By Utah National Parks Council
Aug 06, 2017

Let Them Lead: Making Ethical Decisions

God has given us the gift of agency, or the freedom to choose. We are faced with choices every day that require us to choose how we will act. In order to fulfill God’s plan for us and return to live with Him, we must learn to consistently choose the right.

President Thomas S. Monson explains

“Whether you wear a green T-shirt or a blue one makes no difference in the long run. However, whether you decide to push a key on your computer which will take you to pornography can make all the difference in your life. You will have just taken a step off the straight, safe path. . .. May we keep our eyes, our hearts, and our determination focused on that goal which is eternal and worth any price we will have to pay, regardless of the sacrifice we must make to reach it.”

Prepare yourself spiritually

What difficult decisions have you faced at church, school, home, work, etc.? How do you decide what to do in these circumstances? What role does the Holy Ghost play in your decision making?

How will having tools to make good decisions help these young men and women?

How have you made difficult decisions in your life? How did you use the spirit to help?

What difficult decisions are the youth facing? How can you help them see the importance of consistently choosing the right?

Prayerfully study these scriptures and resources. What do you feel inspired to share with the youth?

Other resources from your personal experience and inspiration

Teaching in the Savior’s way

The Savior prepared Himself to complete His mission through prayer, fasting, and seeking His Heavenly Father’s help. How can you follow the Savior’s example as you prepare to teach?


Teaching tip: Watch this video to learn how to help the personalize gospel doctrines: “Personalizing Gospel Doctrines”

Make connections

During the first few minutes of this session, help the youth make connections between what they are learning in various settings (such as quorum and class meetings, BYC, Mutual, other church meetings, skill challenges, personal study or other experiences).

How can you help them see the relevance of what they’re learning in their lives? The ideas below might help:

  • Ask the youth how the leadership skills they’ve learned so far have changed how they’ve thought or acted this week.
  • Ask youth to think about the most difficult decisions they’ve had to make. What made them difficult? How did they decide what to do? Have them share their answers if they are comfortable doing so.

Learn Together

Each of the activities below will help the young men and women understand the importance of making ethical decisions. Complete each of the three sections by prayerfully selecting one or more activity in each section that resonates with you and will work best for your class or quorum:


1- Give a definition for “ethics” and discuss the importance of ethical decision making.Choose from these activities:

  • Choose one of the scenarios found in the NYLT syllabus Day Four – 47-48,
    • SCENARIO 1
      Your group has gotten permission to build a hiking trail on private property. As you are digging into the soil, you uncover a beautiful piece of Indian pottery that looks very old. You are the only person who sees it.
      You know from your work on the Archaeology merit badge that it might be a good idea to leave the piece where it is and report your find when you get home to archaeologists at a nearby college.
      You know that the owner of the private property collects Indian artifacts and would be delighted to put the piece in his pottery collection.
      You know you would like to keep the pottery yourself and start a collection of your own.
      Give participants these choices:
      1. “If you would leave the piece where it is and report it to archaeologists, please step over to the right side of the meeting area.” (Or to some other convenient spot determined by the session leader.)
      2. “If you would give the piece to the owner of the property, please step over to the left side of the meeting area.” (Or to some other convenient spot determined by the session leader.)
      3. “If you would keep the pottery yourself, please step to the center of the meeting area.” (Or to some other convenient spot determined by the session leader.)
    • SCENARIO 2
      You are coach of a Little League baseball team about to play in a championship game. Team rules say that anyone who misses a practice without a good excuse can’t play in the next game. Your star pitcher has missed the last two practices and won’t tell you why. The team’s catcher tells you there are rumors that the pitcher is embarrassed because his dad was drinking and couldn’t drive him to practice, but the catcher isn’t sure if the rumors are true.
      You know that according to team rules, you should bench the pitcher.
      You also know that without your best pitcher in the lineup, the team has no chance of doing well in the championship game.
      Give participants these choices:
      1. “If you would stick with the team rules and bench the pitcher even though you don’t know the reason for his absences, step to the right of the meeting area.”
      2. “If you assume the rumors are true and so you will let the pitcher play, step to the middle of the meeting area.”
      3. “If you do what’s best for the greatest number by letting the pitcher play and help the entire team succeed, step to the left of the meeting area.”
    • or a similar scenario that will resonate with the youth. Present the youth with the scenario and have them designate their choice by moving to an assigned part of the room.
  • Ask them to think about what decision they would make and, more importantly, the means they used to arrive at that decision. Have them share their ideas. Ask if any were influenced by seeing others make particular choices. Remember, the point of this discussion is not to decide the right answer to the situation in question (in fact, each situation may have a variety of “right” answers), but rather to get participants thinking about HOW they arrive at ethical decisions.
  • Ask the group for a definition of the word ethics. As they offer ideas, write them on the flip chart. Some ideas to encourage or present:
    • We can think of ethics as an understanding of what is right and wrong for an individual and for groups of people.
    • Ethics are standards by which we act, both when we are around others and when we are alone.

