Pivotal People

A Deep Dive into the Life and Influence of Howard Hendricks with Maina Mwaura

December 18, 2023 Stephanie Nelson Season 2 Episode 67
Pivotal People
A Deep Dive into the Life and Influence of Howard Hendricks with Maina Mwaura
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What if the biggest opportunity of your life lay hidden in the shadow of your biggest setback? This is the transformative journey our esteemed guest, Maina Mwaura, an ordained minister, public speaker, journalist, and author, embarked upon after losing his job at the age of forty. In this vibrant discussion, Maina not only shares his inspiring personal story of resilience but also takes us on an intimate exploration of the life and teachings of Howard Hendricks, a renowned professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, captured in Maina's latest book, "The Influential Mentor."

Unveiling Hendricks' passion for evangelism, his close friendship with Billy Graham, and the challenges he faced in a divided society, Maina underlines the indelible impact Hendricks has had on the Christian community. His influence echoed through the lives of countless leaders, Tony Evans and Andy Stanley included, illustrating the power of mentorship. Beyond the historical and spiritual insights, this episode also delves into the discovery of Hendricks' book, graced with a rare forward by Billy Graham, uncovering the hidden gems within.

But this isn't just an episode about past legends and their relevance today. It's a masterclass in personal transformation and the power of influence. Maina shares his journey of starting anew, the life-altering power of stepping out of your comfort zone, and how God's divine plan can supersede our own in times of adversity. Finally, we emphasize the invaluable role of being an influential mentor - impacting lives without seeking credit or recognition. So, buckle up for a journey of inspiration, wisdom, and transformation, because it's never too late to start anew, and you never know where your influence might lead.

Order Stephanie's new book Imagine More: Do What You Love, Discover Your Potential

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Speaker 1:

I'd like to welcome Mina Amora to the Pivotal People podcast. If you don't know Mina, I'll tell you he's a whole lot of things. He's an ordained minister, he's a public speaker, he's a journalist. He writes articles for all kinds of Christian publications. Mina, I might get this number wrong, but you've interviewed over 500 people, including two presidents lots of people you know. He's also an executive producer and he's an author. He came out with a book this year and I just want to welcome him. I met Mina because he's a journalist and I didn't interview with him. But he's one of those people and I don't meet these kinds of people that often I call them like they're a layer onion with layers. So every time you get together with them you discover something new, because they're humble and they don't put all this in front of themselves. They're all about connecting with other people, so we have to work a little harder to pull out all their cool, special things. So, anyway, I was excited because he sent me his book and he agreed to be on the podcast. Mina, welcome, I love having you here. Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you do life with and what you're working on right now.

Speaker 2:

Man, it's glad to be here with you. It's like kind of one of those things You're reading all the things I'm going to. Who is that person? Well, basically, I do life with my wife and my daughter, zion, and so we live here in the Kennesaw area, outside of Atlanta. I think everybody says Atlanta, although they're really not in Atlanta. That makes sense, stephanie, because we're 45 minutes still removed from Atlanta still, but I'll say Atlanta, though, and so that makes up a bulk of my day, and the rest of it is all the other stuff that she just mentioned.

Speaker 1:

