Faith Modeling and Servant Leadership
By Larry Coppock
“As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake.”
There is a difference between faith modeling and faith teaching. Faith teaching is instruction about a particular faith, for example, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or a specific doctrinal stance, such as one’s beliefs about God or the Bible.
The Office of Scouting Ministries emphasizes faith modeling while clearly stating that faith teaching is the responsibility of the home or the religious institution or organization.
Jesus constantly provided a faith model for his followers. When the disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus, the ultimate servant leader, called a child into their midst and talked about becoming like children. Then he said, “As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake,”
This passage conveys the high calling of those who inspire youth by modeling their faith. As a Scout leader, you are entrusted with the precious gift of young lives. Parents, who have experienced the miracle of a new life, are sharing that miracle with you. They are expecting you to model your faith and to help their children grow. Civic youth-serving agency programs stress citizenship, character development, and physical fitness. As a Scout leader you are encouraged to promote these values.
Young people learn a great deal about lifestyles by observing others and by practicing the behaviors they witness. Most parents can tell stories of how and when their children imitated them. Just as you have learned that personal skills are better taught by demonstration, followed by a chance to practice the skills, so faith development is encouraged by demonstration, with encouragement and opportunities to practice faith skills.
As a servant leader, you are expected to abide by the policy that specific religious instruction is the responsibility of the home or the religious institution. However, you can let young people know that God is important in your life by the way you live in their midst. You can live a faith-oriented lifestyle. If you are a scouting leader in The UMC, you have committed yourself to demonstrating a belief in God.
Edited from Scouting Guidelines 2016. Order your copy from Cokesbury.com.
Larry W. Coppock, national director of scouting ministries
General Commission on UM Men