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How to gain a learner’s mindset and become curious about a person’s background

Has anyone ever been truly curious about you as a person? If so, did it make you feel cared for when they asked you questions that showed interest in who you are?

Curious people have a learner’s mindset. They want to learn about others. When you desire to talk with people about faith, it’s helpful to first focus on learning about them. A learner’s mindset, in dependence on God, helps you to have effective spiritual conversations as you grow in understanding about the other person.

So here are three things you can do to develop a learner’s mindset and become a person who is curious about others.

1. Pray for a godly perspective and for boldness to show intentional care

Start by asking God to give you a desire to see people the way that he sees them. Jesus deeply cares about the people you interact with on a daily basis. Every person is valuable to him. It’s good to remind yourself that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, English Standard Version).

Pray that God will give you love for others and that you would reflect God’s character to the people around you. Pray specifically for guidance with what questions to ask people in conversation as you seek to learn about them.

Also ask God to give you boldness, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to show the person intentional care. Ed Welch, in his book “Caring for One Another: 8 Ways to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships,” explains an important truth about this way of relating to people.

“So we move toward others. The extroverts among us seem to make it look easy. The more shy might be intimidated by the potential awkwardness or silence. But loving pursuit is neither easy nor natural to anyone. All of us need both humility and help from Scripture in order to navigate the early stages of a helpful conversation.”

Yet as you “lovingly pursue” people through being curious about them, keep in mind one thing that kills curiosity: assumptions.

2. Let go of assumptions

Another way to gain more of a learner’s mindset is to recognize and turn away from assumptions you might have about people. Assumptions can prevent your personal relationship with someone from going to a deeper level.

For example, let’s say you assume that a person you work with does not want to talk about spiritual things. In that case, you might not bring up spiritual things in your conversation. The problem though is that your assumption is causing you to miss the opportunity to hear about their thoughts on Christianity.

Think through what you’ve assumed about people in your life. Then seek to learn what is really true. Ask them about a topic that you think you already know their thoughts on, like if anyone they know goes to a church and what they think about that.

It might feel easy to put people in stereotype boxes. Maybe you’ve placed someone in a category based on their political views or their hobbies. Seek to break down those boxes and see people as complex instead of just a stereotype. A simple question to start could be, “What is something that people don’t often know about you?”

Along with letting go of stereotypes, trust God to work in the person’s life. You might be surprised at how he is drawing them into a relationship with him. Ask God to show you how he is at work in that person’s life.

And as you do away with assumptions and begin to see the person for who they are, continue with curiosity. Seek to put the puzzle pieces together and understand their spiritual journey and life story as a whole.

3. Ask questions about a person’s story

Everyone is on a spiritual journey. Each person you interact with has a story and a spiritual background. This might be easy to think about in your own life. You had a journey to come to faith and you continue to experience change and growth in your spiritual life.

Seek to uncover and put together the pieces of another person’s story. Discover the who, what, when, where and why of their life. Ask about their family, major life events, career choices, places they’ve lived and their reasons for thinking the way they do about certain topics.

When you’re in a conversation, listen carefully to the person’s answers. And remember, your conversations don’t need to look a certain way or like you imagined they would before you started. 

Take a step of faith to ask another question, and then another one. Through your curiosity, you can discover more about the person, leading to deeper spiritual conversations in the future.