In the Scout Oath a young man pledges to do his duty to God. Duty to God is the first responsibility of a Scouting youth. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints young men of the Aaronic Priesthood are given a Fulfilling My Duty to God: For Aaronic Priesthood Holders (2010) booklet to help them grow closer to the Lord.
As should be readily apparent from all of my previous messages—particularly my recent messages on rank advancement and merit badges—Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood are inseparably connected. Scouting and the Church’s Duty to God (DTG) program are also inseparably connected. They are not independent programs. Yet I often hear Young Men leaders say they calendar one weeknight per month for Scouting, one night to work on DTG, and another night to fulfill priesthood responsibilities. The fourth weeknight of the month is reserved for joint activities with the Young Women.
Brethren, I hope you realize by now, there is no “Duty to God night” because the purpose of the DTG booklet is not about checking off tasks or completing assignments. It is not about getting a certificate or being recognized for one’s accomplishments. It is about teaching a young man to learn how to humbly fulfill his priesthood and Scouting responsibilities by being in tune with the Holy Spirit. DTG is an experiential instruction manual of how a young boy should live his life. DTG is a process that teaches a boy to learn about the gospel, act upon the things he learns, and share his testimony with others regarding his spiritual experiences. It is a process a young boy ought to experience every day of his life, not just one night a month or during special times set aside in quorum meetings.
You can help your boys learn the power of constantly learning, acting, and sharing by holding a reflection after each of your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities (see Mac’s Message #28). Through reflection a young man ponders how the experience helped him to gain the spiritual strength he needs to stay on the path of righteousness, to draw closer to the Savior as he exercises the priesthood, to learn how to apply the standards from For the Strength of Youth, or to prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be worthy to serve a full-time mission (see Fulfilling My Duty to God, 10–11). Again, fulfilling one’s duty to God is something a boy should be thinking about and doing regularly.
A boy learns about his duty to God from faithful parents and adult leaders who teach him through understanding, shepherding, and experiencing priesthood power. A boy begins to understand the priesthood when you “let every [boy] stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling” (D&C 84:109). Through shadow leadership you shepherd a boy and teach him how to fulfill his duty to God by “tak[ing] with [you] him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also” (D&C 84:106). The teachings of Jesus Christ connect in a boy’s mind when he experiences the gospel through service, missionary work, ministering to others, and fulfilling priesthood assignments. DTG is a means by which a young man learns “his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence” (D&C 107:99). DTG definitely is not a one night per month program.
When the new Duty to God booklet originally came out, some Young Men leaders were puzzled that there no longer was a commemorative coin to be presented when a boy completed his DTG requirements. They didn’t realize that the responsibility of a righteous priesthood holder to fulfill his duty to God never comes to an end. A young man never finishes working on his Duty to God accomplishments during his six years in the Aaronic Priesthood because Duty to God is not a program; it is a way of life. The lack of a coin award was meant to emphasize this point.
Adult Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood leaders need to help their boys learn that the reward for DTG comes through learning, acting, and sharing. When a young man prayerfully studies the scriptures and learns about the gospel, he is rewarded with knowledge, insight, inspiration, and enlightenment. His heart and mind are opened with eyes of understanding. When he acts upon the things he learns, a boy is rewarded with the joy that comes from serving others. And when he shares what he learns, the Spirit bears witness and rewards him with the warmth that comes when one knows a thing is true.
The rewards of fulfilling one’s duty to God can be a daily experience. That is why every young man in the Church is encouraged to read his scriptures daily, pray daily, and “do a good turn” daily. The Lord wants your young men to “always have His Spirit to be with them.” He wants them to feel the wonderful blessings that come when one faithfully fulfills his priesthood duties each and every day.
If you are holding separate Duty to God nights, please stop. Fulfilling one’s duty to God is what every boy should be doing every day of his life for the rest of his life. I pray the Lord will bless you with an understanding of the DTG concept and how you can use it to inspire your young men to immerse themselves in regularly fulfilling their duty to God. Yours is an important calling in the Lord’s Church. You have been given stewardship over God’s young men. You have a duty to God to ensure your boys “may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands” (D&C 105:10).
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Have you helped your boys realize that fulfilling one’s duty to God is a lifelong pursuit?
- Are you shepherding your young men in their priesthood duties so they gain understanding and experience in serving the Lord?
- Do you fully recognized the power you hold to mold young men into righteous priesthood leaders?
- Have you helped your boys to experience the rewards that come when they learn, act, and share their experiences with the Holy Spirit?
- Do you take your calling seriously and magnify your priesthood responsibilities to teach the Lord’s “little ones” and bring them unto Him?
- Are you doing your duty to God?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Fulfilling your duty to God is lifelong experience. Don’t think of this book as a list of tasks that you must hurry through in order to earn an award. Instead, focus on how the activities you choose can help you develop spiritual attributes and become the kind of priesthood holder Heavenly Father wants you to be” (Fulfilling My Duty to God, 8).
-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Evanston, Wyoming. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.