At a recent Eagle Scout court of honor, the ward’s bishop surveyed the boys and men sitting in the Eagles nest, a collection of Eagle Scouts. The well-seasoned men in that group gave testament to the fact that boys that earn the Eagle rank are always Eagle Scouts. The bishop said, “The most important thing about earning the Eagle rank is not the rank itself, but the Scouting principles that become part of one’s character along the trail to the Eagle.”
I was recently approached by an adult Scouter who explained that he had joined the Order of the Arrow as a youth. He wondered whether he would need to be inducted again if he wanted to become active in the Order. I explained that, like earning the Eagle rank, anyone that has been inducted into the OA remains an Arrowman for life. To be an active member you simply must be registered with a Scouting unit and pay your annual OA lodge dues.
Noting bars and triangles on others’ sashes, this man said that his sash bore only the red arrow, signifying Ordeal membership. I explained that, similar to the Eagle rank, the most important thing about being a member of the Order is not the devices on one’s sash, but how one lives the OA principles of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service.
OA Founder E. Urner Goodman wrote in 1965, “The Order of the Arrow is a thing of the spirit rather than of the mechanics. … The Things of the spirit count.
“Brotherhood—in a day when there is too much hatred at home and abroad.
“Cheerfulness—in a day when the pessimists have the floor.
“Service—in a day when millions are interested only in getting or grasping rather than giving.
“These are of the spirit, blessed of God, the great Divine Spirit” (Order of the Arrow Handbook. 2015 ed. Boy Scouts of America, 1).
This is what we mean in the OA when we refer to brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. Each OA member obligates himself to making these principles a permanent part of his character.
While Western culture often champions individualism, the theme of brotherhood is woven throughout the scriptures and is a key component of the priesthood. The OA brotherhood can help Aaronic Priesthood bearers learn to “bear one another’s burdens” (Mosiah 8:18) and demonstrate “brotherly kindness” (D&C 4:6). Many non-LDS OA members have developed a fond spot in their hearts for Latter-day Saints through a Latter-day Saint OA brother.
A common refrain found throughout the scriptures is echoed in D&C 61:36, where the Lord admonishes “all” to “be of good cheer.” Aaronic Priesthood holders that join the OA are taught to maintain cheerfulness “even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities” (OA Handbook, 11).
One of the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood is to “Give meaningful service.” OA membership offers bearers of the Aaronic Priesthood the opportunity to unselfishly serve others over and over (see Blog #4). Cheerfully (see Blog #3). The goal is to help boys become adults that simply serve others by nature rather than people that occasionally do service projects. Isn’t this what the Savior was trying to teach His disciples when He washed their feet (see John 13:12-17)?
Over the years I have watched many that have held the Aaronic Priesthood and have been solid OA members build their adult lives and Melchizedek Priesthood activity on the essential principles of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. The boys you serve can also have the opportunity to strengthen their Aaronic Priesthood service by coupling it with OA membership. They too can become brothers that cheerfully serve.
Questions to Ponder
- Did you know that OA membership offers young men the opportunity to build brotherhood while developing a habit of unselfishly serving others?
- How well do you think the principles of brotherhood, cheerfulness and service align with the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood?
- Would you like to help your Scouts improve in these areas?
- What will you do to better enable the youth in your unit to do so?
-Scott Hinrichs has been actively Scouting since age eight. He has served in many youth and adult Scouting positions and has been a member of the Order of the Arrow for more than four decades. He and his wife are raising their family in North Ogden, Utah. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.