This past Saturday, my daughter Lesley got married. It was a lovely wedding on a picture-perfect fall afternoon, and we were thrilled to share the celebration with more than 250 friends and family members from several states and even a couple of foreign countries.
So what does my family news have to do with Scouting? A lot. You see, my new son-in-law, Ben Williams, is also one of my Eagle Scouts. On March 12, 2006, I presented him with his Eagle badge on a stage just yards away from where Saturday’s wedding occurred. Sharing the stage was another new Eagle Scout, Eric Yff, who would go on to serve two years in the Peace Corps before heading off to law school.
Of course, at that long-ago court of honor, I had no idea what the future would hold for Ben or Eric. The Eagle charge I delivered said as much. Here’s part of it:
You may embark on a lifetime of service to Scouting, giving back to the program that’s given you so much, but you may never put on a Scout uniform again. You may choose a rewarding career, one that brings you fame and fortune, but you make take any old job so you can spend more time with your family. You may strive to make the world a better place by pursuing some sort of full-time ministry, but you may decide you can better serve in other ways.
And guess what. It doesn’t really matter. Wherever you go, you’ll go as Eagle Scouts. Whatever you do, the values the badge represents will guide your hands.
So my challenge to you is simple: “Teach with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.” [from 1 Timothy 4:12, by the way]
When we’re dealing with a bunch of squirrelly 11-year-olds or surly 15-year-olds in Scouting, it can be easy to forget the significance of what we’re doing. Forrest Witcraft once wrote that we should look at every boy as “a potential atom bomb in human history.” I think we should look at them as future sons-in-law, too. Then, we might give them the Scouting experience they–and all the people whose lives they will touch–deserve.