Some dear friends have a son who is off-the-charts intelligent, just naturally gifted in multiple areas. I asked them how they kept him grounded over the years and they shared that when he was leaving each day for school, his parents would quote the saying, ‘No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.’ A great reminder that relationship must come first, before others can appreciate your knowledge.
I was reminded of this story when we were on a plane, headed home recently. A young man sat down next to us and started asking us where we were from, not really waiting for an answer but eager to tell us about himself. He boasted that he had been to 42 countries in the last 12 months, and quite pleased with himself, he waited for our response. We said all the right things, asking questions about the details of his adventure, what was he doing while traveling, who was he with, etc. Then he said something that completely shut me down, “Name your favorite place to visit and I will tell you everything you want to know about it.”
Our plane had not yet left the ground and neither had our conversation, as far as I was concerned. You see, the man did not know who we were or where we had been, but he was going to tell us what we needed to know. No thank you. My guy was much kinder than I, continuing the conversation and comparing notes on several countries they each had visited, until the man passed out and slept for the remainder of the flight. For some reason, it was vital to the traveler to show us how much he knew, even though it was without context to who we are.
The whole interaction made me think about how we talk with others. Do I take the time to get to know someone, understanding their fears and motivation before telling them what I think they need to know? Is it more important to me to show others how much knowledge and experience I have, than to use wisdom and discernment and share only what God is leading me to say? Being on the receiving end of this type of treatment left me cold and uninterested, when it could have been a very enjoyable experience. I have no doubt that the well-traveled young man knew volumes about my favorite places, but I didn’t care because he didn’t know a thing about me. Lord, help me to remember this lesson, taking time to really know those you place in front of me and letting go of any need to impress.