curiosity about others prevents so many of our own dysfunctions. An others-interest keeps us from thinking too much about ourselves or being indifferent to the plights of those around us. It prevents our misguided comparisons, categorizations, jealousies, and assumptions. It thwarts our discontentment because we become fully aware that no one is exempt from the difficult road, that no one has it easy.

And when we lay aside our own fears of being found out, when we breathe grace, when we reveal ourselves, when we stop our self-focused pity parties, we suddenly find countless opportunities to share the gospel, to love, to encourage.

We suddenly find that we aren’t alone on the broken road.