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The church needs you

Editor's note: Clayton Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and a member of the Deseret News' Editorial Advisory Board. The Deseret News recently asked Christensen, a Salt Lake City native and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to share this experience.

For better or worse, the very language that we use when describing a situation affects how we understand the situation and hence guides our behavior. Consider the different responses that we might get from the following two sentences: "You need the church" and "The church needs you."

I grew up in Rose Park near downtown Salt Lake City. When I was a little boy, my dad home taught a gentleman named Phillip Strong. Phil had been baptized as a boy, but he never went to church, and he hated the church.

Every month, my faithful father would take me or one of my brothers as his home teaching companion. We would knock on Phillip's door. Phillip would come out on the porch and command my dad to get off his property. He would tell him "never to come back or I'll get the police here." But every month my dad would knock on the door, only to be told off.

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