I am so delighted to introduce y’all to Casey Tygrett because a) he has an intriguing book that’s just released and b) he lives in the city where I grew up. Which means that, whenever he wants to, he gets to eat at Beef-A-Roo (home of the best cheese fries in the world) and visit Edwards Apple Orchard (home of the best cider doughnuts in the world) and I do not. Woeful sigh.
But I digress.
Casey Tygrett (DMin, Lincoln Christian Seminary) is a pastor, blogger, adjunct seminary professor, and spiritual director who serves as the teaching pastor at Heartland Community Church in Rockford, Illinois. He was previously pastor of spiritual formation at Parkview Community Church in Tinley Park, Illinois, and has taught at Lincoln Christian University and Seminary and Emmanuel Christian Seminary. He is the author of The Jesus Rhythm and has written for The Christian Standard, TheOoze.com, and the Apprentice Institute blog.
His book, Becoming Curious, released May 2nd from IVP.
Curiosity is essential to growth.
A little curiosity moves us deeper into the lives of the people around us. A little curiosity leads to opportunities we never knew existed. A little curiosity helps us understand our own strange emotions. A little curiosity, if focused on Jesus, will make us more like him.
Pastor and spiritual director Casey Tygrett loves to ask questions. “There’s a difficult line to walk between what we need to know and what falls into the realm of mystery,” he writes. “Walking that line often wears on our nerves and causes incredible tension, and so we settle for easy answers. We stop asking questions. We give up. We begin to lose the one thing that fiercely energizes the transformation of our souls―something beautiful, poetic, joyful, and happily disruptive: curiosity.” When we make curiosity a spiritual practice, we open up to new ways of knowing God and knowing ourselves as well.
Come and discover the power of asking questions.
Hi Casey! Welcome to the blog! I start all of my guests out with a fast four:
Casey: Apples. Multiple varieties and living in the Midwest – especially near Michigan – we can grab some seriously good apples.
Carrie: Another reminder of Edwards Orchard. WAIL! (ahem) Ok… I’m getting myself together here. No worries.
Casey: Summer. Despite my love for college football, I’d rather sweat than freeze. Again, see the Midwest comment above. Winter here is not the same as other places.
Carrie: But winter there is so glorious!! Winter here in KY is so boring lol!
Casey: Dogs. There is no guesswork as to how they feel about you. Always excited.
Carrie: Truth. You’ve redeemed your whole “liking summer” thing with this answer 😉
Casey: Punting here, but I love both. I can’t choose. Not at the same time, of course.
Carrie: Hmmm no… definitely not at the same time. lol.
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Casey: Invisibility and/or the ability to fly would be my choices. Invisibility so I could move around, listen to what people are saying and have some insight into the way people really feel. Flying because, well, it’s flying.
Carrie: Right?? Exactly.
If you knew you were only going to be allowed FIVE books for the rest of your life, besides the Bible, which five would make the cut?
Casey: I would have to take the following: “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken, “Hannah Coulter” by Wendell Berry, “The Complete Poems of T.S. Eliot”, then “Life of the Beloved” by Henri J.M. Nouwen and “An Arrow Pointed Towards Heaven” by James Bryan Smith.
Carrie: I love Berry and Eliot and Nouwen – looking up these others!
Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Casey: My favorite space is a recliner in my house. We actually moved soon after I finished the major writing and rewriting of my first book, so a critical question was where to put the writing chair. Writing in a recliner is strange, I’ll admit. You can’t sit forever so it forces you to get up and move around from time to time. There is something about being put at ease in your body that allows me to write better, at least it appears that way. I can then put my oversized white headphones on and focus in on the words for that day. I like to have my resources – both selective and potential – arranged around me as well. I have a few stacks of books around the recliner even now, waiting for the opportune moment.
Carrie: Sounds like the area around my recliner too – stacks of books just waiting 🙂
Why write about asking questions as a spiritual practice? Why is this topic important to you?
Casey: As a pastor, I’m often called on to help people find clarity or solution to their problems. As a spiritual director, my job is to ask open ended questions to help people see where God might be working in their lives or to hear him when life gets noisy and congested. I started to see the beautiful intersection of these two roles and realized that the people who came for answers were typically “okay” with what I had to offer them, but those coming from direction and receiving a battery of questions actually had more peace and clarity about going forward.
Taking that experience together with the fact that curiosity is native software for an infant human brain – the mechanism that helps kids take ownership of their place in the world – and that Jesus spent most of his ministry responding to or asking questions and I began to wonder out loud:
What if the thing that could help us grow spiritually, more so than gaining more and more certainty, is to engage once again that native technology that we had as kids. Hearing Jesus say, “Unless you change and become like a child you’ll never enter the Kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 18) reinforced the idea that we need to recover a practice of asking questions if we’re going to live in this big and beautiful Kingdom that God is bringing through Jesus.
Carrie: I love watching my 2-year-old nephew figure out the world around him by sheer nature of his curiosity. I had never thought about applying those same principles to my spiritual life too. What a great – and wise – concept!
How does making curiosity a spiritual practice play out practically in our daily lives?
Casey: We’re given opportunities every day to ask healthy, holy, and beautiful questions. We typically side with easy answers because they’re highly functional and our lives are rushed and cluttered. When we commit to a spiritual practice of asking questions, we set aside time each day to let our questions flow unedited as a stream of consciousness. We get a chance then to “question” our questions and see what’s really happening in our hearts, minds, and interactions.
There’s an exercise at the end of each chapter that enhances and focuses our “question flow.” I call it a questions journal, and each chapter gives us a prompt for the work of curiosity.
Carrie: “healthy, holy and beautiful questions” – I love that!
What do you most want readers to take away from Becoming Curious?
Casey: That the big beautiful life that God has for us is not found in nailing everything down permanently. It is found in that childlike curiosity that helps us learn this new life and new world that Jesus invites us to and in accepting his invitation to ask the kinds of questions that help us grow in faith, hope, and love every day.
Questions are not the enemy, nor are they always doubt. Sometimes I think doubt is curiosity cast as a villain. Jesus isn’t afraid of our questions, quite the opposite: He takes that curiosity and helps us move with childlike faith deeper and deeper into this beautiful Kingdom.
Carrie: Yes! So very true.
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Casey: I’ll be doing some speaking this summer on the topic of “becoming curious” as well as beginning work on what will hopefully be book number two! This book will focus on change and how Jesus helps shape us through the death, resurrection, and “moving on” that happens when we experience change.
**If you’re trying to find a healthy rhythm to your every day life, subscribe to Casey’s blog here (http://www.caseytygrett.com/
Casey Tygrett is giving a signed copy of Becoming Curious to one of my readers (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below!
What about you? Do you come from a church tradition that encourages or discourages curiosity as a spiritual practice?