Which keeps you busy. And, as I said, I consider Mina a pivotal person because he is all about, number one, understanding other people and connecting with them. That's his job. He pastored two people, he speaks to people I still see you're doing some guest preaching and he writes about people. So he's super focused on other people, which I think is what all of us aspire to be. That's where life gets good, that's where life gets interesting, that's where we experience fulfillment. Is this other's focus you have? So when Mina wrote a book, what I think is interesting is he wrote about someone else. He didn't write about himself, he wrote about someone else. So the book, which I've read as fabulous, is called the Influential Mentor how the Life and Legacy of Howard Hendricks Equipped and Inspired a Generation of Leaders and Howard Hendricks. I'm going to let you tell us who Howard Hendricks is and then let's dive into the book.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's interesting. When I got this project I think you kind of know how this works, stephanie You'll be sitting somewhere doing some stuff and all of a sudden, somebody will just go well, hey, what about this? And I think for you it was Bob Goff. Obviously, it was just such a great human being, obviously. But the guy named Dr Gene Getz and I were talking one day. I was on the way to the pool with my daughter and he said hey, have you thought about Howard Hendricks? And I had not, stephanie. To be honest with you, I'd only heard him speak one time. At that point in time, I didn't even read any of his books, stephanie. And he was a professor professor at the Oshkola Seminary, and so if you name 10 of the best speakers out there, you will find seven out of 10 who he has personally mentored himself. So that's everyone from. You know, jenny Allen, who's a great author, obviously, to Tony Evans, to Andy Stanley, to Robert Jeffers I mean they're all in there to David Jeremiah the list just goes on and on, and on and on. Stephanie.

Speaker 1:

Because they were all students of his at Dallas.

Speaker 2:

They were all students and some of them were, some of them were not Gary Chapman, the five love languages. He had never been to the theological seminary but had been mentored by him and inspired, and so it's really interesting how some of them were. You know front row seats in his class. There are some others who are not front row seats. Andy Stanley was not a front row seat student, but there are others who were not. I tell you we're back row seats. Sorry, andy, but they're done Okay. Yeah, he's okay though themselves and so, but they just gravitated toward Howard, and not just that, stephanie. He was also known as Mr Dallas as well, and so, because he was so into all kinds of things from sports, he was a chapter of the dousetag, but not dousetag listening to folks with the Dallas Cowboys the worst team in American history but he was. There's one yesterday which is like I'm seating, stephanie seating, so he was their chaplain as well, and so he was a guy who influenced lots of people who you probably have never heard of, if that makes sense, which made this so exciting to actually do, because it was one of those things where I was having to dig way back at the same time bring someone who was so influential, so incredible, into modern culture.

Speaker 1:

And so it was a challenge, because Howard Hendricks is not alive anymore.

Speaker 2:

He's not. He's been passed away for a decade. A decade yeah.

Speaker 1:

So I didn't go to seminary. I'm not an ordained pastor. I didn't know who Howard Hendricks was. And you read this book, you're like, oh gosh, I wish I had just heard him speak once. I want you to tell me, because I'm not sure I'm completely clear. He was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary for 40 years.

Speaker 2:

For 40 years, and if you've been to Chick-fil-A, if you listen to Family Life, if you've done anything with promise keepers or walked through the Bible, or if you've heard any of the folks who I just mentioned, he has impacted your life in some way. I'll give you an example Stephanie, the vice president of Chick-fil-A at the time, would literally go to, would literally fly to Dallas on a regular basis just to learn from Howard, and he ended up telling me that they're that. They're a program they use for leaders came from Howard, in fact, and so it's one of those things where he was very influential in an incredible way.

Speaker 1:

So when I think in your book you talk about one point, someone said, maybe Andy Seal. He said he was such an incredible speaker. Obviously he was different. So we're going to talk about how he was different, what set him apart. But he could have been a pastor of a megachurch multi-site megachurch and his response was but I can influence so many more people like I could leverage and look at all those people who went out and have influenced millions and millions of people through his teaching. And he was so humble and modest.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was interesting, stephanie. It was one of those things where it was Andy Stanley. He went to him and said, hey, you should pass to a church Like a lot of folks would go to it, and he was just quite frank on. My impact is right here in the classroom, and that was a struggle for him early on in his teaching Because when he first gets there the other professors didn't like him, in fact they didn't want them there, and so for the first almost half of his teaching career he wasn't even necessarily well liked there at Dallas.

Speaker 1:

And tell us why? Well, I think you said that his class was so popular, but tell us, can you be specific about what was his teaching style? What was different about him?

