The young child sat fiddling with his red car, making obnoxious beeping noises as someone preached from the church pulpit. “Shh, be reverent,” said his mom.

She asked for reverence. But, what did she really want?

Most likely, she hoped he’d hush up. His noise was distracting, improper, or even embarrassing. She wanted him to listen, or, at least, play quietly.

This fictional scenario is real, and I see similar incidents happen all the time.

Sometimes, people incorrectly define reverence. They associate reverence with quietly paying attention to religious things. They aren’t far off.

Being quiet can encourage reverence. Listening can definitely encourage reverence.

But, those aren’t requirements, and Scouts need to understand what reverence is. Reverence is defined as, “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe.”  

With God in mind, it means, “honoring Him, expressing gratitude to Him, and obeying His commandments.”

Reverence requires attitude, not just action.

For example, I went to a Carrie Underwood concert some weeks ago, and, in that noisy, boisterous environment, Carrie sang about baptism. In that moment, I felt reverence for God. I respected Him, and I wanted to follow Him.

Reverence can come as a Boy Scout looks out at a sunset.  It can come as he participates in a flag retirement ceremony. It can even come as he laughs and includes other boys in playing.

But, just because he salutes, doesn’t talk, or is inclusive, it does not mean he’s reverent. To be reverent to God, he must feel that respect and love. He has to understand the power behind what he is doing, and he has to be doing it for God. However, it’s probably not enough that he  feels warm and fuzzy. True reverence indicates such respect he’s acting or will act.

So, are Scouts really being reverent?

Yes, they often are. Scouting elicits reverence. Boys are thrown into God’s creations, and they are invited to serve Him by serving others. They look to leaders, and they observe much.

The Boy Scouts of America states the following about reverence:

“These commitments to the prominence of God in one’s life form a cornerstone of the Scouting program. When properly interpreted by an adult Scouter of strong faith to young people, even the unchurched begin to understand their need for God.”

Your Scouts may be boisterous, wild, and a little crazy. But, they might be more reverent than you think.

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Michelle Carpenter
is a reporter for the Voice of Scouting and a marketing associate for The Utah National Parks Council. Her father, husband, and brother are all Eagle Scouts, so she firmly believes some of the best men did Scouting.

8 comments

  1. Don Peterson says:

    We continue to receive narrow, dogmatic lectures on what is “god”, and the meanings thereof. Must a spiritual journey conform only to a western, monotheistic, interventionist idea of a god? I note that Buddhism is an accepted Scouting spiritual perspective, yet there is no “god” in Buddhism. There certainly is reverence, but it is not for a paternalistic, actively engaged “god” sitting on a throne judging one for their conformity to various human-written texts.

    I am leading my grandson through Scouting with what I consider to be a rich spiritual existence. Such a journey depends upon an open and questioning mind, not a subordinate, submissive attitude. I hope he will grow up to be a leader, and not a follower of a blind faith.

    When can we get a more open conversation about “reverence” and spirituality in Scouting. It is long past time.

    1. Michelle Carpenter
      Michelle Carpenter ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

      Don,

      That’s a great point. Eastern religions like Buddhism or Hinduism are polytheistic, and they are very great at implementing reverence towards ancestors, their faith, a variety of gods (I saw this when I visited several Asian countries), and their community.

      We’d love to get an article from you on what it means to be reverent generally speaking in Scouting. If interested, email me at michelle.carpenter@scouting.org.

  2. Don Peterson says:

    We continue to receive narrow, dogmatic lectures on what is “god”, and the meanings thereof. Must a spiritual journey conform only to a western, monotheistic, interventionist idea of a god? I note that Buddhism is an accepted Scouting spiritual perspective, yet there is no “god” in Buddhism. There certainly is reverence, but it is not for a paternalistic, actively engaged “god” sitting on a throne judging one for their conformity to various human-written texts.

    I am leading my grandson through Scouting with what I consider to be a rich spiritual existence. Such a journey depends upon an open and questioning mind, not a subordinate, submissive attitude. I hope he will grow up to be a leader, and not a follower of a blind faith.

    When can we get a more open conversation of “reverence” and spirituality in Scouting? It is long past time.

  3. Curet Sundell says:

    Speaking of reverence and Duty to God is an oxymoron as your new policies are an affront to my Faith.

  4. Ryan Christensen says:

    Nice article. However, I wish the author had exercised some reverence as demonstrated by replacing “burning” with “retirement.”

  5. Ryan Christensen says:

    Nice article. However I wish the author had exercised reverence and relplaced “burning” with “retirement.”

    1. Michelle Carpenter
      Michelle Carpenter ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

      Ryan,
      Thank you for pointing that out. I was not aware that was the proper terminology and went ahead and fixed it.

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