Have you ever noticed how wise people can tend to boil down life lessons into very simple and focused points? I like to ask people who have lived a long life or accomplished a major milestone in life, “Do you have any words of wisdom to share?” It’s pretty funny sometimes because most people don’t think they have any wisdom to share. However, after they think for a few minutes, they usually come up with some very profound things.
Here’s an example… On my father-in-law’s 82nd birthday the year before he died, I asked him this question. He laughed almost dismissively – again, like he had no wisdom to share or at least didn’t think he had any worth sharing.
Here are the 3 bits of wisdom my father-in-law offered me:
· Trust your gut
· Life begins at 40
· Never pass up a bathroom :)
I really love these! How many times have you not trusted your gut and been wrong? Or, vice versa, been right? When we’re young, we think things that happen in our lives are major and even things that seem like they could ruin our lives. But isn’t it true that so many things that happen in our lives are what builds resilience and gives us perspective and wisdom? People are resilient and life isn’t over just because something difficult happens. Someone else once said, “things are never as good as they seem, but things are never as bad as they seem.” What they meant was to have perspective and enjoy the good, but don’t let the bad take you too low. And, finally, my father-in-law was a funny guy so he had to throw in the one about the bathroom!
I recently had to chance to ask Michelle Schulte on our staff this same question about words of wisdom. We recently celebrated her 20th anniversary at Hope Church, which is such a major milestone of service and dedication. I actually asked her if she had any words of wisdom about how to make it to this 20 year milestone. You know what she said? “Just keep going!” Again, simple, but profound. Isn’t life really mostly about showing up consistently? I’m sure Michelle has had some great moments at Hope Church just as I’m sure she’s had some challenging moments. The key to her being engaged and impactful for 20 years now is that she got up every day and “just kept going”!
I provide these examples just to encourage you to take the moment to ask people what wisdom they have. You’d be amazed at what people share and if you really listen and think about what they have to say I’ll think you’ll find it pretty valuable.
I love what Proverbs tells us. In Proverbs 4, the author is talking to his children and passing along this idea with some urgency. Here is what he says…
Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”
See what he says about wisdom? It will protect you; it will watch over you; it will exalt you; it will honor you. Wisdom doesn’t come easy, but we don’t have to learn it all on our own through experience. We can “get wisdom” just by asking. Who do you need to ask, “What wisdom do you have to share with me?”
Go get some wisdom today, this week, this month. Ask that older relative. I guarantee it will create a great conversation.