SALT & Cultivating Local Leaders
Cultivation is a crucial aspect to leadership development where we share, teach, come alongside our corps members, Soldiers, volunteers and many more who look to us to help them develop and sharpen existing skills and qualities that they have, or even perhaps ones that they didn’t even know they had! SALT is one way to cultivate our ranks. But, what is SALT?
SALT is all about getting to know your neighborhood, discovering the hopes of the community – as well as what life has thrown at them – and having meaningful conversations with interest and love.
S – Story. When we go into the community we want to hear our neighbors’ story: what is happening in their lives? what is they need to share? struggles, concerns, joy, grief? Many people just need someone who will listen and take in what they are sharing.
A – Affirm, Acknowledge, and Appreciate their stories. Ask questions. Affirm feelings – people want to be validated.
L – Listen. This part is crucial! We need to listen to what people are sharing. This in turn affirms their story.
T – Team. One major component in SALT is that is a team effort. We are taking these first steps together!
In preparing for a recent SALT visitation, one helpful but challenging exercise was to pair up with someone on our team we didn’t know and to talk about ourselves. However, we weren’t allowed to say anything about The Salvation Army or our jobs. Some found this difficult (myself included!), but in talking with my partner, we found many commonalities between us that we would have never known about if we didn’t intentionally remove certain parts of our lives from the conversation. A great warm-up!
We split into two teams, and went out into two communities: New Kensington, and Allegheny Valley. When we hit the streets and knocked on doors we asked “how you are doing? what are your thoughts on your community? how is your work? your family?”, and amazingly many we came in contact with opened up and we had real conversations that at times were deep, intense even. There was a sense of excitement, passion, and of relief in their words.
God is not contained in a building of course, and we need to take every opportunity to get out in our communities and make those personal relationships. The more we get out of our buildings and into our communities, the more doors will be opened. It’s absolutely amazing to witness the real and meaningful conversations that can take place when we step out of our comfort zones, and go to where others are comfortable.
My experience with SALT felt like we were really getting back to the Army’s roots, cultivating our leaders to reach the lost, while claiming the streets for Christ. Let’s build on this momentum!
– Major Amy Merchant currently serves as Divisional Leadership Secretary, Western Pennsylvania Division
– For more information about SALT, contact Major Ismael Correa: Ismael.Correa@use.salvationarmy.org