About two years ago, I asked a new friend of mine to join me for lunch. I had just celebrated my daughter’s first birthday. Gene Ellerbee had just celebrated his 70th birthday. I was upfront about why I wanted to get together: Gene was the father of five daughters. In his more than 45 years of marriage and raising children, Gene had a lot of lessons to share. I knew that Gene’s insights could spare me missteps in fatherhood, marriage and my career.
Over plates of succulent barbecue, Gene began to share how to be a good father to daughters. We discussed balancing time with multiple children and modeling a healthy marriage. He shared how loving your wife well is a key component to loving your daughters well. We talked about dating your daughters through their teens and leading them into a relationship with Christ. He reflected on mistakes he had made balancing his career, involvement in ministries and responsibilities at home. Gene shared for hours and I kept my mouth shut except to take bites and ask him to elaborate.
A few months after our lunch, Gene succumbed to his longtime bout with cancer. After his passing, one thing he shared with me really stood out. He observed how uncommon it was for people like him to be pursued for advice outside of work or ministry contexts. Gene wasn’t sad for himself, but sad for others who were missing the opportunity to learn from his mistakes and accomplishments.
Who are the men and women around you who have life lessons they could share over breakfast or lunch? Why not take the initiative, spend the $20 and couple of hours to learn from seasoned people around you? They’ll appreciate the gesture and be delighted to impart their wisdom. Be purposeful and specific in the advice you seek. Make it worth your effort and worth their time. Absorb everything you can.