I was scoutmaster to eighteen boys. On Tuesday nights I handled the scouting activities, but on Sundays, though I met with them in their church class, another man taught them. But one week, after he finished the Sunday lesson and everyone was leaving, he stopped me.
“Daris, I would like you to teach the lesson next week.”
“Are you going to be gone?” I asked.
He shook his head. “No, I just don’t know how to approach the topic.”
I took the manual, and when I arrived at my home, I opened it up and looked at the lesson. The title was, “The Importance of a Good Marriage.”
Instantly I realized his dilemma. That lesson might work for boys that were sixteen to eighteen, but not for boys who were twelve to fourteen. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to talk about girls. It was just that they didn’t know how to go about it. Conversations around the campfire of that nature were awkward. One boy might start by saying to another, “I think your sister is cute.” At which point the second boy would say, “You must have a mental condition! Don’t get near me. I don’t want to catch it.” And that would be the end of the conversation.
I spent a lot of time thinking about the lesson and had an idea. When Sunday came, speaking to the loudest, most talkative boy, I said, “Gordy, I need you to write on the chalkboard for me.” He happily took his position. I then turned to the other boys. “I want all of you to tell Gordy everything you want in the girl you plan to marry.”
The look of shock on their faces wasn’t unexpected, but eventually Mort grinned and started it off. “She needs to be pretty.”
“Yeah,” Devin said. “And rich.”
Soon the boys were throwing out ideas faster than Gordy could write, and he had to write faster and abbreviate. Within twenty minutes there were four columns with about fifteen things in each. When they had basically run out of ideas and board space, I started the next phase.
“Now,” I said, “you have to narrow it to three.”
“Three?” Dallin gasped. “That’s crazy!”
“You better make sure you keep the three that are most important to you,” I replied. “I may give suggestions, but I won’t tell you what to choose.”
“Well, I suppose that cooking good pies could come off,” Mort said reluctantly.
Some of the boys argued briefly, but eventually Gordy erased it. Gradually the lists grew smaller. When they debated taking off “pretty,” I said, “Guys, you will sit across the table from her all of your life. I’m not saying she has to be drop-dead gorgeous, but she should be attractive to you.” They decided to leave it.
When they debated about the fact that she should be rich, again I gave a suggestion. “When you say she is rich, where did she get her money?” I asked.
“From her dad, of course,” Mort replied.
“And do you think he’s going to give his money to you?” The boys paused and looked at each other. “In addition,” I continued, “if she has had a lot of money, she will expect you to provide for her in the same way.”
Before anyone could even say anything else, Gordy said, “Nix that,” and erased it.
When they finally finished, they had three things which they felt would encompass all other critical items. One, she had to be pretty.
Two, she had to be nice.
And three, she had to be a good mother.
As the boys looked at their list, and thought about what they decided were the most important qualities they wanted in a girl, I asked them the most important question of the lesson.
“And what are you doing in your life to become the kind of man that kind of girl would be interested in?”