Part of our weekly scout troop meetings is devoted to studying the ideals of the program and whether they measure up to scriptures, and how boys can take these concepts and use them as building blocks to develop their sense of "manliness" in practical ways.
This week, we studied part of our scout pledge which explains our "duty to self" (out of three duties -- Duty to God, Duty to Others being the first and second priorities). Our duty to self states that we keep ourselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. Now, we've previously discussed these three areas, but on this night we wanted to delve deeper into what it means to be "mentally awake" and to discuss how we could discipline ourselves to be "mentally awake".
Some quotes from William Bennett's book "The Book of Man" helped set the stage for the discussion. Here's a snippet:
"It is natural to think of men first as physical beings and to describe manhood as muscle, strength, power and actions — whether heroic and courageous or weak and timid. But the true root of a man’s existence is his ability to think and reflect. In the Bible, God’s first task for man was to name creation and be its caretaker — an internal, reflective activity…Reflection and contemplation separate men from the rest of creation...A man sharpens and strengthens his body through exercise; he sharpens and strengthens his mind through thought and reflection–like spiritual calisthenics and study. Much like a body goes to waste without exercise, so, too, will a thoughtless mind...In the act of prayer, man studies and dissects his own soul while recognizing that there is an order and a power greater than himself to whom he is accountable. Prayer brings us closer to God in the same way that engaging in conversation with another human strengthens our relationship with that person…As you will see throughout this chapter, men who prayed incessantly believed that God would answer–and he often did so in powerful ways."
As a discussion, the boys bit into the questions with urgency, but then had to back off to re-examine their thoughts. Here are some of the questions we discussed:
- So would you agree that internal reflection and prayer and faith practice have a direct role to play in becoming and maintaining our mental health?
- What would you question or add to this concept?
- Do you feel that spending a little time each day reading the bible, or praying, or going to Sunday school each week helps keep you mentally awake?
- Would you, personally, feel the same way if you simply substituted your favorite comic book or such in place of the Bible? Why or why not?
- In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul writes “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” How does this scripture reference relate to tonight’s topic?
How about you? Is it desirable to develop mental discipline that we might be called "mentally awake?"
If you'd like to see our whole article/discussion wrap up, here's a link -- http://troop113.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/to-keep-myself-mentally-awake/