guest post by Cheryl
These were some of my thoughts and inspirations leading up to my sharing time presentations. This might actually be more important than the actual sharing time outlines which follow. My study of the scripture stories made me realize that those who grew closer to God were those who acted. Those who grew away from God were those who were acted upon.
Elder Bednar (from General Conference, April 2010)
In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are “things to act and things to be acted upon” (2Nephi 2:14). As children of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity and power of independent action. Endowed with agency, we are agents and we primarily are to act and not merely to be acted upon….
Giving a man a fish feeds him for one meal. Teaching a man to fish feeds him for a lifetime. As parents and gospel instructors, you and I are not in the business of distributing fish; rather, our work is to help our children learn “to fish” and to become spiritually steadfast. This vital objective is best accomplished as we encourage our children to act in accordance with correct principles—as we help them to learn by doing…. (John 7:17)
Are you and I helping our children become agents who act and seek learning by study and by faith, or have we trained our children to wait to be taught and acted upon? Are we as parents primarily giving our children the equivalent of spiritual fish to eat, or are we consistently helping them to act, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable? Are we helping our children become anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking?
Definitions (from various online sources):
Agent– 1. One that acts or has the power or authority to act.
1: one that acts or exerts power
2a : something that produces or is capable of producing an effect : an active or efficient cause
Agency– 2: the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power
Junior Primary Outline
Review the agency stick from the sharing time booklet—try to pick up the “choice” end of the stick without getting the “consequences” end
We are free to choose (how or which stick to pick up), but we always have consequences.
Sometimes we can’t really see the consequences, but they can help us move closer to the Lord.
Steps to Jesus activity (from the sharing time booklet).
Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel Tell each part of their story, then move flannel board figures (Nephi & Laman) up or down the stairs to Jesus’s picture.
- Lehi’s family leaves Jerusalem (show picture). –both figures move up the steps
- Laman and Lemuel murmur because they don’t understand why. –Laman figure moves down.
- Nephi prays when he doesn’t understand. –Nephi moves up.
- Lehi’s sons go back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates. –both figures move up
- Laman and Lemuel say “We’ll never get the plates.” –Laman moves down
- Nephi says “It is the Lord sending us and He will help us get the plates.” –Nephi moves up.
- (continue as time permits)
Nephi and Laman and Lemuel DID a lot of the same things.
But did they all make good choices? Did they all get closer to the Lord?
There is a scripture that talks about the kind of choices that Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel made.
II Nephi 2:26 says that, because Jesus has redeemed all men
“They have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.”
What does it mean “to act for themselves”? Make a choice and do what you have decided.
- Nephi praying when he doesn’t understand why they need to leave Jerusalem
- Nephi getting the plates
- etc. depending on how far you got in the story
What does it mean “to be acted upon?” Be wishy-washy, or just react to what others do.
- Laman and Lemuel complaining (no action!)—about the brass plates, about the broken bow
- Laman and Lemuel only building the boat when the Lord made them do it.
Because we are children of God, He gave us the power to choose. We need to act and not to be acted upon.
Senior Primary Outline
Opposition in All Things
II Nephi 2—probably my favorite chapter in all of the scriptures—about the Plan of Happiness
v. 11—we need opposition. If there wasn’t bad, we wouldn’t have a choice between good and bad…. (This was what Satan wanted to do, but it wasn’t God’s plan for us….)
v. 13 “And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. ”
v. 14 God created “things to act, and things to be acted upon.” Which category are we?
v. 26 Repeat from “they have become free forever….”
Let’s see what this looks like in some stories from the scriptures:
(Tell parts of these stories or others. You won’t have time for all of it. At each step, determine if the person was acting or being acted upon.)
Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel—see Junior primary notes.
- Lehi’s family leaves Jerusalem. Laman & Lemuel murmur because they don’t understand why.
- Nephi is obedient and prays when he doesn’t understand.
- Lehi sends his sons back to get the brass plates. Laman & Lemuel say “We’ll never get the plates.”
- Nephi says “It is the Lord sending us and He will help us get the plates.”
- Laban won’t give them the brass plates, and he tries to kill them. Laman and Lemuel say “This will never work,” and they beat up Nephi.
- An angel rescues Nephi from his brothers, and Nephi says “I’ll try again to get the plates.” The Lord helps him, and they take the brass plates back to their family.
Abinidi, Alma, and King Noah
- Because King Noah’s people are wicked, the Lord tells Abinidi to preach repentance. Abinidi does it.
- After awhile, the people brought Abinidi to King Noah, and repeated the prophecies. Noah was mad that Abinidi would say bad things about him, and puts Abinidi in prison.
- Noah’s wicked priests try to question Abinidi, “but he answered them boldly” (Mosiah 12:19).
- Noah wants to kill him, but Abinidi says “I must fulfil the commandments wherewith God has commanded me” (Mosiah 13:4) and he keeps talking and no one can touch him.
- One of the priests named Alma believes Abinidi and pleads for Abinidi’s life to be spared.
- Alma is cast out, and he goes into hiding and writes down Abinidi’s words. (Mosiah 17:3-4)
- King Noah is worried about Abinidi’s words, and thinks maybe he should release him after all—but the wicked priests talk him out of it.
- Abinidi will not take back his words, so they burn him at the stake.
Now look at some examples closer to home (just have the children think about it, not call out answers):
- (example from one of the kids in my primary) If the puppy chews on your shoes, do you blame the puppy or realize you should have put your shoes out of reach?
- When it’s your turn for the family night lesson, do you wait for your mom to tell you what to teach or do you think of something you’ve learned that you can share with your family?
- If your brother hits you, do you say “He made me mad!” and hit back? Or do you turn the other cheek because no one can “make” you angry?
- When you have a chore to do at home, do you do it voluntarily, or do you wait until your mother nags?
- Do you listen and ask questions about what you are reading in family scripture study or do you just sort of listen?
- If you don’t have family scripture study or family prayer, do you encourage and remind your parents to do it?
Heavenly Father has given us great power. Because we are children of God and have been blessed with the precious gift of agency, we have the capacity and power to act independently. We don’t let others determine our attitudes and actions. We know we can act and not be acted upon. We can make conscious choices instead of being wishy-washy or just reacting to others.
Share my testimony of agency