We Recognize the Essential Role of Agency


Robert D. Hales has taught us that “As our understanding of obedience deepens, we recognize the essential role of agency.”

I was a fairly strict missionary when it came to particular rules that we were expected to live by. I believe that this was a good thing, since I was simply doing what I felt God wanted me to do, but I admit that because of the paradigm I was working within, my old self and my current self would probably not get along very well. This is because I used to have a view of agency which was closer to a naïve trust and perhaps even sheep like in my willingness to do whatever I was told. Again I believe that there is nothing wrong with this perspective, as it worked very well for me and I see it as a stepping stone to something different, but as I continued to learn and grow I began to develop a more complex and nuanced understand of what obedience is meant to be.

One of my favorite stories is from the preexistence, where we were presented with differing plans. In one plan we would be expected to be perfect which would supposedly result in us all returning to the presence of God. A different plan was that we would come to earth in a way that every one of us would make mistakes. We would not be expected to be perfect, as these experiences would provide us with wonderful opportunities to learn and grow. One of the reasons I am often critical of the way I used to understand obedience was because it was actually very similar to what Satan was proscribing. It was Satan that did not want us to have agency, not God. I believe that as we seek to learn and further develop we will be surprised how we may have so much more to learn about, which includes deeper understanding of why we have been given agency in the first place.


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