Above all else Scouting should be a service organization. In the Scout Oath a young man pledges to do his best in fulfilling his duty to God and country. He also promises to “help other people at all times.” The Scout slogan reminds a boy to “do a good turn daily.” Service to God, country, and one’s fellow man is paramount to the Scouting program.
Service also is the focus of the priesthood of God. Everything a young man does in the Aaronic Priesthood is designed to teach him to unselfishly lose himself in service to others. Through assignments in quorum leadership, home teaching, collecting fast offerings, administering ordinances, missionary work, and fellowshipping, a boy learns to reach out to others and assist those who “stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9). The duty of a young priesthood holder is “to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (D&C 20:59). Doing so requires him to freely give of himself.
Both the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been established to teach boys to serve. Self-sacrificing service is an enduring attribute that will benefit a young boy throughout his life. It is the template of how he should conduct himself as a friend, missionary, college student, employee, husband, father, and adult priesthood leader.
Your Scouting program should give boys ample opportunities to serve. Young men can serve God by faithfully fulfilling their priesthood responsibilities. They can serve their country by performing as an honor guard for flag ceremonies at civic meetings, working crowd control at community events, placing flags on graves of veterans in national cemeteries, assisting in community improvement efforts, building trails at state and national parks, and by learning about our system of government and their responsibilities as citizens and future voters. Young men serve their fellow man when they ease the burden of those who need assistance. Merit badges provide the skills boys need to help the homeless, the sick, the weary, the widowed, the downtrodden, the displaced—all those who could benefit from a unified force of physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight young men.
I hope you see the connection between my weekly messages. Your boys should recite the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan weekly so they are constantly reminded of their duty to serve others (Mac’s Message #20). They should be prepared with an annual calendar that includes planned service opportunities (#21). Service to others will require boys to leave the comfort of their homes, to get outside, to go where they are needed (#22). Once planned, these service projects should be carried out as scheduled and never canceled, even if only a few boys show up (#23). The few faithful boys may have to work twice as hard to cover for those who failed to do their duty, but they will feel the joy and satisfaction that comes when one has pushed himself to do hard things (#24).
I encourage you to provide your boys with numerous opportunities to serve. I hope service to others is a priority in your Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs. Merit badges and rank advancement teach boys knowledge, but service to others provides wisdom in the things that matter most. “I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you understand the service implications of the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan?
- Do you actively seek out “those who stand in need?” (Alma 34:28).
- Do you plan monthly service projects with your boys?
- Do you diligently serve alongside your boys and never shirk your responsibility to “help other people at all times?”
- Have you and your boys felt the joy that comes when you willingly give of yourself to others?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“We are now moving into an era when we need to have young men with strong spiritual strength who will stand up and teach with conviction the principles of the gospel. This will come about through a righteous home environment and activities in the quorum, including Scouting, which build character. Boys should be engaged in service projects, work projects, and experiences where they can learn the principles of sacrifice and work. This will help prepare these young men for their foreordained responsibilities in the kingdom” (Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 221).
-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.