Doing a good turn

When you hear the phrase “Do a good turn” do you think of Scouting?  My hope is that you do, but for some of you that will not be the case.  The story below gives the supposed context of this motto of Scouting:

What We Owe To the Good Turn

As a real matter of fact it was an unselfish, fine spirited Good Turn by an unknown English boy which brought Scouting to America in the first place. The incident, now a cherished tradition in the annals of the Boy Scouts of America, ran as follows: William D. Boyce, the Chicago publisher, a matter-of-fact business man, had lost himself in the heart of a London fog, and in his bewilderment he looked here and there.

A street urchin, noticing his embarrassment, came up and saluted Mr. Boyce and said, "May I be of service to you?" Mr. Boyce said, "If you can show me how to find such-and-such an address it will be a real service." This lad very smartly saluted and said, "Sir, follow me." He forthwith brought him to the place that Mr. Boyce desired.

Then Mr. Boyce, characteristically of the traveler, pulled his coin purse out and offered the boy a shilling. The boy promptly saluted and said, "Sir, I am a Scouts. Scouts do not accept tips for courtesies.

The rest is history and Scouting is but another activity that we must give thanks to the British for. (another is the YMCA)

What comes to mind for you when you think of helping others or “doing a good turn?”  Here are a few things I found that make me think of doing good for others:

Galatians 6:9

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Matthew 6:1

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Thomas Jefferson

I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.


To be doing good deeds is man’s most glorious task.

Douglas Horton

Thinking good thoughts is not enough, doing good deeds is not enough, seeing others follow your good examples is enough.

Two verses from the Bible as well as a few phrases from men of wisdom.  Surely doing good for others is a noble task.

Why should you do good to serve others?  Here are a few thoughts, especially if you are working with children or others who are younger than you:

Why do good deeds?

1. Promote a better society

2. Serve others

3. Encourage supporting others

4. Good for good’s sake

Challenges to doing a good turn


2. What have you done for me?

3. Lack of recognition

The “why do” list is pretty self explanatory, but the challenges list bears a little explanation.

WIFM stands for “what’s in it for me.”  That is the SOP of many in our country these days and it is the chief opponent of doing a good turn.  If you are looking out for yourself only and seeking something in return then doing a good turn is a foreign concept to you.

We also live in a society where recognition and celebrity status is everything.  I would even pose the thought that many who commit heinous crimes do so for the recognition regardless of the level of hurt they promote.

Let me leave you with a few closing thoughts as I prepare to speak with a group about this same topic:

You are being watched daily by your scouts

1. If you seek recognition, they will do the same

2. If you do things with little fanfare, so too will they

3. If you recognize others for their good works, they will do the same

Examine your motives

None of us will be here forever

We need to each develop our own replacement

If we overstay our time, we are preventing someone else’s developmental opportunity

Talk is cheap

People will watch your actions

Do a good turn daily!

This world is full of people who need your help.  Do not let them down.

You will be surprised how much you get in return if you “do a good turn” without thought of what will come in response.

The reward will be far greater than you ever dreamed.