Mac’s Message #63: On My Honor

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

Karl G. Maesar, the founder of Brigham Young University, said: “I have been asked what I mean by word of honor. I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls—walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground—there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I’d die first!” (BYU Honor Code).

Each week young men throughout the country raise their right arm in the Scout sign and pledge their word of honor to keep the promises they make in the Scout Oath. When one gives his word of honor he accepts and acknowledges his personal responsibility to match his actions to the words of the Scout Oath. Hopefully young men in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints realize that pledging one’s word of honor should not be taken lightly. Hopefully they are honorable when they stand and declare “On my honor I will do my best” to act according to the Scout Oath.

The Book of Mormon offers numerous examples of the veracity of pledging one’s honor. Let me share just two instances.

The Lamanites were bitter enemies of the Nephites. Many times throughout the Book of Mormon the Lamanites waged war against the Nephites. During one particular fourteen-year period these two nations were engaged in a protracted war that took many lives. Yet honor among men was a quality that could be counted on in these awful conditions. At one point the Nephites had captured thousands of Lamanites. Rather than imprisoning them “they caused them to enter into a covenant that they would no more take up their weapons of war against the Nephites. And when they had entered into this covenant they sent them to dwell with the people of Ammon” (Alma 62:16). The word of honor, even that of an enemy, was enough to trust that the Lamanites would not break their bond.

During this same war we read of the valiant two thousand stripling warriors. The story of these young men is a shining example of the qualities and characteristics young men in the Church should exemplify today. For “they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted” (Alma 53:20). “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21).

Imagine the strength and power of a Scouting unit where every boy was “true at all times in whatsoever he was entrusted.” Imagine what could be accomplished if the young men of a ward “did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness.” Imagine the moral fortitude of a quorum of youth who willingly and faithfully fulfilled their word of honor to do their best to do their duty to God, to their country, and to their fellow man. Imagine the awesome power of a group of righteous young men who are physically strong, mentally awake, morally straight, and unwavering models of the twelve values of the Scout Law.

Typically the Scout Oath is one of the first things a young boy learns when he joins a Scouting unit. I hope he is taught the seriousness of his pledge so when he recites his oath it is not meaningless words. The Lord wants young men who don’t just “return with honor” when they complete their mission; He wants young men who exhibited unyielding honor long before they departed for the mission field. He wants young men who, like the army of Helaman, have been taught in their youth to be honorable in all they do. How wonderful it would be if we could confidently declare of every young man in the Church, “Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm” (Alma 57:27) as they pledge their word of honor to abide by the Scout Oath.

 

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Have you taught your young men what it means when one pledges his honor?
  • Do you help your young men take their pledge seriously when they recite the Scout Oath?
  • Do you speak often of honor in your Scouter’s Minutes?
  • Do you keep your word of honor as you lead and interact with your young men?

 

Turn Your Reflection Into Action

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

 

You’ve learned much from Scouting. Live what you’ve learned and will continue to learn. Help others to hike the trails, to keep steadfast in the paths of truth, of honor, of duty, that all of you can soar together on eagles’ wings. You are part of a mighty army of youth, even a royal army, and every organization, to be successful, has an honored tradition to uphold. May you uphold Scouting’s tradition, for it can be as a lighthouse beacon in the world of stormy seas, it can be a motivation to prepare for your role in life, it can be a yardstick against which you measure your accomplishments” (Thomas S. Monson, “President Monson Discusses the Strengths of Scouting,” lds.org)

 

-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.

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