Lesson 46: Decision Making

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 168–71


Objective

Each young man will understand that he can make right decisions by making an effort to learn the right, seeking counsel from others who are qualified, and asking for the Lord to confirm the rightness of his decisions.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      Paper and a pencil for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Wrap two different-sized packages. Wrap one neatly and the other carelessly. Place a small toy or piece of candy in each.

Note to the adviser

We make decisions every day of our lives. Some decisions are of little consequence, but many determine the direction of our lives and our degree of happiness.

We can make decisions in many ways. This lesson gives some fundamental guidelines for making right decisions. The young men need to understand that it is important to learn how to make decisions and to involve the Lord as they do.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Object lesson

Show the young men the two packages you previously wrapped. Have one of the young men come to the front of the room. Tell him he may have the contents of either of the packages he chooses. Once he makes his choice, discuss with him the reasons for his choice.

Point out that making decisions is something we must do every day. It is important to learn how to make decisions correctly.

Thought questions

Ask the young men to consider the following questions:

  • Why is not deciding a form of decision making?

  • Where can a person get help to make decisions?

  • How can a person know beforehand if a decision is right?

Making Decisions Requires Personal Effort

Scripture and discussion

Explain that during the translation of the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery wanted to translate. He tried but failed.

  • Why was Oliver Cowdery not able to translate?

Have the young men read Doctrine and Covenants 9:7–9 for the answer.

  • Apparently, what had Oliver Cowdery done to get help from the Lord? (According to verse 7, he merely asked the Lord.)

  • What does the Lord say Oliver should have done? (He should have studied out the translation in his mind and then asked if the translation was correct.)

  • What can we learn from this experience about making decisions? (We should study the alternative decisions, make a decision, and pray and ask if the decision is right.)

  • Why do you think the Lord wants us to do our best to make a decision instead of just asking him what we should do? (Heavenly Father wants us to learn to think and learn for ourselves.)

Chalkboard

Write the following on the chalkboard:

Decision Making

Personal effort required.

The brother of Jared makes a decision.

Scripture story

Explain that the Lord told the brother of Jared how to build eight barges to carry his people across the ocean, but he did not explain how to light the inside of the barges. Have a young man read Ether 2:22.

  • How did the Lord respond?

Read Ether 2:23.

Ask the young men to explain the Lord’s response in their own words. Help them understand that the Lord put the responsibility directly upon the brother of Jared to decide how to light the barges. He wanted him to come up with a possible solution on his own.

To find out what the brother of Jared did, ask a young man to read Ether 3:1–4.

Ask one or two of the young men to tell in their own words what the brother of Jared did.

Case study

Give each young man a piece of paper. Have each young man divide it in half by drawing a line down the middle, then have him write the word PRO on the right side at the top, and the word CON on the left side at the top. Explain that in any decision we should consider the “pros”—reasons for doing something—and the “cons”—the reasons against doing something.

Consider the following case study.

Shaun is fifteen years old and does fairly well in school. He’s interested in sports, both as a participant and as a spectator. He has a chance for two different part-time jobs. He can choose only one of them. The first job would require him to work two to three hours every day after school. The other job would require him to work on Fridays and Saturdays from six to midnight. If you were Shaun, you could use a decision sheet for each job and write down all the “pros” and “cons” that you could think of. Divide the class in half. Have half the young men consider the first job, writing the “pros” and “cons.” Have the other half of the class consider the other job with its “pros” and “cons.” Allow approximately five minutes for this exercise, then discuss the following questions:

  • Can one person effectively make a decision sheet for another? Why?

  • What are some of the “pros” and “cons” for working after school that Shaun might want to consider?

  • What are some of the “pros” and “cons” for working on the weekends that he would want to consider?

  • If Shaun had the opportunity to work on Sunday and were to do a decision sheet, what factor should enter the decision making? (Keeping the Sabbath day holy.)

  • How can a decision sheet help you? (You can see the “pros” and “cons” in front of you.)

It Is Wise to Seek Counsel from Others Who Are Qualified

Case study

Present the following case study to the young men.

