This past week I was once again drawn down memory lane. On Sunday, Ben Nelson and eight other Boy Scouts were awarded their Eagle Scout rank. It was truly an honor to be witness to such an occasion. Ben and another Scout had completed their projects at the Church building and I was able to be part of the process with them. I have to be honest, I am not an easy person to deal with when it comes to Eagle projects. As an Eagle, I hold the rank in high esteem and want to make sure that the “value” of an Eagle is protected. Four out of every one hundred boys who join Scouts will attain the highest rank. While in recent years The Boy Scouts of America has fallen under scrutiny for their standards and some feel they unfairly discriminate (this article is not about this discussion), I find great value in the accomplishment of these boys.
As I attended Ben’s Court of Honor, I was reminded of my own, and began to think about the value of the rank. More importantly, I found myself considering what made the experience so profound. My Court of Honor was held on October 8th, 1989, and will forever be a highly prized memory. In fact, I not only remember more about that day than my college graduation, but I value the many lessons learned in Scouting more than college.
What is it about Boy Scouts that allow them to boast that out of 100 boys who join scouts:
- 3 will become pastors.
- 45 will serve in the military
- 1 person will use scout skills to save someone else’s life.
- 2 will report that they used scout skills to save their own lives.
- 72% of Rhodes Scholars were scouts
I believe that at Ben’s Court of Honor I realized what the Boy Scouts “secrets” of success are. One critical aspect of the Boy Scout program is that it is driven by the boys themselves. While adults oversee the program, most aspects of the program, from campout meals to mentoring younger scouts, falls to the youth. This elevates the boys from participants to leaders. Far too many programs for youth, or adults for that matter, are led by one or two individuals and participants merely “consume” the product of other’s labor.
Secondly, while adults have a lesser role in leadership, they are in direct relationship with the youth. Scout programs are dependant upon adult leaders who are willing to commit time and talents. Ben’s Scoutmaster, Mr. Ransom, was committed to the program and more importantly to the boys, from the time they were in first grade. In today’s culture, such commitment to the good of others is hard to find. Consistent, caring, and invested leadership shows those who are being led that they have value.
My own experience of Scouts bears this out. I remember the commitment of my own Scoutmasters, Dick and Dan. They were willing to give of their time and talents and found ways to bring leadership out of everyone in the troop. I have often wondered what my own life would have been like if I had not had such men invest in me?
This is a valuable lesson for the church today. As our confirmands became members, I reminded the church that they aren’t the future of the church. They are the church today. We need to find ways to draw their leadership out. We also need to ensure that we have individual relationships that foster trust and growth. Just as I can list my Scoutmasters, I can also list Sunday School teachers like Stew Manthey who spent time with me as a mentor.
- Who in your life has served as a Spiritual Mentor?
- How have you empowered the leadership of others?
- Who might you seek out to mentor?