Photo by Reggie Joiner

Several years ago, I met an elderly neurologist who taught me something about wisdom and age. She had actually had quite a few negative experiences with Christians, and by the time she figured out that I was one, it was too late – we were already friends. One day we were talking about decision-making and she said, “I bet I can explain something in the Bible to you that you have never heard.” She was obviously very intelligent, so I responded, “Sure, let me hear it.”

She went on to explain that there’s a passage in Titus that implies those who are older should mentor or train those who are younger. And then she asked me if I understood why. I suggested that I had always figured it was because people become smarter with age. Then she smiled and said, “A good neurologist knows the real scientific reason why.”

She continued to explain that the brain should sometimes be thought of as a filing cabinet. When you are young and you encounter an issue or problem, you reach into the limited amount of files that you have accumulated, grab your best solution, and respond to your situation. As you age, you collect quite a number of files, because the brain has a lot of storage capacity. So when an older person encounters a complicated situation, their brain actually sorts through millions of files before it comes to the file that it needs. The process of sifting through those files actually causes your decision to be filtered through a lot of information that a younger brain just doesn’t have access to yet. Older people have the potential to make wiser decisions because of the way their brain is processing information.  So in that way, you really do think better with age. Then she smiled and said, “That’s why you’re smart if you learn to listen to someone who is older.”

When I look around at young parents or leaders, sometimes I wonder who they have invited into their decision-making who has a little history. Who have you invited? Just remember it’s just smarter to think older sometimes.