Monday, November 7, 2011


I've had several interesting conversations recently that reminded me of a talk Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave in General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October of 2000, titled The Challenge to Become.

One of the lines in that talk, that I have remembered well since it was given, is this:
"In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something."
I think it is important to emphasize that for our LDS young men, part of the gospel of Jesus Christ is Scouting. There is a reason the church embraces Scouting. The gospel embraces all things that are good and true, including Scouting.

Anyway, the idea of becoming something has been the focus of several discussions of late. During each of these discussions, someone has said something to the effect that if all we're teaching our young men is to get their Eagle, or go on a mission, then we have missed the boat. One stake YM president went so far as to say we've failed.

That's not to say that those aren't good things. The point is that if our end goal is to earn Eagle, or go on a mission, or even get married in the temple, it isn't enough. How often have we seen someone achieve one of these goals, only to stop in their progression? How many missionaries get home from their mission only to decide they "need a break," and they stop coming to church? How many people have you seen get married in the temple because they're supposed to, only to fall away afterward?

A mission, or Eagle, or temple marriage shouldn't be the end goal. We need to be teaching our young men to become something. This is reflected in the mission statement of the BSA:
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
If we've done our job right and our young men have become the person we want them to be, they'll go on a mission because they want to share the gospel. They'll get married in the temple because they believe that families can be together forever. They'll earn their eagle because the are a Scout.

I think this is at the heart of what Robert Baden-Powell was really trying to get across. When I read Scouting for Boys and a few of his other writings, I came away with the idea of being a Scout. It seemed to me that he would hold up examples of manhood, or skill, or character and say in effect "this is what it means to be a Scout, and if you follow these examples you can be a Scout, too." I came away wanting to be something; to be better because that's what a Scout would do.

I don't know if our current handbooks do this. Maybe they do and we just aren't using them right. Maybe we're too focused on advancement and not enough on the Scout Oath and Law and the daily good turn.

We've got great examples of Scouts in the church. Helaman and his 2,000 stripling warriors (more than once I've told my boys about Helaman's 2,000 Boy Scouts), Captain Moroni, Ammon, Nephi, the pioneers. All are great examples of the kind of person we want our boys to become. They were Scouts. They never earned a single merit badge. None of them was an Eagle. But they were Scouts.

1 comment:

  1. This is so eloquent. I forwarded it to my ward Scout Committee, Bishopric, Cub/Primary leaders and 11YOS parents.