For about 15 years, I thought I had a complete testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and all of its doctrines and programs.
I was wrong.
I actually knew I didn't have a testimony of scouting, but I was kind of in denial about it. I figured it just wasn't that big of a deal - which was part of maintaining the state of denial.
I've been working with the Young Men for about three years now. And the whole time, I had really not been "into" scouting. I had my excuses: I was never involved in scouting before (my parents never got me into it), it wasn't really a program of the Church, I would eventually be released from Young Men and not have to worry about it any more, it was too much work, etc.
I used to work with the Teachers where we used to live. Shortly before we moved, I was released. Then we moved in September and in our new ward I was called to work with the Deacons. I am Second Counselor in the Young Men Presidency, Deacons Quorum Adviser, and Assistant Scout Master. Still, I had no testimony of scouting, and it was starting to concern me a little.
Then, the Scout Master told me about an upcoming scouting training meeting. It was called "Little Philmont" and it was going to be on a Saturday morning from 7AM to NOON. I was reluctant to go, but knew that I should.
So, the night before, and the morning of, I prayed sincerely that I would get something important out of Little Philmont - I prayed that I would gain a testimony of scouting.
I arrived at the meeting hopeful. There was an opening session of talks and presentations, then a couple of breakout sessions, and a closing session with talks, including one from Larry M. Gibson from the Young Men General Presidency.
I was really touched several times - I felt the Spirit testify to me, and I had tears fill my eyes.
It was spoken to my mind, via facts, figures, statistics and logical presentations. It was spoken to my heart by sweet personal stories and by the testimonies of others. By the end of that five hours, I WAS CONVERTED.
The Church endorses the Boy Scouts of America. The prophet is fully behind scouting. The program is inspired, and it goes hand-in-hand with the Aaronic Priesthood in preparing boys and young men to obtain their Duty to God Award, attend and graduate from Seminary, serve a mission, marry in the temple, and endure to the end.
I want my son to be an Eagle Scout and earn and receive all the above-mentioned blessings. That will not happen if his dad is not fully on board with the program.
And now I am.
I have gained a testimony of scouting. It's an amazing feeling. It made me feel what I felt so long ago when I gained a testimony of all the rest of the Church. That feeling that you can't imagine how you could have ever not believed. I feel invigorated!
Next, I will be getting a scout uniform shirt (what President Monson calls "the working clothes of the Aaronic Priesthood") and a scout book. It feels good to know that I will now be fully magnifying my calling, and giving those boys who I love the full measure of my devotion that they need and deserve.
And my sweet son will also benefit from it one day, when he is older and becomes a scout.
The next weekend, we went on the Klondike Derby winter campout in the snow. It was lots of fun. I am certain that I would not have enjoyed it (that I would've done it grudgingly) had I not gained my testimony of scouting beforehand.
It's hard to admit that I was lacking in my testimony. It is humbling that I had to repent. But I have, and I am now reaping the great blessings of doing so. And I know that I must continue to nurture that testimony to maintain it and make it grow (just like with any aspect of your testimony - you can never be complacent).
I testify that the scouting program in the Church is critical to the success of our young men. Only three out of ten boys in primary will go on a mission. Nine out of ten Eagle Scouts go on a mission. Most return missionaries marry in the temple. Scouting prepares boys for their role as righteous family men, and helps them to learn important real-world skills and principles.
It's hard to understand why I didn't see it clearly before, but I do now.
And I hope that every parent of a boy who is of scouting age will be supportive of the program and encourage their young men to get involved and help them as they work toward earning their Eagle.
One larger point I would like to make: if you ever want to gain a testimony about any aspect of the Church, if you need any help in strengthening your belief in something, if you need any help at all - ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE.
Actually, you should:
1) Ask humbly and sincerely, praying with faith that you will receiveHe will help you. He will be there for you and assist you as you make the effort to improve.
2) Go and DO something about it so Heavenly Father can help you
This experience has been a wonderful confirmation of the words of Jesus Christ, quoted by Moroni and found in Ether 12:27:
And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."