Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Best Man in the Ward

I finished reading Trails to Testimony by Brad Harris a little while ago, and I keep thinking about it.

One thing that struck me was the need to have the Scoutmaster be the best man in the ward. This actually came from a talk in General Conference by Bishop C. Frederick Pingel. He was the bishop of a local ward, not in the Presiding bishopric. I don't know how often it happens that a ward bishop is invited to speak in General Conference, but that alone would be enough to make me sit up and pay attention. I mean, he must be on to something if he is invited to speak in that setting. (You can read his entire talk, here.)

Anyway, what he said was:
"It has been said that, as you organize a new ward, you first identify your best man and make him your Scoutmaster.... Brethren, don’t sacrifice here. I don’t know where to tell you to sacrifice, but don’t do it here."
My first reaction to that was to think about the Scoutmaster in my ward and ask, "is he really the best man in our ward?"

My next thought was, "If I were the bishop, who would I call as the Scoutmaster?" And I came up with a name of someone right away of who I think would be really good.

But several days later I had some other thoughts about it. First, the other Scout leaders probably ought to be as good of men as the Scoutmaster. I mean, so what if we have a great Boy Scout program only to have them all fall away when they join the Varsity Scouts or the Venturers?

Second, if the Bishop should choose the best men in the ward to be the Scout leaders, what does that say about how I should be acting as a Scout leader?

I've already been called to work with the youth. I don't know if I'm the best person in the ward, but if I'm not, I should be working on it.

How many times are we told that the Lord doesn't necessarily call the most qualified, but He qualifies who He calls? If our Scout leaders should be the best people in the ward, and I'm asked to be a Scout leader, shouldn't I take it upon myself to do everything I can to become the best person in the ward?

This doesn't mean I start comparing myself to everyone else. But it means I take extra care to read my scriptures and have personal and family prayers every day. It means I faithfully attend all of my meetings--sacrament, Sunday school, and priesthood. It means I should be perfect in paying my tithing and fast offerings. It means I should attend the temple regularly. It means I should do my home teaching every month. It means I should lead my family in having family home evening every week. It means I show up to help clean the chapel when it's our ward's turn. It means when the Elder's quorum does a service project or activity that I show up to participate. It means I should be less judgmental and more forgiving and loving. In short, I should be more like Christ.

If I am falling short in these areas then I might be falling short as a Scout leader. I'll be the first to admit I'm not perfect. I'm trying, but there are a few things on that list I can improve on.

As adult leaders we have a great influence on the young men, not only in what we say but in what we do. In fact, I'd bet that most of what they learn comes from what they see in their leaders.

As a Scout leader, I have an obligation to my youth to do my best. I should be a model of manhood. I should be as perfect as possible in obeying the Scout Oath and Law. I should truly be a Scout, in the best sense of the word.


  1. I couldn't agree more.

    That being said, I am not the best Home Teacher, I am not the best at Temple attendance, I am not the best at FHE. But I sure try. And sometimes not being perfect is OK. If the Stake President appeared at my house (or the Savior for that matter) I would be embarrassed at the way my kids keep the house through their chores but I know they would for sure know we love our kids are we are trying to do the best we can with what we have.

  2. This is a great article. There was a talk by Charles Dahlquist along these same line. When I read it, I thought, anyone called as a Scout leader should feel honored to be entrusted with the calling. At the same time we should feel humbled and do our best to live up to that trust.

    I wish we could teach this mindset, and get people to lose the idea of, "Oh no, a calling in Scouting. I get to babysit rowdy boys for an hour or two each week."