Relections on Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Even if you do not own a single Apple device (like me), you have been impacted by Steve Jobs. His ability to know what people want, give meticulous attention to every detail, and market effectively has turned the company Steve founded into one of the largest in the world. Steve was a driver of innovation on countless fronts.

Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer in 1976 and launched the first commercially successful graphical interface computer. However, his leadership style lead the company to force him out as CEO. He quickly regrouped and founded Next Computer in 1985. The servers that Jobs created here became the backbone of the earliest form of the internet. In 1986, Jobs took the lead with The Graphics Group, later known as Pixar. Pixar brought us the classic animation movies, such as Toy Story.

In 1996, Apple brought Jobs back on as CEO at Apple, and Jobs cleaned house and focused the company on a few core elements. At Apple, oversaw the creation of the iMac,iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and the iPad. Each of these device revolutionized the industry. The iMac brought Apple back into the personal computing arena. The iPod created a digital music craze. iTunes showed that people were willing to pay for downloaded music, provided there was a decent system and fair pricing for doing so. The iPhone brought together phone, computer, and camera into one user-friendly and snazzy device. Finally, the iPad crated a whole new type of computer that focuses heavily on media consumption.

Along the way, Jobs created such marketing buzz that people would line up for days just to get the latest gizmo. He knew that people were willing to pay premium price to have the latest technology. Even when they knew that in a year, Jobs would be there again releasing their next great innovation, and making their previous devices seem out of vogue.

There was no one that had the innovation, creation, and aesthetic senses of Steve Jobs.

While the world certainly lost a visionary, there are some sober reminders that come to mind with the passing of Steve Jobs.

1. Life is fleeting. Death will come to us all. James 4:14 says “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Jobs death in his mid-fifties and at the pentacle of success reminds us that no one exempt or immune from death. Nor does God give us a choice or a time when our death will come. As Jobs put it at a commencement address at Stanford in 2005,

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.”

2. Live life in light of your impending death. Steve Jobs, in reflecting on his cancer, said,

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.”

The reality of our own death should make us serious and passionate about what truly matters. A cautionary note is in order here. Notice that the motivation Jobs has stems from nothing more than “making a difference”. Christians have even more motivation knowing that God reigns over the events of this world, and gives them value, meaning, and hope. There is no reason that believers should not be bold in the their calling! As Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” We have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

3. In the end, we will all stand before God. This is the most sobering reminder to each of us. In the end, Jobs and each of us will stand before God and give an account. Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”In that day, God will weigh everything we have done, and in the end, were it not for Christ we would all come up short. Or sin, failures, and shortcomings would doom us. But in Jesus Christ forgiveness and righteousness is offered.

2 Corinthians 5:21 declares, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The final measure that we will all be judged by is are we in Christ? Have we trusted Him? Do we love Him? Or have we sought to live life according to our own devices.
I don’t know much about Job’s beliefs. He had a Zen Buddhist preside at his wedding. He had little interest in philanthropic matters (indeed ending Apples charitable giving, at least for a time). Even reading the commencement speech he gave makes it clear that the ultimate aim of his life was simply to make a difference before he died. That he did, at least for a time. But how long until the next gadget make all his inventions nothing but a quaint memory?  I pray that in his last days, Steve Jobs found the hope and purpose that the Savior offers.

As the old saying goes, “Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”


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