As an Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting leader your ultimate goal is to create conditions and provide experiences that bring young men to Christ. Your second priority is to strengthen the family. Elder David A. Bednar suggests that if your Young Men activities and associations do not foster faith in Christ or strengthen families, you shouldn’t be doing them.
Often in the Young Men program we are focused too much on activity and too little on testimony. Some leaders emphasize fun and forget purpose. As an Aaronic priesthood leader your job is not to entertain; your aim is to help boys to “become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings.” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church ,8.1.3). Every Mutual night, combined activity, camping trip, outdoor activity, and priesthood quorum meeting should be carefully designed to help young men strengthen their testimony of the Savior. Each activity should conclude with the boys reflecting on how the experience teaches valuable gospel principles, builds strong values, and develops moral character.
I have heard some Young Men leaders say they must provide a constant diet of fun for the boys or they will lose them. Fun for fun’s sake will not keep your boys active in the Church. Fun does not save boys; it’s another way of losing them. Entertainment is quickly forgotten, but meaningful activities leave an imprint on minds and hearts that lasts forever and influences future decisions regarding Scouting and the Church.
In the April 1975 general conference, Elder S. Dilworth Young said:”Have you ever used a campfire to inspire a boy to go on a mission? . . . The opportunities I missed to do this is one of my most intense regrets. I have organized and conducted about 1,150 campfires during the time I was professionally in the Boy Scout movement and organized the programs presented during those exciting hours. With other leaders, I have told stories to 15,000 boys.” (“Scouters: Lead Them to a Mission,” S. Dilworth Young, April 1975 general conference).
Elder Young said he became famous for telling wonderful ghost stories around the campfire. But, he says, none of those stories sent a single boy on a mission. Elder Young lamented that if instead he had told inspiring stories about faithful priesthood holders, “I could have influenced every boy to thirst to find his relationship to God our Father, and His Son, and then to go forth to be saved from grave danger by the miracle of the intervention of heavenly aid. Today the danger may be more moral than physical—but the whispering still will save him if he can learn to hear it.”(“Scouters: Lead Them to a Mission”).
When I was called as a ward Young Men president for the third time, I made sure we always asked three questions as the boys planned our Aaronic Priesthood or Scouting activities: 1) What is the purpose of this activity? 2) How can we use this activity to instill values and promote the standards of the Church? and 3) How will the activity accomplish this purpose? These questions kept us focused. They ensured we were accomplishing meaningful results rather than scheduling frivolous activities that merely occupied the time of the boys.
I urge you to use every precious moment you have with your Aaronic Priesthood boys to touch their hearts, lift their minds, and bring them closer to Christ and their family—for this is the true purpose of the Young Men program.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- What are you doing to foster faith in Jesus Christ within the young men under your stewardship?
- What are you doing to strengthen the families of your young men?
- Do each of your activities have a spiritual purpose?
- Are parents involved in your activities?
- Do those activities cause the boys to reflect upon their relationship with Christ and their family?
- Does each activity make the boy a better boy and prepare him to be a great man?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“And now I say unto you that this is the order after which I am called, yea, to preach unto my beloved brethren, yea, and every one that dwelleth in the land; yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again.“ (Alma 5:49).
-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 Evanston, Wyoming.