Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.
–Thomas Merton, in a letter to Jim Forest dated February 21, 1966, reproduced in The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters by Thomas Merton (W. Shannon ed. 1993).
Scout leaders may wonder, at times, whether their efforts ever come to much. I like Merton’s tripartite justification of value, rightness and truth. These are not conditioned on results and are, in themselves, reason enough to carry on.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) writer and Trappist monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky whose writings include The Seven Storey Mountain, New Seeds of Contemplation, and Zen and the Birds of Appetite. Merton is the author of seventy books of poetry, personal journals, collections of letters, social criticism and writings of peace, justice and ecumenism.