Speaker 2:

Well, it was very relational. At that point in time professors were not relational with their students, so it was very relational. You know it was different. I mean it was kind of one of those things where Christian education, which is what he taught, was just not primarily widely known to be fair, and so he was one of the first to actually teach that, and so it was one of those things where he was going against the grain in every way. Stephanie, it was, and it's really kind of. I'll give you one story here. It was in the 1960s. Our country was definitely divided racially. The student comes up to when we get to know the student, he applies to get in the Dallas and he doesn't get in, in fact, and so Howard goes. You know what we've got to make this right? And it's kind of one of those things where at that point in time he wasn't widely liked by the professors and so he was putting his neck just on the line trying to make this happen, and that student happens to be Tony Evans. So there were just a number of ways in that. You know he was just different. I mean I can't imagine being him and being different in almost every way against the people. But you need to fit in with, in fact.

Speaker 1:

Right. So if Tony Evans, I mean think about talk about pivotal.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Tony Evans had been rejected from seminary. I'm going to look at the minister he went on to have and all of his children. I mean Jonathan Evans was on our podcast, priscilla Schreyer. I mean there was amazing the impact Tony Evans has had.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, everything was just so on the line. And then I'll take you back a little bit. I mean, when he steps down from Dallas Cowboys you know being their chaplain it's one of those things where he reaches out to Tony to do that role, in fact, and so now Tony has passed that on to Jonathan and so it's like it just keeps getting passed on. At the same time, he was this incredible connector that you know a lot of people may not know of. Once again, but more than likely you've been impacted in some way by his life.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So now someone in your respect has said you've got to write a book about Howard Hendricks and, by the way, Howard Hendricks said while he was alive no one's writing a biography about it.

Speaker 2:

That was another thing too.

Speaker 1:

Yes, so you didn't call it a biography. What did you call it? Like a journey. What was your?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, it was one of those things where he would never would have won at one, and so it's kind of one of those things where I like that he never won at one, to be fair. Well, on the other hand, I was going, okay, like how do we balance this great life mixed in with so many great principles that he did. And so we came up with a style of how do he mentor others, because we could trace that back in such an incredible way to literally go man, he mentored here, here and here, and we came up with a number of just great principles of not just how he mentored, but how we can do it too.

Speaker 1:

You know, what I liked about your book was that I love stories. So how do you research someone who isn't alive anymore? I mean so much of your book. You talked to the people we're talking about, these big Christian leaders today who were influenced by Howard. The interviews you had with Andy Stanley and I thought that's what made the book so interesting is hearing his students, who we all know and respect now as Christian leaders, talk about how Howard impacted their life and what they took from his teaching style. You said that he taught Christian education. So most of us who haven't gone to seminary we don't really know what you mean by that. Most of the seminary classes were like heavy theology Right, so theology. So Christian education was more just the practical hands on. How do we make this understandable for the average person? How do we make this appealing for the average person?

Speaker 2:

And that's what he did. So it's kind of one of those things where you know you look at his life and he really wanted to input his life and sense of hey, not just that you go on and just teach the Bible, which is very important, obviously, but how do you influence and impact others who have never heard about the Bible or about Jesus in fact? And so he was adamant about that. His spiritual gift was on evangelism, and so it's kind of what he, you know I would say that was just not his gift, it was just above and beyond a gift. In fact, he had a seminary president the very first one of doubts, come to him and said you may need counseling because of this, because he loved it Because he was too evangelical, oh much. Yeah, they were like man, you, you want to do this way too much, how do we get you? In fact, even said somebody back then. We said that now we kind of laughed at it, but back then in that day and age, you know, it wasn't a widely popular thing to tell someone you know in the fifties and the sixties, hey, you need to go to counseling. It just wasn't widely known to do that. And so you know he suffered a lot. I would say step in a sense of that. He was different, he was unique, he was widely, I would say, popular and influential in a day and age where social media wasn't even around. So just kind of imagine that too.

