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Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Four T's

In a Priesthood Conference in 1996, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone first coined the "Four T's" of being a good Scout Leader:

"There are four things that are absolutely essential in a great Scout leader. I call them the four T's:

1 - Testimony—that they have a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and that this Church is God's Church.
2 - Trained—they need to be trained, not only by the Church, but as well by Boy Scouts of America within the districts and council.
3 - Time—they need to have time to be a leader of boys.
4 - Tenure—short tenure if they don't enjoy the work and are not willing to put in the time necessary, and long tenure if they love the young men and want to serve them with all their hearts and souls."
(from LDS.org)

The details of that talk are not available. However, Charles Dahlquist covered the points thoroughly in a 2004 talk at an open house (I highly recommend reading the whole talk. It is excellent and will give you a new perspective on your calling to work with the youth.) President Dahlquist said:

"As we speak of strengthening and vitalizing the Aaronic Priesthood and the Aaronic Priesthood quorum, let me speak first of the leader and then of the boy.

"Priesthood and Young Men leaders are the vital link in the lives of these young men. Therefore, it is critical that men be called who can and will make a difference in the lives of our young men. I give you five guidelines for ensuring that every deacon is prepared and worthy to be ordained an elder and serve a mission. The first has to do with selecting youth leaders, and the remaining four have often been referred to as the 'Four Ts of Youth Leadership': testimony, training, time, and tenure.

"First, call good youth men to serve with the youth. Look for men who can be examples to your young men, who relate well to the youth and yet are able to keep a bit of a distance so they can still inspire them and lift them to greater heights. Look for men who can say, 'Come, follow me—to the temple and on a mission.' Listen for the promptings of the Spirit; you will know whom to call.

"When you call leaders, make it a memorable call. Take time to discuss your expectations and what is required of them. Talk to them about time commitments, training expectations, personal preparation, and the need for one-on-one contact with each boy. Have in your hand a list of young men in the quorum, and take time to discuss the needs of each boy with the new leader.

"If you are in the United States or Canada, teach leaders the role of Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing in supporting the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood and helping the young men of the quorum become men of character and strength. While our experience has shown that it generally works most effectively when the deacons quorum adviser is also called as the Scoutmaster and, where possible, has an able assistant (or assistants) to help, the bishop may call one individual as the deacons quorum adviser and one as the Scoutmaster (see Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders [1998], 181). In such cases, however, the two must work very closely together to help the deacons quorum presidency accomplish the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood in the quorum. The same holds true in the teachers quorum and the priests quorum.

"Most importantly (and this comprises the first T), ensure that the new leader is a man of character who has a strong testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Bishop H. Burke Peterson, formerly the Presiding Bishop, stated in 1975, 'The primary reason why we have youth activities is to give our youth opportunities to associate with men and women who have testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.' And President Kimball often quoted Walter MacPeek in stating: '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, everyday, down-to-earth situations; to feel close enough to them to ask questions and to talk things over man-to-man with them' (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 71; or Ensign, May 1976, 47). Our young men need heroes today as never before, heroes who are men of character and who have testimonies of the gospel.

"Next, training. Along with testimony, training is essential to all we do. A recent graduate from a trade school must generally complete an apprenticeship before he can be employed. For a physician, it is called residency and internship. All jobs requiring competency require training.

"I was recently at Disney World and became acquainted with the Disney Institute, which is Disney's training school for Disney World employees, or cast members. All Disney World cast members receive training appropriate for their role in the Disney experience. Walt Disney himself once said, 'You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.' Those people must be trained in 'the Disney way.'

"It is no different in the Aaronic Priesthood. What makes us think that just because it is God's work, we don't need to be trained? The Prophet Joseph went through years of training at the feet of Moroni and other heavenly beings for his marvelous work (see D&C 128:19–21). So we too must become qualified for the work. The School of the Prophets was established to train and qualify the early leaders of the Church. In addition, in the Doctrine and Covenants we are instructed, 'Let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.' (D&C 107:99).

"When I was a mission president in northern Germany, Sister Dahlquist and I had a few minutes one day and took a short trip to the top of a little mount called Hercules, right in the city Kassel. At the top of Hercules, I saw a shepherd with his staff, sheep dogs, and sheep, and thought I would ask him the age-old question: 'When you move the sheep from one place to another, do you go in front of the sheep or behind?' His answer surprised me. 'It depends,' he said. 'If they are going a route they are familiar with, they go ahead, with the dogs watching out to ensure that none go astray. But if they are going to a place where they have not been before, I go ahead and they follow.' What a wonderful principle of leadership.

"As leaders we need to know where we are going, or else we will go astray. We must be trained and directed; we must catch the vision. It is the same with the young men. When they are charting unknown waters, we must be close to them, often leading the way so they can follow and so they can be prepared to lead the next time. The moment I was called as a Scoutmaster, I felt an unusual sense of urgency, one I had not had before. I remember discussing that with the bishop and also with the boys in leadership. I told them, 'Boys, I have a feeling we do not have long to accomplish all we must in this quorum. For the next couple of weeks, I will be doing some things that, after you have seen how it's done, you will be doing, so watch carefully!' Within several weeks they shouldered their proper share of the load, but only after they had seen it done and caught a vision of how things should go.

"In our young single adult branch, I would often tell the brethren in elders quorum, 'Watch how things are administered in the branch by the branch presidency. Watch how meetings are conducted, how brethren and sisters are set apart, how new officers and teachers are presented for sustaining, how a proper priesthood executive committee or branch council is conducted, and how the presidency ministers to and watches over the flock, for it will not be long before you will be in our shoes, presiding over the flocks of the Lord's kingdoms! Your on-the-job training has already begun. May God bless you that you may be ready!'

