I was impressed with and moved by a recent article in the New Era magazine for teenagers, “The Most Useful Piece of Knowledge” by Elder Clayton M. Christensen, an Area Seventy of the North America Northeast Area of the Church. Here Elder Christensen shares his experience as a young man of seeking to learn for himself if the Book of Mormon is true. His experience of the quest, the diligent study, and the answer in prayer is similar to my own – a few parts were almost like reading my journal from many years ago. How amazing it is that we dare tell people to go seek revelation from God to know for themselves, rather than expecting that other should simply believe us or be changed by the power of our arguments and logic. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (and revelation) — Rev. 19:10.
The author of this short but touching article may be Elder Christensen to many of you, but I’ll never forget that he’s Professor Christensen of the Harvard Business School. Before I had any idea that he was LDS, I became enthralled with his writings and was sharing them with many others in the corporation where I used to work. Professor Christensen is the man whose professional work on the theory and practice of disruptive innovation opened up some exciting dimensions in my own work on innovation and intellectual asset strategy, and that has continued in my current work with an amazing little consulting group led by another huge fan of Professor Christensen. If you haven’t read his books such as the The Innovator’s Dilemma, you’re missing out on some of the most important recent works on innovation and business.
Now to the point. Professor Christensen is a consultant, in addition to being a professor, and has a fascinating business he has founded. His success depends on being taken seriously by the world, on maintaining professional respect. The prudent thing to do, of course, is to be rather mum about religion. Much safer to be a “Mormum” than to put your neck on the line and stand behind one’s religion, especially a Christian religion that seems to be fair game these days. Much easier to be a cultural Mormon and stay distant from the core of that faith. But Clayton Christensen seems to have his priorities right. He’s not afraid to be who he is and to let others know, in a non-threatening, courteous way for those who are interested. He doesn’t just let glimpses of his faith leak out in obscure Church magazines for teenagers. On his own Website, ClaytonChristensen.com, he has a bio page with a link to “Why I Believe” (a PDF file).
That takes courage and faith. Thank you for that example, Elder/Professor Christensen!