For seventy-five weeks I have been writing my blog messages, repeatedly proclaiming that there is a reason and a purpose for every element of the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs. It has been my hope that when adult Young Men leaders know the whys behind the whats of these programs they will be more inclined to run their priesthood quorums and Scouting units the way the Lord hopes they will.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we know there is a purpose behind every important element of life. There is a reason why we came to this earth. There is a reason why we have been given our agency to choose for ourselves. There is a reason why we need a Savior and the Atonement. There is a reason why the Lord’s Church has been restored to the earth. There is a reason why we meet together in sacrament meetings, Sunday School classes, priesthood quorums, and Scouting units.
There is a reason why you have been called to be a Young Men leader. I hope you know what that reason is. I hope you have a clearly defined purpose behind the things you do as you work with the young men. I hope you have a vision of what you are trying to accomplish with your boys and have mapped out a prescribed plan to reach your desired end state. Most important, I hope you are not wasting the precious few moments you have to be a righteous influence in the lives of your young men.
As a management consultant I’m asked by clients for advice on what to do in specific situations within an organization. Invariably I respond by saying, “What outcome are you hoping to accomplish?” The outcome determines the actions. Quite often the executive or manager hasn’t thoroughly thought through what result he or she wants. Not knowing one’s hoped-for outcome—and staying focused on it—causes a lot of wandering and wasted effort in your Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs. Consequently, if you wish to be an effective Young Men leader, you must be purpose driven and action oriented.
So, what is your hoped-for outcome when it comes to leading your young men? What are you hoping to accomplish in the lives of the boys in the short time they are under your tutelage and stewardship? What changes or impact would you like to see occur within your young men between the time they first come under your leadership to the last day of your direct influence? What kind of young men do you want your boys to become as a result of your direct guidance and care?
May I suggest that you pause right now and ponder these questions. Write down the qualities and characteristics you hope to instill in your young men. Identify the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors you hope your boys will acquire through their Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting experiences. Be sure to note both the temporal and spiritual capabilities you wish to impart to your young men. Remember, your primary role is to prepare young men to succeed as future Melchizedek Priesthood holders, missionaries, college students, employees, husbands, fathers, and Church leaders.
Once you have made your list, you may want to compare your desired outcomes to the eight purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood, the three aims of Scouting, the Scout Oath, and the Scout Law. For example, would you like your young men to become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings? Are you trying to prepare your young men to serve an honorable full-time mission? Are you hoping your boys will grow in moral strength and character? Do you want them to become more physically, mentally, and emotionally fit? Do you want them to strive to always do their best? Would you like your young men to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent?
Once you have a specified purpose or desired goals for your young men, you must take the necessary actions in your Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs to achieve the outcomes you want. A vision without action is merely a dream. Purpose without persistence and focused effort results in aimless wandering and opportunities wasted. Focused action turns dreams into reality.
Consequently, while serving as a Young Men leader you should regularly ask yourself:
- Do I have a clear purpose for this Aaronic Priesthood or Scouting lesson, activity, or outing? Do I know why I am teaching this lesson or holding this activity? (If not, stop wandering and get focused.)
- Will this priesthood quorum lesson or Scouting activity achieve the outcomes I want for my young men? (If not, consider changing the way you conduct lessons or determine whether you should discontinue or change the activity.)
- Is there anything I am doing in our priesthood quorum or Scouting program that is not in harmony with achieving the outcomes I want? (If so, stop it or change it.)
- Are the attitudes, words, behaviors, and actions I exhibit as an Aaronic Priesthood or Scouting leader conducive to accomplishing the purposes I hope to achieve with my boys? Am I setting the proper example for my boys? (If not, identify where you can improve and make the improvements.)
- Am I a purpose-driven and action-oriented leader? (If not, determine the path, establish a plan, and diligently press forward until you reach your desired destination.)
- Can I stand before God and firmly testify I did everything I could in the time I had to properly mold the young men in my stewardship? (If not, take charge now by having a clear purpose for the things you are doing in your calling.)
I’m saddened when I see some boys advance out of the Young Men program who have no clear purpose in their lives. I’ve seen young adults who fail to go on a mission or attend college and continue to live with their parents. They are often unemployed and can be found sitting at home doing nothing more than playing video games or surfing the Internet. They have no meaning, purpose, or direction in their lives.
How sad if a young man’s experiences in the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs did not instill within him a purpose greater than himself. How unfortunate if we, as Young Men leaders, have not helped him to feel a part of something bigger. How misdirected if all of the work a boy puts into acquiring merit badges and rank advancement didn’t expose him to possible career interests and teach him how to work hard. How disappointing if we haven’t improved a young man’s self-image and self-confidence by helping him know he is a worthy priesthood holder, a capable Scout, an honorable young man, and a beloved son of God.
I testify that God wants his young men to become “men of understanding” (Mosiah 1:2). He wants capable and confident youth who are “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” He desires young men who are “able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . . against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, [and] against spiritual wickedness in high places.” He seeks valiant youth who take upon themselves “the whole armor of God, that [he] may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (see Ephesians 6:10 – 13, italics added).
Brethren, I pray that you will teach your young men to stand on their own two feet. Teach them to stand firm in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Teach them to be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Help them stand as a witness and testify of God at all times and in all places. Most important, I hope your young men will be able to stand as a model of the things they have been taught in their youth by a faithful, purpose-driven, action-oriented Young Men leader who never lost sight of why he had been called to serve the Lord’s precious sons.
Now let me conclude this blog message by saying all good things must come to an end. And so it is with my weekly blog messages. Hopefully my thoughts and counsel on the LDS-BSA Relationships blog have been a good thing—a valuable help to you in your Young Men calling. Unfortunately my new calling into the bishopric of my ward and the planned expansion of my consulting business require that I focus my time and energy elsewhere.
It has been a great personal pleasure and blessing to me to share my testimony of the Lord’s Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs. I testify these are inspired programs. I know when these programs are implemented as designed by the Church and the Boy Scouts of America they can have a lasting influence for good on the lives of our young men. I testify that you are involved in a great work! Marvelous blessings are in store for those who faithfully serve the Lord by laboring in this fertile vineyard. May God bless you in all you do as you serve as a leader in the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs!
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Have you taken the time to determine what outcomes you want for your boys as a result of your service in the Young Men program?
- Is there a connection between your purposes and the purposes of the Lord?
- Are you constantly focused on achieving those purposes and avoiding less fruitful lessons or activities in your Aaronic Priesthood quorum and Scouting unit?
- Have you instilled within your young men a higher purpose so they don’t wander aimlessly after leaving the Young Men program?
- Have these blog messages made any difference in the way you conduct your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood programs?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: . . . a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; . . . a time to break down, and a time to build up; . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; . . . a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; . . . a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, . . . and a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 9 ).
-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.