When you are young, fifty years doing the same thing sounds like a boring ramble. But teaching at Dallas Seminary has never been humdrum for me. How could it be with people like you passing through? It has been a long while, I admit, and there have been places to slide off track, but the secret to longevity is the dirty little word, discipline.
The legendary football receiver Jerry Rice said,
"I think guys are always curious about my regimen, but they don't want to pay the price. They don't want to feel the pain. You just have to take your body to another level; you're going to hurt."
The "other level" is what we who are in the ministry really want, but to reach it we have to lock in on the asking price. With no sugar coating Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself" (Luke 9:23). In our feel-good balloons filled with fantasy and romanticism, happiness is too often our destination. It is not easy to take yourself by the scruff of the neck and hide away to do the hard work of praying, studying, and scraping off the barnacles of a decaying culture.
I am convinced that discipline separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. Make no mistake; it is the fruit of the Spirit. John Calvin said that true knowledge of God is born out of obedience. We are like Peter, asking, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come" (Matt. 14:28). We have to step out of the boat and on to the water.
My prayers for our alumni are sprinkled with this concern for discipline. Your thoughts, finances, time, and your physical, sexual, marital, and ministerial lives need continuous maintenance. Spiritual power seeps out through unguarded personal gates. Think about the end of the race. "Run in such a way that you may win" (1 Cor. 9:24). The willingness to forgo immediate pleasure in order to obtain the ultimate prize lies at the core of victory.
My words wobble trying to convey this idea, but I love you too much not to try. Good intentions are worthless if not coupled to the engine of effort.
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.”