If you’re like me, you can think of a few people off the top of your head who are excellent listeners. The Bible tells us in the book of Proverbs that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” This specific verse brings up a couple talking points, but the latter half of that passage points to a skill that I feel I can improve on the most in my life. Listening is hard. So often I hear everything, but actually listening and retaining what I hear is a different story.
If listening to advice leads to wisdom, then why don’t we seek out more advice? For me, it boils down to pride. There are times when I so badly want to do something on my own or figure it out on my own, I willingly neglect advice simply because it came from someone else. Here is a prime example:
I drive a 22-year-old truck with its fair share of wear and tear. I busted one of the brake lines and was attempting a DIY fix that would prevent me from replacing the entire line. I have a neighbor who is an older gentleman and very mechanically minded, however, he also loves to tell me what to do. He warned me against trying to shortcut the brake line fix and of course, I blew him off – the internet told me it would be fine so why not? I spliced the brake line and it worked, take that Jim! Fast forward a couple days later and I see a car broken down not far from my house. I pull over to help out and the driver said she needed a jump. I told her I would run home and grab my truck (with a newly fixed brake line) and jumper cables to come back and get her back on the road. I make it to the scene of the car, we pop the hood and go to hook up the cables and realize I need to pull the truck a few yards closer to her car. While slowly moving towards the car, I gently apply pressure to my brake pedal and realize I am pressing the pedal to the floor and the truck is not slowing down, I have no brakes. I reacted by steering the truck into the guardrail to avoid a head-on 5 mph collision. I still hit her car but luckily there was no damage. Needless to say, I immediately regretted not listening to the advice Jim had given to me.
Recently, one of our customers at LifeShare hosted a “Senior Prom” where local high school students coordinated a prom for the senior living community. This is the second year that Woodland Terrace of New Palestine has hosted the “Senior Prom,” and it has developed into a special event for the community. This year, a few of the high schoolers who helped plan and coordinate the event added something unique to the dance. They spent the year visiting with members of the senior living community and interviewing them. They compiled the interview into a neat video you can check out here. What stood out the most to me was the answer the residents gave to the question of “If you were to give one piece of advice to the youth of today, what would it be?”. The advice they give is wonderful and everyone needs to hear it, do yourselves a favor and listen to their answers (jump to 5:16 in the video.)
This year, I am going to be intentional about learning to listen – not only to the advice that is given to me but in daily conversations as well. At LifeShare, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by very wise people and get the pleasure of spending time with seniors who enjoy sharing that wisdom. If we all start listening to the advice give to us, maybe one day we will be the ones to pass that wisdom along.