The Trail Life Oath begins “On my honor, I will do my best…”
These five words, “I will do my best,” commit each Trailman, Trail Guide, Trail Leader, Advisor, Troopmaster and Committee Member to strive for excellence instead of settling for only competent completion. What do I mean by that? Sometimes it isn’t enough to merely do a job, when it should be crafted with care, determination and excellence.
Think about it this way….a lot of people play on competitive teams. The team “plays to win” and the best way to win the game is to follow the coach’s plan AND have each player push themselves to the edge to deliver their full commitment. Holding back, or not trying one’s hardest frustrates the goal of healthy competition and subverts the teams’ ability to achieve their goal of winning.
How do you “play to win” in your time at Trail Life? In the rest of your life, your spiritual development, your commitment to education and completing chores around the house? Can you safely cut corners? Probably, but the question isn’t whether you could take shortcuts, but whether you ought to.
You see, the details contained in the Trail Life Oath (serving God, respecting authority, being a good steward of creation, treating others as I’d want to be treated, etc.) are so important that we should “play to win”, not merely do them when it is convenient or easy.
Anyone can “cruise” through life – doing only enough to “get by”. As a Trailman, I want to stand apart from others – not for self-pride (vanity), but by setting the bar as high as I can. With that commitment in mind, I can make a difference in the lives of those around me, and I can fulfill my commitments with genuine excellence.
Failure to do my best undermines my honor, and cheats those who I pledge to serve.
In the bible, there are examples where God expects the best from us (we are to give our whole-hearted effort):
- In worship (Ps 9:1; Ps 119:1-3; Ps 119:10; Ps 119:34)
- In seeking God (Dt 4:29; Dt 6:5; Dt 10:12; Dt 11:13; Dt 13:3; Dt 30:6; 1 Sa 12:20; Pr 3:5; Jer 29:13)
- In obedience (Dt 26:16; Dt 30:2; Dt 30:10; Jos 22:5)
- In service (1 Sa 12:24)
- In repentance (Joel 2:12)
- In Joy (Zeph 3:14)
- At direct command (Mt 22:37, Mark 12:30; Mark 12:33; Luke 10:27)
In fact, we’re expected to do our best at ALL we do: in Colossians 3, verses 23-24, it says;
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Additionally, there is the story in Matthew 25 of the man who gave his servants talents to use/invest while he was gone away on a trip – they were to invest them and earn their keep as productive servants. The one who had been given the most at the start also earned the most, but the one who had been entrusted with very little showed that he wasn’t “playing to win” and did nothing but bury his talent in the ground. Upon the master’s return, he was very displeased with the servant who took the lazy way and he rewarded those who had done their best.
On your honor, do your best….or, play to win because it’s “life” and it’s important.