SALT Concepts and Comments
Strategic Alliance for Leadership Training Newsletter, vol. 8 Oct. 2003
Training leaders to teach others. 2 Timothy 2:2
The four conceptual “laws” have become an effective teaching tool for trainers of widely differing cultures. Because they grow out of a metaphor that is universally understood, the parable of the sower, their simplicity allows them to be easily grasped and taught to others. They have relevance not only in teaching and training ministries, but in preaching a sermon, discipling a new Christian, or even sharing thoughts with a friend. They are also an excellent learning tool. To learn from others I must consciously ask four questions: What seed truth is he seeking to plant? How does this relate to my life? How can I personalize this truth? How can I put it in practice? But most of all, the Four Laws provide a practical framework for training faithful men to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
In the previous two SALT Newsletters we discussed the first two laws. The Law of the Seed teaches us that we must conceptualize, or organize content around the seed truths that we are seeking to implant. The Law of the Soil tells us that we must contextualize, relating these concepts to the knowledge, convictions and behavior of the learners.
The third law is the Law of the Sower, which teaches us that the trainer must personalize the truths he is planting, by establishing a personal relationship with those he is training and by exemplifying the truths.
Every trainer teaches by who he is as well as what he says. We all know that our life speaks more loudly than our words. It is the character of the trainer that gives meaning to the content. When there is conflict between character and content, confusion results. The truths that the trainer seeks to implant in the lives of the trainees must first be incarnated in his own life. To attempt to teach something that is not a part of one’s own experience is to merely transmit information.
Personalizing truth allows it to germinate in the experience of the learner; without germination there will be no fruit. A concept is a “conceived” truth. On the level of the intelligence, information must be transformed into comprehension, giving meaning to the knowledge acquired. On the level of the conscience, information must be transformed into convictions, which form the basis of character. On the level of the will, information must be transformed into commitment, resulting in changed behavior through active obedience.
Figuratively, the trainer sits on a three-legged stool, with the legs representing character, competence and confidence in God.
By his character, the Sower must exemplify the concepts he is planting. In reading the letters of Paul it is striking to see how often he urges his disciples to follow his example, as in Philippians 4:9: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice.” The Word of God must be exemplified in order to give it authenticity. No conscientious trainer will attempt to plant truth that has not already germinated and produced fruit in his own life.
By his competence, the Sower must penetrate the soil. The trainer must penetrate the understanding of the learner, giving meaning to truth by relating it to knowledge he already possesses. Penetrating the soil is done through explanation, relating the training to existing knowledge; through illustration, relating the training to experience; and through application, relating the training to practice. The trainer is a model to his disciples not only in character, but also competence. His training methods will become a pattern that his disciples will imitate.
By his confidence in God, the Sower must water the soil through effective prayer. Germination occurs as the Master Trainer, the Lord Himself, works through us. His Spirit is the one who guides the learner into the truth, applying it to his life. In John 16:14 we read that the Spirit will bring glory to the Lord by taking what is His and making it known. Intercession is indispensable to training, for germination occurs when the soil is watered through prayer.
Germination is at the heart of conceptual training. Germination begins during the instruction level of training, but must be continued through mentorship.
If you have been reading these Newsletters carefully, you should be getting the idea by now that conceptual teaching is a holistic approach. Teaching conceptually means: 1) teaching the whole truth: biblical truth, biblical relationships, biblical mission; 2) teaching the whole person: head, heart, hands; 3) engaging the whole trainer: knowledge, character, skill; 4) striving for complete results: comprehension, conviction, commitment.
Learning is more than the accumulation of knowledge. We do not learn by memorizing, but by processing and integrating knowledge into our experience. Knowledge must germinate to produce fruit.
We are grateful to Randy Maxson, of Ivy Tech College, for the following comments, relating the Law of the Sower to secular education:
Across generations and cultures, leaders devote vast amounts of time and energy to “learning” transactions. Regardless of the level of complexity or formality of the situation, the learning transaction is something quite more than getting knowledge. A person may hear words yet need help in making meaning of them. Someone or something is needed so that the person can find or verify correct meaning (knowledge), so that the person can own and recast the meaning correctly (understanding), and so that the person can apply and adapt the meaning (wisdom). Fundamentally and inescapably, the learning transaction demands a relationship between a facilitator and a learner—a discipler and a disciple.
