The scout motto is “Be Prepared”. What do you think this means in practical day to day terms?
The 1911 BSA Handbook offers this guidance on the motto:
“The motto, ‘Be Prepared,’ means that the scout is always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do his duty. To be prepared in mind, by having disciplined himself to be obedient, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that may occur, so that he may know the right thing to do at the right moment, and be willing to do it. To be prepared in body, by making himself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and then to do it.”
I believe the advice is being provided so that we’re ready to help other people proactively, and to learn that we don’t need to fear the uncertain possibilities that could occur if we make the effort to be ready.
The motto is practical advice even if it seems overly broad in its scope. On the other hand, being prepared for a specific circumstance like your first day of school is easier since you can make certain plans and may receive specific preparatory guidance (what to buy, what to bring, when to arrive, where to go, the name of your homeroom teacher, et.al.) Being ready for anything is a tall order and yet it is part of our scouting ideals.
How do we get ready? For starters, we study nature, first aid, safety, scoutcraft and woodcraft in order to make camping and hiking trips fun. We also practice these skills to be ready for disasters, and to help other people who may not know what to do when the power is out and the water supply has been contaminated (a scout helps other people at all times).
If we master our skills a little bit at a time, and work our way through the scout handbook (which you’ll have done by the time you’re First Class), you’ll be far along the trail. As you practice your leadership skills and develop responsibility, you’ll progress even further as you walk the trail towards Eagle. Getting prepared for “anything” is a life long commitment – you’re never done getting ready for what’s next or what might happen.
Can we really be ready for everything we encounter in life? I think we can be ready for most practical eventualities (i.e. natural disasters, learning to eat healthy, etc.), but our Scouting Ideals also challenge us acknowledge our role in a larger world that exists around us. To this end, what does the Bible say about being prepared? (Note: you don’t have to be “Christian” to be a scout, but in our troop, our families share a common faith practice and we often look at how our scouting ideals and Christian ideals may support each other).
Here are two of my favorite selections (out of many) from the Bible on being prepared:
- Matthew 7:24-27 (The Wise and Foolish Builders) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
- 1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”
In one case, we are reminded that the Bible gives us all the insights we need to lead productive and quiet, God honoring lives. All we have to do to withstand the storms is follow the plan and build our house on the rock. Building on the sand seems easier – it takes less effort up front – and is a lot like walking through life without paying attention to the lessons that will keep us sound during the storms (relying on God’s wisdom instead of relying on our own judgment about life).
In second selection, we are reminded that we need to be prepared to offer a reasonable answer to the question “why do you have such deeply held, soul-satisfying hope?” In short, why do you believe what you believe? Why do you feel you need God? Why do you place your trust in Him?
If we follow the advice in the first scenario (becoming familiar, step by step, with God’s word and putting it into practice daily), we ought to be ready for the second one (being able to answer why it works for us).
“Be Prepared” is a good motto for living – as scouts or as people of faith who trust in God. I think many people would agree; however, the real issue is this: are you willing to make the commitment to getting ready and practicing daily? It’s the commitment and practice that makes the motto yield results when they are most needed.