Biblical Application to Life Management Skills (BALM)

Instructor: Gail Efting

Type of Class: Group and Online supported Class – This is a two year program of instruction which can be started at any time. 

Class Fee: $80 per month per persontuition and fees payable directly to: 

Gail Efting

Online Program Fee: $20.00 per student

Questions: Contact Gail Efting at BALMInstitute@gmail.com 

Minimum & Maximum Class size: minimum – 5 maximum – 25 students 

Credit: Successful completion can be used to satisfy requirements for studies in Bible (Biblical Hermeneutics), Economics (Micro Economics), Life Management Skills, Rhetoric, Logic, Communication, Leadership Skills, Philosophy and World View, Leadership skills, or elective credit, depending on hours spent on the various aspects of the coursework. All life skills necessary to navigate Christian adulthood and leadership will be covered. 

Course Description: Our students are well trained academically. But there are many additional challenges for which they need to be prepared. We can’t tackle these challenges for them, but like a good coach, our goal is to train and prepare them to excel on their own. In order to do their best as unto the Lord in every aspect of their lives, our students will need to know how to apply Scripture to every situation, every day. They will need to be able to think clearly and with discernment, to work through issues logically, to respond effectively and appropriately, and to make sound, Biblical decisions based on accurate observations and conclusions. They will also need to be prepared for typical life management tasks. 

Biblical Application to Life Management (BALM) is simply applying Biblical principles to real life situations. This course will give students the tools they need to think Biblically as they build useful skills related to the many practical, every-day life issues they will face as adults. It will encourage them to develop their critical thinking skills and teach them effective, Scripturally based strategies for Life Management. 

Every class session will focus on a different aspect of Biblical Life Management skills. Socratic and Pauline discussion, practice in Logic and Rhetoric, interactive and generative activities, experiential learning, and written reflection and analysis will provide the students with opportunities to absorb, process and use the material presented. After each topic is covered, students will be required to submit written and/or verbal feedback. Additionally, projects will be assigned every class session, for completion before the next class. 

All students properly registered for 2019-2020 classes with Gail Efting will have the opportunity to benefit from online videos and other presentations, commentary, and discussions, as well as feedback, accountability, and recordkeeping, online. Instructions for accessing online coursework and records will be made available to students upon confirmation of registration and student email. 

Course Content: This course is a two year study. Students may begin at any time and continue through the cycle to their end point, as the blocks are separate subjects, not progressive. Students who repeat the two year cycle will process the material in a more thorough and mature way, develop and practice leadership skills, and have opportunities to serve in the larger community. Some of the areas of study include; 

1. “World View” or mental models and how they affect our thinking, “thinking Biblically”, underlying bias, presumptions and expectations, reality vs. fantasy, deception vs. truth, perceptive grid, mind-set, and values. 

2. Decision making skills – observation and discernment, action and reflection, ‘T squares’, priorities, God’s will and our choices, discernment and cultural bias, ladders of inference, and immunity to change. 

3. Strategic planning and goal setting skills – vision casting, purpose and mission, identifying appropriate goals, effective planning and ‘blocking’, successful self-management by objectives. 

4. Perseverance and effective follow through – building consistent patterns to completion, the “enthusiasm parabola”, dealing with frustration and learning from “failure”, not growing weary in well doing; going to the Word during difficulty. 

5. Time management – scheduling, organization, margin, “Sabbath rest”, incremental orientation, dealing with procrastination and perfectionism, short and long term tasking, and “bubble time”. 

6. People skills – communication styles and patterns, communication levels, communication tracking; “communication stones”, conflict resolution and transformation, Biblical mandates for resolution and reconciliation, social intelligence, connection and engagement, SCARF, values, complementarity, speaking the Truth in love, accountability, relationships in hierarchical situations, and Biblical counseling and care. 

7. Money management – financial tracking and planning, budgets, ownership and debt, giving, Biblical attitudes toward “need”, consumerism, counting the cost, short and long term financial planning. 

8. Critical thinking skills – research and investigation, distractions to discernment, “emotional charge”, emotional intelligence, critical analysis, logic, rhetoric, “persuasion by exposure”, “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”. 

