Last week was a little discouraging. I had hoped to begin training our new crew officers with the new Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews. We've been talking about getting this started for several weeks now, but we hadn't been able to because all the boys have been involved in cross-country at the high school. They've had a meet every Wednesday, which meant that they couldn't be around for our activities. Now that it's over, I had thought we could get started. I had two boys show up.
I tried giving them some training anyway, but the games don't work very well with only two people. It was discouraging. I know that they are busy young men--most of them were working that night--but it still got to me.
After we were finished we had a "committee meeting." I put that in quotes because there were only three of us--the committee chair, the scoutmaster, and myself. And technically, the scoutmaster and I aren't even on the committee.
I got really frustrated with that (I hope I didn't show it too much at the time) because our committee chair keeps talking about things that the committee can do to help, such as entering advancement reports, helping with fundraising, planning courts of honor, etc. The problem is that all we ever do is talk. We have the same conversations over and over and over and yet nothing ever gets done, unless I do it. With all the talk you'd think our chairman could at least get the committee together for a meeting, but that hasn't ever happened.
I was more than a bit discouraged. By the time I got home, I was fairly fuming. I'm afraid my wife heard more of it than any spouse should ever have to. Sorry, wife.
At first I was honestly tempted to throw in the towel and give up. I kind of wanted to call the bishop and tell him to find someone else to do it. But I resisted. I haven't given up hope completely. It has taken me a few days, and I still don't have the answers, but I do have something else. Perspective.
I'm sure everyone has heard the analogy about throwing a pebble in a pond. It creates ripples that spread across the surface of the water and have an impact far beyond the reach of that first small pebble. Well, I've been thinking about ripples.
On Sunday, the father of one of my former young men told me something I needed to hear. When I first started, that young man came home and said that "Brother Mathis won't let us do anything." Well, being the bishop, that young man's dad told him that I was following the rules and that he supported me 100%. Last week he was talking with his son again and the son commented about how much fun he had with the Priests, and with me.
I also had a visit last night from another young man I've been working with. Last week, this young man passed his Eagle Board of Review. At that time he told me that I was one of the reasons he finished. He visited me last night not as a scout, but as a friend. He and his dad were going around taking treats to their home teaching families and he thought about me. When we first moved into this ward, he and his dad were our home teachers, and they were the best home teachers I've ever had. Their assignment was changed about a year ago but he came last night anyway. We visited for a while and then he asked if there was anything he could do for us. I've been asked that question a lot, but never as sincerely. He really meant it.
That same young man has a twin brother. This is the one who really got interested in Venturing. He earned his Silver award and is currently working on the Sports bronze and the Trust awards. His leadership has really blossomed over the last year and a half or so. He even got several friends together and recruited leaders to create the first community based, co-ed Venturing crew in our district. He was elected as their first president. I told my Wood Badge patrol that he was the result of my ticket. That is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to see happen. I can't take credit for everything, but I know I planted a few seeds and have had some role in nurturing them. And I hope that this Venturing crew is around when my daughter is old enough to join.
I've been thinking today about these ripples that are the result of my little pebble. There may be others. I hope more of my young men have benefited from my efforts. I hope I had some impact on our Wood Badge participants this year. I hope I've had a positive effect on those who come to round table each month. I've also thought about those who impacted me--most of whom probably don't even know it. I thought about my parents and their support of my Scouting as a boy. I thought the ripples that started with an unknown Scout doing a simple good turn in a London fog.
I also thought about my father-in-law who didn't get his Eagle because his leaders gave up.
So, no matter how frustrating things get; no matter how much the boys don't seem to care; no matter how much I have to do seemingly on my own, I'll keep doing it. Not for me, but for those boys. Because you never can tell what the result of those ripples will be. As the scripture says, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass."