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 article below originally appeared in the pamphlet “Wisdom from ‘Prof’” and remains startlingly relevant to our mission today.

Long before I ever heard the word mentoring had experienced it—the lifeprint of one person on another—and it became an integral part of my teaching philosophy. Whereas teaching is a science as well as an art, mentoring is purely an art. The poet Ruskin described it as the expression of one soul talking to another.

Who are the people who helped make you the person you are today? That question opens up my book, As Iron Sharpens Iron, and it also reveals my personal lifelong search which surfaced on those pages and has marked my teaching career. Because others believed in me when I didn't believe in myself, I know how important it is to replicate that belief in others, if I am to leave a lasting legacy.

I learned early that if I keep on doing what I am doing, I will keep on getting what I am getting. God graciously inserted mentors to lift me to a higher level. Some were teachers; others were family, friends and colleagues. They did not just ask questions; they challenged me with their superior way of thinking and acting. What are you willing to live for? To die for? To settle for?

In my formative years in the classroom I learned that my students were desperately seeking the "how" of putting Christian truth into active life, and I determined to risk encounters close enough to them to allow myself to rub off on them, to be a guide, a facilitator—not to produce smarter sinners, but to lead a man or woman to be more like Jesus Christ. My goal was not merely informative but transformative.

The effectiveness of mentoring is directly proportionate to the clarity with which I, as a mentor, can display God's supernatural power in my own life. To the extent that God has allowed me to do this, I am profoundly grateful. I know that it has enhanced my teaching over these fifty years and it has left me with an indescribable sense of fulfillment.

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

Howard G. Hendricks

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.”