Friday, July 29, 2011

Guest Post: Living on a Prayer, Indeed



Have a post you think would be good on Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and modern mormon women can submit guest posts via email. In addition to your post, please include a post title and a paragraph of introduction (on yourself) to run above the post.

Dustin Peterson lives in Houston, Texas, with his supermodel wife and three extroverted kids. His days are consumed at Rice University molding the malleable minds of college students and preaching the doctrine of leadership development. His work focuses on becoming more authentic and self-aware, leading more effectively, and helping people figure out what to do with their lives and careers. Dustin enjoys changing diapers, eating bacon, and tending to his fourth child, www.thenewtonapple.com, where he searches, ponders and writes about self-development and the art of leadership. You can contact him directly at thenewtonapple at gmail.com. Also, read Dustin's first guest post here.

Several weeks ago my wife surprised me with every modern mormon man's dream: two nose-bleed seats to "A Night with Bon Jovi" at the Toyota Center. If you and I were face-to-face, I would laugh mockingly and shake my head at the band and their fans. But in reality, on that night I stood proud next to 40-year-old women with teased hair and every New Jerseyan living in Houston, screaming the words to "Livin' on a Prayer" like a 14-year-old female.

The show reminded me of a similar performance the band did on American Idol about six months ago. After the performance, which was sub-par, Ryan Seacrest interviewed Jon Bon Jovi himself and asked the inevitable question: "You guys just released an album and are touring yet again. You are so successful and have reached a whole new fan base [of young teenagers]. How do you continue to do it?" Without hesitation, Jon launched into a typical staged answer. But what he ended with has stuck with me and is the inspiration for this post. He said, rather matter-of-factly, "We have found that the harder we work the luckier we get." Simple as that.

Now, from a gospel perspective, there are two things I would like to add to what he said. The first is that the harder you work doing something you love that the Lord would have you do, the luckier you will get. Working hard at a monotonous or tedious task will not likely yield great luck. Nor will toiling away at a task that is contrary to the will of the Lord. But working toward a valiant effort that maximizes our God-given talents could produce great results. The Lord said it this way in Matthew 25: 20-21: "And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents...[and] His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." I'm all for ruling over many things, so how do we put ourselves in situations to maximize our talents?

An article in Management Today by Dave Waller focused on the principle of "luck." He suggests that we have the ability to create our own luck by putting ourselves in new situations where our natural talents can fill a need that isn't being filled. This suggests that we must first know our strengths and then pray for the ability to recognize new opportunities to maximize them. The element of prayer may not be entirely essential to succeeding in a worldly sense, as I'm guessing Jon Bon Jovi hasn't spent many nights on his knees pleading for a big break, but it will most definitely be the key factor in producing the kind of success that will yield long-lasting happiness or the "joy of the Lord."

The second addition to JBJ's original statement is really more of a clarification. We know from scripture that those who do good works will inherit good things. These things come directly from the Lord in the form of blessings. Therefore, hard work is not accompanied by luck at all, but by direct blessings from God. The statement could really look more like this: "Well, we have found that the harder we work doing what we love the more the Lord blesses us for maximizing our talents that He has blessed us with." "Luck" is the world's term for "blessings from the Lord."

In the end, John Francis Bongiovi's statement seems to make a lot of sense. This, of course, comes as no surprise to me. With songs like "Lay Your Hands on Me," "Livin' on a Prayer," and "Keep the Faith," this guy's not just a walking anecdote, he's virtually a member of the Church -- in fact, I think I once heard he was given a Book of Mormon by none other than Steve Martin. Go figure.

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