I noticed something to day. I was sitting in church today, watching the young men in our ward perform their priesthood duties by administering the sacrament. Each week these young men show up and perform their duties in this sacred ordinance without being told what to do, or reminded that they need to. They just do it. And they do a very good job.
I've seen this every week. I often think about the good job they do and thank the young men for being so diligent in fulfilling their priesthood duties. But what I thought about today was a little different. Today I saw in these young men, ranging from 12 to 17 years old, their extraordinary capacity for leadership. Not only do they participate in this ordinance, they lead it. They come early and prepare; they make assignments; they organize each other; the older boys teach the younger boys their responsibilites; they help each other.
As I was watching the young men, thinking about what they were doing, I thought about one of the purposes of the Aaronic priesthood--to prepare them to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. By performing these assignments now they are learning how to become the future leaders of the church. I thought of the wisdom in this plan to give young men responsibilities to prepare them for more.
And then it hit me. If the young men have the ability to lead in this one thing, wouldn't they have the ability to lead in other things, Scouting for instance?
How many times have I heard that Scouting is supposed to be led by the boys? And yet, I don't know that I've ever seen it actually happen that way. Why? Is it because as leaders we don't trust them to lead? Well, if the Savior trusts them to lead one of the most sacred ordinances in His church, why shouldn't we trust them to lead an activity?
Maybe the young men don't really know how to lead Scouting activities. In the ordinance of the sacrament, they have grown up seeing others do it and knowing that one day they will be entrusted with that responsibility. When they get there, other young men who have experience show them what to do. And as they grow, they take a turn teaching others.
It seems a little different in Scouting. If they don't see that leadership in other boys and don't have older boys to teach them, they don't learn how to lead. They must rely on adult leaders who, either out of frustration, impatience, ignorance, or lack of trust, often abandon the idea of teaching boys to lead and just do the leading themselves. I know I've been guilty.
But why can't the youth lead the way they do in administering the sacrament? I think they can but I'm not sure how to get there. Some of these boys have never been expected to lead a meeting, or plan an activity, or cook their own meals on a campout. They've grown up expecting that the adults will just take care of it.
I'm going to try to do better. I'm going to try to trust the young men to plan and lead activities. I'm going to try to teach them how. I know things won't change overnight. I'm sure some will do better than others. We may have a few activities fall through, but I suspect we'll also have some resounding successes. Either way, I'm going to try.