9. Applied Biblical Hermeneutics – reading the Bible as a pattern for life, inductive study, levels of reading in the Bible, applying Scripture in “real life”, Biblical research, word and topic studies, use of Biblical study tools, checking against Biblical principles, “doing the Word”. 

10. Leadership skills – team building, leadership types and theories, systems thinking, evaluation and application in conflicted, cooperative, or collaborative situations, transactional and transformative learning, building learning communities, servant leadership, and more. 

Assessment: I will be available to parents as needed to answer questions or simply to be a sounding board for discussion. Please talk with me as often as you like. You are welcome to sit in on the class on a regular basis, even all year if you like. I want to do everything I can to assist you in this important process of training students to think Biblically and use effective skills in all aspects of their lives. Although many families have used the BALM classes as their approved BIBLE curriculum for students’ junior high and high school transcripts over the years, please keep in mind that the purpose of this class is NOT primarily to ‘pad a transcript’, but to mold a life. 

This is not like any other class your students will ever take. The teaching philosophy for this class is contained herein. The purpose of this class is to help students prepare for REAL LIFE, of which class room experiences and academic endeavors are only a very small part! Therefore a parental concern about “how well the student is performing” in the class can be counterproductive to their real growth process. 

I know suspending this concern can be difficult. I can guarantee you that they will learn a tremendous amount – students always do. And they will be better prepared for college and life than you could imagine because of what they learn in this class. In fact, many students choose to take the class more than the recommended four semesters, so they can glean even more from the discussions and instruction. There is so much material that no one can get it all the first time. But in order to accomplish that tremendous learning process, the student needs to fully experience the material and coursework, themselves. The more you do for them (thinking, explanation, retention, etc.), and the more you look for grading or evaluations of their performance, or worry about “how they are doing”, the less they will gain and retain for life. Most of us apply what we gain from our own realizations and discoveries, our own “aha” moments, rather than from instruction or inculcation by others. 

Think about how we all learned to walk. Imagine what would have happened if someone had tried to do that learning process for us, or to explain it to us (assuming we could have understood them). What if no one ever let us down on the floor without a protective halter holding us up “in case we might fall”? Now imagine what it would have been like if someone had been GRADING us on our progress and trying to figure out how to help us get better grades in walking! How different would our lives be now? If we were exhorted to “perform” our walking and then were judged critically on that performance, would we ever have learned to do it so easily, so well? Would we be walking as smoothly and thoughtlessly as so many of us do? I wonder. 

We walk because we had the desire, the opportunity, accurate feedback (through failure in a safe environment), and the modeling for it. We experienced realizations about it. We experienced a sense of accomplishment in the face of frustration (sometimes quite severe) when we had even small success. And remember, we were designed to do it! We walk because we experienced the walking process, done poorly and well, over and over again, and we learned as we went. Please permit your student to learn these life skills in that same way, free of judgment or evaluation. They will learn so much more! 

Parent involvement in students’ work for this class is a priority. They need to be able to observe, ask questions, do interviews, and bounce ideas off of you, as their Godly counsel. They need to be able to ‘think out loud’ with you and express their observations and opinions about a lot of things. They need to be allowed to fail, and learn from their failure. I’m just asking that you let their learning flow where it goes, without external control or restriction. I strongly request that you permit your students to experience the joys, confusions, frustrations, successes, and even failures, through which they will be stretched and grow in this class. Your encouragement for them to persevere will make all the difference for them.

My goal for our students in teaching this class is fourfold; 

  • to encourage students to build the habit of seeking Godly counsel in decision making, 
  •  to stimulate students’ transition from seeing parent as leader/authority to parent as wise counselor and mentor, 
  • to give the students experiences and realizations which will stimulate the growth of a real, day to day, ability to consistently apply Scripture to life, 
  • to give the students reality based attitudes, clear understanding, and concrete skills related to aspects of life they will have to face as they mature into adulthood. 

