Today heaven celebrates the homecoming of one of the greatest men I have ever known. Today, Dr. Howard Hendricks (Prof as his students called him) shed his aging body for a heavenly home. Today, Prof did not just teach others about Jesus, he saw Him face to face. Today, Howie is singing – not on the stage of the seminary chapel – but around the crystal sea.
Many of you know that I received two degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary. Though I got my Masters of Theology and Doctor of Ministry degrees with a major in Pastoral Ministry, closer examination would see that I minored in Prof Hendricks. During my 8 years as a student at DTS, I took everything Hendricks taught during that span. He made a lasting impact on my life.
Three things Jesus used Hendricks to drill into my brain:
- “It is a sin to bore people with the Word of God.” I heard Prof say this a hundred times. We have the greatest message to share in all the world. We have the Spirit of the God who created EVERYTHING living inside of us. Therefore, we should be trusting Him to allow us to share in creative and compelling ways the greatest story ever told. I have spent my teaching life thinking of this every time I prepare to write a blog post or take the pulpit.
- “Only two things will endure on this planet: God’s Word and people. Therefore, we should spend our lives building God’s Word into God’s people.” This was more than just Hendricks slogan, it was his way of life. His signature course at the seminary when I was there was “Bible Study Methods,” teaching every DTS student how to study the Word of God on their own. Dr. Hendricks always pointed us to the Word of God . . . but he also helped us as students never forget that we were not just “Preachers” we were “Pastors.” Our job was not just to proclaim, but it was to disciple. Prof modeled this to us, demanded it from us, and inspired me to never want to just be a “talking head” Preacher. Prof gave me a seminary level booster shot to the discipleship mandate Todd Stewman and Bill Boldt modeled for me in my undergraduate days at OU.
- “It’s not about what YOU can do, but what THEY can do.” As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Hendricks taught Bible Study Methods to all the first year students. He taught this class for four decades. For most of that time, one of the first assignments students had to do for the class was bring observations of one verse: Acts 1:8. Every year 300-400 students would come to class with their lists of 20-30 observations from this one verse. Over 40 years, Prof probably heard 500,000 observations on the two dozen words in Acts 1:8. I am pretty sure he had “heard it all,” when it came to this one verse. However, I was amazed at the enthusiasm he showed over students observations. He would run around the front of the room almost cheering with excitement at his first year student’s thoughts. Over time I have come to understand why Dr. Hendricks was so excited. He was enthusiastic not because we were seeing something HE had not seen, but because we were seeing something WE had not seen before in the text. The process of us “getting it” is what excited him about being a professor. It was not about what he knew (and he knew a lot) but about our growth and development. I hope this marks my ministry as well.
Thanks Prof. Your investment in my life is prayerfully paying dividends down the line. It is possible that Prof was the most influential American Christian leader of the 20th century. Not because of what he did, but because of the legacy he passed along to some of the most dynamic church leaders of the past 50 years in America (men like Tony Evans, Chuck Swindoll, Andy Stanley, Dennis Rainey, and Jim Rayburn).
Prof will certainly be missed, but I am certain I will continue to hear and see echoes of his influence for the rest of my life.