"Each priesthood and Young Men leader has the responsibility of instructing the leaders of his assigned quorum in their duties in the Aaronic Priesthood and helping them catch a vision for their calling and fulfill it. These duties are outlined in the Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2 in the section on Aaronic Priesthood. This section also has some excellent resource materials for Aaronic Priesthood presidency leadership training.

"In the United States and Canada, we have a wonderful partnership with the Boy Scouts of America. Scouting in these countries provides a vital application phase of the learning process for our Aaronic Priesthood quorums. I have found an unexplained reluctance on the part of some priesthood leaders to implement fully Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing as the activity arm of their quorums and to become trained themselves. Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone once said, 'I do not believe that Varsity Scouting is on trial in the Church, nor is Boy Scouting, Cub Scouting, or [Venturing]. But rather it is my firm belief that bishops, and the ward leaders, the advisers, Scoutmasters, coaches, and [Venturing] advisers are on trial. The program will work if they will work and become trained and put into effect the things they have been trained to do' (personal letter to Thane J. Packer, Oct. 7, 1997, in Thane J. Packer, On My Honor: A Guide to Scouting in the Church, [1998], 57).

"My experience has shown that this is true. As a newly called Scoutmaster, I think I did a reasonable job. We accomplished much, advancement was passable, and we garnered a number of awards at our annual council Scout camp. But not until I finished my basic Scouting training and then Wood Badge training did I realize how much more we could have done to strengthen our boys.

"As a presidency, we believe training—both Aaronic Priesthood training and training in the Boy Scouts of America—is vital to the success of an Aaronic Priesthood experience. In fact, in those parts of the world where Scouting is not a feasible partner, we must develop efforts to simulate that which Scouting does so well to support the Aaronic Priesthood and help young men accomplish the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. In that vein, Duty to God was not intended to take the place of Scouting but is intended to help young men of the Aaronic Priesthood become better prepared to go to the temple, serve missions, and accomplish the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. Brethren, it is time we received the training that is there to help us become better priesthood and Young Men leaders and recognized that Scouting is a vital part of the Aaronic Priesthood activity program and can help greatly to build better-prepared missionaries, better husbands and fathers, help prepare our young men to receive the ordinances of the temple, and help reactivate those who have drifted.

"The other day I was at the checkpoint for a 100-mile endurance run. I noticed, not unexpectedly, that not one of the runners was competing in flip-flops. They all had quality footwear because, to a great extent, their footwear would either make or break their experience during a very grueling 24- to 36-hour experience.

"To even think that someone would compete in such an event or in an Olympic event in flip-flops is unthinkable. Yet sometimes I think that in the Aaronic Priesthood it is as if we have purchased a $200 pair of running shoes that we then place on a shelf and then try running the marathon in flip-flops. Wouldn't it make more sense to use the wonderful, tried, and tested program in the way it was intended? I challenge each of us in these next six months to get with the program. Get those $200 running shoes down from the shelf, get trained, and then apply the program in the right way.


"Third, time—it takes time each week to be an effective leader of youth. It is much, much more than an hour on Sunday in quorum meeting and an hour-or-so during the week. It takes preparation to make a difference in the lives of boys. It is also vital that you become fully engaged in their lives and their activities.

"Years ago, when I was a stake president, a young man called me who had not been in our stake for three or four years. He was calling for help in making some changes in his life. I asked him why he was calling me, since he no longer lived in our stake. He replied simply, 'Because I know you love me.'

"I thought back on what I had done as a stake president to give him that impression. I recalled hearing one day that he was competing in a track meet at the local high school. I decided to go to support him. I stood near the track, and as he completed his vault, I waved to him. He came over to me and said, 'President, how come you're here?' I told him, 'I'm here to watch you break the state pole vault record!' 'No," he replied, 'you must have a daughter cheerleading today.' I reassured him that our daughters did not cheer for track meets and the only reason I was here was to support him. With an unusual look in his eye, he grinned and returned to his pole vaulting. Little did I realize that this single exchange was sufficient to express a stake president's love and concern for one of his flock—enough to bring the lamb back to the fold years later. Be involved with the youth, and in time you will find that they will develop confidence and trust in you.

"Finally, tenure. When I was stake president, I would tell our bishops, 'In this stake, when we speak of youth leader tenure in callings, we spell it t-e-n y-e-a-r.' It takes time in a calling before the youth build what missionaries have called a 'relationship of trust.' That someone is qualified to serve in another calling is not sufficient reason to release a Scoutmaster to become a counselor in an elders quorum presidency or for any other calling. Unless the Spirit shouts, I have found it a good rule of thumb to leave Young Men leaders in their calling for a sufficient length of time to be trained, to apply what they have learned, and to make a difference in the lives of the young men they serve.

"It is often very difficult to find good leaders of young men. If they are good, leave them there. If you must change them, change them to another age group, but leave them where they can make a difference in the lives of young men and in the generations unnumbered that follow. I have a friend who was just released as Varsity Coach and teachers quorum adviser in his ward. I asked him how long he had served there. His reply was 'four years!' And then he added, 'I have just been called as ward clerk, but I know that in a few months the Scoutmaster position will open up, and I believe that shortly I will be back with the youth!' What a wise bishop to keep those who are great with youth serving with the youth! Bishops, carry on!"

1 comment:

Derek Rowe said...

Thank you for posting this. I was at a mini-philmont in September of 2005 when he gave about this same talk. It showed me the steps I needed to serve better. I had the blessing to be a scoutmaster for 7 years. That was followed by two years in the bishopric, and now I am back.