The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that we have “an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation.” He further admonished that “these should be attended to with great earnestness” and to “let no man count them as small things” (D&C 123:11,14,15). It is no small thing that you, as a Young Men and Scouting leader, have been called to the imperative duty of guiding the next generation through the most formative years of the lives of young men.
There is a saying in Scouting that “every boy deserves a trained leader.” To this I wish to add my opinion that in the Church every boy deserves a spiritually strong leader. Every young man in the Church deserves to be led by a righteous man of God—a valiant man who can model the way for a young boy to return to his Father in Heaven.
Next to a boy’s father, you may have the greatest potential to influence a boy for good. In some cases, you may have even more success than a boy’s own father in nurturing a young man. But, you can only raise a boy up to become a faithful man of God if you are on higher spiritual ground.
In a general priesthood meeting President Spencer W. Kimball quoted Walter MacPeek, saying: “Boys need lots of heroes like Lincoln and Washington. But they also need to have some heroes close by. They need to know some man of towering strength and basic integrity, personally. They need to meet them on the street, to hike and camp with them, to see them in close-to-home, every day, down-to-earth situations; to feel close enough to them to ask questions and to talk things over man-to-man with them” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Boys Need Heroes Close By,” Ensign, May 1976, p. 47).
What boys need is not lectures, but love, understanding, and a superior example by leading men. It takes men to raise men. It takes men of character to instill character within young men. It takes men who model the Scout Oath and Scout Law to teach boys how to do their best in doing their duty to God, their country, and their fellow man. Nurturing strong young men of God requires adult leaders who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Brethren, you cannot not be an example to your boys. You can be an example for good or a bad example of mediocrity. When it comes to your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood stewardship and your relationship with your boys, I hope it can never be said of you what Alma said to his wayward missionary son: “When they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words” (Alma 39:11). You must be a model of the words of Christ and His Church. You must show that living the principles of the gospel and abiding by the Lord’s precepts are the only way for a young man to live his life. You must model the teachings found in For the Strength of Youth. You must be the type of man you want your boys to become.
At a recent stake fathers and sons Aaronic Priesthood commemoration campout several young men shared what holding the priesthood means to them. One priest-age young man said his bishop told him to “never pass up an opportunity to be around faithful priesthood brethren.” This bishop knew the power valiant priesthood holders have to influence young men for good. Just rubbing shoulders with faithful priesthood brethren can be enough to turn a boy’s heart to God.
Burke Peterson said, “The brightest light and the clearest signal come from the cleanest instrument.” (“As a Beacon on a Hill,” Ensign, Nov 1974). The Lord has admonished priesthood leaders, “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 133:5). What more important vessel can one bear than the hearts and minds of the Lord’s precious young men? You play a special role in a young man’s development. You help set a boy on a path of righteousness. As a spiritually strong priesthood and Scouting leader you can help your boys to become physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. The power of God is within you to do wonderful things as you work with the rising generation of young men!
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you consider yourself to be a spiritually strong priesthood and Scouting leader? If not, what can you do to improve?
- Are you on higher spiritual ground than the young men under your stewardship?
- Have you developed a close relationship with your boys so they can confide in you and seek your advice? Do your boys want to be around you?
- Do you model the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, and the values found in For the Strength of Youth?
- Do you ensure you are clean so you can receive inspiration and revelation through the Holy Ghost concerning your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood calling?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness: For the power is in them” (D&C 58:27-28).
-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.