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Who was Howard Hendricks?

Howard Hendricks

Dr. Howard George Hendricks (1924—2013) was an American author, speaker, pastor, and professor. He served on the Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) faculty for more than six decades until his retirement in 2011 as professor emeritus of Christian Education and Leadership. He founded and chaired the Center for Christian Leadership (now The Hendricks Center) at DTS (1986—2011), was a frequent guest speaker at Promise Keepers’ rallies and the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, a chaplain to the Dallas Cowboys (1976—1984), and the author and co-author of numerous books.

Howard Hendricks grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was raised primarily by his father’s mother. His parents, George and Celia (Dickens) Hendricks, separated when Howard was born. He attributed his troubled youth to “acting out a lot of insecurities” caused by the breakup of his family (, accessed 1/30/2024). Howard’s fifth-grade teacher predicted he would wind up in prison. However, in the sixth grade, he encountered a remarkable teacher, Miss Noe, who would change the course of his life through her positive, caring influence. She believed in Howard and inspired him to reach for a better future. He would carry that inspiration with him for the rest of his days, always seeking to encourage his seminary students and help them develop to their fullest potential.

In 1946, Hendricks graduated from Wheaton College near Chicago. He had met his future wife, Jeanne, in Philadelphia during the years he was studying at Wheaton. The couple married in 1947 and remained partners in life and ministry for sixty-five years. They made their home in Dallas, Texas, and had four children and many grandchildren.

Howard Hendricks earned his Master of Theology from DTS in 1950. For a brief time, he pastored Calvary Independent Presbyterian Church (now Calvary Bible Church), a church he planted in Fort Worth, Texas. However, in the fall of 1951, he was invited by the theology department chairman, Dr. John Walvoord, to teach part-time at DTS. One year later, after the passing of the seminary’s president, Lewis Sperry Chafer, Hendricks accepted a full-time faculty position.

As a professor at DTS for the next sixty years, Howard Hendricks would find the fulfillment of his passion and calling to train, disciple, and mentor the Lord’s servants for ministry. He would teach more than ten thousand men and women who affectionately called him “Prof.”

Multitudes of Hendricks’ Bible students continue to give testimony to their deep love and gratitude for a caring mentor who consistently carved out time to sit down and chat with them ( His investment in their lives helped develop Christian leaders such as Dr. Charles Swindoll, Dr. Tony Evans, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, and Dr. David Jeremiah. Of Hendricks’ impact on future generations, Jeremiah said, “Prof is like a pebble thrown in a lake—the ripples just keep going outward” (, accessed 1/31/2023).

In 1986, Howard Hendricks founded the Center for Christian Leadership (now The Hendricks Center) at DTS. The center’s programs are designed to develop spiritual character, Christian identity, community, integrity, and diversity in the school’s students through regular small-group meetings. Its programs also present discipleship models that can be replicated in the future ministries of its students.

Hendricks’ ministry reached around the world through speaking engagements in more than eighty countries, his nationally syndicated radio program, The Art of Family Living, Moody Bible Institute lectures, Navigators’ conferences, Promise Keepers’ stadium rallies, events with Campus Crusade for Christ, and the many books, journals, and articles he wrote. But when he was away from the classroom, he would often remark, “It’s wonderful to be here with you, but I have a group of delicious students waiting for me back at the seminary” (, accessed 1/31/2024).

In 1967, Hendricks earned an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Wheaton College Graduate School. He also served on numerous boards and was chaplain to the Dallas Cowboys from 1976 to 1984. In 2003, he was awarded the Tom Landry Excellence of Character Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

One of Howard Hendricks’ most distinguished protégés is the Rev. Chuck Swindoll, a 1963 graduate of DTS, former seminary president (1994—2001), and current chancellor. Through his Insight for Living radio program, Swindoll’s reach is worldwide. In 2003, Swindoll told The Dallas Morning News there is no one he admires “more than Howie Hendricks.” Summarizing Hendricks’ extraordinary contributions, Swindoll said, “There is no doubt in my mind that since the late 1950s to the present day, no other teacher at DTS has been more influential to more of our graduates, or more magnetic to more potential students than Dr. Hendricks” (, accessed 1/31/2023).

Howard Hendricks died on February 20, 2013. He left an enduring legacy of Bible teaching and Christian mentorship: “I discovered long ago that teaching is my spiritual gift. And I’ve spent all of my life fighting to keep people from making me a president or a dean or something. If you take me out of the classroom, I lose my reason for existence” (Galli, M., “Introduction,” Mastering Teaching, Mastering Ministry, Multnomah Press; Christianity Today, 1991, p. 9).

Relish these treasured lines from Howard Hendricks:

“Rules are many, principles are few. Rules change, principles never do” (Runge, S. E., High Definition Commentary: Philippians, Lexham Press, 2011, Philippians 4:8–9).

“Great impressions can be made from a distance, but reality can only be tested up close” (Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes).

“How big is your God? The size of your God determines the size of everything” (, accessed 1/31/2024).

“If you and I are going to serve and be approved, our service is going to cost us. If you want success and significance, both will cost you. But it will cost you more not to have made the investment” (, accessed 1/31/2024).

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This page last updated: April 23, 2024