It is impossible to measure the impact a faithful Scouting leader can have on the life of a young man. You can be a defining influence that helps establish a firm foundation of spiritual and moral character that prepares him for the opportunities and challenges in his future.
Association with adults is one of the eight methods of Scouting. “Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their troops. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to boys, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives” (National Eagle Scout Association).
In the Book of Mormon, Helaman had a relationship with his “stripling warriors” that went beyond being their military commander. He understood his personal responsibility for the spiritual and temporal safety of these young men. He reinforced and strengthened the faith that their mothers had instilled within them. He loved them. He prayed with them. He worried about them. He stood beside them in difficult times. And he did everything he could to keep his young men safe in a troubled world. He viewed them as his sons; and they called him their father.
To have a close relationship with your young men you have to be deeply engaged in their lives. Boys require not only your physical presence, but also your mental, emotional, social, and psychological investment in them. Boys become strong men of character by interacting with strong men and women of character. They gain experience by watching others. They learn from mentors and role models who take seriously their responsibility to set a righteous example. The experiences your youth have interacting with you can become deeply implanted life lessons and resources that they can draw upon throughout their lives. The love, warmth, and caring they feel now in your presence, may someday sooth them in future moments of despair or grief.
You can create an eternal bond with your young men the same way the Savior did with his disciples. Have unconditional love for them. Talk with them. Walk with them. Eat with them. Share personal stories that inspire, uplift, and teach. Counsel with compassion. Correct with kindness. And you always, always, always seek after the lost sheep, “that one soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1).
I encourage you to get close to your boys. Be with them. Share your insights around the campfire, in teaching moments, in reflection exercises after Scouting activities, and in Scoutmaster Minutes. Use the scriptures as your field manual. Have meaningful, morning and evening prayer with your boys at campouts. Read the scriptures together. Hold devotionals. Invite the Spirit to be the constant companion of your youth. Do all that you can to teach your boys to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Teach them to serve their fellow man, to do a good turn daily, and to be prepared for all that life holds in store for them.
Good leaders don’t see their boys as they are, but rather as they can be. Good leaders project themselves into the future, see the end from the beginning, and they then take the vital steps necessary to achieve their desired outcome. As a Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood leader, you are in the business of growing and saving boys. I encourage you to see every interaction you have with your youth as an opportunity to teach, mold, encourage, and influence a boy for good. I pray the Lord will bless you with the vision, desire, and capacity to magnify your stewardship at this vital stage in the lives of your young men.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you love those under your stewardship, and do they love you in return?
- Do you recognize and accept the powerful influence for good you can have on a young man’s life?
- Do you spend the individual time necessary with your young men to have an influential relationship with them?
- Do you actively seek every opportunity to teach, guide and inspire your young men to become better priesthood holders?
- Do you see your young men as God sees them? Do you act toward them as God would have you act?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward” (D&C 58:27-28).
-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.