Speaker 1:

Yes, that would be challenging. I'm thinking when did Billy Graham come on the scene, you know, did he connect with Billy Graham? He did.

Speaker 2:

In fact they were good friends. In fact, this is how I got a rewind here at LowBat. Don't worry, kind of run a story of time how the book really gets started. Stephanie, I mean to be really clear about this was I was going to a used book store. I found the book in the free bin area. I mean still don't know how it got there, but I remember picking up this book and what caught my eye to it was Billy Graham wrote the forward on the book, and so I mean anyone who knows probably she knows that Billy Graham did not do a lot of forwards, in fact I think like a handful if that. And so when I saw that Billy Graham wrote the forward, stephanie, I did go. This is interesting. It would be two more years later before the book even came up against it Like literally put the book on my shelf, didn't think much about it, and then, two years later, I get this assignment and I happen to go wait a minute. I picked up a free book here and where is that? On the shelf? And so I went and dug that book up and it's not even in print anymore. But Billy Graham and him were pretty close friends, and so the Cove, which is where Billy Graham's training center is. Howard helped think of that too.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow, and how many people that has reached.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, so it's pretty interesting no-transcript.

Speaker 1:

What's so interesting is what a contrast his style was to today's, which says if you want to reach people, you have to have a social media platform. Yeah, yeah, you have to be reaching with videos, you have to. And he's like you know what? I am gonna be the supporter, I'm gonna be the person encouraging, I'm gonna be the person teaching and, you know, for anyone who's behind the scenes, I think that's a really good message how what an impact we can have being behind the scenes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it seemed like to me from all the research that I gathered that he didn't get comfortable not being the main thing, so it wasn't like he was sent around going. I gotta be on the front row here. He just didn't seem to to gravitate towards that.

Speaker 1:

What I think is interesting, he must have truly had, well obviously, a clear understanding from God that he was on the right path. Because of I was a professor at a school and all my peers didn't like me, I'm not sure I would stay there very long.

Speaker 2:

No, and there were moments to be clear that he didn't want to leave, but he did not. He stood true to. This is what I've been called to do and to be, and that to me is quite extraordinary. When he could have left, he could have been a pastor somewhere. He decides to actually stay.

Speaker 1:

Let's talk about you, let's let's do some of the layers of the onion here. So I'm fascinated by I actually saw you did some guest preaching not too long ago when I say you're a journalist, mine is a journalist for Christian publications and he I'm not gonna name drop here, but he is interviewed all of the Christian leaders that we all know and I've done an interview with him and it's a very fun interview. I mean, he, he actually reads your book, he actually knows about, he asked questions where you like oh gosh, thank you so much for even knowing that. So you obviously are very good as a journalist and you could easily pastor a church and you also do executive producing, which, by the way, is behind the scenes and it's highlighting somebody else when he works on videos for Christian leaders who are perhaps teaching Bible studies. So you do all of this kind of behind the scenes support stuff. But you're still a good pastor. So how do you juggle all of that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know, I'm good at all those things, something, but I appreciate it. But you know I'm. It's one of those things where Something to make a long story short I, seven years ago, started a second act. Now, tell anyone out there that, no matter how old you are, where you're at, if God's calling you something, it's okay to start a fresh and a new, at forty or fifty or sixty. May God can make up for those lost quote, unquote, lost years, and so, literally, I started this second act seven years ago, and even though the second act Stephanie, to be fair with you, I'm so nice, people know kind of what those are I did not know. It was that at at the time anyway and so got fired. Literally, stephanie, walked into my boss's office and I know they say that you not, you should not be surprised when you get fired. I was surprised, literally. I thought I'd be doing that, doing there for the rest of my life. The funny thing is, though, stephanie, I have to tell you I wasn't very excited about it. I mean, it was kind of one of those things where I said, well, this was, this is what we're going to do, because we got to just do it, and had they not pushed me off of the ledge per se, I'm pretty sure none of this would have even happened. And sometimes I would tell your you know your great audience there it's okay to be pushed off the ledge because the depth when sometimes it's almost like being being pushed into a pool it's scary diving into it obviously, but once you kind of get into the water you really grasp real quick. I got swim and so it was one of those things our drown. I guess you got two options there, but it's one of those things where anybody who's been pushed off the diving board usually enjoyed it typically, and they swam in it. And so I just decided you know, that's what I'm gonna do and not thinking it would be all these interviews later and definitely not thinking, you know, to US presidents, that just wasn't what I was thinking there. But the Lord can make up for that lost time. And I look back and I go I probably should have started doing this 20 years ago, but was too afraid to actually do it.

