If you have read any of my blog messages prior to this one, you will have noticed that each message concludes with an opportunity for you to reflect upon what you’ve read. Questions are provided at the end of the article to stimulate your thinking. Hopefully those questions stir within you the desire to take action on the promptings you’ve felt while reading. Through reflection you ponder and learn. Hopefully, your contemplation then motivates you to act. The successful implementation of your actions may then inspire you to share your experience with others. Through learning, acting, and sharing you become a better Scouting and priesthood leader.
In the scriptures we find many examples where, after a significant spiritual event, the person was left to ponder in their mind and heart the deeper meaning and personal implications of the experience.
“Mary pondered these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19). “And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him” (Helaman 10:2). “I reflected on it again and again” (Joseph Smith—History 1:12). “While we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings” (D&C 76:19). In every example of reflection in the scriptures we learn that introspective, contemplative pondering after an event brings further revelation and understanding.
Young men grow the most when they are inspired. Reflection is crucial to self-discovery and personal revelation. Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities provide numerous opportunities for reflection. “In Scouting, reflection is simply the process of the Scouts talking about their experiences immediately after an exercise or activity with a little bit of wise moderating” (Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops, BSA No. 511-016WB , 9). During reflective discussion you explore the “meaning” of the experience, the “moral of the story,” or the “lessons learned” from the activity. Through refection boys ponder the values and morals that are subtlety experienced during a fun adventure or activity. Reflection allows the Holy Spirit to expand the understanding of a young boy’s mind and heart. Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood experiences prepare young men to have “many revelations daily” (Helaman 11:23) by teaching them how to reflect upon the meaningful experiences of their life.
One of the reasons members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been counseled to keep a personal journal is to encourage us to reflect upon the events we encounter throughout our lives. The best reflection is self-reflection, or introspection—the ability to look within oneself to discover how lessons learned apply to one’s own life. Journal-keeping is a wonderful exercise to implement at your Scouting activities and campouts. Journal writing forces a boy to find a quiet, uninterrupted spot where he can write down his innermost thoughts without fear of criticism or censor. Being alone allows the Spirit to enter a boy privately. It is in these quiet moments, particularly on a high mountain or in a secluded forest, when a young man is most likely to be “caught away in the Spirit of the Lord” (1 Nephi 11:1).
President Thomas S. Monson said, “Scouting helps our boys to walk uprightly the priesthood path to exaltation. Along the path there will be turns and detours, requiring decisions of utmost importance. Heavenly inspiration will provide a road map that will ensure the accuracy of our choices. There comes a time in the life of every young man for serious contemplation and wise evaluation concerning his future—for decisions determine destiny” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Upward Reach,” Ensign, November 1993).
I humbly encourage you to allow time after your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities for your boys to reflect upon the experience. I hope you are taking a few moments after you read these messages to answer the questions at the end. I hope my messages stir within you a desire to more fully magnify your calling, just as I hope the reflective experiences you have with your boys causes them to experience a “mighty change” in their hearts (Alma 5:14). It is through reflection that you mold boys into strong men of God one lesson at a time, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30).
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you take time after each lesson, experience, or activity to allow your boys to reflect?
- Do you ask thought-provoking, open-ended questions that cause your boys to go deep within themselves to find meaning and application from the experience?
- Do you encourage your boys to regularly write in a journal?
- Do you pray after each reflection to allow the Spirit to continue working on the hearts and minds of your boys?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Looking behind, I am filled with gratitude. Looking forward, I am filled with vision. Looking upward, I am filled with strength. Looking within, I discover peace” (Maria Yracébûrû, editor, “Writing on the Water,” Prayers and Meditations of the Quero Apaches, 2004).
-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.