Like most people, I’ve had my triumphs and my tribulations in my 51 years. But from a very early age, I examined the circumstances of my life. On the one hand, I was born a white, Protestant male in the most privileged and powerful yet moral civilization ever on Earth. I was born at the dawn of the technological age (I’ve been waiting all my life for the internet), where information was at my beck and call. These advantages make me a member of a group with potential unique in human history. On the other hand, my father died when I was six, after having his first stroke at age 39 when I was four. His inability to work and increasing mental deficiency, in a neighborhood where I was the youngest out and about, opened me to a lot of ridicule from other kids. My mother proceeded to remarry and be re-widowed two more times over the next 13 years, enhancing her trend into mental illness and alcoholism, which everyone in my family has (except me and my kids, thank God). My brother was discovered to be a sexual predator. I broke my back when I was twenty.
With the two hands of my life such a dichotomy, I wondered throughout childhood what God had in mind for me. Then it occurred to me that God was forging me with adversity to make me tough, then equipping me to be at this pivot in history to do something extremely critical and important. When young I thought it was to be a soldier, a valorous, but noble, American soldier. The quagmire of Viet Nam made it clear that was not my venue.
Life happens while you’re making plans, and I married and fathered children, pursued a career, and became a Scout leader. I was about 8 years in as a Scoutmaster, when one day I was sitting alone at a picnic table at summer camp, watching my Troop do its thing, and do it well. I seem to have a real aptitude for Scout mastering, probably because I love it so much. The old thought came to me, what was I supposed to do with my life? Suddenly it was revealed to me: This was what I was supposed to do with my life! My calling was to be a Scout leader.
Now, I’m a little skeptical of anyone who tells me God speaks to them personally (especially when they want money because of it), but one day, sitting in the Scoutmaster’s lounge at camp, about ten of us were having honesty time. One SM said: “If it hadn’t been for me becoming a Scoutmaster, I’d be nothing but a drunk!” A few more similar comments came forth from the group, and I decided to reveal my calling by God to be a Scouter. To my complete surprise, everyone in the room nodded their heads in understanding. They had all had the same experience!
Some days I wish God had called me to be a taste tester at Ben & Jerry’s, but what ya going to do?
Mort Skipper, Scoutmaster,