For seventy-five weeks my messages on the LDS-BSA Relationships blog were crafted to try to convince adult Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting leaders of the value of providing a quality Scouting experience for the young men of the Church. I particularly had hoped these leaders would see the imperative connection of using Scouting experiences as a significant means to achieve the eight purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.
To me, Scouting is the perfect vehicle to give boys spiritual, conversion-promoting experiences that bring them closer to Jesus Christ so they will want to live His teachings. Scouting offers a laboratory for boys to magnify their priesthood duties, especially in providing meaningful service to others. The Scout motto, “Be Prepared”, is a constant reminder that young men need to prepare themselves to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, make temple covenants, serve an honorable full-time mission, and become a worthy husband and father. The educational experiences of earning merit badges and rank advancements teach boys to study hard, persevere, and achieve worthwhile goals, such as the goal of obtaining as much education as possible. And the twelve values espoused in the Scout Law are those a young man should emulate as he interacts with others, especially women, girls, and children.
Yet, far too frequently I still hear reports of local Church leaders who say, “We don’t do Scouting; we do priesthood things instead.” I also hear about leaders who purposely separate their Scouting activities from their priesthood activities, confining priesthood to Sunday and Scouting to one night per week and an occasional campout. Somehow they have not yet gained an appreciation—or testimony—of the inseparable value of Scouting and the priesthood. They apparently have not learned that LDS Scouting is all about priesthood. In reality there is no Scouting program in the Church; there is only an Aaronic Priesthood program that uses Scouting experiences as its “activity arm.”
I hope that adult Aaronic Priesthood leaders are helping the young men in their quorums to have quality priesthood experiences. I also hope they are equally concerned about helping the young men to have quality Scouting experiences that consciously tie every Scouting activity, outing, principle, and practice to priesthood purposes. I hope adult leaders are inspiring their boys to feel as eager to be ordained to a priesthood office as they are to obtain a Scouting rank, or vice versa. I hope they teach their boys that they should feel as proud wearing their Scout uniform as they do their missionary white shirt, or vice versa. I hope the boys are eagerly involved in planning and leading their Scouting activities, as this is great preparation for planning their days, weeks, and months in the mission field. I hope the boys want to do the hard things in Scouting, knowing they will be required to do hard things as future Melchizedek Priesthood holders, missionaries, college students, husbands, and fathers.
When I was four-years-old, my grandmother crocheted for me a pair of slippers. When she gave them to me I was in a bad mood and I rejected her gift, throwing the slippers down on the floor as I stormed off. That was almost sixty years ago and I still feel horrible for rejecting such a precious gift from my loving grandmother. I believe Scouting is a precious gift from a loving Father in Heaven to his precious young men. My hope is that every adult Young Men leader in the Church would be in the proper mood (Spirit) to receive this Scouting gift and implement it fully. I hope none would reject Scouting and “storm off” to do the Lord’s priesthood program some other way.
Scouting has been accepted by modern-day prophets because they see how it can contribute to nurturing strong young men of character who exemplify Christlike qualities as they fulfill their Aaronic Priesthood duties. I pray that we will help our boys to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32) by providing quality priesthood and Scouting experiences that are inseparably connected, as they should be. I know that the quality of our boys—future priesthood leaders in the Church—is determined by the quality of our leadership and the faithful fulfillment of our stewardship over them. May the Lord bless each of us in our Scouting effort!
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you understand the important connection between the Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood programs?
- Do you see how Scouting is a vehicle to accomplish the eight Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood?
- Are you conducting the Lord’s program for your young men rather than some other way?
- Are you providing a quality Scouting experience for your young men?
- Do you have a testimony of both the Aaronic Priesthood program and the Scouting program?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55: 8-9, 11).
-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.