Leadership Checkpoint: Are you committed to your ministry?
Though he is no longer with us, the words of Howard Hendricks stay with us and challenge us to live full and faithful lives in service to our Savior. The below article originally appeared in the pamphlet “Wisdom from ‘Prof’” and remains startlingly relevant to our mission today.
When I reflect on the half-century of teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary that God has given me, the years tend to blend together. In my mind's eye, I see all of my thousands of former students sitting in a giant classroom.
"Prof," they ask, "what's the magnet that keeps pulling you back into class every day, every semester, every year?" Putting it all into one word, I have to answer them, "Commitment." It's the switch that turns on my light.
Shakespeare's King Henry V spoke apt words that apply here. Before the battle of Agincourt, the king blazoned to his men, "He today that shed his blood with me shall be my brother." Teaching is all about doing battle with shoddy thinking, with upgrading inferior concepts, with spilling cerebral blood to eradicate ignorance. Seminary teaching is about getting a student together with God on His pages.
I live with the dread of tame, domesticated, de-clawed Christianity. I fear for my students that they will chase after what they want—and therefore miss what God wants. I yearn for them, in Peter's words, to entrust their souls to a faithful creator in doing what is right (1 Pet. 4:19). That resolve is truly high-risk.
In our expansive youth, many of us hardly hesitate to put our heads in the lion's mouth; we jump off the high dive; we want to accomplish great things for God. But when injuries occur or circumstances turn sour, our words begin to float without a framework of faith, and discouragement wilts us. Jeremiah's question thunders, If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? (Jer. 12:5). God's message demands tenacity.
My experience is that commitment is like birthdays. They keep coming up every year, demanding that I acknowledge once more my humanity. Me? Don't take that too seriously. God? A long obedience in the same direction.
For more information on the life of Howard Hendricks, visit the About section of the Hendricks Center website. To access some of the leadership materials of Howard Hendricks, visit our Resource Center today!
About the Contributors
Dr. Howard G. Hendricks, known simply as “Prof,” directly or indirectly touched millions of lives in the evangelical community and beyond. For more than sixty years Prof served on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), where he taught more than ten thousand students. He served as the chairman of the Center for Christian Leadership for over twenty years. He also ministered in person in more than eighty countries. Through speaking engagements, radio, tapes, films, the sixteen books he authored and coauthored, countless journal and popular-market articles, his service on numerous boards, and his work as a chaplain to the Dallas Cowboys (1976–1984), his reach was and is worldwide.
His legacy, in partnership with Jeanne, his wife of more than sixty-five years, includes four children and six grandchildren. Holding large audiences enthralled at venues such as Billy Graham’s conference center or Promise Keepers’ stadium rallies, Prof would confide, “It’s wonderful to be here with you, but I have a group of delicious students waiting for me back at the seminary.”