I had a run in with a unit this week, that to tell you the truth, REALLY ticked me off. It all stemmed around this particular person’s opinion about the LDS Church and its relationship with Scouting. According to this person, things would only get better with Scouting and the LDS Church, once the Church decided to pull out of Scouting.
Now, I know this isn’t a onetime occurrence, and there are probably many who feel the same way this person does; but if I might be so bold. Those people who think that way haven’t got clue one, why the LDS Church is even in Scouting, in the first place.
That is the angry upset side of me speaking, the more logical side would argue 3 points to counter this well intended member’s opinion.
- Scouting exists to strengthen Aaronic Priesthood.
- Scouting and the Young Men program are 2 sides of the same coin.
- Boys DON’T WANT more church.
Let’s take these arguments on, one at a time. First, Scouting exists to strengthen Aaronic Priesthood. According to Mormon doctrine, there are only 4 people, in any given ward, that hold leadership keys. In other words, the “Chain of Command” exists with only 4 people. Of those 4 people, two of them are YOUTH! Not adults, not the young men’s president, not a councilor in the bishopric, and not some guy in the High Priest group.
The LDS church is in Scouting because the Young Men’s program doesn’t do a very good job of giving young people practical leadership skills. We talk a big game, we BELIEVE that these young men hold priesthood keys, but rarely have I ever seen a ward where the youth truly lead their quorum. Part of the reason, I believe, is because adults don’t fully understand the doctrine of the LDS church. The believe that because they were put in charge of the Young Men program, that they are the ones in charge of making things work. This could not be further from the truth. As adult leaders in the Aaronic Priesthood, we hold NO KEYS! We are not in charge, we cannot make decisions, nor can we tell the young men what they can and cannot do.
The other reason the YM program doesn’t provide practical leadership skills, is because adults don not know how to let go. We hate to see failure. We are programmed to see failure as……well failure. We don’t know how to handle things, when things go wrong. So instead of using failure as a training and teaching opportunity, we figure it is just easier to take over and force that square peg in to the round hole.
Scouting allows a young man to practice leadership skills in a real practical way. It is the role of the leader to plan the meeting, conduct the meetings, plan the camp outs, execute the court of honor, and lead his troop/patrol to victory at Camp-O-Rees. At church the young man has……his quorum meeting, and half of the time, the adult is right there to take the lead. Through Scouting, that young man learns practical lessons in both leadership and followship that you just cannot get in Quorum.
I have always said that Scouting is the vehicle which the lessons on Sunday or driven home. Stated differently, Scouting is the practical application of the spiritual principles taught on Sunday. You can teach the concept of Charity to a young person, and think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head; but it is when you take that young man, and through Scouting, show him what Charity actually looks like through a service project, that the point finally starts to sink in. This then leads us to our second argument.
Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood are 2 sides of the same coin. If I were asked which is more important, Scouting or Priesthood, I would tell you it is priesthood. It always been about Priesthood; BUT, here is the thing, Young Men are naturally dense human beings. Call it the rage of the puberty hormones, but boys are sometimes dumber than a box of rocks. I am saying that, knowing that I was one of them not too long ago. I was clueless when I was younger. I just didn’t understand the magnitude of life.
That is the second reason the LDS church is involved in Scouting. They know that Scouting, above just about anything else, has a way of breaking down that barrier and actually opening the spirit of a young person to receive truth. It allows humility, so a young person can be taught. It challenges their understanding of who they are, and how they relate to others in the world. It asks them to do hard things that are age appropriate. It puts them outdoors, with nothing but their knowledge and wits and asks them to survive. How is this any different from asking them to take off to some foreign land, where they don’t know the language and ask them to share their deepest held beliefs using nothing but their knowledge and their wits. It is 2 sides to the same coin, and that coin happens to be the whole of a young person.
You see, a young person NEEDS Scouting. He needs some place where he can be challenged, lead his peers, be asked to do hard things, fail miserably, and learn some of the great lessons that area easier learned in their youth. Because guess what, those lessons SUCK when you have to learn them as an adult. More is on the line then, and more people are relying on you.
To build further on this analogy, nothing ticks me off more than when people tell me that Scouting is “just” that “activity arm” of the Aaronic Priesthood. Really people, that is what you want to build your argument off of? Really? Okay, well let’s break that statement down. Activity is defined as: something that is done as work of for a particular purpose. And, something that is done for pleasure and that usually involves a group of people. An arm is a human limb which serves the purpose to help the trunk of the body. It helps us feed ourselves, protect ourselves from danger, it helps to catch us when we fall, and to show emotions through hugs and hand shakes. So…..if we put these two words together, Scouting, as the “activity arm” of the Aaronic Priesthood is defined as the appendage we use to help a young person act or work for a particular purpose. And what is the “Purpose,” to teach that young man HOW to act in his Priesthood responsibilities.
The main argument people use to disparage Scouting in the Church is the EXACT reason why Scouting is apart of the YM program. You see, the Church wants good strong priesthood holders; they have chosen Scouting as the appendage to help feed, defend, catch, and show emotion for the body of the Priesthood. Two sides to the EXACT same coin.
Finally, and I know this is long, boys do NOT want more church. They just don’t. To ask them to come to church in the middle of the week to receive more of what they get on Sunday and everyday in Seminary is INSANE! Really, you are CRAZY if you think this is what boys want, long for, and desire. No, boys what fun and excitement. They want to temp death as safely as possible. They want adventure. They want to BE Indiana Jones. It is YOUR job as a leader to help make that happen. YOU were called to help them use the Scouting program to understand their priesthood responsibilities. They don’t want more church, they want YOU to get off your duff and help them be successful. They want YOU to step up and set the example. They LONG for someone to follow, to look up to, and to emulate. Can you handle that type of pressure? Boys don’t want more church, they want more adventure, more adult interaction.
And that is really the crux of this issue. The problem with Scouting in the LDS Church is NOT Scouting in the LDS Church. The problem is with people. The problem resides with the members who are called to serve. You figure since no other calling in the church (outside of Bishop or Stake President) requires training or effort outside of Sunday morning or Saturday night, if you are really prepared, that the program is too hard and therefore isn’t worth your time and effort. Well, shame on those who think and feel that way. Scouting is THE easiest way to break down the barriers down in a young person’s life. It helps us as adult leaders really get to know the young people we serve, to help them, mentor them, and coach them through life.
The church is “ALL IN” in Scouting, it is time that we all did the same.