When you compare this point of the Scout Law to others, it seems pretty easy to follow. It doesn’t seem as difficult as obedient or requiring as much though at being trustworthy, but it can be difficult to be cheerful when you’re already angry or frustrated.
Much has been written about this point of the law – from as far back as Lord Baden-Powell’s time to the most recent edition of the handbook:
- A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES under all circumstances. When he gets an order he should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow, hang-dog sort of way. Scouts never grouse at hardships, nor whine at each other, nor swear when put out. When you just miss a train … or under any annoying circumstances, you should force yourself to smile at once, and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right. A scout goes about with a smile on and whistling. It cheers him and cheers other people, especially in time of danger, for he keeps it up then all the same. The punishment for swearing or bad language is for each offence a mug of cold water to be poured down the offender’s sleeve by the other scouts. (British Boy Scouts, 1911)
- A SCOUT IS CHEERFUL. He smiles whenever he can. His obedience to orders is prompt and cheery. He never shirks nor grumbles at hardships. (BSA, 1911)
- A SCOUT IS CHEERFUL. A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy. (BSA, 1972 & 1999)
The dictionary says that being cheerful is “being in good spirits” and that a synonym for cheerful is “glad”. I know that I’m glad that God loves me, and as a Christian [Note: you don’t have to be a Christian to be in Scouts, but in our troop, we explore the parallels between our shared faith and scouting’s principles], I believe He loves me to the point of both sending His only son to die on my behalf (paying the penalty for my sinful behavior and rebellious heart), and that He sent his Holy Spirit to live in me. Could I “be in better spirit” than to have the Holy Spirit live inside of me?
The issue at hand is this – am I cheerful even when it would be far easier to be grumpy or frustrated? Do I really sing a song or whistle a tune when I’m cut off in traffic? No, but I work hard at changing my behavior to mirror not only the Scout Law, but also directions offered in scripture (NIV):
- John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – (someone who loves others, especially the way that God has shown his love to us, can’t help but be cheerful)
- Proverbs 15:13 – “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” (true cheerfulness comes from inside – it’s not just a smile on the face)
- Proverbs 12:25 – “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
- Psalm 5:11-12 – “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” (our joy and cheer sometimes come from our faith in God’s love and protection of us during difficult times).
- Psalm 28:7 – “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
- Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
A Scout is sometimes frustrated, annoyed or impatient, but a Scout is also cheerful. Think about the Scout Law and about directions you’ve received from the Bible each day – especially when things seem to be going crazy. That’s when you need to stop what you’re doing and refocus your efforts. Take time to open your Bible and seek out guidance from God. Remember what’s said in Psalm 19:7-9 –
The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.