I’ve talked about a remarkable man I met named Aidan Mackey a couple of times now.
On my last night at Oxford, Aidan stood up after dinner and asked if he could say a couple of parting words.
The first thing he said was, “People often think that because I speak with an English accent I know more about any given subject than they do. They are wrong.”
You can read more about that here.
The second thing he said was, “People often think that younger people have nothing to offer older people. They are wrong. I get at least as much, if not more, out of conversations with those younger than myself, than they get from me.”
He joked that this was to his advantage given that, at ninety-six, almost everyone is younger than he.
To be honest, I only half-believed him. At thirty-one, I felt I had little to offer a man as wise and as godly as Aidan. That, once again, speaks to his humility.
But, I know he’s right.
The older I get, the more I realize I have to learn.
I can learn a lot from those older than me. I have learned a lot from those older than me.
But, I can also learn a lot from those younger. I have learned a lot from those younger than me.
I have – or could have – learned from almost anyone I’ve encountered, not despite our differences, but because of them.
The problem is that I don’t often stop to listen. The problem is that I can be distracted or even defensive. The problem is that I can be so arrogant that – consciously or not – I don’t believe that someone different from me has anything to teach me.
I want to slow down. I want to pay attention. I want to be open to learning.