John stands fast on the small platform of people I know who possess wisdom. He’s my spouse, my partner and my friend, my counterpoint and my complement. We have lived life together with all the bumps and bruises to show for our sometimes rough and rugged journey. Above all, John has kept us centered with his good common sense and wisdom gained through a lifetime of vigorous physical and mental labor, as a leader of leaders, as “an ambassador of hope” for families in crisis.
Perhaps the hallmark of wise men and women is their ability to listen. Ernest Hemingway said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” This is true. I’m reminded often of that old commercial for an investment firm, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Listening well is a defining quality of the wise, for when they finally speak, their words and ideas inspire and motivate others to think and behave differently.
The Bible says, “Is not wisdom found among the aged?” (Job 12:12-13) In other verses elders are instructed to teach the younger and that the younger should respect and honor their elders. At work during one day in John’s 40-year career, one of his co-workers called him Moses to much head bobbing from others nearby. John leads with care and a wealth of knowledge, but most importantly from a well of wisdom. John listens.
Listening requires patience. Listening demands discipline. Listening takes time. Listening takes self-control and humility, the desire and ability to believe that others have something valuable to contribute, and have a need and right to be heard. Then, having listened well, having considered carefully, having weighed the many points of view and well-spoken thoughts, the wise one speaks, or doesn’t.
“Grey hair is a crown of splendor,” says Proverbs 16:31. I have known some very wise young folks to whom I give undivided attention. And it is worth stating that not everyone with grey hair possesses wisdom. But, wisdom does present itself more often in those seasoned seniors who have chosen to pay attention, live generously and compassionately, enjoy listening to the ideas of others, and who continue to learn as they grow older yet. John wears his regal crown while he listens well; and then, when necessary, he speaks…and others listen.