Reverence in Scouting
Posted On: 2018-11-26
A Scout is Reverent
If you look at the Scout Handbook, you’ll find that one of the Scout’s laws say… "A Scout is reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others." One of the ways a Scout (or any person) experiences reverence is through the wonders of the outdoors, stormy weather and calm blue skies, pounding surf and trickling streams, bitter cold and stifling heat, towering trees, and barren desert, he experiences the work of God. We can also have a reverence of nature which is appreciating life in its multitude of forms, from the smallest insects to gigantic wildlife. If a Scout reverences nature that God created, a Scout comes to terms with his place in the world. Though we humans are the dominant beings on our planet, we need to play the role of steward rather than a king - tending and caring for our world instead of taking all we can for our own comfort. As technology continues to become more and more prevalent and people visit the wild places less and less, our connection to and understanding of our natural environment becomes less. We take shelter, food, comfort, and entertainment for granted rather than needing to work for it. When we never have to harvest an apple from a tree, kill a fish or animal for meat, or put on layers of clothes to stay warm, we lose the sense of awe and respect we should have for nature.
Many outdoors people claim that the wilderness is their 'church' rather than a specific structure or organization. These people revere in the awesome power of God by being in the thick of natural creation. The reverence expressed for the world and its creation is common ground that all scouts can reach when struggling to understand the last point of the Scout Law. No matter the specific religion or denomination, being reverent toward God should include our natural environment. In nature, there is no good or evil, just survival. Animals don't have the human vices of lust, pride, envy, gluttony, greed, sloth, or anger. We can learn a lot about simplifying and enjoying life from observing the wild creatures. We can also learn how our ability to care for and serve others puts us above the simple animals. While in the wilds, a Scout may come face-to-face with God. He may feel God around him in the wind, the water, the earth, and the open, wild beauty. When the Scout returns home, he needs to continue that respect and awe toward God by participating in the practices of his religion. Becoming a complete citizen includes fulfilling expectations of the church to which a person belongs. What a great opportunity to share with other youth and adults in his church, when he returns from a backpacking trek. Faithfully performing his religious duties demonstrates his reverence while in civilization.
Respecting the beliefs of others can be a challenge. It does not mean to accept and believe those other beliefs. It means to allow other people the freedom to believe what they have found to be true in their lives. In a Scout troop associated with a specific church, practices of that church can be used on Scouting activities with everyone having the same belief structure. But, in troops with Scouts from various beliefs, we need to be careful not to promote specific practices of one group. For example, requiring Scouts to remove their hats at grace may be appropriate for some religions but may be a demonstration of disrespect to God for another.
The opposite of reverence
I had not really previously considered how far out of the mainstream reverence is. Reverence isn’t cool anymore, irreverence is. Irreverence is everywhere. With a single click, you can buy the irreverent guide to parenting, grand-parenting, leadership, politics, culture, theology, church, youth ministry, and spirituality, but if you are looking for reverence? Not so much. Nearly all humor in our culture is based in irreverence – see John Stewart, The Family Guy, all stand-up comedians or nearly any sitcom. It wasn’t always this way. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. Irreverence can be a powerful part of countering the powers and principalities. Irreverence is essential for things like satire which help to unmask the rival gods of the culture. Yet I do wonder if we’re reaching a sort of cultural tipping point – where we are so irreverent about so many things that we risk losing the ability to be reverent about anything. Still, I think reverence is one of the essential moves a human being must learn to make if they want to live a life of wisdom. Reverence belongs on the list of important spiritual practices right beside prayer, rest, worship, generosity, friendship, service, or bible reading for that matter. We all need a little reverence in our lives.
Reverence is a deep respect that helps us speak from our hearts, feel into others’ experiences, and move through our days with gratitude. Reverence stands in awe of something… something that dwarfs the self, that allows human beings to sense the full extent of our limits – so that we can begin to see one another more reverently as well. If you can’t see things that are up the food chain from you with reverence then there’s no way we’ll be able to treat things down the food chain from us with reverence. If you don’t view God with reverence, chances are you won’t view your neighbor w/reverence either.
Reverence fosters joy and a cheerful heart, reverence makes us able to appreciate and care for the good in life.
A Scout is Reverent.