Stay Curious

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Photo by Fabian Grohs on Unsplash

“How do you fight cynicism? Stay curious.”

This is my third year teaching at a school in the Kansas City area. Each of the past two years we have begun back-to-school teacher training with a sermon from a local pastor, a message reminding us of our duty to mold the children and young men and women in our charge.

This year my attention was particularly piqued by an idea from the sermon. The pastor asked us, “How do you fight cynicism?”

“Stay curious,” he followed up.

As teachers it is easy to become cynical towards human nature, but this isn’t just a teacher issue; people in general become cynical to human nature, even our own! And these critical attitudes are often amplified in a Christian context.

“His dad is a deacon!”

“She sings on the worship team!”

“I saw her acting so righteous last summer at Christian camp!”

“I’m supposed to be a Christian!”

We find it difficult to see past the moment, and one “bad apple” becomes a bushel until we feel impelled to echo Paul’s words in Romans 3:10: “None is righteous, no, not one” (ESV).

However, this group of teachers gathered to be encouraged for the upcoming year, and we were challenged to fight cynicism by staying curious. Curious about what?

We must remain curious about the potential for good in each and every human being we encounter.

“For we are [God’s] workmanship,” Paul writes to the church at Ephesus (ESV, Ephesians 2:10). Another translation says we are His “masterpiece” (NLT). In fact, the apostle Paul was an ardent advocate of grace. Why was he able to stay curious? Because he saw the great odds God overcame in saving him, a religious extremist with hands stained by the blood of his mission to persecute the early followers of the Way. “I was the worst sinner!” he declares to his protege (1 Timothy 1:15). “If God can save me, I want to stay curious about what He will do in all the lives of other ‘lost causes.'”

One of my favorite bands is Anberlin whom I’ve had the incredible opportunity to see live a few times, and I’m reminded of the song with which they’d finish all their performances: “*Fin.”

We’re not questioning God.
Just those he chose to carry on His cross.
We’re no better, you’ll see.
Just all of us, the lost causes.

Aren’t we all to you just lost causes?
Are we all to you lost?
Lost causes
So all we are to you,
Is all we are, is all we are
All we are is all we are

I’ve always been drawn to the faith and lyrical depth and authenticity (and power of Stephen Christian’s voice) present in Anberlin’s work, and “Fin*” is an anthemic reminder of our own lostness but also a subtle nod to God’s grace. If you listen closely to the tone and context, you too might hear the unhinging of that all-too-familiar phrase “lost causes.” Here “lost causes” is not a moniker of our worthlessness but rather our immense value that is identified by Him amidst our wandering. We are causes who are lost, but we are causes nevertheless. There is One who still sees us and pursues us.

I hope to stay curious this year. I hope by God that I abandon no lost cause because who am I, chief of sinners, to turn my back on anyone?

What you don’t hear on the album version of “Fin*” but what is sung at the end of their live shows is the final refrain of ultimate Christian hope:

“We’ll live forever, forever, FOREVER!”

 

23 thoughts on “Stay Curious

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  1. This was so good Mr. Westbrook! I’ve never really thought about “staying curious” in that way before. The way way you worded this rhetoric post was very powerful! It really got me thinking and reminded me that no one is perfect. Well ya, duh that’s obvious – but even Christians who are striving to be like Jesus, who is perfect, screw up sometimes too! I love how you incorperated Ephesians 3:10 “There is none righteous, no not one”. We can try anything and everything to be “perfectly good”, but no human could ever achieve that. Like you said, that doesn’t mean to just give up on humans. Yes, we should acknowledge our failures and mistakes but not let that define us. Seeing the good and potential in people is not always easy and it’s something I think we all will always be working on. A goal of mine has been to see people the way Jesus sees people; to love them unconditionally despite their flaws. That is something I’ll always be working on because well…it can be so hard at times. But humbling myself before the Lord and keeping in mind that I am no better than anyone else is so crucial. To stay curious to me means to stay awake.To always have a learning mentality. To stay aware of the people that God has placed in my life for specific reason. And to love the way God loves even if it means a daily surrender to realign my sinful heart with His 🙂

  2. I really like this post, Mr. Westbrook. I had never thought about staying curious for good. I have always thought about curiosity differently. I never thought about being curious for good in others. It is important to remember that no one is perfect, but God loves us anyway.

