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Editor’s Note: The following comes from the newly renamed YouTube channel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This video on personal agency is part of a series called “Now You Know” that can help you explain the basic doctrines of the Church to your friends.

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 color shirt 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. 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.