Performance in the class will not be evaluated like a “regular” class! This is not just academic coursework (although they will learn a tremendous amount of material which will be covered in college classes, later) and no written evaluation will be given. If you choose to use some of the material covered for transcript (academic) records please contact Gail Efting. Information can be gleaned from the required weekly commentaries; on class participation, work submitted, and completion of assigned projects. You will be able to give them a grade at the end of the year, if you choose, and this class does provide opportunities to fulfill academic requirements. But performance in life will be evaluated based on applying the material learned to real life situations, and THAT will take a while! 

Course Requirements: My commitment is to provide opportunities, instruction and encouragement in observation, discernment and critical thinking, communication, both written and verbal, life management skills, and discovery and application of God’s truths in every-day situations around us. I will provide material and training which will be beneficial long term and practically useful. 

The commitment requested of each student is to be in class ready to start on time for every session, to submit required commentaries and projects on time, to complete assignments appropriately, prepared to observe, listen, learn, think, participate, and contribute at his/her best “as unto the Lord”. This class requires extensive thought and work. Students will get out of the class what they put in, no less, no more. 

Every week, students are required to submit a commentary, within 24 hours of class adjournment. This required commentary includes; 

  • What happened in the class, 
  • what the student learned in class, 
  • how the student felt or what the student thought about what s/he learned or experienced in class, and 
  • an overview of the assignments for the coming week. 

This commentary will also function as a communication device for you, to clarify your weekly work process and help you focus on some of the issues we are discussing in class. This commentary is designed to provide your student with an opportunity for review and reflection, which are important aspects of conversion from transactional learning to transformational learning. If completed correctly, it will also provide the parent, as teacher of record, with the information necessary to complete any accomplishment descriptions throughout the year. I strongly recommend that you require your students to retain copies of the weekly commentaries they are supposed to be sending to me, for your records. 

The commitment requested of each “coach” (or Godly counsel) is to help your student be accountable for the requirements of the class, starting on time, submitting work as instructed, participation, doing their best “as unto the Lord”. Also, many of the projects may require your input or availability for interviews or processes. Please do not do the work FOR your student, or give them the answers to thought questions, but encourage them to persevere (sometimes in the face of frustration) to their goals. 

Attendance: Class learning is often experiential and interactive, and cannot be easily repeated outside of the group experience, so consistent attendance within each topic block (whether in class or on line) is extremely important. There is new material given every week, which students may not obtain easily if they miss a class or a weekly posting. Additionally, it is often difficult for students to complete ‘homework assignments’ when they have not participated in the preceding class. However, because of the “blocking” nature of the coursework, a topic is reviewed and combined with new information each week through the progression of the block. Also, if necessary, a block could be missed in its entirety without too seriously damaging the learning process during the rest of the year. And, of course, students are always welcome to gather some of the information they missed during the following class or during that block in the following bi-annual cycle. This gives you the flexibility which is so important to the homeschool experience. If you have scheduled to miss classes for any reason, please let me know as soon as YOU know, so that I can adjust as necessary, to make the learning process easier. Courtesy mandates communication.

Classroom Expectations: Real learning is exciting, stimulating and tremendously interesting. It has intrinsic rewards of discovery, growth and realization. Every student should feel free, and safe, to embrace the joy of learning without distraction. In this class, students are encouraged to put in the effort to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ, ready to give an answer with gentleness and respect, considering one another ahead of themselves. Nothing will be permitted in the classroom which distracts students from the thrilling process of learning. All students should come to class and/or post online; attentive, courteous, interactive, and teachable. 

Assignment Criteria: Assignments are often activity or interview oriented. Topic blocks range from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the subject matter being studied, with submission of weekly commentaries and a project (which requires several weeks to complete) due during each block. Students are strongly encouraged to seek Godly counsel between sessions, and often have interview assignments. Parents are encouraged to attend class to observe if they desire, so that they are familiar with the processes experienced by their students. Many do so. 

Growth in life is based, to a large degree, on perseverance. Because of the nature of student centered teaching, students will get just as much benefit (guidance, feedback, help and growth) as they contribute of their own effort to the learning process. It’s that simple. 

