This week at our scout troop meeting we revisited the concept of "A Scout is Courteous". In the past, we've defined courteousness as behavior built out of a heart-felt respect for others: a desire to demonstrate hospitality and understanding even when the other person/people might be difficult to deal with.
However, this night we examined courteousness in a different light -- that one of the roots of this concept "Court-esy" comes from "Courtly Manners". Courtesy, in short is how we conduct ourselves with different people in different situations. Maybe even how we ought to conduct ourselves when approaching the King of Kings, too.
I challenged the boys to think about times and situations where they'd be HIGHLY motivated to be on their BEST behavior in dealing with other people or situations -- can you think of some situations, too?
Ultimately I offered these scenarios as the discussion unfolded:
- In a courtroom in front of a judge?
- When talking to a policeman after he or she has pulled you over in your car?
- Meeting with your congressman or senator?
- Meeting the Queen of England?
- At the dining hall at summer camp?
I went on to ask the boys "Have you seen movies about the middle ages when knights and kings and noble people gathered together for formal events? Did they have a set pattern of behavior in how they addressed each other or bowed to each other?"
This behavior was called “courtly manners” and covered all sorts of situations. For instance how and when you could approach the king, when you could speak or ask a question, whether you were never supposed to turn your back to nobility, etc. Nowadays we have relaxed these various rules of etiquette considerably, but if I were to meet a real king or queen I’d want to address them properly out of respect for their position of authority.
Could we agree that even modern courtesy is a code of conduct — a way of living in respectable relationship with other people — whether we know them very well or not at all?
If so, what do we learn from scriptures about relating to other people?
We provided a list of pre-printed scripture references and asked each boy to read one selection from the list, and then we had the group discuss how that selection dealt with our code of conduct towards others.
The whole summary of this discussion is found at our blog site - http://troop113.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/a-scout-is-courteous-2/
Finally, the boys were given this question and challenge -- "Do you think that being courteous is just about holding open doors for people carrying packages or something more than that? What will you commit to do differently this week at home, school, or in other places?"
- Are the children in your church or social circles struggling with courteousness?
- Have they been given scriptures, mentoring and modeling to help them put others needs ahead of their own desires?
- Have the boys been given instruction on how to complete specific tasks such as preparing the sanctuary for services, making sure that all pews have been stocked with visitor forms, etc.
- Are they taught and expected to perform other specific duties in support of their church which demonstrates courteousness to it's membership?
- Is there a team of older men to mentor the boys and older women to mentor the girls? (Titus 2)
- Are they praised/rewarded when they "get it right"?