The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
He was interesting because he was interested.
Elisabeth Elliot said that about her dad. This isn’t a Father’s Day post, but I offer this accolade to my own dad. He finds others interesting, and that makes him an interesting man. He knows about Israel and Switzerland and Johnny Cash and Donald Trump and baking whole grain bread and raising moms of teens. He’s interesting.
But I don’t think you can be interested in very many things unless you are humble.
Because you won’t listen if you’re a know-it-all, or if you’re too busy to care. You just won’t be interested. Which also means you won’t be very interesting and you probably won’t be very humble or meek.
Meekness means we are teachable and take correction, without sulking or lashing out. Humility means we have a modest view of ourselves that’s the opposite of pride.
Humility Takes A Real Interest
C. S. Lewis has a brilliant description of humility. It’s marked, he says, by a self-forgetfulness that draws others out.
Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: be will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.
Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
The humble one will not be thinking about himself at all. He’ll be interested in you. She’ll be asking you questions and listening to your answers.
Time with humble people refreshes our souls. These people spark joy.
Which reminds me of this other description. It impressed this sometime Chatty Cathy when I first read it decades ago.
Jesus Was Interested
This is not me.
Except for the slow thoughts sometimes. As for Lewis’s description, also not. Since I’m writing about humility, I am clearly not self-forgetful.
But this is who I want to be.
My best friends are this way. Like Jen, who asked, “How are things with ____?” Then, for thirty minutes, she sat and listened.
My aunts, Peggy and Mary, are like this too. They ask thoughtful question after thoughtful question, buckets going deep into my well. Then with nods and smiles, with sighs and frowns, they patiently draw the water up. They ask and ask and patiently wait around, to draw me out.
I think Jesus was this way.
Jesus Asked Lots Of Questions
I think Jesus found people interesting. We know he liked to hear their stories, and he asked questions. He shocked his disciples by his long conversation with woman at the well (John 4).
Scripture doesn’t explicitly say, “Jesus was a great listener,” but if you read between the lines, it’s there. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t interrupt like I do, and that he did ask lots of questions—questions for which he already had the answers. Talk about the humility. Can you imagine patiently waiting around for answers you already know?
Yes. Jesus Christ asked questions. Here’s a a sample just found in the Gospel of Matthew.
- Who of you by worrying can add a single moment to his life? (Matt 6:27)
- Why are you terrified? (Matt 8:26)
- Do you believe I can do this? (Matt 9:28)
- Why did you doubt? (Matt 14:31)
- Do you not yet understand? (Matt 16:9)
- But who do you say that I am? (Matt 16:15)
- What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life and what can one give in exchange for his life? (Matt 16:26)
- What do you want me to do for you? (Matt 20:32)
- Did you never read the scriptures? (Matt 21:42)
- Why do you make trouble for the woman? (Matt 26:10)
Jesus asked questions and Jesus listened for answers. Humility is seen in the asking. Wisdom in gained in answering.
When we are quick to listen (James 1:19), we are like our Lord Jesus. We are interested and interesting. We are humble and meek.
Humble & Meek Like Jesus
Here’s what I mean about meek. Many of you know I’m in the last stages of writing my MEEK NOT WEAK book. One definition of meekness is simply submission to God’s Word, His will, and to His people.
Listening to topics we’re not naturally inclined towards is one small way to submit. Meekness is not weakness. Submitting my will to someone else’s wisdom—say by patiently listening to others’ opinions—is one of the strongest things some of us do.
Plus, as Matthew Henry observed, if we don’t draw others out, “We lose the benefit we might have by the conversation of wise men for want of the art of being inquisitive.”
But if we only listen when we have a natural interest in the subject, we’ll never be interesting. We’ll forfeit the wisdom of wise men. But more importantly, we won’t grow more humble or meek.
Because meek, humble people listen. They lower the bucket into the well with thoughtful questions and draw out deep wisdom out as they are quick to listen.
Finally, let’s answer to that question. How can we be more interesting?
You probably figured it out.
1. Ask good questions. Lower the bucket.
2. Listen to the answers. Lift the bucket.
Then reap the benefits. As you show interest, you’ll grow more interesting—and more humble and meek.
In others words, you’ll be more like Jesus.
Do you have a favorite “artful, inquisitive question” that helps draw others out?
😊 Feel free to drop it in a comment.
I love the Peggy and Mary shout out! They are the best of the best, and so genuinely interested in others. And so are you, Abigail. Always thoughtful, always insightful.
They sure are. Like you. Soul refreshers. Interesting and interested.