As an organizational development consultant specializing in strategic planning, I help company executives define their overarching strategic intentions, clearly understand what business they are in, and know why they exist.
On May 11, 2017, the First Presidency announced that the Church will no longer sponsor Varsity and Venturing programs after this year. This has spurred numerous questions about what this means for Aaronic Priesthood young men between the ages of 14 and 18. Many of the people I’ve talked to are relieved when I tell them nothing has changed. We are still in the same business. We are in the business of saving boys. We still exist to help young men to “come unto Christ and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32). Our overarching strategic intentions continue to be to accomplish the eight Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. We still exist to turn boys into strong men of character so they can become better missionaries, husbands, fathers and Melchizedek Priesthood holders.
Some of the people I’ve talked to are glad the Church is no longer involved with the Boy Scouts of America for the older boys. Others are greatly disappointed. In reality, it doesn’t matter which vehicle (program) we use to get to our destination. What matters is that we get into the vehicle and purposely drive it toward our intended end point—accomplishing the eight Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. What matters is that we stay focused on the business that we are in and why we exist as adult Aaronic Priesthood leaders. What matters is that we seek the guidance of our Father in Heaven to help us to achieve His purposes for His young men.
In my calling in the bishopric I often have auxiliary leaders come to me with names of people they wish to submit to be called to Church positions within their organization. On occasion, I’ve asked the leader how they decided to submit a certain person’s name for approval. I ask, “Did you make this decision in your head or on your knees?” In other words, did the auxiliary leader just think this person would be good for this particular calling, or did they actually get down on their knees and seek the Lord’s insight into who best should fill the calling. More than once I’ve had the leader withdraw the submitted name and tell me they needed to go home and get down on their knees to find out who the Lord wants in the position.
When it comes to Aaronic Priesthood activities for our young men, I often wonder whether the decision to hold a certain activity was made in someone’s head or on their knees. I think decisions made in one’s head lean toward activities that are fun, entertaining and occupy a young man’s time with what he wants to do. I think decisions made on one’s knees tend to inspire leaders (both youth and adult) to hold activities that are purpose-driven and focused on what the Lord wants for his precious young men. Mindless fun will not save our boys. Young men become inactive in the Church when they are not fully engaged spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, socially and physically.
To me the issue is not one of whether we have or don’t have a Varsity or Venturing Scouting program for our teacher and priest-age youth. The issue is whether our priesthood leaders will “get with the program” and do it the Lord’s way. The Lord’s program is purpose-driven. The Lord’s program has clearly defined strategic intentions. The Lord knows what business He is in and why He exists—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [a young] man” (Moses 1:39).
Brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood, both youth and adults, I hope you will get with the program. I hope you will use the vast resources available to you on the Church’s website to choose activities that will save your young men. I hope you will use your knees, rather than your head, to make decisions regarding your youth. I hope you will think less about which program you use, and more about the outcomes you want as you magnify your calling in the priesthood. I hope you will find great joy as you are “about [your] Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you know what business you are in as an Aaronic Priesthood leader? Do you know why you exist?
- Do you have clearly defined strategic intentions (outcomes) of what you hope to accomplish with your young men?
- Are you focused on accomplishing the Lord’s purposes for His young men?
- Do you make decisions on your knees, rather than in your head, when choosing activities for your young men?
- Do your activities engage your young men spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, socially and physically?
- Are you about your Father’s business?
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” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
-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.