Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Clayton Magleby Christensen (1952 - 2020)

My cousin died early Thursday, January 23rd, 2020, of complications from leukemia. It was his fifth bout with cancer. He was 67. What Clayton Magleby Christensen accomplished in his life was exceptional by any standard. We will miss him. A bright light has passed from the earth to the heavens.
Clayton M. Christensen, Giant of a Man
The second son of Robert Magleby Christensen (1926 - 1976) and Verda Mae Fuller (1922 - 2004), Clayton was precocious, bold, self-effacing, and faithful. His father was President of the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake. His mother served for eleven years on the Relief Society General Board. Clayton served as an Area Authority Seventy from 2002 - 2009. He and Christine's oldest son, Matt, is currently President of the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake.
Presidents of the Rose Park Stake. Robert Magleby Christensen is Top, Center
Robert, a tall man, played basketball in central Utah on the team Verda Mae called the "Richfield Stumblebums." Clayton, 6' 8", was an all-state basketball player for West High School who went on to play for the University of Oxford. President Monson told the story of his refusal to play on the Sabbath in October, 2010 General Conference. His son Matt, 6' 10", played center for Duke University on the team that won the 2001 NCAA championship.

Robert's grandfather, Hans Olsen Magleby (1835 - 1903), helped convert the family of future Apostle John A. Widtsoe (1872 - 1952) in Trondheim, Norway. Clayton, author of The Power of Everyday Missionaries, helped convert dozens of colleagues and students over the years.

Robert was a dedicated genealogist. Clayton found thousands of names and enlisted the help of his Belmont, Massachusetts Ward to get their Temple work done. 

Christensen wrote ten books in several different disciplines. Each was a best-seller. He founded several companies, all of which thrived. He was a David O. McKay and a Rhodes Scholar who earned degrees from BYU, Oxford, and Harvard. He consulted with heads of state and business titans. He was ranked the #1 business consultant in the world multiple times. He was the superstar of the Harvard Business School faculty. His youngest brother, Carlton, former Salt Lake City Councilman and currently President of the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, once asked his famous brother for a favor. Clayton had to turn him down because he would be consulting with 100 high-powered CEO's at Bill Gates' home on Lake Washington. None of this went to Clayton's head. The first time he appeared on the cover of Forbes, I sent him a congratulatory email. He replied right back, "It must have been a slow week for news."
Clayton Christensen Memorabilia Display
When news of Clayton's death reached the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in their Thursday meeting, the question was who wanted to go to Boston to preside at the funeral? All fifteen hands went up. Pres. Henry B. Eyring was selected. His son, Henry, co-wrote The Innovative University with Clayton. The funeral was held in the Cambridge Stake Center with an overflow video feed to the Belmont Ward Meetinghouse and a Facebook facility in Cambridge. Clayton and Christine's daughter-in-law, Channing Hancock Christensen, Elder Gerrit W. Gong's niece, is head of global business marketing for WhatsApp which is part of Facebook.
Clayton Christensen in His Prime
Accolades poured in from all over the world. Salt Lake newspapers ran stories about Clayton almost every day for a week. Intermountain Healthcare took out a full page ad honoring him as a former board member.

The essence of Clayton Christensen, though, was his faith. His favorite book was the Book of Mormon. His testimony came with full force while he was at Oxford. His Enos-like story is worth re-telling. This is The New Yorker version from 2012 written by Larissa MacFarquhar:

Being a Mormon at Oxford, it was soon clear, was going to be extremely inconvenient. He had already served a two-year mission to Korea, and thought he was certain of his beliefs, but now he decided he'd better figure out for sure whether his was the true church. Each night at eleven, he knelt down and told God out loud that he needed to know whether the Book of Mormon was true. After praying, he sat and read one page, and then he stopped and thought about it. Then he knelt and prayed out loud again, asking God to tell him whether the book was true. Then he read another page. He did this for an hour each night for many weeks. "One evening in October, 1975," he wrote later, "as I sat in the chair and opened the book following my prayer, I felt a marvellous spirit come into the room and envelop my body. I had never before felt such an intense feeling of peace and love. I started to cry, and did not want to stop. I knew then, from a source of understanding more powerful than anythying I had ever felt in my life, that the book I was holding in my hands was true."
Clayton M. Christensen, Faithful Scholar
Why was Clayton M. Christensen able to accomplish more in 67 years than most people could in five lifetimes? Because like Nephi or Ammon or Alma the Younger or Joseph Smith or Russell M. Nelson, he received inspiration from on high pretty much 24/7/365. If products from Samsung or Apple or Intel have enriched your life, you have been blessed by Clayton Christensen's inspiration. If you hold the Book of Mormon diligently in your hands, God Himself promises you will receive your own personal inspiration Moroni 10:4. And, if you consistently follow the promptings you receive from the Spirit, you will become Christlike. Clayton Christensen became very Christlike. These words were printed in the program of the memorial service held in the Rose Park Stake Center on Saturday, February 15, 2020:
How Clayton Magleby Christensen Measured His Life
Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which builds enduring faith in Jesus Christ by making the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible to the entire world. Book of Mormon Central publishes the remarkable mobile app ScripturePlus.
Elder Neil L. Andersen in April, 2020 General Conference, told about Clayton's spiritually defining moment reading the Book of Mormon night after night in his flat at Oxford.

Article last updated April 4, 2020.