Lesson 5: Agency

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 14–16


Each young man will learn that by using his agency to choose the right he can increase his individual freedom.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

  2. 2.

    On the chalkboard, write the italicized part of the statement by President David O. McKay.

  3. 3.

    If the Family Home Evening Video Supplement (53276) is available in your area, you might show segment 6, “The Consequences of Our Choices (The Pump).” Also, you could show selected portions of the New Media Bible videocassette Joseph and His Brothers (53152).


Prayerfully read the story of Joseph who was sold into Egypt (see Genesis 37; 39–45). His life teaches us much about agency and freedom. Even when he was not free physically, he maintained his spiritual freedom and was truly faithful. His example is one that each Aaronic Priesthood holder should follow.

Suggested Lesson Development


Chalkboard and discussion

Draw the following sign on the chalkboard:


Ask the young men to imagine coming to such a sign as they were looking for a place to swim.

  • Would such a sign limit our freedom?

  • What choices would we have in this situation? (We are free to swim somewhere else; we are free to go home; we are free to ignore the sign and swim in the dangerous spot.)

  • What choices would we have once the whirlpool had us in its grasp and pulled us under?

  • Even though we are free to choose our course of action, we are not always free to choose the consequences, or results, of our actions. Why is this so? (The consequences follow as a natural result.)


Read the following statement from President David O. McKay:

“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; italics added).

  • How can we better treasure our freedom of choice?

Scripture reading and marking

Have one of the young men read aloud Helaman 14:30. Suggest that the young men mark the words ye are free, ye are permitted to act for yourselves, God hath given unto you a knowledge, and he hath made you free.

  • What does this verse mean to you?

Help the young men understand that each person has agency. We all can choose between good and evil, but after we have made a choice we must accept its consequences.

Proper Use of Agency Increases Our Individual Freedom

Scripture study and discussion

Have the young men turn to Genesis 37 and read it silently. Explain that they are going to examine the actions of one of the greatest people in the scriptures: Joseph who was sold into Egypt.

The following questions are given to help the adviser help the young men see things in the scriptures they might otherwise overlook. Use these questions or others like them. Do not read them from the manual.

  • Who appears to be the freest, Joseph or his brothers?

  • In what way is Joseph not free?

  • In what way is Joseph free?

  • In what way are Joseph’s brothers free?

  • In what way are they not free?

Have the young men read Genesis 39:1–4.

  • In what ways was Joseph free when he was first sold to Potiphar?

  • In what ways was he not free?

  • What freedoms did Joseph gain because of his righteous behavior?

Have the young men read Genesis 39:7–20.

  • By resisting the temptation of Potiphar’s wife, what freedom did Joseph lose?

  • What freedom did Joseph maintain?

  • In what ways was Potiphar’s wife free?

  • In what ways was she not free?

Have the young men read Genesis 39:21–22.

  • What freedoms did Joseph gain while in prison?

  • How was he able to gain those freedoms?

Have the young men read Genesis 40:8–15, 20–23.

  • What freedom do you suppose Joseph thought he was soon to have when the butler left the prison?

  • What freedoms did Joseph have after he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams?

  • Considering both physical and spiritual freedom, who was the freest person in Egypt?

Have the young men read Genesis 42:1–3.

  • In what way was Joseph’s family not free? (They were in physical bondage, because they had no food.)

Have the young men read Genesis 50:15–21.

  • What type of bondage had Joseph’s brothers been in for more than fifteen years?

  • What freedom would Joseph have lost if he had been vengeful and tried to get even with his brothers?

  • Why do you suppose Joseph used his agency to choose to do things that brought him into physical bondage?

  • What counsel do you think Joseph would give us about correct choices and their consequences?


Testimony and challenge

Share your feelings about the freedoms that come from using our agency to follow the Lord. If possible, relate a personal experience to support this principle.

Give the following challenges to the young men:

  1. 1.

    Reread the story of Joseph, and ponder how he became a powerful instrument for good because he chose wisely.

  2. 2.

    In your life and the lives of those around you, watch for ways freedom is affected by choices.

  3. 3.

    Read and think about the hymn “Know This, That Every Soul Is Free” (Hymns, no. 240).

  4. 4.

    Exercise your agency this week by choosing to do one major act of goodwill or service that shows your willing obedience to the Lord’s commandments. Record the results in your personal journal.