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 a pamphlet given to DTS graduates entitled, “Wisdom from ‘Prof’” and remains startlingly relevant to our mission today.
Self-appraisal is by definition so subjective that I hesitate to discuss it when trying to explain my own 50 years at Dallas Theological Seminary. But honesty compels me to list my own self-perception as a key component of what has kept me nailed to the faculty roster for so long.
Like most of you, I echoed Isaiah one day and said, "Here am I, Lord send me." Eventually He assigned me to report for work at 3909 Swiss Avenue and the seminary classroom became my permanent home turf. But the nest never became cozy and snug. Tough issues—money, magnanimous opportunities, and heart-stopping discouragements—dangled in front of me incessantly. "Am I good enough? Should I leave, should I stay? Isn't it time for a change?" Each fork in the road drove me back to a brutal self-examination.
Paul's incomparable manual on ministry taught me what self-confidence means: a sense of belonging, of worth, and of competence (cf. 2 Cor. 3:4-6). I belong to Him; I am valuable and competent only because of Him. I must become more enamored of God than of myself.
Low self-esteem is Satan's deadliest psychological weapon; over-confidence grows in every gene pool. Eugene Peterson reminds me,
"We will have to be rescued from these despotic egos that reduce us to something less than human."
Traveling worldwide, I am convinced that DTS is the meeting place for me with His choicest students. The press reports and the church parking lot gossips do not matter. It has been my lifelong passion to link excellence with an indifference to human achievement. The more highly a person thinks of God, the less highly he thinks of himself.
Jesus is our model; He never had an identity crisis because He knew His origin, His destiny, and His purpose (cf. John 13:3-4). May I never forget that I signed on as His galley slave and His reward comes at the end of a faithful tour of duty. My identity in Him is more important than as an American or an ordained minister—or even as a graduate of DTS.
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.”