Ask the youth where ethics come from. Family? Society? God’s commandments? Our ethics come from all three. For example, ask if they recognize these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As Americans, this is part of our shared ethic. School codes of conduct are another example of a shared ethic. Without shared ethics, we would have trouble coming to an agreement with others.

Ask the youth why people should be ethical. Then, ask why anybody would choose NOT to follow a code of ethics.

  • Have the youth read about the Three Rs of Choice from this talk by President Monson. Discuss the importance of these three concepts as they make choices.
  • Other activities to demonstrate ethics and choosing the right as you are inspired.

2- Describe three kinds of decisions: Right vs. Wrong, Right vs. Right, and Trivial
Choose from these activities:

  • Show NYLT video clip 4-19, Making Ethical Decisions (Part One). Explain that there are some clear steps we can follow to make choices that are in keeping with our ethical belief (Discuss each step as you present it):
    • Step 1: Getting the facts straight
    • Step 2: Figure out what kind of choice it is: Trivial, Right vs. Wrong, Right vs. Right (give examples of each kind of choice)
      • Trivial: Which seat did you choose to sit in today? Does that decision really matter? Probably not. What about the choice to watch television or do your homework? You know what the consequences are, and this kind of decision is usually very clear. You don’t have to think deeply to figure it out.
      • Right vs. Wrong: Some choices have an obvious right and wrong choice, like if a friend tells you he has a copy of the answers to a difficult math test and that you can look at it if you want. There is a clearly a right and wrong choice. Ask the youth, if it’s so easy to tell right from wrong, why do we ever choose to do the wrong things?
      • Right vs. Right: In the video, a young man promised he would home by a certain time, but on his way he found someone who needed help. Both being on time and stopping to help are right decisions. It’s sometimes hard to know what decision to make when it is right vs. right. Ask they youth what they would have done in the young man’s situation and why.
    • Other activities to practice decision making as you are inspired.


  1. Use the Checklist for Ethical Decision Making to test at least one choice involving a right vs. right situation.

Choose from these activities:

  • Give each participant a copy of the Checklist for Ethical Decision Making and discuss the checklist with the group. Encourage them to consider how the various Yes or No questions can help them clarify choices and determine appropriate decisions. Returning to the scenarios from the beginning of the lesson, have the youth use the Checklist for Ethical Decision Making to test the choices they made. Explain that our actions are often more significant than our words in showing our character. Ask the youth how they can deal with peer pressure as they make ethical decisions.

Remember, the point of this activity is not to judge some choices as being better than others, but rather for youth to gain experience applying the checklist and deciding for themselves if their choices were the best that could have been made.

  • Other activities to make ethical decisions as you are inspired.


Invite to Act

Lead a reflection on ethical decision making.

Ask the youth how they will use what they learned about ethical decision making to change their actions in the future. What will they do differently today, tomorrow, this week, and this year? Have them write down their ideas.

Discuss with the youth what their next skill application challenge will be. Ask them to consider how what they’ve learned about ethical decision making applies to the challenge. Encourage them to apply their new skills and ideas to the activity.

This series was adapted from National Youth Leader Training to help leaders teach LDS youth leadership skills so that those leaders can confidently “Let Them Lead.”

Authors: Maria Milligan and Darryl Alder | LDS NYLT writing team; at Utah National Parks Council, Maria is Chief of Staff and Darryl is Strategic Initiatives Director. Together they help LDS Stakes meet their camping and training needs in a customized basis.


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