For example, if a student wants to change an attitude, gain knowledge or develop a skill, and is willing to participate in the class learning experiences and do his/her best with the block projects, s/he will be in class ready to start on time for every session, to submit required postings on time, and to complete assignments appropriately, prepared to observe, listen, learn, think, participate, and contribute at his/her best “as unto the Lord”. This class requires extensive thought and work. Students will get out of the class what they put in, no less, no more. 

Student questions and comments are encouraged, and I will respond respectfully and thoughtfully to any question asked. Basically, you get the benefit of availability of a skilled Biblical counselor, on any topic, throughout the time you are in the BALM class. Please make sure you send the email to BALMInstitute@gmail.com and put “HEART BALM” in the subject line. Additionally, I am available for questions, additional discussion or assistance in Biblical research or other projects, at the BALM Library at Silicon Valley Christian Assembly in Santa Clara, by appointment. 

Materials: 

  • BIBLICAL APPLICATION IN LIFE MANAGEMENT (BALM) NOTE BOOK (please bring every week) 
  • BIBLE. Students will be marking and making notes in these Bibles. Please make sure your student has a Bible they will feel comfortable writing in. Notebook sections should include:
    • This class description in the Binder, in front of the sections listed below. 
    • Bible / Information Requests 
    • Notes 
    • Observations and realizations journal 
    • Project Records and Documents 
    • Research Materials

You may use an electronic Notebook equivalent created online, only if you have the capacity to access online resources in class. Do not presume that we will have wifi. If your student is using an electronic device instead of a ‘paper’ notebook, these sections should be set up before class, with all required information and files ready to go for each category. 

Put your BALM Notebook together before the first class. Make sure that you have your Bible, a good translation that you can write in, ready to go. You will need to bring your Bible with you to every class. Make sure your mind is ready to FOCUS (well rested, well fed, well exercised, comfortable shoes, etc.) and respectfully dialogue about the subject matter, when you come into class. If you have any questions about these assignments, feel free to send a note. 

Workload: All classes taught by Gail Efting are student and family centered. You, as teacher of record, will be evaluating whether your student will be working at middle, high school, or honors levels (Gail Efting can help you with that). There are several ways to determine workload, based on how you plan to evaluate course credit. Determination before the class begins, of the method to be used, makes the workload planning and record keeping process much easier. Two common methods of valuation are by time (based on the number of hours of coursework completed in the year) and by competency (based on the actual performance of the student in the area of study).

Time based methods (often called Carnegie hours) are used by most school systems, as the time spent is easy to track. But I recommend the competency method, because this method is actually more student centered. Competency measurements allow the student to interact with the content and process as long (or as little) as is necessary for acceptable performance in each area of study. This gives the student the opportunity to learn how to become a self-directed, life-long learner. Competency based measures are more effective in allowing students to work to mastery in areas of interest, by stimulating learning autonomy (a very important capacity, if they intend to go to college or get a job). Honors work requires more time and effort, of course, but in an area of passion, it is well worth while to allow time and energy for work to this level. The online system can keep track of assignments and commentaries completed, records of posts, and any other project materials the student chooses to store there. Please contact Gail Efting if you would like to discuss any of this further. 

Curriculum: The Holy Bible (accurate word for word translation, no paraphrases) in which you can write. All other necessary coursework materials will be provided, or gathered by the student during the year.

Contacting the Teacher: If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to send Gail Efting an e-mail at BALMInstitute@gmail.com. Please make sure you put, “HEART BALM”, your name, and your topic in the subject line of your note. 

Assignments before classes begin: As soon as you read through this Info Sheet, send Gail Efting an e-mail at BALMInstitute@gmail.com. In the subject line enter “HEART BALM” and your name. As soon as confirmation of your registration for this class has been received, you will receive a student ID and password by email, from BALMpathwright. (Make sure you check you spam folder, in case your system rejects it.) Please go online, to the URL given, and begin the intro process for this course. You will be asked to complete sign up and answer several questions before classes begin. Please make sure you have set up your student account online no later than Aug. 25th, 2019.