Contrary to what some people may believe, leaders are made not born. There are very few born leaders. The vast majority of great leaders learned how to become great leaders from other great leaders.
Except in rare cases of someone being a child prodigy, no one became a star basketball player the first time he stepped onto the court or a concert-level cellist the moment he picked up the instrument. It takes years and years of practice to become great. When conducted properly, the Young Men program gives Aaronic Priesthood boys the years of practice they need to become great missionaries, husbands, fathers, and priesthood leaders.
The earlier you teach your boys proper leadership skills the better leaders they will be. By the time a young man goes on his mission he should have six years of solid leadership training under his belt. He easily should be able to take on a leadership role in any small branch or ward in the mission field because he has done it so many times in his priesthood quorum or Scouting unit.
Early in my marriage I developed a philosophy that I believe helped create a solid and happy marriage that has lasted over forty years. Whenever there was work to be done around the house, such as dishes needing to be washed or things to be picked up, I would ask myself, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” When it comes to teaching your young men leadership skills, perhaps you can ask the same questions of yourself: “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Each year, each month, each week that passes with missed opportunities to teach a young man his responsibilities puts him that much further behind in his development.
A significant part of your role as a Young Men and Scouting leader is teaching your boys how to be youth leaders. This type of teaching is seldom done through classroom instruction. You teach young men how to lead through one-on-one, just-in-time, personal instruction. You meet privately with a boy before an activity to outline the agenda, provide specific guidance, answer questions, and address concerns. During the activity you step out of the shadows when he is struggling, so you can offer encouragement and help him over the hurdle. After an activity you debrief the experience to reinforce the positives and help the young man identify where improvement can be made.
You have just a few short years to be a major influence in a young man’s life. I pray you will not miss any opportunities to explain, demonstrate, guide, and enable your boys to be great youth and adult leaders.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Are you modeling great leadership skills for the boys?
- Are you taking the time to provide one-on-one, just-in-time leadership training and feedback to your boys?
- Do you meet with your youth leaders before and after activities to brief and debrief them?
- Do you truly train your boys on how to be leaders versus throw them into sink-or-swim situations?
- Do you take personal responsibility for training the future leaders of the Church?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting, and, when you are gone, attend to those things which you think are most important. You can create all the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on him. He will assume control of your cities, states and nations. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities and corporations. The fate of humanity is in his hands.” (Attributed to Abraham Lincoln).
-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.