Mac’s Message #5: Overcoming the Traditions of the Past

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

Speaking of the Lamanites, the prophet Alma said, “it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance” (Alma 9:16).

Some Young Men adult leaders unknowingly create and foster traditions that are destructive to our youth. Many Aaronic Priesthood leaders have never witnessed a properly functioning Scouting unit or priesthood quorum. Consequently, when called to serve in the Young Men, they tend to run the program similarly to what they experienced as a young man or as they’ve seen other adult leaders do. Without intending to do so, they carry bad traditions to the next generation.

Ineffective traditions include not letting the boys lead, overly focusing on rank advancement rather than bringing young men to Christ, merely having fun (rather than having a clear purpose to the activity), starting Mutual night late with a disorganized agenda, playing basketball or soccer because nothing else is planned, not scheduling (or canceling) outdoor activities, and not following the prescribed lesson plans for quorum instruction. Destructive traditions also include leaders who approach their calling casually, fail to be trained, refuse to attend roundtable, or those who don’t promote Scouting activities because they don’t like Scouting.

A young man’s perception of the Scouting and priesthood programs will be etched into his mind by how you fulfill your calling. If you don’t take your priesthood calling seriously, your boys won’t either. If you are not prepared, you don’t have a plan or purpose, or you are shooting from the hip each week, the boys may also have a lackadaisical view of their church activity and shirk their priesthood duties. If you don’t like Scouting, your boys will follow your lead and believe Scouting activities are a foolish waste of time.

I plead with you to pray for a vision of how the Lord wants you to carry out His work. You may have to break down the traditions of the past and pioneer new ways as you fulfill your calling. You may need to change your attitude toward the boys, your opinion about Scouting, or the amount of energy and effort you expend in your calling.

I testify to you that everything within the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs has been exquisitely designed to help you teach your boys how to become wonderful missionaries, husbands, fathers, and priesthood leaders. When you gain a testimony of this, and act accordingly, you then will be able to model priesthood righteousness for your boys.


Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Are you perpetuating any destructive traditions in the way you serve in your Young Men calling?
  • Have you gained a testimony of both the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs?
  • Have you been trained in Scouting and do you regularly attend roundtable meetings?
  • Do you use the scriptures, Come Follow Me lessons, and the Boy Scout Handbook (or team and crew handbooks) as your texts from which to teach the boys?
  • Do you model the attitude and behaviors toward Scouting and the priesthood you wish your boys to emulate?


Turn Your Reflection Into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?


“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. . . Then will I teach [the young men] thy ways; and [my boys] shall be converted unto thee.” (Psalms 51: 10, 13).

 -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 Evanston, Wyoming.

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  1. David says:

    Only official BSA training will ensure that you know how the scouting programs work. Anything else might not cover all that is scouting.
    I have always promoted the three “T”s. Training, Time and Tenure. Training in the scouting program and skills, time to do it (5 hrs a week) and tenure in the position (5 yrs).

  2. Robert Mortensen says:

    Excellent Bro. Mac! I’m going to include these posts in the materials I present the men we call in our ward to YM adviser positions.

    1. Mac says:

      This brings joy to my heart. If these messages help even one man become a better Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting leader, I will feel it has been worth my time contributing to this blog. Thank you for sharing your intentions. I hope others will do the same.

  3. Randy Sorensen says:

    Thanks again

    I think this is one of the hardest things we as a church must overcome as we move the Aaronic Priesthood forward.
    D&C 107:99 gives us an answer.
    “Let every man learn his duty and to act… in all diligence.” Read verse 100 if you want the consequences of not learning and acting.
    I choose learning and acting. How about you?

  4. Bruno Castagno says:

    You said it all!

  5. Karen says:

    It would be great if you had a print button on the page so I could print this out and give to our Troop/YM leaders.

    1. Mac says:

      Good suggestion Karen. I passed your suggestion on to the webmaster.

  6. Bill Chapman says:

    So glad to have found this site where you are teaching and interacting with LDS Scouters about how to implement the full Scouting program consistent with LDS policies and standards. I am also thrilled to read this post because I am a 3x SM, Woodbadge trained, 3x Philmont, etc., etc., etc., but did not really understand the patrol method until I watched a troop meeting and PLC of a non-LDS troop.

    Then, I started reading Clarke Green’s blog/podcasts, etc. ( and we have been moving away from an adult led heavy merit badge approach to Scouting to a balanced program using all 8 methods of Scouting. We have been training our Scouts to lead the troop and their patrols (we combined 3 wards due to low numbers) and now have 23 scouts (including 7 non LDS Scouts who have joined because their LDS friends told them about how much fun they are having at our troop meetings, campouts, etc.) I look forward to reading all of your posts in the past and from now on. Is there a way to download all of the past posts and read them on my kindle? Keep up the good work!

    1. Mac says:

      Glad to hear your Scouting program is working out. You have a great Facebook page for your unit. Others may want to look at it here:

  7. Montana says:

    Yes! Remember, the ultimate goal should not be for each boy to to get the Eagle Scout award, or to get X merit badges (as good as these goals are), but for each of them to learn and grow. And that cannot happen unless they are willing participants.
    Scouting is not simply school 2.0. By the time they get to the meetinghouse on Tuesday night, they’ve already had over 6 hours of sitting through boring classes and doing things they didn’t want to do. Scout activities should be a break from all that.

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