Monday, March 21, 2011

The Survivor

Reported by Larry Downing

Note to readers: The following quotes are not from the ADVENTIST REVIEW. Read on; the source may be unexpected.

“’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.

“’We were sleeping in the extra room in their [the host’s Montreal] 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….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 next day, while raking leaves in the yard, the pain returned. A trip to the hospital revealed a blocked left anterior artery.]

“’I told my doctor [about the event in Montreal], and they were so mad at me. I think God wanted the members of the church to have a great experience, and he took care of me, too.’”

“’I thought about it [the diagnosis of follicular lymphoma]. I knelt down and made a commitment to God: “I think I probably have done things in my life that you wanted me to do. And if in your judgment there’s more work that needs to be done on the other side, I’m happy to go. And on the other hand, if I can be more useful by staying in this side my preference is to stay. I don’t want to leave my kids and Christine just yet.” I felt good. I don’t think that it was in any way depressing. In God’s interaction with Adam he didn’t in nay way promise that it was going to be easy. Even if you do the right thing, there’s a log more that you need to learn—and a lot of learning comes from adversity.’”

“’I’m an optimistic person. But for the fist time in my life, with all my problems, I focused more and more on me—and it was depressing, literally. Sometimes I just wanted to quit trying to learn and speak and write again and just go into my basement and build furniture. I learned an important lesson from this. I learned that focusing on my own problems does not bring happiness. God didn’t say, ‘Okay. For those with problems it’s okay to focus on yourself. And for those who don’t have problems, I want you to focus on helping others.’ even in dire times God does not exempt me from his commandment to focus my life on others, because it transforms hardship to joy.’”

“’I believe that God is our father. He created us. He is powerful because he knows everything. Therefore everything I learn that is true makes me more like my father in heaven. When science seems to contradict religion, then one, or the other, or both are wrong, or incomplete. Truth is not incompatible with itself. When I benefit from science it’s actually not correct for me to say it resulted from science and not from God. They work in concert.’”

We expect to read words like the above in the Adventist Review or other religious journal, but in FORBES? Come on! But here they are. You can read them for yourself in the FORBES March 14, 2011 issue. The quotes are from Clayton Christensen. The article is “The Survivor,” pp. 72-85. And who is this guy? To answer, here is how the article begins: “Clayton Christensen, 58, is one of the most influential business theorists of the last 50 years. The Harvard Business School professor’s 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, introduced in elegant terms the notion of ‘disruptive innovation,’ which explains how cheaper, simpler or unexpected products and services can bring down big companies like U. S. Steel, Xerox and Digital Equipment.” Christensen is also a Mormon who, as one of ten, is responsible for the Mormon Church in the northeast quadrant of North America. His job: to visit the cities where the churches in the stake come together and to learn how to be better Mormons.

In the article, as told to David Whelan, Christensen, his children, his physicians and FORBES respond as Christensen recounts his story and his response to the heath events that have affected his life: his dealing with diabetes, the heart attack, the diagnosis of cancer, a detached retina and a stroke—the last four all within a three year period!

I have been a FORBES reader for more than twenty years. This article is unique. We are invited into the heart and soul of a highly successful academic and entrepreneur, a man who founded a consulting firm that employees more than sixty people. He is also a man of faith and commitment. Clayton Christensen is a man who stands on a global stage. He is forthright in expressing his faith, his values, and his priorities. His story is a great read!


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