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February 13, 2013
Latter-day Books
Powerful Book for 'Everyday' People
by Laurie Williams Sowby

The Power of Everyday Missionaries (Deseret Book 2012, 152 pages in hardcover, $19.99) by Clayton M. Christensen.

My first impression of The Power of Everyday Missionaries after reading just the introduction was, “This guy really believes this.” A little way into the book, where he relates real-life experiences with the principles he outlines, my impression was, “This guy really knows what he’s talking about!” At the end, my thought was, “I can do this, too!”

And I suspect that’s exactly the reaction Clayton M. Christensen was hoping for when he wrote this book. The Harvard Business School professor steps away from his reputation as the author of eight critically acclaimed books and title of the world’s most influential business thinker into his obviously beloved role as a missionary. As an Area Seventy and counselor in three mission presidencies, he has plenty of material to draw from. Yet it’s his first-hand experience in reaching out to nonmembers that has the most impact on the reader.

“The principles in this book have not emerged from a focused analysis of missionary work,” he writes. “The reason for this is that I think about missionary work every day. But I also think every day about how to be a better teacher at Harvard; how to be a better husband and father; how to build better companies; how to truly build the kingdom of God, just as Daniel foresaw….I think and study about all of these (and many more problems) every day.”

He maintains that missionary work is constrained by the thoughts and methods of man, but the principles he shares here have been learned through the Spirit as he’s tried to share the gospel. “Sharing the gospel will not compromise your success or your stature in your profession, your home, or your community,” he asserts. But for those who “’seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,’ the Spirit of God will magnify you so that you can do things that otherwise you would not be able to do.”

In a conversational tone and evident sense of humor about his own human foibles, Christensen shares the principles which guide his and his family’s efforts to introduce others to the gospel and the Church. The tools and experiences he shares are inspiring. Long-time members can appreciate his insights (such as questioning why we focus on how many attend our meetings instead of the ones who aren’t there) and be motivated by the case studies of wards, branches, and even “twigs” whose members have reached out to the less-active as well as nonmembers.

Latter-day Saints struggling with their own conversion can use his principles of setting deadlines, learning how to pray with “real intent” (as in “What do you intend to do if God answers your prayer?”), studying the Book of Mormon, realizing the reality of temptation, and keeping the Sabbath Day holy to strengthen their own testimonies.

Christensen frequently invites the reader to visit and unabashedly shares his own testimony – the same testimony that appears on his personal website and blog. (He’s an innovative missionary, describing in this book an organization of bloggers set up as districts and zones to use the Internet to advantage.)

Christensen’s know-how and books on innovation are well known in the business world, but it’s apparent that his life and his work are intertwined. He’s the same guy in any sphere. Following on the heels of his New York Times business best-seller How Will You Measure Your Life? (authored with James Allworth and Karen Dillon), The Power of Everyday Missionaries is the voice of experience in a highly readable and do-able guide for sharing the gospel every day.

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