The relationship between teacher and student (facilitator and learner) is at the heart of the charge to “disciple.” Even in today’s North American, western, secular arenas of educational administration and business management, voices call for a return to relational values. Professional development programs for higher education remind teachers that students do not come to them for information. Students have almost immeasurable access to vast amounts of information via publication, library, and Internet resources. Students do not come for information; rather, students come to teachers for a relationship to the information that is necessary for their learning, lives, careers, and success. Nationally acclaimed authors remind leaders that a holistic and healthy leadership is a “servant” leadership in which the relationship of the leader to his or her subordinates is one of empowerment, encouragement, and engagement.
The leader—the teacher, the facilitator, the guide—serves the follower—the student, the learner, the traveler—by first establishing a caring relationship in which development and progress are paramount. Allow me to illustrate this concept from your personal life and perspective. What made the learning facilitator (teacher) so important and positive to you? Of the various descriptions that come to mind, note how many of them are relational. The teacher who cares about me personally is probably more memorable than the teacher who is brilliant in his or her content mastery.
The dynamic teacher takes the student from where he or she is and moves the learner toward where he or she should be. Understanding the student’s current levels and abilities and desires requires that the teacher learn about the student enough to plan a learning situation with competence and integrity. Only a healthy relationship can provide that kind of context for teaching and learning. Great teachers focus on the process as well as the product—the journey as well as the destination—the relationship as well as the content.
Africa. Mike Taylor is currently in Cameroon introducing the SALT concepts to a group of leaders in that country.
Urgent prayer request: On November 13 Tom Peters, a SALT Facilitator, will be one of four men traveling to Baghdad. Tom will be giving SALT training to an evangelical church of some 400 members which began less than three months ago. A report of this initiative will be given in the next SALT Newsletter.
Training Clinic. Please mark the dates for the SALT Training Clinic, to be held in conjunction with the SALT Coordinators’ Summit at Winona Lake June 22-July 2.
SALT Workshops. As mentioned in the September Newsletter, SALT Workshops are half-day seminars to introduce the conceptual training philosophy. The schedule for SALT Workshops for 2004 is now being developed. We have noted those who have already requested workshops in their locality. If you would like to organize a SALT Workshop in your area, and there is sufficient interest, please let us know. Send the request to Tom Julien, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partnership. SALT is an fraternal alliance of all who are committed to its values: teaching for obedience and not merely knowledge; planting truth and not merely transplanting information; training to teach not merely to learn. It is a ministry in the process of development, desiring to learn from others through a network of partnership. This partnership is purely relational, for SALT not an organization.
We are proposing Partnership is for those who are:
1. Intentionally implementing the Four Conceptual Laws their teaching and training.
2. Using the SALT Newsletter as a communication tool.
3. Involved in leadership development in their church or locality.
SALT Partners will receive, in addition to the Newsletter, other SALT materials as they are developed. If you wish to be considered a Partner in the SALT network, would you state your request in an email to email@example.com, along with any comments or suggestions that would be helpful?
Past copies of SALT Newsletters are available on request.
October 28, 2003
Summer 2005 Inside Out or Outside In
Spring 2005 Creating a Leadership Development Culture
Winter 2005 Leadership Training Clinic
Autumn 2004 Church Based Leadership Training
Spring 2004 Making Truth Personal
Jan- Mar 2004 Holistic Training
Nov-Dec 2003 4th Law-Law of the Harvest
Oct 2003 3rd Law-Law of the Sower
Sept 2003 2nd Law-Law of the Soil
Aug 2003 1st Law-Law of the Seed
July 2003 Teaching or Training
June 2003 Converting Content to Concepts
April 2003 Concept: Implanting vs. Transplanting
March 2003 Training Leaders to Teach Others
January 2003 What is SALT?