Do a Good Turn Daily

Boy Scout Facts

From "Scouting," January-February 2010:

  • The Boy Scouts were officially started by Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (1857-1941) when he published Scouting for Boys in [ let the congregation say based on it being the 100th anniversary ] 1908.
  • General (in the British Army) Baden-Powell "was officially crowned the first—and only—Chief Scout of the World" at the 1920 World Scout Jamboree in London.
  • William D. Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 2010.
  • William Boyce was a "wealthy newspaper publisher" who "came to the boys' work by accident" (but more on that later).
  • The Boy Scouts of America's 100-millionth member was registered in 2000.

William D. Boyce's "accidental" introduction to the Boy Scouts

The Story of a Good Turn, Boy Scout Handbook, Tenth Edition, Chapter 26, Boy Scouts of America

How good must a Good Turn be to be good? The answer is best given by telling you the story of how Scouting came to America. It shows that it isn't the size of a Good Turn that counts. What is important is the spirit with which a Scout does a Good Turn.

“Do a Good Turn Daily” is the Scout Slogan.

One Day in 1909 in London, England, an American visitor, William D. Boyce, lost his way in a dense fog. He Stopped under a street lamp and tried to figure out where he was. A boy approached him and asked if he could be of help.

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

“You certainly can,” said Boyce. He told the boy that he wanted to find a certain business office in the center of the city.

“I'll take you there,” said the boy.

When they got to the destination, Mr. Boyce reached into his pocket for a tip. But the boy stopped him.

“No thank you, sir. I am a Scout. I won't take anything for helping.”

“A Scout? And what might that be?” asked Boyce.

The boy told the American about himself and his brother Scouts. Boyce became very interested. After finishing his errand, he had the boy take him to the British Scouting office.

At the office, Boyce met Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the famous British general who had founded the Scouting movement in Great Britain. Boyce was so impressed with what he learned that he decided to bring Scouting home with him.

[ ]

That boy is the "unknown Scout"…

I suspect in one way or another Scouting has touch almost all of our lives. Whether we have been involved in Scouting, helped lead scouting, or just been blessed by it—those 100 million Scouts have had a major positive impact on all of us.

[ Share story of how it recently helped with the knee injury…admitting I didn't allow Mikey to use all his skills because I was so stubborn. ☺ ]

The Boy Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan

From Page 9 of The Box Scout Handbook, 11th edition, 1998.


On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country

And to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong,

Mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law:

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

Scout Motto:

Be Prepared.

Scout Slogan:

Do a Good Turn Daily.

Anything wrong?

Anything anyone can disagree with in those? Anyone who wouldn't like their son…or daughter…to grow up following the Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan?

Are they biblical?

Be Prepared

First…let's look at the Boy Scout Motto, "Be Prepared":

Matt 25:1-13

25 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like​ ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet​ the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were ​wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 Then all those virgins rose and​trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' 12 But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, ​I do not know you.' 13​Watch therefore, for you​know neither the day nor the hour.

Without going deeply into the overall meaning of the parable of the ten virgins (what 5 were prepared for and what 5 weren't)…could there be a better story about "being prepared"?

So, "Be Prepared" is definitely biblical…at least at some level…

The Scout Oath

Luke 10:25-37

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" 27 And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denari and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."

Could you imagine a Boy Scout passing the victim on the road and do nothing? Not a chance…if only because they want to try out their first aid skills on a real subject, not with just jello wounds and ketchup. ☺

Seriously though…the reason that Boy Scouts came to America was because the unknown Scout was being a Good Samaritan…so I think we would all agree that Scouting teaches neighborliness.

But is the Boy Scout Oath biblical?

From US Scouting Service Project, "Scouting Websites by Scouters for Scouters" (

Note that the Boy Scout Oath has traditionally been considered to have three promises. Those three promises are delineated by the semicolons in the Oath, which divide it into three clauses. The three promises of the Scout Oath are, therefore:

  • Duty to God and country,
  • Duty to other people, and
  • Duty to self

Do those three sound familiar? At least the first two? [ Reread Luke 10:25-28 ]

Yes…the oath does include the two greatest commandments…and I think we can probably allow the addition of country and self as long as they aren't ahead of God and neighbors.

It should not surprise us

It should not surprise us that we can find religious truth in the Motto and Oath. As another page on the US Scouting Service Project notes:

The Boy Scouts of America has always been committed to the moral, ethical, and spiritual development of our youth. Scouting is not a religion, but duty to God is a basic tenet of the Scout Oath and Law.

Scouting does not seek to impose its beliefs upon others who do not share them. Virtually every religion is represented in Scouting, and the BSA does not define or interpret God. That is the role of the Scout's family and religious advisors.

[ ]

Scouting has never hidden the importance of religion…and has been willing to take hits when secular (or government) groups "punish" them for it.

Where it's not quite there…

There are limits, however, to the Scouting view. I will not try to tell any Boy Scouts here today what to believe, but as I wrap up my sermon, I would like to note something very important. First, let's look at Ephesians 2:8-10:

8 For by grace you have been saved a​through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Although that Scripture confirms the importance of the Scout Slogan, "Do a Good Turn Daily," it also shows that ultimately is faith that saves…not works.

But more importantly…

But more importantly we all have to be very cautious about what easily could be the result of the Boy Scout commitment to…

…Not seek to impose its beliefs upon others who do not share them. Virtually every religion is represented in Scouting, and the BSA does not define or interpret God

Although that is the way Scouting must act as an organization…we can't lose track of the fact that ultimately the object of one's faith is of utmost importance. [ Give example of AA meeting where someone said someone's God could be a doorknob. The third step is "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." ]

Although faith in a doorknob might allow someone to kick alcoholism, faith in a false God will not allow you to enter through the gates of eternity. You want to make sure you are waiting for the right bridegroom, otherwise you may be in for a rude awakening when you see you are at the wrong wedding and it's too late to double-check your invitation.

Although I will not…and cannot…tell any of you what to believe, my prayer for everyone here is that the true God is the one that you are attracted to do your duty to…

And I thank that God for the Boy Scouts…

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Alan is an ordinary guy, living in a small, high plains Colorado town...and humbled to be a minister of God...

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