Thursday, April 26, 2012

Where's the Conflict?

What part of “On My Honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law (A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent); to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight” is in conflict with Aaronic Priesthood objectives and purposes?

Those purposes are:
  1. Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live its teachings.
  2. Serve faithfully in priesthood callings, and fulfill the responsibilities of priesthood offices.
  3. Give meaningful service.
  4. Prepare and live worthily to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinances.
  5. Prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission.
  6. Obtain as much education as possible.
  7. Prepare to become a worthy husband and father.
  8. Give proper respect to women, girls, and children1
I posit that if there is a conflict, it is not in the program, but stems from an unwillingness either to provide the full Scouting program, or to understand how the two arms work in parallel, or both.  Instead, there is a tendency toward giving lip service to Scouting (because "Big Church" says we have to do it) while giving primacy to “doing AP.” The result is that boys are short-changed with two half-way programs, instead of one comprehensive system. Here’s what an apostle said about that, with AP purposes/Oath excerpts juxtaposed as commentary (emphasis added):
“When I was a deacon, it didn’t matter if we were working on merit badges [obtain as much education as possible – to keep myself…mentally awake], doing a service project [give meaningful service – to help other people at all times], or collecting fast offerings [become converted, serve faithfully in priesthood callings – to do my duty to God], it was all priesthood. It is with this vision that we need to utilize Scouting and the priesthood to help our young men reach their potential by learning NOW to do hard things!”
– Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
When done right, Scouting is disorganized, messy and inefficient, because it is the Boys’ program. Adults are the facilitators, not the planners; their place is in the background as guides rather than directing from the front. Many adults find this to be anathema to their disposition – adults want efficiency, high levels of organization, etcetera.  But their idea of success differs greatly from the boys'.

Our boys want adventure and to be in control of something. Scouting gives them that opportunity. The result is that they become something greater than they never thought about.

(Also, the AP purposes don’t go away when a kid turns 14, so why would his activity arm (Scouting program) devolve into something less than it was, e.g., Wednesday priesthood meeting/Duty-to-Spalding sessions? We’re supposed to help him develop his character, not his dribbling technique.)

Now, I’m just the “eleven-year-old Scout leader,” so what could I possibly have to say about any of this Aaronic Priesthood stuff anyway, since it’s “not part of my calling?” Isn't this just another case of well-intentioned but misplaced ark-steadying? Well, my answer to that is, I have been charged in helping boys prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. I ought to know this stuff in order to properly prepare them, so they know both what they can expect to find, and what will be expected of them. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to learn about and discuss the AP Purposes and ways in which Scouting reinforces each one.

1-Handbook 2, ¶8.1.3

3 comments:

Fishgutts said...

JUST the 11 Year Old Scout leader (ASM)? You are JUST the guy that sets the tone for a boy for Scouting. I know there was some sarcasm there. You are the man that prepares these boys to pass the Sacrament and care for the physical needs of the Church. What is sad is that some actually do believe they are JUST the EYO Scout leader.

William D. Chapman said...

Great thoughts. I love this one: "When done right, Scouting is disorganized, messy and inefficient, because it is the Boys’ program. Adults are the facilitators, not the planners; their place is in the background as guides rather than directing from the front. Many adults find this to be anathema to their disposition – adults want efficiency, high levels of organization, etcetera.  But their idea of success differs greatly from the boys'."

James Taylor said...

Thank-you, great entry -

I would go one step further to say ... "it is the Boy's program" and the boys' responsibility - they hold the keys in their presidency to build the program. They learn to be active Priesthood holders by managing the mess. Just as the Elders and High Priests do.