Today I wish to discuss my favorite part of the Scout Oath—the pledge a young man makes to “help other people at all times.”
Sadly, we seem to be living in a world where the hearts of many men have grown cold. Some people are so self-focused and self-contained they don’t seem to care about anyone other than themselves. Common courtesy and proper etiquette is lacking in so many people today. The defining qualities espoused in Scouting of being helpful, courteous, kind, cheerful, and friendly are becoming less and less apparent—at least in many of the cities I visit regularly in my business travels.
Imagine how much better this world would be if every eight- to eighteen-year-old Scout in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was helping other people at all times. Imagine the impact of thousands of young men paying it forward by doing a good turn daily. Imagine the influence for good in the world if every Scout had the situational awareness and sensory acuity to notice when someone around them needed their help—and they offered it freely.
Serving others is a quality that is taught to LDS youth and reinforced regularly. Many of our favorite Church hymns have to do with giving service to others, of working hard, and of doing one’s duty to God and others. Through music we learn to put our shoulders to the wheel and to carry on. We are called to labor because there is work enough to do. We know that because we have been given much we, too, must give. We ask ourselves if we’ve done any good in the world today. LDS young men know there is great power when they unite as an “army of Helaman” to do good in this world.
When I became active in the Church at age eighteen, the first scripture I memorized was Mosiah 2:17 because it spoke directly to my soul and disposition. “And behold, 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.” I know this is true. But what impressed me even more is the following verse where King Benjamin says, “Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?”(Mosiah 2:18). This verse shows that serving others is a defining characteristic of true followers of Christ, regardless of their station in life. Service to others—helping other people at all times—clearly sets Scouts apart from what seems to be an increasingly apathetic and self-centered society.
In the Book of Mormon Alma created a peaceful society by ensuring his people “did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants” (Mosiah 18:29). We are told repeatedly in the scriptures to love one another (John 13:4). More than seventy verses of one another-isms instruct us to serve one another (Mosiah 4:15), be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32), comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18), and be friendly to one another (Mosiah 28:2). We are encouraged to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), teach one another (D&C 38:23), edify one another (D&C 136:24), and admonish one another (Romans 15:14). We also are instructed to not judge one another (Romans 14:13) or oppress one another (Leviticus 25:14), but to understand one another (D&C 5O:22) and forgive one another (Colossians 3:13).
These are Christlike qualities, of course, but they’re also behaviors that should come naturally to a Scout who follows the admonition to help other people at all times. A mentally awake Scout should have the conscious presence to notice when people need his help. He should willingly and immediately pitch in when assistance is needed. A true Scout should be the first to volunteer when there is work to be done. This is why I am constantly impressed with the young men in my ward who emulate this part of the Scout Oath so well. It is wonderful to see young men who have been taught in their youth that “of him unto whom much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3).
For fifteen months I have been writing these blog messages to show that Scouting is more than earning merit badges or achieving rank advancement. Scouting is more than a young man becoming an Eagle. A primary purpose of Scouting is to instill values and behaviors that become part of a young man’s natural character. Scouting is the incubator in which boys turn into strong men of character by not just reciting the Scout Oath, but by living its principles daily.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do your young men recite the Scout Oath weekly?
- Have you taught your young men the meaning and significance of the words in the Scout Oath so they understand the pledge they make when they recite the oath?
- Are your youth helping other people at all times and doing a good turn daily?
- Are your Scouts helpful, courteous, kind, cheerful, and friendly toward others?
- Are you giving your young men ample opportunities to serve?
- Is the “incubator” experience you provide for your boys filled with hands-on opportunities for the boys to examine and test the values and principles of Scouting?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:34–40).
-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.