Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Missionary moments

I’m the ward mission leader in my ward. And I’m afraid I'm not particularly good at it.

Yes, I love the missionaries, and I love teaching with them (and I’m pretty good at that), and I love teaching the Gospel Essentials class from time to time (and I’m pretty good at that, so I’m told). But I’m not great at sharing the gospel one-on-one with those I meet.

But I came across two things this week that have motivated me to make a greater effort.

First, an article in Forbes about Clayton Christensen. Brother Christensen served as an area authority seventy in our area and attended our stake conference a number of years ago. His teaching on missionary work (and everything else) was superb. Shortly thereafter, he and his wife had an article in the Ensign about how to share the gospel with others.

In the Forbes article, Christensen discusses his own health concerns (suffering heart attack, cancer and stroke in succession) and his views on health care. Christensen is a Harvard professor and consultant and super smart. He’s highly respected, oft-quoted in his field, and in demand. And in this Forbes article, he talks about his gospel life as much as his research and his own medical experience. His gospel experience is just as much a part of him as his skin and he speaks about it freely.

For instance as he begin to talk about his first heart attack:

For seven years I was one of ten people who have responsibility for the Mormon Church in the northeast quadrant of North America. Almost every week I had to go to a city where all of the churches in the area [known as a "stake"] came together to have a conference. My job was to help them be better Mormons.

I got assigned to go to Montreal. The stake president in Montreal was a physician. We stayed at his home. At the meetings on Saturday the feeling of the spirit of God in that room was deeper than I have ever felt in my life. It was extraordinary. You walk out of it just committed to improve your lives for better.

He was talking about his heart attack. He could just have easily said, “I was on a trip in Montreal and staying with a doctor,” but he didn’t.

Even more intriguing is what he says next:

We were sleeping in the extra room in their basement. At about 3 o'clock in the morning I just had a horrible pain in my chest. I never had a heart attack before. This was something bad. I was thinking, if I wake Christine and tell her, she'll wake the stake president and they'll take me to the hospital. It's going to mess up a wonderful meeting on Sunday. And there are 1,000 members of the church who are going to come to that meeting. So I knelt down at the side of the bed and I said to God, "I have a problem. Whatever this is could you please just make it go away?" And it went away. I fell asleep and the meetings on Sunday were comparable to the ones on Saturday. The meetings ended about 9 p.m. on Sunday night, so then we started to drive back to Boston.

He then explains that the next day (Monday, Veterans Day) he had another heart attack while raking leaves and then finally went to the hospital.

In those brief paragraphs he covers church leadership, feeling the spirit in church meetings, personal prayer, and miraculous healing.

If it were me, I might have said, “I had my first scare on a trip to Montreal, but the big one came the next day when I got home.”

The second thing that motivates me? This video from the Church’s Youth website: (Note: I haven't quite mastered how to embed videos, so it may already be playing. If so, run your cursor over the video and you'll get a chance to reset it to the beginning.)

Watching it, I was reminded of my own experience of being invited to church by a friend.

I need to talk more freely about my church experience, and I think I need to invite more.


  1. Nice post. But hopefully this story will not encourage people to avoid proper medical care when they are having a heart attack!!

  2. Paul2, thanks. I assume people smart enough to read my blog are also smart enough to seek competent medical advice. ;-)

    I infer from Brother Christensen's remarks that had things not calmed down for him after his prayer he would also have also done so (since he did the very next day). The Forbes article gives ample evidence of his willingness to seek medical care.