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Bild eines neugierigen Kindes

"New Greed" in Relationships


Photo: Micha Brück


Author: Micha Brück

Why? Why? Why?

At certain stages of life, children ask a seemingly endless stream of questions. They know little and do not pretend to know much. Children seem to be bubbling over with curiosity.


The German word “Neugier” translates literally as "New Greed" - being greedy for something new. Greed is a strong word. It expresses an inner desire. Imagine someone who has not had anything to eat for a week and now stands before a richly laid table.  Greed reflects a desire that is not so easy to contain. How can New Greed have a positive impact on our relationships?


In our congregation in Munich, a saying has been doing the rounds for some years: "I love ERNA".


ERNA stands for the words Ernsthaftigkeit (sincerity), Respect, Neugier (curiosity) and Art (manner).


It’s about our attitude in relationships. Attitudes divide or unite. They harden fronts or resolve conflicts.



Example 1:

Years ago, as a young student, I was sitting in a pub in Galway, Ireland, with my girlfriend at  that time. An older gentleman, at least from our point of view at the time, came in the door with a group of women. He wore aviator glasses, was talking non-stop and was obviously German. We quickly put him in the category of "embarrassing". We got up, sat down at the back table in the pub and began to gossip about him. It would have been embarrassing if he had realised that we were also German.


About half an hour passed and suddenly this man came and put a glass of Guinness on the table for each of us. He had been watching us, and we reminded him of his own student days. At that time, he had also sat in pubs, but had had too little money to afford a beer. That had motivated him to buy us a beer. A long conversation with him followed, and he proved to be a very friendly and pleasant conversationalist. You can imagine how embarrassed we were by our own behaviour towards him....



Example 2:

I walked in the door early one evening and you could have “cut the air with a knife.” There seemed to have been a conflict between my son and my wife. All I heard was something about "PC games" and I immediately jumped to conclusions and took my son to task. What about your playing time? What about Latin vocabulary? From my son's reaction, it gradually dawned on me that I was missing the point. The matter of PC games was only a side issue....


Proverbs 18:17: In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.


And so, you quickly make your own assessment of the situation, and you think you know what is going on. Straight away, your own feelings, hurts and points of view seem to be justified. That's how it is. Reproaches quickly arise from this.


The proverbs encourage us to also let the other person have their say.


What is the "story" behind the situation?


Be curious and ask questions: What exactly is going on? Why did you react that way? What has hurt you? What do you need from me? What could I have expressed or done differently? Can you understand my point of view?


Making myself vulnerable: I was afraid that...  I need...  I wish that...


For this to happen, it is necessary that I "empty myself" so that I can take on a new point of view at all. I am able to create space in my heart for something new.


Jesus is an example for us. In the letter to the Philippians, it says in chapter 2, 1-9.

1 Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common    sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 

2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 

4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

Jesus 'emptied' himself and came down to our level. He goes even further and views himself as a servant.


He did not have to come down to my level. He is God and has the right perspective in every situation. He did not need to respond to me. And yet he wants to understand my "story" because he is concerned about the relationship, not about being right.


If you go through the gospels, it is striking how often Jesus asks questions.


You don't necessarily want to have a reputation for being greedy, but in my opinion, New Greed in the sense described above, is a virtue.


In this sense: "Become like a child" and be greedy for things that are new. “Empty” yourself and ask questions. Get to know the "story" of the other person. You will be amazed...

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