Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three Wise Men

In the aftermath of Ike, as you drive around our community it’s not hard to spot broken tree branches dangling high up in numerous trees. They are everywhere. Some are just little branches while others are massive branches that would cause damage to roofs, cars, or people should they fall on them. My father-in-law has at least three on his property. Each of them big enough to do some pretty serious damage.

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I pulled up just in time to catch my father-in-law and 2 of his neighbors plotting how to best take care of one of those limbs that was dangling a good 30-40 feet up in a pine tree hanging over the driveway. As I walked up to the scene, I thought to myself this is going to be good. No, not funny, but good. There is something awesome that takes place when a few gray haired men put their heads together in an effort to fix something, or accomplish something. I was convinced this would be no different. By the time I arrived, they had pretty much figured out how they were going to go about doing it and were just gearing up for the implementation of their well thought out plan. I would just be a spectator. Having already lassoed the dead limb, and having determined that mere mortal muscle couldn't pull it down, one of the neighbors set out to retrieve his golf cart. They then, attached the rope to the back of the golf cart and moments later down the limb came. A limb, big enough to cause major damage to a car or, worse yet, kill one of my boys had it fallen on them. A brilliantly laid out plan, successfully carried out, and now once again it was safe to park in the driveway.

I knew when I drove up that day, that as these three gray-haired men, threw some ideas around it wouldn’t be long before the job would be done. After all, they pooled together somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 combined years of life experience. Trust me when I say, there was a wealth of wisdom standing in the driveway that day. Mix that wisdom with the determination of 3 men and there aren’t many jobs that won’t get done. I’m pretty sure if you replaced our politicians in Washington with a handful of these guys, they’d have a lot of problems solved in no time.

What’s so sad is that many times those of us who are younger, don’t recognize the value in men like these. We fly through life as if we know everything, and are pretty certain that those who are a bit more seasoned than us, are incapable of teaching us much. While the truth is, if we’ll open our eyes and ears, we’ll find a wealth in men and women like this. If we’ll simply be teachable, we can learn in one moment what it has taken them a lifetime to learn.

I remember as a teenager, I wasn’t real good at tuning in to all the times my Dad tried to teach me. Even as a young man in my twenties, there were still times I wasn’t listening. But the older I got, the more wealth I began to see in both his words, and the way he lived life. Now, in my forties, my eyes and ears are opened and I’m more teachable than at any other point in my life. This past year, I got the opportunity to work side by side with my father-in-law on a couple of jobs, and there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t learn something.

I’m pretty sure, had I saw those three men out there when I was 15 or 16, I wouldn’t have taken out my note pad and pencil so to speak. And, naturally I would have missed a great opportunity to learn something. Sure, it was just a tree limb. And, that’s really the point. There is so much in life that you can never learn in a book, in a classroom, or even with your own life’s experience. There is an immeasurable amount of wisdom and knowledge that can only be found lingering around someone whose life experience has purchased them an encyclopedia worth of wisdom. Take my advice, next time you see three gray-haired men outside up to something, pull up a chair, and watch the show. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot from those wise men.

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