Being “Thrifty” often gets thought of as being miserly, cheap, or stingy with the use of money, but these ideas steal the thunder and wisdom of the word. So what does being thrifty really mean to a scout or a Christian? [note: you don’t have to be “Christian” to be a Scout; however, our Scouting families, at our troop, are Christian; therefore, we offer additional insights based on our shared faith during our devotionals].
Way back in the early days of Scouting in the USA (1911), the Scout Law stated;
“A SCOUT is THRIFTY. He does not wantonly destroy property. He works faithfully, wastes nothing, and makes the best use of his opportunities. He saves his money so that he may pay his own way, be generous to those in need, and helpful to worthy objects. He may work for pay but must not receive tips for courtesies or good turns.”
Being thrifty covers a lot of territory: from being a caretaker of resources to being generous toward others and more.
By 1972, the Scout Law had been simplified to say;
“A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.”
How have you practiced being thrifty as it is defined by the Scout Law?
- Have you worked hard to earn money at home or in your neighborhood?
- Have you generously given your hard-earned money to help others at home, church or school?
- Are you gentle in the use of equipment and machinery at home so that it will last a long time and perform properly when needed in the future, or have you slammed doors and destroyed items long before they would normally have to be replaced?
- When you’re being kind to others do you refuse tips and only accept pay when it’s been previously negotiated as a fee for services rendered?
- Do you buy gifts for others with your own money, or rely exclusively on your parents to handle these activities?
Ultimately, our thriftiness is defined by how we personally look at money. Is it a tool to accomplish good things for others and ourselves, or is it something that gives us comfort/security, defines our self image or enables us to exert power and influence over other people (i.e. fancy clothes, cars, or toys that make others want to spend time with us?)
A person who hordes money or relies on it to give them security can’t really be satisfied with “enough” money. There will always be a perceived need to have more and that kills true thrift through the abandonment (or severe restriction) of generosity.
Conversely, hard work, savings and generous giving can help us develop healthy, productive attitudes towards money.
What does the Bible say about money? Quite a lot, actually! One Christian financial counselor has a web site where he states that there are more than 800 scripture verses about money (or it’s affects on people). Here are a few of them:
- Proverbs 6:6–8 “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” (hard work)
- Proverbs 21:20 “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” (wisely planning and saving)
- Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” (wisely planning and saving)
- Proverbs 13:11 “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (steady work not “get rich quick”)
- Luke 14:28–30 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” (wisely planning and saving)
- Proverbs 3:27–28 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it.’ When you have it with you.” (Be generous)
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 “…for God loves a cheerful giver.” (Be generous out of sincerity, not compulsion)
- 1 Corinthians 13:3 “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (Be generous out of sincerity, not compulsion)
- Luke 8:14 “…but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures…” (building your life’s security in money will generate stress and frustration)
- Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
- Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (place your faith in God, not money)
Being thrifty is good advice when you understand what it includes and how to live it out in your daily life. As you continue your walk in scouting, think about how you pay your own way for camping trip fees, grubmaster fees, souveniers, Scouting gear and equipment.
Take time to ask questions and seek sound advice from your parents. Learn about savings plans, investments and budgets. One place you could start is Personal Management Merit Badge. As you get older, and have more opportunities to earn money, be willing to tackle hard work and save the money you earn. You’ll be building options and choices for your future that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy.