Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A testimony story: Clayton Christensen

In October Conference 2010, Pres. Monson told a story that resonated with me, a sports fan, about a young man who was playing for the basketball team at Oxford.  As they went to the championship game for their tournament he informed the coach that he wouldn't play because it was scheduled on a Sunday.  I was impressed with his standing for what was right and not playing on the Sabbath.  I was further impressed that not only didn't he play but he wasn't present at all to watch his teammates. Instead he was in church and celebrating the Sabbath. That young man was Clayton Christensen.

It reminded me of our girls who played city league basketball.  In those years it was common practice not to hold any games or practices on Sunday.  Our community is predominantly Christian but very few LDS.  Consequently it was pleasant not to have to worry about playing basketball on the Sabbath.  When we had some severely stormy weather that cancelled several Saturday games we learned that a game would be made up on Sunday.  We discussed it and realized playing a basketball game on Sunday didn't fit with our standards.  One of the girls asked if we could watch the game, and again that didn't fit our standards either.  It was a great learning experience for all of us.

In future years we told the league right from the beginning that we wouldn't be available for Sunday games or practices and it was good we did.  About that time we started to see a change in the league where they started to schedule games and some practices on Sunday.  So our declaration of unavailability on the Sabbath led to certain coaches not choosing the girls on their teams.

Pres. Monson recently told more about Clayton Christensen's obtaining of a testimony.  Clayton was a graduate of BYU, had served a mission, and at graduation won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University.  He was going to attempt to study something called applied econometrics.  He was going to attempt to complete in two years what normally took three years of study.  As a recipient of the Rhodes scholarship he would have a lot of additional responsibilities in representing the university.  When he realized he would have church responsibilities too, he wondered how he would get everything done.  Now he would potentially have to stand strong regarding his religion in order to potentially go against the expectations of him by the university.  As he considered that, he realized that he didn't even know if the Book of Mormon was true despite having read it seven times previously.  He realized he had always read it as an assignment, to complete it, rather than as an effort to know if it were true.  He needed to know if it was true in order to stand for what was right against the pressures he was dealing with now.  His belief based on his parents knowledge would not be enough to sustain him under these circumstances. 

Brother Christensen began this new reading of the Book of Mormon to find if it were true with prayer, asking God if it were true or if he should search for truth elsewhere.  If it was true he would willingly build the kingdom.  Pres. Monson quotes Brother Chiristensen as saying: "I use applied econometrics maybe once a year, but I use my knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the word of God many times every day of my life. In all of the education that I have pursued, that is the single most useful piece of knowledge I have ever gained."  So to him Oxford is a sacred place where he learned truth and the most important and useful things in his life. 

When I heard President Monson tell the story I was touched with the young man's determination to keep the sabbath.  Of course Brother Christensen has been very successful in all facets of his life.  But what strikes me is how those simple decisions he made early in life, and the effort he put in to first follow his parents teachings, then to stand strong for doing what was right and finally to examine himself closely and see that his testimony wasn't what it needed to be.  Then in every case he did something and didn't just think about it, ignore it or wish it would come easy.  He not only learned but did, until he was sure what was right.
By the way, just in case you are wondering if this guy has had it easy and can smile because his life has always gone the way he wanted, well guess again.  He has struggled with a heart attack, stroke and cancer so he has suffered and made it through so he can still smile.

President Ezra Taft Benson, 13th President of the church, said (in the October 1985 General Conference of the church), "When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed ... . The world would shape human nature; but Christ can change human nature ... and changed men (and women) can change the world."

All of us make choices each day that allow us to be changed the way Christ would have us change or to shaped into something the world prefers.  The world's way does not follow Christ nor go beside it.  While none of us will have the same life or opportunities and successes that Clayton Christensen had, we will have different opportunities whether they be modest or fantastic.  Our choices will allow us to change the world or to be changed by the world.  You choose.


  1. Dad! All that basketball talk brought back a lot of memories. I remember when I tried out for the travel team and found out that many games would be on Sundays. When I came home and talked to you and mom about it you said "Do you think that that would be a good decision to play on Sundays?" I thought about it, struggling for a way to have my cake and eat it too. I finally said "How about I'll only play on Sundays if it's a tournament?" I remember you smiled and said "What would be the difference?" You and mom both taught me not to stand on middle ground when it comes to the Gospel and God's expectations. I am so grateful you helped me to learn that lesson young. 100% on the Lord's side is the way to be!

  2. I would like to change the world and not be changed by it please!! :) I like that. Also im glad to have been raised knowing that it was better to stick to what you believe and make Heavenly Father happy than to try to go along with everyone else. Glad to see a new blog post!! Mike actually noticed it before me :)


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