Over the years, it has been my great privilege to spend time with older preachers. From them I have learned many valuable lessons: lessons which I put into practice daily in my ministry. It concerns me that some of our young preachers coming up are missing this opportunity. Perhaps these suggestions will be helpful in encouraging you to glean wisdom from others.
1. We Must Desire to Learn
Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.—Proverbs 18:1
Many of us are more interested in impressing people, telling stories, hearing jokes, or talking about sporting events than we are in learning. We must want to learn before we will ever do so.
2. We Must Listen
Of course, that means that you cannot be talking all the time. When you are talking, you’re not listening. When you’re not listening, you’re not learning. The old saying has great wisdom to it: “God gave us two ears and one mouth.” Perhaps He expects us to listen twice as much as He expects us to talk.
3. We Must Ask Questions
When I know that I am gong to be around an older preacher, I will often make a list of the questions I wish to ask him. I may consider his areas of expertise; things that he has done better than I, and then will compile a list that help me to remember when he is there the questions I thought about in his absence.
4. We Must Be Willing to Be Re-directed
Sometimes, I have found that answers to the questions on my list were not particularly meaningful, but that the man I was talking to would seem to be interested in other areas of conversation. Proverbs 20:5 says, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
There are many things a man knows that he will not think to teach me if I just say, “Give me some advice.” However, by asking questions and then seeing where his interest lies, I am able to learn those areas in which he can be most helpful to me. I have heard great truths about things I never knew I needed by following this simple philosophy.