Lesson 28: Agency

Young Women Manual 2, (1993), 105–7


Objective

Each young woman will realize that her everyday choices have significant consequences.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Bring a few seeds. See the section “Every Choice Has Consequences.”

  2. 2.

    Prepare a wordstrip with the scripture “Ye are permitted to act for yourselves” (Helaman 14:30).

  3. 3.

    On small pieces of paper, write the questions listed in the section “Every Choice Has Consequences.”

  4. 4.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Suggested Lesson Development

Agency Is the God-Given Right to Make Choices

Teacher presentation

Explain that agency is the right to make choices and govern our lives. We possessed this right in our premortal existence. Before we came to this earth, our Heavenly Father presented a plan to his children.

Note to the teacher

In the following discussion, be certain that the young women understand that Heavenly Father presented the only plan. Jesus accepted it and volunteered to be the Savior; Lucifer rejected it and rebelled.

Discussion

  • What was Heavenly Father’s plan? Read Abraham 3:24–28.

  • Why was agency essential to the plan?

  • At the Council in Heaven, who accepted Heavenly Father’s plan?

  • Who did not?

  • Why did Satan rebel?

Explain that the scriptures give an answer to this question. Ask a young woman to read Moses 4:3.

Explain that the war in heaven was fought because Satan sought to destroy the agency of man. Satan rebelled against Heavenly Father, and he and the spirit children who followed him were cast out. Two-thirds of the spirits supported the plan advocated by Jesus Christ and were given the blessing of earth life.

  • How do we know that the spirit children of Heavenly Father had agency in the premortal world? (They were able to choose whether they wanted to follow Jesus or Satan.)

  • Whom did you choose to follow?

  • How do you know? (Emphasize that each young woman chose wisely in the premortal existence. She is here in mortality because of that wise choice.)

Scripture

Explain that when God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he gave them agency. This was explained many years later to the prophet Enoch.

Ask a young woman to read Moses 7:32.

  • Why is agency so important to each of you?

Wordstrip

Display the wordstrip that says, “Ye are permitted to act for yourselves” (Helaman 14:30).

Quotations and discussion

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained why agency is so important: “What would man amount to without this free agency? He would be no better than a mechanical contrivance. He could not have acted for himself, but in all things would have been acted upon, and hence unable to have received a reward for meritorious conduct. He would have been an automaton; could have had no happiness nor misery, ‘neither sense nor insensibility,’ and such could hardly be called existence” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56], 1:64).

  • What would we be like without agency? (Without agency, people could not act for themselves. They would be acted upon by outside forces as a mechanical device is acted upon by a person.)

President David O. McKay explained: “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” (“Free Agency … the Gift Divine,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1962, p. 86).

Every Choice Has Consequences

Chalkboard discussion

Write the following on the chalkboard, leaving a blank for the last word:

For every choice, there is a ________.

Have the young women suggest words that might fill in the blank. Fill in the blank with the correct word: consequence.

Object lesson and scripture discussion

Show some seeds to the young women.

  • If I plant these flower seeds (or whatever seeds you have), what will grow?

  • Why won’t onions or peaches or apples grow from these flower seeds? (There are natural laws governing these seeds.)

Explain that, similarly, the laws of God govern our lives, and each law has a consequence. Call on a young woman to read Doctrine and Covenants 6:33. Make sure the young women understand the meaning of the words sow and reap. (When a farmer plants seeds, he is sowing. When he harvests or gathers his crops, he is reaping. The prophets have applied these words, sowing and reaping, to the making of choices.)

  • What is meant by “whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap”?

  • How does this scripture apply to your daily decisions and actions?

Point out that every decision or choice has a consequence.

Discussion

Distribute the pieces of paper prepared before class. On each paper should be written one set of the questions below. If you have enough young women, have them discuss the questions in groups of two.

  1. 1.

    What could be the consequences of stealing an article of clothing from a store? What could be the consequences of not stealing the article?

  2. 2.

    What could be the consequences of not doing your homework? What could be the consequences of doing your homework?

  3. 3.

    What could be the consequences of not saying your prayers each morning and evening? What could be the consequences of regular prayer?

  4. 4.

    What could be the consequences of drinking a small alcoholic beverage at a party? What could be the consequences of not drinking the beverage?

  5. 5.

    What could be the consequences of regularly associating with young people of questionable moral character? What could be the consequences of not associating with such young people?

In each situation, ask the young women to consider—

  1. 1.

    The immediate consequences of each decision.

  2. 2.

    How each decision could affect her future life.

  3. 3.

    The eternal consequences of each decision.

Give the young women a few minutes to think about the situations you have given them. Then call on each young woman to respond.

  • In each of these situations, who is responsible for the consequence?

After discussing the situations, point out that some decisions are much more significant than others. For example, shoplifting or breaking other commandments can have severe negative consequences. The decision to pray sincerely can bless our lives now as well as help us on the road to eternal life.

Quotation

Read the following statement by President N. Eldon Tanner: “You are free to choose exactly what you want to do, as long as it does not restrict or impose on the rights or liberties of others, but you must be responsible for your acts and prepared to take the consequences” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, p. 61; or Improvement Era, June 1970, p. 30).

Explain that whenever a spiritual law is kept or obeyed, the consequence is a blessing that results in joy and happiness.

Story

As you read the following letter, ask the young women to concentrate on how the writer of the letter felt and why.

“Dear Sue:

“I’m sorry that you got upset yesterday. Your friendship has been very important to me. But I had to do what I did. I hope you can understand. When you dared me to take that bracelet from the jewelry counter, you told me it would be easy. No one was watching or even working near the area. Your argument that you have never been caught made it seem less frightening. But I knew if I took that bracelet, whether I was caught or not, I would never be able to forget that I had been dishonest. I would never be able to wear the bracelet. It would always be a sad reminder of a poor decision.

“When you walked away from me and said you didn’t want to waste your time with someone who wasn’t any fun, I was hurt. I still am. But I guess I will just have to live with that hurt. It will be easier to live with that feeling than with never being free to walk into the department store without guilt feelings, or not being able to face my parents and bishop, or not being happy with myself for what I had done.”

Discussion

  • How did the young woman who wrote this letter feel when she wrote it? Why?

  • How did her decision affect her freedom and happiness on the day she made the decision? Her freedom and happiness in her future?

  • How might her decision affect her relationship with her friend? With her parents? With herself? With her Heavenly Father?

Teacher presentation

Point out that whenever we make a choice to obey the Word of Wisdom, keep ourselves morally clean, keep the Sabbath day holy, or obey any of God’s laws, we feel joy, happiness, and contentment.

Quotation

“All the laws of God and the laws of nature and the laws of the land are made for the benefit of man, for his comfort, enjoyment, safety, and well-being; and it is up to the individual to learn these laws and to determine whether or not he will enjoy these benefits by obeying the law and by keeping the commandments” (N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, p. 62; or Improvement Era, June 1970, p. 31).

Conclusion

Teacher presentation

Explain that Heavenly Father gave his children the right to make decisions for themselves and to use their agency. This means, however, that each of us is responsible for the choices she makes. Those who make wise decisions find happiness and are free from the sorrow and disappointment caused by sin.

Quotation

Read the following quotation: “Next to life itself, free agency is God’s greatest gift to mankind, providing thereby the greatest opportunity for the children of God to advance in this second estate of mortality” (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975], p. 235).

Teacher presentation

Commend the young women again for their wise use of their agency in the premortal life. Express your confidence that as they continue to make correct choices, they will find peace and happiness throughout their lives.