“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
As a youngster, especially as an adolescent I had the good fortune of being surrounded by wise people I could go talk to, most notably my parents of course, but also teachers, school principals, coaches, my church pastor, other adults I looked up to, and at least one or two very close friends my own age with whom I could have serious conversations about life issues. Those were good years for me, in great part because of those good, wise people I had to talk to when I needed someone to talk to. College was a different story. By that time I suppose I thought I had it figured out and could do it alone, thus I never made the effort to seek out those trusted advisors who would keep me grounded and on the right path. I paid a price for that, losing focus for a period of time on what I was there for, causing confusion about my future and life purpose.
Who do you talk to when – well, when you just need someone to talk to? Seriously, for as best I can tell having a trusted friend, advisor, mentor, or confidante is as much a universal human need as food and shelter. And failure to pursue fulfilling that need can be as unhealthy as bad nutrition, indeed malnutrition.
There is a mental sharpness, a sense of clarity that comes from having relationships with good, wise people who listen and challenge and stimulate thought, who focus on you and your ideas without involving their own egos; people who know how to challenge the thought without attacking the thinker.
I learned a valuable lesson from that experience in college, after which I made a promise to never again be without wise people surrounding me, people I can talk to when I need someone to talk to. The only difference is that at my age now, except for my wife and a few close friends, most of those trusted confidantes tend to be “younger and wiser” rather than “older and wiser.” But that is as it should be, for they possess knowledge and experiences that I lack which makes them as capable of keeping me grounded and on the right path as the elder statesmen of my youth.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” says the ancient Proverb. So, who keeps you sharp? Who do you talk to when you just need someone to talk to?