February Sharing Time: Staying on the Right Track
This sharing time will engage the children in an activity to help them understand agency and the effects of our choices.
Obtain a picture of a train. Draw a simple train track on several sheets of paper; make one of the paper tracks have a side line come off of it (you can use wooden or plastic toy train tracks if you choose).
Explain that agency is a gift from Heavenly Father. Agency means that we have the freedom to choose what we will do, but there are always consequences that come with our choices. A consequence is what happens because of our choice. Show the picture of the train and tell the following story by President Hinckley:
Many years ago I worked for a railroad in the central offices in Denver. . .That was in the days when nearly everyone rode passenger trains. One morning I received a call from Newark, New Jersey. . .[The man there] said, "Train number such-and-such has arrived, but it has no baggage car. Somewhere, 300 passengers have lost their baggage, and they are mad."Have some of the children help you construct a rail line on the board or on the floor with the paper tracks. Mark a starting place and an ending goal. When you place one of the track pieces that has a side line, explain that this represents a choice. Have the children add tracks to the side line and see if it gets you to your goal (it shouldn't). Back up and try adding track pieces to main line to see if it can get you to your goal (it should). Emphasize that they may choose either track, but help them understand that their choice has consequences, and they may or may not reach their goal depending on the choice they make.
I went immediately to work to find out where it may have gone. I found it had been properly loaded and properly trained in Oakland, California. It had been moved to our railroad in Salt Lake City, been carried to Denver, down to Pueblo, put on another line, and moved to St. Louis. There it was to be handled by another railroad which would take it to Newark, New Jersey. But some thoughtless switchman in the St. Louis yards moved a small piece of steel just three inches, a switch point, then pulled the lever to uncouple the car. We discovered that a baggage car that belonged in Newark, New Jersey, was in fact in New Orleans, Louisiana--1,500 miles from its destination. Just the three- inch movement of the switch in the St. Louis yard by a careless employee had started it on the wrong track, and the distance from its true destination increased dramatically. That is the way it is with our lives. Instead of following a steady course, we are pulled by some mistaken idea in another direction. The movement away from our original destination may be ever so small, but, if continued, that very small movement becomes a great gap and we find ourselves far from where we intended to go. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth," Ensign, Jan. 2001, 2)
Talk about some of the choices they might make that may or may not help them reach their goals. As you discuss each choice demonstrate the consequences by pointing to the track that reaches the goal and the one that doesn't. Some examples may be:
- You want to learn how to play the piano, but when it is time to practice you would rather play with your friends. Which choice will help you get to your goal?
- You want to be worthy to attend the temple when you are older. Someone wants you to try drugs or drink alcohol, saying that using them will make you feel good. Which choice will help you get to your goal?
- You promised your parents that you will try to get good grades. You also want to obey the commandments. During a test you are tempted to look at your neighbor's paper for an answer. Which choice will help you get to your goals?
- At tithing settlement you promised the bishop that you will always pay a full tithing. You earned some money to buy a new toy. When you got to the store, the toy costs more than you thought. You could add your tithing money to what you have saved so that you will have enough to buy the toy. Which choice will help you get to your goal?
- You set a goal to remember to say your prayers every night for three months. One night you're very tired and get into bed before remembering to pray. Which choice will help you get to your goal?
Sing "Choose the Right Way," Children's Songbook, p. 160; "Dare to Do Right," CS, 158; "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus," CS, 78; and "I Will Follow God's Plan," CS, 164 to reinforce the concepts taught.