Welcome to the LDS Scouter Blog. We hope to provide you with valuable information, share useful resources and maybe even improve some attitudes and Ward Scouting programs. The recommended way to use this blog is to start with the post, "Why I started this blog." Then browse through the post titles in the archive (found in the sidebar) for topics of interest.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Incorrect Traditions and Spirit-driven Programs

An LDS-BSA newsletter article from earlier this year described a "Little Philmont" held in the Orem Utah Timpview Stake. The keynote speaker, David C. Pack, noted "Mosaiah 1:5 that talks about how the Lamanites lived according to 'the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct,' and compared it to how some do Scouting according to how they have seen it done by others, which is also incorrect. He related D&C 8:2-3 which promises that the Holy Ghost will 'tell you in your mind and in your heart' what you should do, but then reminded us with D&C 9:7-9 that Oliver Cowdry wanted to translate without studying and couldn't because he 'took no thought, save it was to ask.' Brother Pack then said, 'God cannot bless us with inspiration on something we know nothing about. We must study by reading the manuals, by going to roundtable, by attending basic training and Wood Badge. We need to become dangerously educated because the Young Men need us to receive personal revelation. Rise up and get the knowledge to do it.'"

I have frequently encountered the attitude in Ward leaders and Scout leaders of opposition to policy because, "This is the way we do things. This is the way we have always done things." Ironically, those are often the same people who are turned off by the Scout program because it "doesn't work."

I observed an extreme example of a Pack where these traditions were the major driving force for years. Issues covered a full-range from incorrect paperwork to improper attitudes. The program only vaguely resembled Cub Scouting. Occasionally an experienced Scouter would move into the ward and be called to help the program, or someone would receive a calling in Scouts and take the initiative to get the training. These well-meaning Scouters would then suggest corrections in the program to better it, to make it closer to what the BSA has designed and what the Church has told us to follow. Suggestions were constantly met with walls of, "That's not the way we do things," from the leadership, until the Scouters would each eventually be beaten down and quit or move away.

Contention grew between those who wanted to do things their way, and those who wanted to do things the Scout way. Meetings and conversations were filled with disagreement, and in some cases deep bitterness. In his recent Conference talk, Dallin H. Oaks, related a story about Joseph Smith. One morning, after the prophet had an argument with his wife, he found himself unable to do any translating. The Spirit was not with him. It wasn't until he had made up with his wife that he was able to translate. Even Joseph Smith could not feel the Spirit when angry or upset. Meetings full of contention are not being attended by the Spirit.

It is no surprise that many Cub Scouts in that ward were indifferent toward the program. Dens that had several active boys attending Primary on Sunday would only see two or three of those boys during the week at Den Meetings and Pack Meetings. Indifference was often carried into Boy Scouts as well.

In contrast, another Pack's meetings were orderly, always attended by the Bishopric. Everyone in the Pack was expected (and helped) to get the training appropriate for his or her position. Each had a copy of the Church Handbook on Scouting, and a section was read from the Handbook at every meeting. The program was not perfect. Occasionally something would be found out of line, but it was corrected. There was no contention. I believe that even when not 100% correct (and who is, really?) this Pack was blessed, because they were trying to do what the Lord expected, not trusting to their own wisdom.

I believe this is what the Lord wants from meetings in the Church: orderliness and a dedicated effort to following all of the programs in the way they are intended. We need to be careful not to confuse personal opinions about programs or policies with revelation related to our stewardships. We need to beware of incorrect traditions. Forget what you want and do the work necessary, study things properly, so that you can receive proper revelation to create what the Lord wants.


Anonymous said...

The worst thing about incorrect traditions is it takes time to break the boys of the traditions they also were taught by their previous Scout leaders. It can (and has in my ward) taken years to age out boys who were used to a dodgeball program.

Chad, Varsity Coach

firebirdluver said...

Chad - I've seen this, too, not just in Scouting. My hope and suspicion is that if the Scout program is run properly, the boys will much prefer a good Scout program to a "dodgeball program". Hopefully, the leaders will come around in time and get on board with that as well.