“He who walks with the wise grows wise . . .” – Proverbs 13:20
Soon after our son, Marc, arrived on the college campus of his dreams to begin his freshman year he suddenly realized that he was alone and far from home. The institution in which he had labored so hard to be accepted began to feel like a place of isolation. Then he met Dr. Preslar, his faculty advisor. Over the weeks and months that followed Dr. Preslar became not only Marc’s teacher and counselor, but also his friend. Throughout his freshman year Dr. Preslar would challenge his intellect during the week, then they would hang out together over the weekends. For all its libraries, labs, and academic credentials the university as an institution could not provide our son what Dr. Preslar did – an interpersonal relationship with someone wise and trustworthy.
We live in a world of mass media. Audiences numbering in the millions can be reached in a matter of seconds through television and social media. People gather by the thousands in sports arenas and concert halls. More fertile ground has never before existed for opportunities to mass market and mass communicate. And it seems as if these massive information delivery systems have taken us from being a personal society to an institutional one comprised of giant corporations, big governments, large schools and universities, even mega-churches and multi-billion-dollar charitable organizations. Thus, there appears to be a great myth in our world today that the greatest influences on people’s lives are big institutions and mass media.
Yes, it is true we live in a world of mass media and large, powerful institutions, but reality is that our most profound influence still comes through a relationship with another human being – parent to child, teacher to student, professional to client, friend to friend, someone we know and trust. Today Marc remains one of his alma mater’s most enthusiastic alums. That would not be so, however, were it not for the scores of relationships he developed during his time there, beginning with Dr. Preslar.
Who influences your life? Is it an institution or the media? Or is it someone close to you, a person with whom you have a relationship, who you know and trust? The ancient Proverb is as true today as it was then, “He who walks with the wise grows wise.”