Youth Sunday School Lesson on How can I learn to make my own decisions?
Do you understand the concepts of physically or temporally and spiritually? What's the difference between the two?
The idea of temporal education like high-school and college is to prepare us to be physically self sufficient. Would you agree with that? How so?
The idea of church classes and other church programs is to teach us to be spiritually self sufficient. Would you agree with that? How so?
The Church’s website says, "An important part of being self-reliant is learning how to make decisions for ourselves. Heavenly Father is willing to guide us, but He does not always tell us exactly what to do."
Do you ever find that there are things in the gospel you don't entirely understand and it seems like you have to work really hard to understand? Do you find that there are things in the gospel that are not spelled out as precisely as you would like? What are some things that are basic doctrines that we are left to understand more deep through prayer and study? The word of wisdom, the sabbath.
Father has designed earth life and the gospel to help us reach for answers through study and the spirit. Using our agency makes us stronger, rather than having everything laid out exactly for us.
He tells us in DnC 58:26 and 29 why we have to search many things for ourselves.
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
Being commanded in all things prevents us from gaining wisdom and learning to use our agency. This life is about learning to make proper choices. Agency is a strong power. If it is used wisely, it builds people up. If it is used poorly it is destructive.
The Lord said we are slothful if we only do just what we are commanded to do and do not learn to behave better than the basic commandment instructed us to live.
In DnC 107:100 the Lord defines what slothful is.
100 He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.
Notice how the scripture states that one that is slothful is not worthy to stand and then states that one who does not learn his duty is not worthy to stand. This is a pattern in the scriptures to teach us something.
We thus get the definition that one who is slothful does not learn his duty. If we only learn what the Lord had exactly spelled out for us then we are not learning our duty, we are a blind follower. The Lord does not want us to remain blind followers. He wants us to know what He knows and have all that He has. Much of what He knows and has is only learned and obtained through experiences of doing it ourselves and thus improving our character. As we change our character and become like God, we naturally learn what He knows and obtain what He has.
When we learn to work hard to seek for the things of God, we are better prepared for more knowledge and responsibility. We also learn better to comprehend the spirit. Many of the changes to our character are not obtained through what we think, but get encoded on our spirits by having interactions with the Holy Ghost, thus our we are taught and our character is changed in a different and more lasting way.
Learning to Be Like God Takes Work
If you ever have to go in for surgery, do you want your surgeon to be the guy that partied all the time when he was in school and just barely did enough to pass medical school or do you want the guy that studied hard to try to understand surgery and how it works and how to fix all the complications that could occur while he is cutting on you?
That is what earth life is about, learning to understand the things of God and how they work and how to deal with the complications of life. Some of those complications are painful.
So again, how do we understand the mysteries of God?
Let’s look at DnC 9:8-9 for some idea on how we learn the mysteries of God.
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
Here he is describing some of the hard work that is required to understand the mysteries of God. He is also describing how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. He talks of the burning or warmth or just very different kind of feeling in the your core. Much like what the men who met Jesus on the road after he was resurrected, but was prevented from recognizing him with their physical senses. After they were kind of kicking themselves, because they had felt the Spirit telling them who he was and they did not pay attention.
Pressure from those around us can make it hard to use our agency wisely. Sometimes we just get carried away in having fun and realize we have made some bad choices.
Sometimes we feel the need to be accepted by people, because we feel that if we are not then we may miss out on something or we will have a hard time reaching our life goals if we are cast out from the group or if people don’t like what we believe or how we act.
What are some things that people fear when trying to make good choices?
Captain Moroni talks about keeping our perspective and not costing ourselves more important things to get short term success.
“Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country”
Elder Lynn G Robbins of the Seventy talked in general conference about Joseph Smith's struggles carrying the weight of the things he had seen and starting the Church alone. He talks of some of the mistakes he made as he let his struggles in life become more important to him than seeking and understanding the Lord's will and understanding of the future.
Elder Robbins also talks of others who have had similar struggles.
Lynn G Robbins, Which Way Do You Face?, General Conference October 2014
“At the youthful age of 22, even Joseph Smith forgot which way he faced when he repeatedly importuned the Lord to allow Martin Harris to borrow the 116 manuscript pages. Perhaps Joseph wanted to show gratitude to Martin for his support. We know that Joseph was extremely anxious for other eyewitnesses to stand with him against the distressing falsehoods and lies being spread about him.
“Whatever Joseph’s reasons were, or as justified as they may appear, the Lord did not excuse them and sharply rebuked him: ‘How oft you have transgressed … and have gone on in the persuasions of men. For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God’ (Doctrine and Covenants 3:6–7; emphasis added). This poignant experience helped Joseph remember, forever after, which way he faced.”
"While it certainly takes courage to face perils, the true badge of courage is overcoming the fear of men. For example, Daniel’s prayers helped him face lions, but what made him lionhearted was defying King Darius (see Daniel 6). That kind of courage is a gift of the Spirit to the God-fearing who have said their prayers. Queen Esther’s prayers also gave her that same courage to confront her husband, King Ahasuerus, knowing that she risked her life in doing so (see Esther 4:8–16)."
“King Saul disobeyed the word of the Lord by keeping the spoils of war because he ‘feared the people, and obeyed their voice’ (1 Samuel 15:24). To appease rebellious Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, Aaron crafted a golden calf, forgetting which way he faced (see Exodus 32). Many of the New Testament chief rulers ‘believed on [the Lord]; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God’ (John 12:42–43).”
Do you remember Elder Oaks’ Good, Better, Best talk (Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign, Nov. 2007, 104–8)? What was it about?
Good things might be treating people nice. Better might be loving and serving them. The best would be praying and studying to have the spirit tell you how you can serve best and who needs that service now.
Good things would be eating so your body functions. Better would be not drink, not smoke, and not drink coffee and tea. The best would be to really study the word of wisdom to see what else it says and really understand what the Lord is tell us and pray for guidance on how to best take care of your body.
We are familiar with the Aaronic Priesthood, are we not? What is another name for the Aaronic Priesthood? The preparatory priesthood. Why is it called the preparatory priesthood or lesser priesthood?
It prepares its holders for the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is lessor not only because it has less responsibilities, but it is more basic. It is a step in which we build on. Even within the Aaronic Priesthood there is a progression of responsibility. Deacon have responsibilities. Teachers have the responsibilities of a Deacon as well as other responsibilities. Priests have all the responsibilities of Deacons and Teachers and more. Would it be reasonable to say that a Deacon’s responsibilities are preparing him to be a Teacher and a Priest? Would it be reasonable to say that the responsibilities of the Aaronic priesthood prepare men to carry the responsibilities of the Melchizedek priesthood?
The same is true for the doctrines of the gospel. Some are very clearly and directly spelled out and some could be called the mysteries of God. The very clearly spelled out doctrines prepare us for the mysteries of God.
The mysteries of God are are things we have to work for and have to spend a lot of time with God to understand them or to get a testimony that that is how we need to live our lives.
For example, fast Sunday. We go without food for two meals and give the money we would have spent on those meals to the poor. We hear that all the time and it is very clear instructions, right? Don’t eat for two meals and calculate the cost of that food and put it in a tithing envelope. Done, right? Those are the exact, specific directions the Lord has spelled out to us precisely.
But if we study the instructions more carefully and look at what the prophets and apostles have said and pray about how we need to live our lives we might come to understand fast Sunday more deeply and have more power in our lives and strengthen our ability to use our agency without as much of a struggle.
Have someone read the section titled “How Should You Pray?” from Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,”.
Have someone else read the section titled “How Are Prayers Answered?”