The Trailman’s Oath – To do my Best

An oath is not something to be given lightly, and is fraught with risk. The Trailman lays his honor on the line each time he recites the Trail Life oath.  Any oath worth taking requires this.  Any oath worth taking also requires one’s best efforts.

On my honor, I will do my best…

Many experts in the corporate world criticize the concept of “doing one’s best,” because it does not, in their eyes, address results.  They highlight the fact that someone can do their best and still fail.  They believe, like Yoda “Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.”  Of course, Yoda is fiction, but there is a important difference between Trail Life effort and Corporate results.

The measure of a Trailman is who he is, not what he does.  While there are awards and badges, there has been a conscious step away from burdensome badge swag towards the intangibles of Godliness, virtue, and wonder.  The Trailman can never completely achieve these goals in the corporate sense.  The moment he stops doing his best towards these things he loses them.  This is why it is better to vow to “do our best” than to simply “do.”

Trail Life is a horizontal organization.  It is a comfort to the Trailman (and leadership) that our best efforts will be blessed and thereby transformed by God.  Whereas the corporate doer has only him or herself, the Trailman aspires to cooperate with God’s plan.  The Trailman should always keep God’s promise in mind.

Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Mathew 7:7-8

The Trailman makes an oath to do his best, because it is required.  Consider the absurdity of making an oath to be marginally committed.  Now consider what it means to make a vow to do one’s best.  This should give anyone pause, because the vow to do one’s best means you will likely break that vow at sometime.  G.K. Chesterton addresses the importance of vows in his essay, The Importance of Rash Vows:

The man who makes a vow makes an appointment with himself at some distant time or place. The danger of it is that himself should not keep the appointment. And in modern times this terror of one’s self, of the weakness and mutability of one’s self, has perilously increased, and is the real basis of the objection to vows of any kind.

The Trailman’s oath to do his best should inspire him to courageously go about his service to God and Country, confident that God will bless his efforts.

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