Part of the Scout Oath says that we’ll help other people at all times. At its’ face value this is very simple and easy to understand. Helping other people at all times is the basis for our Scout Slogan – “Do A Good Turn Daily”.
The concern I have as Scoutmaster is this – do we regularly and consistently follow through with helping other people at all times, or only when it is easy and convenient?
Our society is one that promotes selfish interests – we can see this in television programming where characters scheme to get undeserved or unearned rewards and focus on their own desires and gratification. We also see it reflected in advertisements for products and services – it’s an easy appeal to people when you tempt them with an easier, happier life if you would only purchase product X. With this pervasive message of putting your own needs ahead of others, it’s not always easy to take action that is unselfish and often unrewarding beyond a simple “thanks” from the person receiving the assistance (and sometimes we don’t even hear “thanks”).
As scouts, we don’t seek to help people for the recognition or the potential reward. In fact, the 1911 Scout Handbook admonishes scouts that “He may work for pay but must not receive tips for courtesies or good turns.” It goes on to say; “When on the street, be continually on a quest, on the lookout to help others, and always refuse any reward for the effort. This kind of courtesy and good manners is essential to success.” Some of the examples provided on how to “help others” range from practicing good manners to providing first aid at the scene of accidents.
How important is this concept of helping others? Is it just a reminder, a good idea?
The 1911 Handbook states; “And then the final and chief test of the scout is the doing of a good turn to somebody every day, quietly and without boasting. This is the proof of the scout. It is practical religion, and a boy honors God best when he helps others most. A boy may wear all the scout uniforms made, all the scout badges ever manufactured, know all the woodcraft, campcraft, scoutcraft and other activities of boy scouts, and yet never be a real boy scout. To be a real boy scout means the doing of a good turn every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the boy has a right to be classed with the great scouts that have been of such service to their country.”
What about the bible? What does it say about a Christian’s perspective and duty to help others? (Note: you don’t have to be a Christian to be a scout, but in our troop, we share a common faith and explore how scouting ideals relate to it). Here are a small collection of verses:
- Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
- Hebrews 13:2 – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
- Philippians 2:4 – Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
- 1 John 3:17 – But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
- Matthew 25:34-40 – “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
- Romans 12:13 – Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality
- James 5:19-20 – My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
- Matthew 6:1-2 – “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
In summary, it’s not always easy to help others. We have to be willing to take action – especially when it’s inconvenient for us. Sometimes our family and friends will even encourage us to “leave it alone” and not get involved; however, we know what’s right to do and we recognize it when we see it. It’s easy to look the other way, but as scouts we’re called to a higher standard – we must perform our duty.