At Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), if you mention the name “Prof” you will get a smile and a warm memory for the ministry of Howard Hendricks. He was one of my “heroes” that I never met. I heard countless sermons and lectures he gave. I read most of his books in high-school and college.

I was recently reading through one of his books, Teaching to Change Lives. In one of the chapters he makes a statement that made me stop in my tracks. He writes:

“The two factors that will influence you the most in the years ahead are the books you read and the people you’re around.” – Howard Hendricks

If you’re like me, you may go through life and give little thought to what present factors shape our future selves. I want to encourage and challenge us with a few questions to consider:


  • What books am I reading?
  • Am I reading any books at all?
  • What skill would I like to develop?
  • How can I go deeper in a topic that I already possess some knowledge?
  • Whose life would I like to study?
  • What story (fictional or historical) do I know very little about?

“Understand that leaders are readers, and readers are leaders.” – Howard Hendricks


  • Who do I spend the most time with?
  • What attitudes do they possess? Positive? Negative? Indifferent?
  • What do you do when you’re together?
  • What three character traits would define your 2-3 closest friends? Are those qualities ones that you desire?

These are a few of the questions that I am asking myself right now. I would invite you to ask yourself what books you’re reading and who you’re spending your time with. We will look back in a few years and begin to see what factors influenced who we have become.