Ever since he was a small boy, Tom had been encouraged to go on a mission. Now that he had graduated from high school and was earning good money, he was not quite sure he wanted to go on a mission. It seemed like such a long time. He’d miss his family and friends. When his bishop asked him to go, Tom asked for a few days to make the decision. He went home and thought through the problem. He talked to his girlfriend and his friends at work. His girlfriend said that if he went she would not guarantee to be there when he returned. His friends thought he was crazy to spend so much money instead of making it. His boss told Tom that he could not guarantee him a job when he returned. The next day Tom told the bishop that he had decided not to go on a mission.

  • How qualified were the people Tom asked to help him make his decision? (They were probably looking at Tom in a selfish way—what his decision would mean to them personally.)

  • What other people should Tom have asked for counsel? (His parents, his bishop, trusted relatives, Heavenly Father.)

Now conclude the story.

After working at his job for several months, Tom felt unsettled and unhappy. At the invitation of some new friends, he began attending church more regularly. He enjoyed several talks with his bishop and began reading regularly in the Book of Mormon for the first time in his life. He prayed harder than ever before. He spent several nights talking with his parents about missionary work. Gradually he felt filled with the desire to serve a mission. One day he called the bishop and asked, “Is it too late for me to go on a mission?”

  • What good things did Tom do to make his decision? (He read the scriptures and talked with his bishop, his parents, and the Lord.)

On the chalkboard write: Consult others who are qualified.

Involve the Lord in Our Decision Making

Chalkboard review

Add the following to the chalkboard: Involve the Lord in your decision making.

Scriptures and discussion

Explain that there are times when the Lord may tell us specifically what to do.

Have the young men read and discuss Ether 2:19–20.

Remind the young men that there are other times when the Lord expects us to work out our decisions, as discussed earlier in the lesson (see also D&C 58:26–27).

  • Once we have studied out a problem and decided what we feel is best, how can we involve the Lord in our decision making? (After making the choice, we approach the Lord in prayer and ask if the decision is right. If the decision is right, the Holy Ghost will confirm the decision by giving us a peaceful, reassuring feeling that our decision is right.)

Read Doctrine and Covenants 6:22–23 and Doctrine and Covenants 9:8.

Explain that if for some reason we have not chosen correctly, the Lord has promised that he will reveal that our decision is wrong by leaving us with an uncomfortable feeling or serious doubt. The scriptures refer to this as a “stupor of thought.” When this occurs, we must start the decision-making process over again.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 9:9.

Quotations and discussion

  • What should we do if we feel we are doing all of the things we should do in order to make a right decision and we do not receive a definite impression one way or the other?

President Marion G. Romney has said: “I have had problems which it seemed I could not solve, and I have suffered in facing them until it seemed I could not go farther if I did not have a solution to them. After praying and on many occasions fasting for a day each week over long periods of time, I have had answers revealed to my mind” (Look to God and Live: Discourses of Marion G. Romney, comp. George J. Romney [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1971], p. 45).

  • What if we do all as President Romney suggests and still feel no confirmation?

“At times we must fast, study the scriptures, and pray to solve serious problems. Occasionally, even after doing these things and then making a decision and acting on a decision, we may still not receive a confirmation. At such times, we should simply follow our own best judgment, patiently exercising faith that eventually the confirmation will come. We must always remember that God answers our prayers when, in His judgment, it is best for us to receive an answer” (Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B [2000], p. 191).

Conclusion

Presentation

Explain that we are our Heavenly Father’s children, and he has sent us to earth to grow and progress. To make good decisions, we must have faith in Jesus Christ and live worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We must also have faith in ourselves in carrying out our decisions. This takes courage and commitment.

Briefly review the statements on the chalkboard.

You may wish to share an experience you have had when the Lord helped you make a decision.

Challenge

Challenge the young men to choose at least one decision they must make during the coming week and apply the ideas taught in the lesson. Encourage them to use a decision sheet as they think it through, to make a personal effort, to consult with qualified people, and to ask the Lord for help and confirmation.