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.
During my elementary days I often went next door after school to "teach" the little neighbor girl, never realizing that I was beginning a lifelong career in education. A year younger than I, she was most eager to hear everything I had learned. My budding male ego was flattered and I am sure I hammed it up, but in spite of me she went on to become the principal of the city's largest parochial high school. As for me, I had sampled the sweet satisfaction of being a classroom instructor.
Boyhood and young adulthood took me mostly to the baseball diamond, and into the classroom only as a struggling student. Until the fifth grade I viewed my teachers as the enemy and usually they saw me in the same way. Still they fascinated me, and when Miss Noe asked me to be her friend and helper, she not only tamed a fifth grade troublemaker, she reformed my philosophy of education.
I am asked frequently what is my basic belief about teaching, and my answer is summed up in the title of my book, Teaching To Change Lives. It was a wise teacher who challenged my take on school and I firmly believe that teaching should cause a student to learn in such a way that thinking and living are radically altered. Good teaching is a delayed-action bomb assembled in the classroom for explosion at a later date. It usually takes years to discover that one has been truly educated.
Jesus said, …everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40b) That pronouncement is stunningly solemn: I, as a teacher, am reproducing myself. If I presume to teach, then I want to be like the Master Teacher, and it has been my lifelong aim to imitate Him. The particular content of a course is secondary to my individual response to every student, and this, perhaps, accounts for less imprint on large classes. But if I can enlarge Jesus Christ through whatever material I present to a class, whatever its size, then He will be the One to make the true impact on a student. This is my constant personal challenge.
How have I kept teaching for fifty years? I do not see myself merely as an academician, but as a craftsman, always honing the skills, constantly reviewing the finished products. For me teaching sparkles in the possibilities that lie in the next classroom.
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.”