Lesson 20: Proper Use of Agency

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 69–72


Each young man will use his agency to grow spiritually and follow the Savior.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      A few hymnbooks.

    3. c.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

  2. 2.

    Prepare a warning sign as a chart or on the chalkboard:


    No Swimming Allowed!

  3. 3.

    On a chart or the chalkboard write the following quotation:

    “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

  4. 4.

    Decide how you want to use the hymn “Choose the Right” (Hymns, no. 239) at the end of the lesson.

  5. 5.

    If it is available, consider showing “The Consequences of Our Choices (‘The Pump’),” on Family Home Evening Video Supplement (53276).

Suggested Lesson Development

Agency Allows Us to Make Choices and Experience Consequences

Object lesson

Display the warning sign. Discuss the following questions:

  • What kind of a sign is this?

  • What is the value of such a sign?

  • How does it restrict our freedom?

  • What might happen if we ignore it?

  • What benefits come to us if we obey the sign?


Explain that when we see such a warning sign we might think that our freedom is being restricted. But we still have several choices.

  • What are some choices we have in this situation? (We are free to swim somewhere else or to walk along the beach and pick up seashells. We can watch the sunset. We are free to go home. We are also free to ignore the sign and swim in the dangerous spot.)

Explain that once the whirlpool has us in its grasp and we are pulled under the water, we have very few choices.

  • What choices would we have? (We can call for help, but we may drown.)

Explain that “even though we are free to choose our course of action, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. The consequences, whether good or bad, follow as a natural result of any choice we make. … If we touch a hot flame, for example, we are burned” (Gospel Principles [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1992], pp. 23–24).

Scripture and discussion

Have the young men discuss what agency means to them. Help them understand that agency is the ability and freedom to choose good or evil.

Have the young men read, discuss, and mark Helaman 14:30–31.


President David O. McKay said:

“Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man. … Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any possession earth can give” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1950, p. 32).

Explain that our eternal progression depends on how we use our agency. To become like our Father in Heaven and return to his presence, we must learn to have faith in Jesus Christ and make right choices. That is one of the reasons we came to earth.

Scriptures and discussion

Read 2 Nephi 2:27 and Abraham 3:24–26. The young men may want to mark parts of these verses.

  • How will we be proven?

  • What blessings await those who choose to obey the commandments of God?

The Spiritual Quality of Our Future Life Depends upon Our Choices

Scripture stories and discussion

Explain that the scriptures give us examples of great men and the difficult choices they made. Explain that Moses grew up living a life of luxury as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, even though he was the son of Hebrew parents. Moses could have lived all his life in luxury. Instead Moses chose to stand up for the rights of the Hebrew slaves.

  • Why do you think Moses made this decision?

  • What were the consequences of Moses’ decision? (He had to flee into the wilderness; he was chosen by God to be a prophet; he was able to be an instrument in God’s hands to free the Hebrew slaves from Egyptian bondage; he led the Israelites in the wilderness for many years; he gained eternal salvation in the celestial kingdom.)

Relate the account of three young Jewish men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—who had charge of some of the affairs in Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar had a gold idol made for his people to worship. Nebuchadnezzar made a decree and commanded that when the people heard a particular sound of music from several instruments, they were all to bow down and worship the golden image. Anyone who refused to bow down would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that the golden image was not God. They also knew that one of the Ten Commandments forbade them to worship false gods. Therefore, they refused to bow and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. The three young men were taken into custody. They were given a choice. They were to either bow down and worship the golden image or be thrown into a fiery furnace. These three young men made their decision. They told the king, “Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:18). Nebuchadnezzar was furious. He had his servants heat the furnace hotter than it had ever been heated. He had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego tied up and cast into the furnace. It was so hot it killed the men who threw them in. Nebuchadnezzar was astonished to see the three young men and a fourth person walking around in the furnace unharmed. The fourth person was evidently an angel. The king went near the furnace and called them out. The three young men came out. They were completely unharmed. Their hair was not even singed nor did their clothes smell of smoke or fire. Nebuchadnezzar praised the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The king made another decree that anyone speaking against the God of the young men would be put to death. The three young men received a promotion by the king. (See Daniel 3.)

  • If you had been in the place of these three young men, why would it have been a difficult decision not to bow to the golden idol?

  • How might they have rationalized and decided it would be all right to bow to the idol?

  • Why do you think they refused to bow down?

Explain that Joshua was Moses’ successor. As the leader of the children of Israel, Joshua gathered his people around him and spoke of the choices they could make. Read Joshua 24:15 and display the chart with this verse printed on it.

Discuss with the young men how the choices they make in the following situations (or similar ones of your choice) might affect their present and future life.

  1. 1.

    Cheating on a school examination.

  2. 2.


  3. 3.

    Praying daily.

  4. 4.

    Paying tithing.

Present the following example:

“Two young men who are elders in the Church work for the same company. They are invited by their boss to go waterskiing on Sunday. Both love waterskiing, and both want to improve their standing with the boss. Both have responsibilities at church on Sunday. One says, ‘I will be happy to go with you.’ The other says, ‘I would be excited about going with you some Saturday, but I don’t feel good about going on Sunday’” (Family Home Evening [manual, 1979–80], p. 13).

  • How might each young man’s choice influence his business life? His spiritual life? His family?

Quotation and discussion

Elder Mark E. Petersen said:

“This life is a time for choosing. Our decisions affect not only our own lives but also the lives of others. Choosing is difficult, because everything is a matter of choice” (“This Life Is a Time for Choosing,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1967, p. 6).

Tell the young men that because choosing can be difficult, our Father in Heaven has offered to help us.

  • What things has Heavenly Father given us to help us choose the right? (Scriptures, parents, prayer, inspiration from the Holy Ghost.)

Explain that if we seriously study our decisions, live to be worthy of the Spirit, and seek assistance, Heavenly Father will guide us, and the spiritual quality of our life will improve.


Read the following quotation from President Ezra Taft Benson:

“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], p. 361).


Have the class think about the choices that a young Latter-day Saint had to make in the following story.

John, a teenage boy, was walking to sacrament meeting one Sunday when some of his friends drove up and asked him to go for a ride with them. The warm, sunny day and the opportunity for a ride with his friends enticed him. He did not want to go to his meetings, though his parents were expecting him to be there. The boys promised they would be back before the meetings were over. They tried to convince him that his parents would never have to know.


Let the young men discuss what John’s choices were and what the consequences of each might be.

Some possible questions are:

  • How would John’s decision affect his friendship with those who invited him to go for a ride?

  • How could he honor the Sabbath day?

  • How might his decision influence his relationship with his parents?

  • How could his decision affect his spiritual growth?

  • What would you do if you were John? Why?

Explain that since we will suffer or enjoy the consequences of our choices, we should always consider the outcome of each decision and choose the right.



Read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“We come into mortal life to receive a body and to be tested, to learn to choose.

“The choice of life is not between fame and obscurity, nor is the choice between wealth and poverty. The choice is between good and evil, and that is a very different matter indeed.

“When we finally understand this lesson, thereafter our happiness will not be determined by material things. We may be happy without them or successful in spite of them. …

“Our lives are made up of thousands of everyday choices. Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.

“The crucial test of life, I repeat, does not center in the choice between fame and obscurity, nor between wealth and poverty. The greatest decision of life is between good and evil” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1980, pp. 28–29; or Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 21).


Read again the scripture on the chart: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).


Have the class or an individual sing “Choose the Right” (Hymns, no. 239), or have one of the young men read the words as a poem.