  3. This was really good!! It’s so hard to remember at times that we all are lost causes and that none of us are better than the other. It’s so easy to get caught up in comparison, but the truth is, none of us are better than the other. Seeing the good in others isn’t always easy and it’s something I definitely need to work on. I love the part about how God still continues to pursue us even though we are so sinful!!

  4. Mr. Westbrook the depth of this blog post is profound. I love your personal devotion to take messages that stand out to you and dive deeper in them, I think we all need some more of that. I think that with the way the world is going today, we pretty much come out of the womb being cynical people. I have met very few people who actually have a genuine curiosity and hope that sees the good in people. When I do see one of these people, they stick out. You know that they are different and that their hearts are formed in the right way so as to see people as God’s creation and not the Earth’s faults. I really enjoyed this encouraging message that I found on your site today. Keep being curious and please don’t stop diving into messages past the surface. Your students notice it, and when you live it out it shows us what a life with God should look like. Thank you Mr. Westbrook.

  5. I’m not big on blogs but this was an interesting read. My favorite part was the tie in with Anberlin and *Fin. I love how any type of music even punk rock can glorify God and you may never even notice. There’s plenty of bands now that can glorify God and you’ll never know until you really listen to the lyrics and think about it. I also enjoyed the phrasing of “were lost causes, but were causes none the less”, very well said. I enjoyed reading this post and thank you for being a great teacher.

  6. I really like this post, Mr. Westbrook. The ideas that you gave about staying curious about the potential for good in others is a great thing to have in day-to-day life. By seeing the good in other people, we will be less likely to judge other people. Also, the way that you talk about how God can save anyone, so we shouldn’t judge anyone, is a really well written idea.

  7. I think it is good to stay curious in our faith walk. It is so easy as we continue to mature spiritually to look at other people and get frustrated when we think they aren’t trying. When we have to remind ourselves we will NEVER be perfect. There is so much I still mess up on everyday and will continue to for the rest of my life. However, Jesus’ grace is always abundant in my life. Therefore, I need to show that grace to everyone I meet! I want to give everyone the “benefit of the doubt”. That is what everyone deserves in their life. I want to follow Jesus that way and be a giver of grace. Thank you for the reminder to stay curious and fervent in our grace and love for people and our pursuit of Jesus. I appreciate how you love Jesus and how you try to encourage us every Monday as well with a devotional. This blog post was a great reminder of how to continue having a heart to genuinely pursue people. Thank you!!

  8. Hey Mr. Westbrook! It is interesting to hear about how teachers can often become cynical. It is definitely easy to only find the worst in others. I found it interesting that you believe the remedy to cynicism is to try to find the good in others. As a pretty cynical person toward myself and toward others, I believe that challenging yourself to see the best in people will change the way that you see that person. As Christians, we should strive to see what God sees in others. 1 Samuel 16:7 says this, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

  9. I don’t typically read blog post, but i found this very enjoying. I love the way you just pull out a personal message, and you can try and relate to students like us. When I read this verse, (1 Timothy 1:15). “If God can save me, I want to stay curious about what He will do in all the lives of other ‘lost causes.’”, it really showed me that even in the bible it is sort of to be said to stay curious, and wonder how our great creator can do these many things. Also this I loved when you talked about how staying curious can do good for this world. .This blog also got me thinking about how no one is perfect or righteous. What I pulled out if this is to stay curious with my walk with God because no one is perfect or righteous, so if we stay curious in our walk we can help bring good into the world. Thank you for this post Mr. Westbrook, and I look forward to reading more!

  10. This messages really shows how people in our world need to start thinking. Being cynical is something that is normal for people in our generation and it is always the curiosity of finding a way to make someone feel bad or bully someone. When in reality, we need to look for the good in people and not be so judgmental because no one knows what people are going through and some people put on masks to hide it. If we look for the good in people, the ones who are struggling with something will have someone to lift their spirits up and make them feel better. That’s how it should be with everyone.

