16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
(2 Nephi 2:16)
No one likes to be forced to do things. We all like making our own choices. In the book Drive, author Daniel Pink identifies “autonomy” as a powerful motivator for employees.
In the passage above, Lehi explains that God designed this mortal experience with individual agency in mind. From the beginning, He “gave unto man that he should act for himself.”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson has identified three conditions which are necessary for individual agency:
- There must be alternatives.
- We must know what the alternatives are.
- We must be capable of choosing between the alternatives (“Moral Agency,” BYU Devotional Address, 31 January 2006).
The second of these conditions emphasizes the relationship between education and agency. In the words of Elder Christofferson, “If we are unaware of the choices available, the existence of those choices is meaningless.” Thus, we strengthen the agency of other people by making them aware of options they didn’t realize they had.
As Lehi says in the passage above, we can’t act for ourselves without being “enticed” by something we are capable of choosing. It seems obvious that we choose things because they are attractive to us, because we believe that they will bring us joy. A better understanding of our options includes a better understanding of the consequences, so that the outcomes of our decisions can be consistent with our true desires.
Today, I will remember the importance of knowledge as a basis for good decision-making. I will strive to acquire the best information available about the decisions I must make. I will also work on providing good information to other people, including my children, to assist them in making wise decisions.