When Imaam Ahmad was suffering from his final sickness, at times, he would feel pain and groan out loud. So when one of his students came and heard him, he narrated to him with a chain of narration from Muhammad bin Sireen that Anas bin Maalik (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) used to consider it detested (makrooh) to groan. After that, he did not hear Ahmad groan again until he passed away.
This mentality on the part of the student and the teacher is that which will enable the student of knowledge, through the Grace of Allaah, to become a scholar in the future, if Allaah wills. And this is the mentality which will enable him to benefit and cause him to always be preoccupied with knowledge – day and night, he is learning. He should not look down upon a point of benefit that comes to him by way of someone that is young in age or old in age. Some people receive points of benefit from individuals that are younger than them (in age and knowledge), and so they feel arrogant towards him or they don’t give that point their full attention. The reason for this is because they have elevated themselves over the knowledge. And when one elevates himself over knowledge, he will not be from those who are able to acquire it.
Rather, a younger or smaller person may have some knowledge that an older or bigger person doesn’t. And likewise one who is younger or smaller may understand some aspects of knowledge whereas one who is older and bigger may not. But if he explains it to him, he should benefit from it. The scholars have mentioned a clear example for this, which is the story of prophet Sulaymaan and the hoopoe bird. Even though the hoopoe bird was lowly in terms of stature and composure and Sulaymaan was elevated in terms of stature, composure and position in the sight of Allaah and before all of creation, the hoopoe bird said to him: “I have grasped knowledge of something that you have not grasped. And I have come to you from Saba’ (Sheba) with certain news.” [Surah An-Naml: 22]
So the hoopoe bird knew something that Sulayman was unaware of. The people of knowledge have derived from this story that you should not be arrogant with someone that brings you a point of benefit (from knowledge), regardless if he is young and lowly or old and prominent.
Source: Three Required Characteristics for Seeking Knowledge -Shaikh Saalih bin ‘Abdil-‘Azeez Aali Shaikh. al-ibaanah.com translation.