Speaker 1:

That is great advice, and isn't that the truth? So many times we're afraid of something. I heard your quote when you preached recently. It was God can do more in a minute than we can do in a lifetime.

Speaker 2:

There's so much more in that. I mean, he really can step in. He doesn't need us to make it happen, but he uses us anyway, which is amazing to me. But he really can't. I would tell anyone. Hey, you don't have to feel like you were trapped in a first act. If God's calling you to another one and another one is okay.

Speaker 1:

And you learned how to swim. I think you learned how to do more than swim.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know, but I can remember those. Stephanie, I'm saying this to your great audience here. You know, it's one of those things that when you are a shell shot, you do feel like, okay, is there anything like, can we make this happen? And I like to tell people this part of story because it's kind of. I don't want to tell you this part of story, but I think it's it. I think someone needs it out there, just saying that, in fact. So I get terminated to Stephanie. Then the boss that hired me wasn't in the room when it happened, and so I get home, stephanie, and I get a text message from him that just says hey, sorry, things didn't work out. And then you're gone, stephanie, you're just going. This is even more bizarre.

Speaker 1:

It's a lot bigger than that and that plus that was a church okay. So, there's church. Nothing is worse than church hurt, right it's just hard, Stephanie.

Speaker 2:

So I would tell anyone that whether you're fired in person or partially fired by text message, you're going to get through it. You're going to get through it. I mean, it is going to happen. So it's going to work out. It really is.

Speaker 1:

And we won't go into details, but I know the details of the story and I'm just going to tell you he was fired for doing the right thing for standing up for the marginalized, all right folks, so we'll just leave it at that. But yeah, he could have compromised his integrity, he could have acted like a Pharisee, but he didn't. So I appreciate that.

Speaker 2:

You know, what I learned from Howard and others is that God really does work at our worst moment. That seems like our worst moment. Stephanie, I'm sure there's someone out there listening who may be going through a hard time right now, like, are they going to get through? And I like to offer a little bit of hope here. That guess you are. It's going to work out, even though you know all the odds are stacked against you. It's going to work out. You know why it's going to work out, stephanie. All the people you know it could have been on where you came from. It's going to work out because we have a good father, better than our earthly father, in fact, which, for dads a lot like me, who love you know, I love my daughter immensely sometimes hard to understand, stephanie, because I just go well, I can't see how much greater this could be. Well for God, that's how much greater it can be.

Speaker 1:

And I think that is a beautiful way to end this conversation, which I just thoroughly enjoy and told you Mina doesn't know this, but he's my new friend. He's not going to get rid of me because there's more layers of the onion here, but I just want to thank you so much for spending your time In the show notes. I'm going to have a link to your book. People can order it, of course, on Amazon. It's the influential mentor and I would recommend that people read it because it's such a good example of how we can really leverage ourselves in other people's lives without having to be out front, without having to get the credit, and God knows what we're doing. And I'll tell you, there's a lot of freedom in that you don't have to be the one performing, you can be the one encouraging. So I appreciate that and I look forward to our next lunch together.

Speaker 2:

You got it. I'm all in Stephanie. This has been so great, thank you, thank you.

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