Rules of the Game


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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Trust in the Holy Ghost

I am happy to share the activity with you and yes, you do have permission to use it. The circumstance under which I first used it occurred while my husband and I were serving at the Salt Lake County Detention Center. I think that knowing how it came about will be interesting to you. I also want to give credit to the source from which it came because it was not mine but the prompting of the Holy Ghost. Because I have been asked to share it in youth firesides both in Utah and in California I have it written in a talk. I have copied that part from the talk and pasted it below. What I have included also explains how I use it in a church setting and drew the connection between what LDS know about God's rules or commandments. In a school setting with students, athletes and coaches or in faculty groups I do not include this part. But every time I give it to youth or to adults it is as it was with eye opener and suddenly rules are seen in a different light.

Experience with the group from another state:

Shortly after I was transferred to the B Unit, we were informed that the center would be housing 16 young women from the detention center in another state. These were part of a larger group of young women involved in rioting that caused their center to be shut down. Detention Centers in California and Utah were asked to take these young women. My section would hold 8 of these girls, and A section the other 8.

The first time I saw them was on a Sunday in September and the lesson I was teaching was the Plan of Salvation. They all choose to come to Sunday school. What I didn't know about these young women would fill volumes but what I quickly discovered and was most important at the moment was that they had an agenda. They had taken on gay lifestyles and their agenda was recruitment and disruption.

I had just come from working with the toughest kids at the center, the long-term repeat offenders. They were gang members, many whose crimes involved assault with deadly weapons and whose next stop was the Utah State Prison. But I was no match for this group of girls...they refused to let me teach. There was a dark spirit that filled our class room that day and the young women from Utah were frightened. I was the only teacher in the room that day and should have stepped out into the hall and requested the counselors remove the disruptive girls or found a priesthood leader to help but instead I let my "I can handle this" attitude dominate. I left the center that day feeling depressed and knew I had failed my Heavenly Father and the girls who had come to learn.

The following Wednesday evening I arrived home from a grueling day at school with only 15 minutes to fix dinner before leaving for the center with my husband. I was not assigned to be a teacher this evening but rather to help. While hustling to feed us, My husband informed me that he was short three Seminary teachers and needed my help. I protested saying I wasn't prepared with anything. His response to me: "I need your help, you are a teacher. Certainly you can come up with a seminary lesson. Use the "For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet if you need to."

My stomach churned all the way as we drove to the center and got worse when I found out the group I would teach was B1, the group of girls from Hawaii that I had on Sunday. By the time I got them into the room, I was shaking with fear. When no one would volunteer to give the opening prayer I said it myself praying silently for the Lord's help.

As I opened my eyes and raised my head there came into my mind a lesson based on a series of simple questions that appeared one at a time and provided opportunities for a class discussion. It was a line of questioning that to this today I have never forgotten.

1. How many of you have ever been on an athletic team or played a board or card game.

2. Why are rules necessary to the games we play?

3. Who writes the rules of the games we play?

4. Who all needs to know and understand the rules of the games we play? Why is it important that everyone knows and understands the rules of the game?

5. What do we expect to occur when someone violates rules and/or steps over boundary lines. (An agreed upon penalty)

6. How many of you would like to participate in those activities if :
a. The rules changed every time you played the game
b. Everyone played by their own rules.
c. There were no rules.

7. Can we come up with a bottom line statement of why rules are necessary to the game we play? (The youth always come up with this: Rules define how to win the game! Without rules there is no way to win.)

8. How many of you want to play a game that you have no chance of winning?

9. How many of you feel like you are winning the game of life?

When I asked this question the expressions that came upon there faces will forever be etched in my mind. They had connected the dots. They weren't winning at life because they weren't playing by the rules for winning in life.

"Who wrote the rules for winning the game of life?" I asked.

The only logical response to that question was, "Our Creator."
"Why is it important that he be the author of the rules for winning at life?"
"And what are His rules called?" I asked. "Commandments," they replied.

Because these kids have all sat before judges, I asked them if they wanted the judge they sat before to be more lenient on the person that had gone before them or the person who came after them. "No, they replied."

We then talked about what kind of a judge they wanted. They identified and I listed on the board their words: someone who knows the laws, administers them fairly, is kind, will listen, who knows my individual circumstances, someone who knows me for who I really am.

I then asked them to think back to our lesson on Sunday about our discussion on the Plan of Salvation and how we would each one day stand before our creator in a final judgement. "What kind of a judge do you think he will be? What will he judge us on? (His commandments?)

"Have His commandments ever changed?"

Were the people during Adam's time, or Noah, or Moses, or Nephi times given a different set of rules to live by?" " Why is it important that God's rules be consistent?" The scriptures tell us He is the same today, yesterday, and forever...

"What would happen if He gave different rules to different generations?"

"Who tries to rewrite the rules for winning the game of Life?" (Satan and his minions)

Many of the girls expressed how hard it was to live the rules today because of all the temptations your generation is bombarded with.

At this point these young women had been humbled and their hearts soften. The spirit was there to testify of the eternal truths they had helped uncover. We both learned that night that God's commandments are evidence of His love for us, that they free rather than restrict us. I gave each of them the F S of Youth pamphlet and let them each choose one that they would determine why following it would help rather than hinder them winning in life.

Two months later, many lessons, and tearful good byes, the girls prepared to return home. They were not the same girls that had arrived. Their eyes which had been darkened by countless compromises with their consciences were now bright with hope for their futures. None of them were LDS but they now had an understanding and conviction of who they were, daughters of a Heavenly Father that loves them.

I will probably never see them in this life but I know that one day in the worlds to come we will meet again. I pray for them daily that they can retain the feelings and experiences we shared together while they were detained in a center in Salt Lake City.

The Holy Ghost