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Lent 2013 entry, Day 7

Every student in my era at Dallas Theological Seminary did the same assignment on Acts 1:8…which was to make 10 simple observations. The next class session required 10 different ones. The one after that 10 more unique ones. And so on…until we were over 100.

This assignment was given after we watched a 30-second movie clip and tested with 100 questions. We were re-tested at the end of the semester after drilling us on the importance of observation skills…and on that little 30-second test nearly everyone in the class made dramatic improvements.

The class was taught by Dr. Howard Hendricks…affectionately called “Prof” by the over 10,000 students he had during his 60 or so years on the faculty at the school. He passed away yesterday.

There will be plenty of eulogies and well-written articles about him by alumni and colleagues that knew him infinitely better than I did. I’ll leave that to them. I will say he had a profound influence on me in that I coveted his teaching skills. I spent a lot of time during both classes I had with him making mental notes about his methodology and approach in front of a classroom.

But what I’m thinking about today are those Dead Poets Society moments…where we all had a teacher who affected us deeply in positive ways. Where we’d stand on a metaphorical desk in tribute to great teachers. I thought about the ones, both in my formal education and some informal mentors along the way. The trick today is to list them and come up with a sentence or two that still lasts…

So, in my metaphorical “Oh, Captain! My, Captain…” moment:

Duffy Chase & Dave Waid: They saw extraordinary possibilities in a very ordinary kid and taught me that truth about Jesus is taught best in the context of a good relationship. I tried to model both in my professional ministry life.

Coach Larry Giangrosso: Coach Gino taught me that (self) discipline and hard work and paying attention to details are characteristics that will pay off in a multitude of arenas even when sports aren’t being played.

Mrs. Sarah Swindle: The most inspirational teacher I ever had because she didn’t let me skate through senior English by telling me that she had higher expectations of me & was relentless in pushing me to reach hers rather than my lowball ones. (As an aside, at my 10-year high school reunion she asked me how come she hadn’t read a novel I’d written yet…still pushing 10-years later, man)

Mr. Charles Garland: Chuck taught me that there is a deeply intellectual aspect to my faith and pointed me toward great writers like C.S. Lewis, J.I. Packer and Francis Schaeffer all the while spending time helping my spiritual growth while I was often in complete chaos. His patience with the slow business of spiritual growth is another area I tried to emulate professionally. (As an aside, his goofy tribe tested his patience by constantly calling him “Chuck”–which made him crazy–not to mention referring to our group as “Chuck’s B.S.”–the B.S. referring to “Bible Study” but we left it open to other interpretations.)
Dr. Tom Constable: His ability to teach Bible Exposition classes while I was at DTS floored me, not because of his prolific knowledge but rather his obvious humility and desire for his students to learn. I loved it when my students learned.

Dr. Glenn Kreider: He taught me the reality that theology should lead to a love for God and the people that God loves. He taught us that one of the best ways to do that was indeed to engage the culture, because that’s where the people that God loves are. That lesson is one I’m pretty sure he gleaned from Prof…and I’m glad I had him at DTS when I did. I’d like to take a few more classes with him now almost two decades later (seriously? Has it been that long?).

So, today, in a sentence or two, who are some teachers (formal or informal) that influenced you and how did they do so?