My blog messages for the past month have shown how perfectly designed the programs, principles, and practices of Scouting are for preparing LDS young men for full-time missionary service. To serve effectively, young men need to be spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and financially self-reliant. Surely Baden-Powell was inspired by the Lord in founding a program that so skillfully meets the missionary preparation needs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In my final message on Scouting as a missionary preparation tool I wish to emphasize the importance of having a boy-led Scouting program. Almost immediately after his six years in Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood, a young man can be called to serve a full-time mission. When he begins his mission, he and his companions must be able to function independently, with very little adult direction or supervision. They must rely upon their own thinking, reasoning, inspiration, and faith. They must be able to make their own plans and take actions they have decided for themselves. They will learn from trial and error. They will make mistakes as they step out of their comfort zones. But they will grow into faithful righteous servants of God as they labor independently in the Lord’s kingdom.
Adult Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood leaders do a great disservice to their young men when they do things for the boys that could easily be done by the young men themselves. Adult leaders cannot be the ones doing everything or the boys will learn little. When implemented properly, Scouting transitions young men from being followers to being leaders, from being directed to directing, from being served to serving. Scouting teaches young men responsibility, ownership, and the importance of fulfilling one’s duty. Both Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood programs are designed to be boy led. Never do anything that conveys the message that it is the adult leader’s priesthood quorum or the adult leader’s Scouting unit. Boys are the leaders in both Scouting units and Aaronic Priesthood quorums.
As always, I plead with you to run your Scouting program the way the Lord has designed it. Use the unit youth leadership roles and let the boys lead. Teach your young men how to hold unit leader councils and quorum presidency meetings. Teach them how to conduct meaningful meetings, including courts of honor and other solemn occasions. Don’t just give them an agenda. Help them create the agenda themselves using discernment to determine the needs of the members of the priesthood quorum and Scouting unit. Don’t do the planning yourself. Teach your boys how to plan and then get out of the way and marvel at how creative and intelligent young men are when they receive inspiration from the Lord.
Teach your young men how to give and accept assignments. Teach them how to report back on actions they’ve taken. Let them learn from the consequences when they fail to fulfill their assigned duties. Show them how to proactively anticipate outcomes and to plan accordingly. Teach them how to determine alternative solutions and to prepare for contingencies when things don’t go as planned. Help your young men to become thinkers and doers. Teach them “to act for themselves and not to be acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:26). Realize that everything a young man does for himself today will better prepare him for his days ahead as a missionary, husband, father, and Melchizedek Priesthood leader.
I stand firm in my testimony that Scouting, when implemented properly, is a powerful tool for preparing young men to be faithful, self-sufficient servants of God. I believe the Lord wants us to continue in Scouting because it is so perfectly designed to create the strong men of character needed in the mission field today. How wonderful that we already have in place the Lord’s program for his Aaronic Priesthood young men.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Are your Scouting unit and Aaronic Priesthood quorum boy led?
- Are your boys faithfully fulfilling their Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood leadership roles?
- Have you taught your young men how to be effective leaders?
- Have you taught your young men how to conduct effective councils and lead effective meetings?
- Are there things you are doing that your boys should be doing instead?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“As Zion’s youth in latter days,
We stand with valiant heart,
With promise shining in our eyes,
Resolved to do our part.
Upon a noble past we build;
The future fills our view.
We face the challenge of our day
And pledge we will be true.”
(“As Zion’s Youth in Latter Days,” Hymns, no. 256).
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.