Every day we all have choices that need to be made. Many of those choices do not have any lasting significance, but there are plenty that do. These choices—the decisions between right and wrong—have more serious consequences than, say, what shoes we wear.
Agency, sometimes referred to as moral agency or personal agency, is the ability each person has to choose right or wrong—or, put another way, the ability to either follow God or not.
Agency was given to every person as a gift from God. The ability to direct our own lives and make our own choices is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.
With it, you are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).
Just as physical choices have physical consequences, such as getting burned if you get too close to a fire, spiritual choices have spiritual consequences.
It is not possible to make a choice without facing its inevitable consequence. Our purpose in this life is to learn, grow, improve, and progress, with the ultimate goal of returning to God’s presence. Personal agency allows us to participate in the learning and growing process that is essential to becoming better and more like our perfect example, the Savior Jesus Christ.
You had the power to choose even before you were born. In the premortal Council in Heaven, Heavenly Father presented His plan, which included the principle of agency.
Lucifer rebelled and “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3). As a result, Lucifer and all those who followed him were denied the privilege of receiving a mortal body. Your presence on the earth confirms that you exercised your agency to follow Heavenly Father’s plan.
In mortality, you continue to have agency. Your use of this gift determines your happiness or misery in this life and in the life to come. You are free to choose and act, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your actions.
The consequences may not be immediate, but they will always follow. Choices of good and righteousness lead to happiness, peace, and eternal life, while choices of sin and evil eventually lead to heartache and misery.