By Michelle Carpenter
Sep 04, 2016

Two Uniforms of Christ-like Service

I grew up watching my younger brother Mikey dressed in uniform for Boy Scouting events. He wore all the required clothing: a buttoned up shirt with an American flag on the right shoulder, dark pants, and official crests and emblems. As he grew in his Scouting endeavors, he gained other tokens to add to his uniform. He eventually earned the Eagle Scout rank emblem for his left pocket.

Mikey places the Eagle pin on his mom.

Mikey places the Eagle pin on his mom.

It’s interesting to me that I never heard him complain about having to wear a uniform. Rather, it was something to be proud of. It represented the good he’d done and the service he accomplished among his neighbors in Erda, Utah.

About two weeks ago, my brother donned another uniform, one completely different in appearance yet similar in meaning. He put on a suit and name tag to serve the people in Busan, Korea as an missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The uniform he wears now represents the good he is doing and will do as he prepares in the Missionary Training Center to serve.

I have contemplated the symbolism of the two uniforms and how wearing a Scout uniform and being a Scout has prepared my brother for his mission. As the saying goes, clothing can be an “outward expression of one’s inner commitment.”

For my brother and other young men, the Scouting uniform and missionary wardrobe represent Christ-like qualities.

The Scouting uniform has a lot of positive symbolism. A Scout may wear a World  Crest above his left pocket. The stars on it represent truth and knowledge, the square knot represents service, and the crest as a whole represents brotherhood, according to the BSA uniform site.

Uniform patches are displayed on a boy scout.

The World Scout Crest

An American flag on his shirt serves to remind a young man of his own country, and shoulder loops signify the level of service the Scout has accomplished. A unit number reminds him of the group of peers he represents.

When others see a Scout in uniform, they expect him to behave in a certain way. They know the boy has committed to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” They also know he strives to “do a good turn daily.” They understand who the young man is and what he is supposed to be doing.

President Thomas S. Monson tells a story of a Norman Rockwell painting in which a young man knew what the Scout uniform represents. He says, “[The painting] is of a small lad, clad in the oversized Scout uniform of his older brother. He is looking at himself in a mirror which adorns the wall, his tiny arm raised in the Scout salute. It could well be entitled ‘Following in the Footsteps of Scouting’.”

I think of Mikey, dressed in his Scouting uniform. He wasn’t a perfect teen, but he tried to embody the qualities of a Scout. I consider him now, serving as a missionary. Over his left chest, he currently wears a name tag instead of a World Crest. This can also serve to remind him of service, truth, and brotherhood as he considers the names he bears on his tag.

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Mikey hugs his mom at the MTC.

The tag bears the title of Elder, which marks him as one willing to serve with priesthood authority. He proclaims the name of the Church and of Christ himself.

Just like when he was a Scout, when people see him in his missionary clothes, they will know who he is and what he represents. He will want to continue to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” He will continue to do good for others every day.

The qualities he gained while in his Scouting uniform will go with him while in the field. His two uniforms lead him to a life of Christ-like service.

 

 

Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council.

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4 thoughts on “Two Uniforms of Christ-like Service

  1. Maggi

    I have been working for the Heart of Virginia council in Richmond, VA for 10 years now. I must compliment these young men I have been watching them grow into manhood. When they finally reach Eagle there is a positive young man who is proud to be Scouter. HE is what represents the youth of today!
    Maggi Benbeneck

    Reply
  2. Christopher Thorpe

    I was a little surprised to see an article about “Christ-like Service” in an ecumenical organization like the Boy Scouts. Our brothers and sisters who are not Christians but are an important part of Scouting might feel excluded by the focus on “Christ-like” as a value. It’s a worthy article, and exemplifies the Scout Oath and Law – words that Scouts of all faiths and creeds can identify with.

    Thank you for the good work you do each day.

    Reply
  3. Kevin HuntKevin Hunt

    Great article! Well done. There is also another uniform – worn at the same time as the Scout uniform. This is the white shirt and tie that he uses as he passes, prepares and blesses the sacrament. And it is so exciting that boys wear the two uniforms – Scouting and the Priesthood – together! Both are important and both help bring the boys to the missionary uniform that you described. Again, excellent article. Thank you!

    Reply

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