  11. i liked the message of the blog,I agree that staying curious is a major part in lives of many. however I feel like it is important to recognize that you cant be curious if you aren’t courageous, and i think that it is really cool that your blog incorporates your christian views.

  12. This post really spoke to me. In the past, I have always thought of curiosity as a negative thing. Being curious means that I do not know something and I want to know everything. It is also very easy to look at myself as somehow better than others. I view certain people the way I see them from the outside and view them as a “lost cause”. Sometimes I can even view myself as a “lost cause”. I need to remember that we are all equally valuable to God and that He wants all of us to spend eternity in heaven with Him. I really liked this post.

  13. Very interesting indeed. First impressions make a big impact, so being open to seeing good in people is important. Not everyone can make a good first impression or a big impact, but they might still be good people with lots of potential. For you as a teacher this would be really important. Being able to see potential in students might be difficult at times, but it is important. Really interesting thoughts Mr. Westbrook.

  14. I really enjoyed reading this post. I loved your point on how sometimes we only remember people by the occasional bad things they do, rather than the good. I completely agree that we need to be more conscious about the potential for good in every person and stop focusing on the bad things. Very wise words, Mr. Westbrook.

  15. Woah mr.westbrook I didn’t know you were a blog star. Anyways this post was really good! the thoughts of how staying curious really brought my curiosity to read more. I do agree we often become cynical towards human nature and other things that are not necessarily good. Staying curious is good advice to combat being cynical.

  16. I like that you incorporated songs into this blog. As a person who doesn’t really listen to many types of songs, I didn’t connect with this as much as another person would, but it is still good to hear. I would not say that I am a cynic, but there definitely are cynics in our school. Now I know how to get around them and help make them better people.

  17. The biggest thing that stood out to me in this article is where you said that we should look for the potential of good in each and every person. I think that sentence could really help some people. Often times, people jump to conclusions about other’s personalities before they even meet them, They also allow things to make a difference that shouldn’t, such as race, ethnicity, or religion. If people didn’t allow this to happen, they might just find connections with the people they would otherwise unnecessarily judge. I think that if cynical people took posts like this one to heart, and learned to explore new ideas, they would live happier and more content lives as a whole.

  18. This was really good Mr. Westbrook! Often times we give up on people but in those circumstances we have to remember God and what He did for us. On the daily God forgives our sins and He never gives up on you so why should we give up on other people. We are called to be like Christ so we should strive to act like Him every day. Simply by genuinely caring about others and wanting them to grow in their faith. It might be hard for them to grasp but that doesn’t mean we should give up on them . You should stay curious and eager in our faith. I really liked when you said, “We are causes who are lost, but we are causes nevertheless. There is One who still sees us and pursues us”. Sometimes we feel alone and like no one cares about our opinions or feelings but God does. Thanks for this post it really got me thinking to never give up on anyone including myself.

  19. I liked how you talked about how we don’t feel like we are enough and are always failing, but that we need to stay curious and listen to what good wants us to do.

  20. I liked how you talked about how we don’t feel like we are enough and always are down on ourselves, but that we need to stay curious and realize that God has a plan for us.

  21. Wow, I’ve never really thought about staying curious before. Those two words can really mean a lot, and I really liked how you kept emphasizing about staying curious. I also really liked the part about how you should never turn your back on someone. We are all sinners, so in a way, we are all the same. We should strive to help others and never look down on them, and I liked how you made that clear in your blog post. I thought that the post was really good and it really made me reflect on myself and made me think that just because I say that I am a Christian does not mean I always act like one.

  22. Don’t really know what cynism until it was explained to me but I found it intresting that its supposed to be fought by staying curious. By staying curious I find I have a more enjoyable time by trying to be curious and learn about things instead of being cynical

  23. This is one spicy post. I tend to be a bit too cynical for my own good, and it has definitely effected my faith. The idea of staying curious puts a refreshing perspective on life as a christian. Learning about God really is the best way to keep a good relationship.

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