On February 26, 2018, when President Russell M. Nelson was introduced to the world as the seventeenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he encouraged the members of the Church to “Begin with the end in mind.” This counsel is especially relevant for adult Aaronic Priesthood leaders.
So, what is the “end” for Scouting in the LDS Church? Some adult leaders and parents seem to believe the desired end-state for our young men is to have them acquire the Eagle Scout rank. They want their boys to work feverishly on merit badges and rank advancement so they can end their involvement in Scouting with this crowning achievement.
Scouting in the Church—and in the Boy Scouts of America—has never been about attaining awards. Scouting is about character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. It’s about personal growth and leadership development. It’s about inculcating while a boy is young the lessons and habits he will need to become a noble man, an honorable missionary, a diligent student, a loyal employee, a faithful husband, an involved father, and a powerful Melchizedek Priesthood holder.
The Aaronic Priesthood program is about preparing a boy for life. It’s about spending six purpose-driven years providing a young man with meaningful opportunities that will benefit him throughout his life. Mutual night should not be just another church class or a merely a few hours of fun and entertainment. The short time a youth spends in the Young Men program is too valuable to waste. It’s precious time that can never be recovered if squandered. This time is especially structured by the Lord to turn boys into men.
If you begin with the end in mind you will be able to easily think of lessons, activities, experiences, and outings that will better prepare a young man for the roles he will fulfill ahead. Listed below are just some of the Scouting offerings that will help a young man learn the lessons he will draw upon throughout his life.
|Physically Strong||Scout Oath||Hiking|
|Mentally Awake||Public Speaking||Personal Fitness|
|Morally Straight||Communication||First Aid|
|American Business||Disability Awareness||Salesmanship|
|Family Life||Home Repairs||Emergency Preparedness|
|First Aid||Athletics||Dog Care|
I’m saddened when I see adult Aaronic Priesthood leaders who allow their young men to participate in poorly planned, meaningless activities on Mutual night. There is so much more to life than fun and games. There is so much more to the Lord’s Young Men program than merely entertaining our youth. The Aaronic Priesthood is a preparation priesthood and Scouting is a preparation program. Both are designed to provide a young man with lessons for life that can be instilled deep within his physical, mental, and moral character.
I pray the Lord will help you to begin with the end in mind. I pray you will be a diligent and faithful steward in the priesthood vineyard where you have been called to labor. I pray you will fully appreciate and magnify your calling to nurture future missionaries, students, employees, husbands, fathers, and priesthood leaders. What an opportunity you have to bless the future years and future lives of your young men.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- What is the end you hope to achieve with your young men? Is it in harmony with what the Lord wants for His children?
- What are you doing to ensure your young men learn the proper life-lessons necessary to help them succeed?
- How deep is your interest in and commitment to the future of your young men?
- What kind of laborer are you in the Lord’s vineyard in nurturing His young and precious “fruit”?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end [of a boy’s time in the Young Men program] is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come” (Jacob 5:71).
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.