Skip to main content
Book Reviews

Book Summary: Teaching to Change Lives


These words that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Teach them diligently to your children. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Fathers (and by implication mothers) are to teach the Word of God diligently to our children. Indeed a church has this divine responsibility.

Unfortunately, too often this teaching is B…O….R…I….N…..G. We think about what to teach but not how to teach.

The late Howard Hendricks was a beloved and influential teacher in the last quarter of the 20th century. His Teaching to Change Lives is a classic work not on what to teach but on how to teach. Though written a humorous style that may seem a little dated, this is a classic and accessible work. It will help you become a better teacher. I have included a summary below. But you might want to consider purchasing it.


His outline is simple.

The Law of the Teacher

The Law of Education

The Law of Activity

The Law of Communication

The Law of the Heart

The Law of Encouragement

The Law of Readiness.

His key words form the mnemonic memory device TEACHER.

Chapter 1 The Law of the Teacher

The Law of the Teacher, simply stated, is this: If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow. The effective teacher always teaches from the overflow of a full life. If you want to become a change agent, you also must change. You must want to learn. You will have a learners stance. You will talk with others about ideas and books.

Like Jesus, teachers also grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God, favor with men. Keep growing intellectually. How is your physical health? Do you have other friends? Are you social healthy? The best teachers are those that are FAT – Faithful, Available, Teachable.

Quotations to Notice

Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than a stagnant pool.

In all my years I’ve never found a layman or woman with a significant spiritual ministry who does no have a strong personal intake of God’s word.

I challenge you to pray over your students this way – whether they are nursery kids or senior citizens.

Chapter 2 The Law of Education

The Law of Education states the way people learn determines how you teach. The teaching process must involve stimulating and directing the learner’s self-activities. Don’t do anything for the learner he can do for himself. A good teacher stimulates a learner to self-discovery. Often that involves creating tension: tension in the mind or even in the class through role-play.

In addition to the material, you want to teach people how to think, how to learn, and how to work at learning.  These skills involve teaching students how to read, how to write, and how to listen.

Quotations to Notice

True teaching is not that which gives knowledge, but that which stimulates pupils to gain it. One might say that he teaches best who teaches least.

Good teaching – and true education- consists simply of a series of teachable moments.

Of the other two skills – listening and speaking – listening is the more difficult, the greater art, and the more crucial skill. Yet we seldom teach people how to listen, and furthermore we don’t model it for them.

Chapter 3 The Law of Activity

This chapter starts to move from the model of a teacher to the model of a coach. The Law of Activity tells us that maximum learning is always the result of maximum involvement (assuming the activity is meaningful). This concurs with the Chinese proverb: The best learners are participators.

The activity we give them must be meaningful, providing direction without dictating. It should stress application, including problem-solving situations.

Quotations to Notice

Maximum learning is the result of maximum involvement.

I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand. C

Chapter 4 The Law of Communication

To have communion and community, we need communication. The Law of Communication tells us that to truly impart information requires the building of bridges. Good communicators use thought, feeling, and action. Most communication relies to heavily on the intellectual component.

Communication involves taking concepts and turning them into speech. The best way to communicate is to work on preparation and presentation. Since you are aware of the teaching you need to be aware of the distractions that your students (children or adults) may experience. As a teacher you must get feedback on your teaching. The best feedback comes through questions.

Quotations to Notice

Preparation is the best insurance you can take out on communication.

A good communicator is receptor-sensitive.

Chapter 5 The Law of the Heart

The Law of the Heart is teaching that impact lives is not head to head but heart to heart. Socrates taught a speaker’s effectiveness comprised three parts: ethos, pathos, logos. Ethos was the character or credibility of the teacher. Pathos was the ability to engage and arouse the emotions. Logos was the intellectual component of what the teacher was teaching.

Teaching is causing to learn. All learning begins at the feeling level. Know your students. The more you know of their needs, the better you are able to meet them. Earn the right to be heard. Be willing to be vulnerable to them.

Quotations to Notice

Teaching is causing to learn.

All learning begins at the feeling level.

Know your students. The more you know of their needs, the better you are able to meet them.

Credibility always precedes communication.

Chapter 6 The Law of Encouragement

The Law of Encouragement is that teaching tends to be most effective when the learner is properly motivated. Training is telling, showing, doing in a controlled situation, doing in an uncontrolled situation.

Improper motivation includes lollipop motivation and guilt motivation. A person’s MQ is more important than his IQ. Your task in all extrinsic motivation is to trigger intrinsic motivation.

Quotations to Notice

A person’s MQ is more important than his IQ.

Your task in all extrinsic motivation is to trigger intrinsic motivation.

Chapter 7 The Law of Readiness

The Law of Readiness is that the teaching learning process will be most effective when both student and teacher are adequately prepared. Assignments precipitate thinking, provide a framework, and develop habits of independent study. Good assignments are creative, thought provoking, and doable.

Field tough questions by saying “I don’t know and encouraging them.” Control those who dominate by getting them on your side. Develop note-takers.

Quotations to Notice

Do not think of the beginning of the class hour as the starting point for building interest in your subject.

The higher your predictability, the lower your impact.


If you are a dad, mom, Sunday School, or youth teacher, consider thinking about these principles and how they might make your teaching more effective.