Monday, February 25, 2013

Believing in People

"… let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds" - Heb. 10:24 Howard Hendricks passed away this past week. Known simply as “Prof,” he 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, where he taught more than ten thousand students. 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-six years, includes four children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. I heard him speak at Kanakuk Kamps one summer and he was so inspiring. As I read about his life, I discovered that Howard Hendricks was raised in a broken home. He recalled, “My parents separated when I came along. I split the family”. His father’s mother reared him, and he described himself as a “troublemaker” during his elementary school years, “Probably just ‘acting out’ a lot of insecurities.” “Most likely to end up in prison” was the assessment of his fifth-grade teacher in Philadelphia. Once she even tied him to his seat with a rope and taped his mouth shut. Yet everything changed for that boy when he met his sixth-grade teacher. He introduced himself to Miss Noe, and she told him, “I’ve heard a lot about you. But I don’t believe a word of it.” Those words would change his life. She made him realize for the first time that someone cared. “People are always looking for someone to say, ‘Hey, I believe in you,’” he said. And in his more than sixty years as a professor, he believed in his students. Hundreds of Christian organizations were created as a result of Prof’s ministry to his protégés. In the words of one DTS graduate, “He impacted more lives personally than anyone I’ve ever known.” Prof once said, “I think the reason God has used me is that, by His grace, the Holy Spirit has developed in me an incurable confidence in His ability to transform people.” Prof went beyond communicating what students should do to convincing them that they could. According to a 2003 Dallas Morning News article about him, the combined ministries of just eight of his former students, a veritable Who’s Who of Evangelical Christians, reach close to thirty thousand people in the pews every week. Add radio programs and books to the number, and the audience expands to millions. And all of this came from a "troublemaker." The "Looking Glass Self" model holds that we pretty much see ourselves as we perceive other see us. If other people see us as a "pain," then we tend to see ourselves that way too. Howard Hendricks was not a product of his environment. He was the product of a loving God who used a sixth-grade teacher to inspire him and move him past his difficult upbringing. As parents, we need to remember to build our children's confidence and potential. Our challenge is to keep seeing the best in our kids, even when the coaches and teachers do not. We need to be their best cheerleaders and believers. When the stories are told, "Don't believe a word of it." See the best. Believe the best. And help your child reach their potential. Then, one day, maybe they'll touch lives like the Prof. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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