3 Lessons from the Life of Steve Jobs

October 7th, 2011 · by Tom Stuart · I wish I'd said that., News & Reflections

Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple passed away this week.  His worldwide impact as a computer entrepreneur and innovator is well documented.  As a corporate leader he was admired not only for his genius but also for his determination in the face of the adversity that marked his life. 

Yesterday, my intrigue about his life caused me to stumble onto an online video of a Stanford University commencement address he gave in 2005, following his first bout with the cancer that eventually took his life.  In that address, Steve told three stories from his personal life while extracting three overarching principles that guided his life.  Although in the past I had heard and seen references to that address, I had never sat down and watched it from start to finish. 

It was short, all of about fifteen minutes, but it blew my socks off.  And here is why.  This side of heaven, we do not have any indication Steve was a Christian and whatever religious leanings he had are tied to Zen Buddhism.  However, the things that Steve conveyed are truths that could have been lifted from the pages of the Bible.  God is obviously the author of truth and examining Steve’s address from a Christian perspective is instructive.  As I listened, I could not help but acknowledge that the power and conviction of such a message should be on the lips and demonstrated in the life of every Christian. 

Now it is important to interject that these life principles, embraced apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ lack His resurrection power and promised redemption.  But viewed from a Christian perspective and tied to New Testament “Life” principles these truths are the doorway to discovering and fulfilling God’s eternal purposes for our lives. 

And so here are the three Christianized lessons from the life of Steve Jobs. 

1.  Connect the dots – always seek to see the hand of God at work in your life for good.  Steve began his address by underscoring the fact that everything in life, however seemingly random or unimportant, can have significance.  He cited that his adoption, dropping out of college and even a calligraphy class were all instrumental in shaping his future success.  “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

As Christians, we know that the “something” we must trust is God, through Jesus Christ His son.  For we know that it is God who “causes everything to work together for the good” and who has “predestined us to be conformed to the image of His son.”  (Romans 8:28-29)  What a difference it makes in the jumble and confusion of life to step back and put our trust in God; that He is in control and will one day help us make sense of it all.  

2.  Do what you love – even in the face of adversity stay true to your passion and do what God has created you to do.  Steve shared how being fired from Apple, though undeniably devastating, turned out to be the best thing that ever could have happened to him.  In it he discovered that his gift and love for computer innovation were unabated and he threw himself into one of the most creative periods of his life.  He started NeXT, Pixar and married his wife Laurene.  Eleven years later Apple bought NeXT, Steve returned as CEO and the rest is history. 

It is our conviction as Christians that God has created each of us with unique talents and gifts.  The bible tells us these gifts and His calling for their use are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)  They are like a life force within us that when employed are meant to not only serve God’s purposes, but also bring us great joy and fulfillment. (Ephesians 2:10)  What amazing lives we would have if we lived each day with that conviction and sought to align our lives accordingly!

3.  Live each day as if it were your last!  Steve shared how his cancer had caused him to realize that death is the destination we all share, how limited life is and the importance of not wasting it.  He cited that “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.”

That wisdom takes on even greater significance when one realizes that the biggest choice in life that everyone must make is where they will spend eternity.  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”  In Christian parlance living each day as if it were our last means living our lives with the assurance that through faith in Jesus, death is not the end, but the beginning of eternal life with Him in heaven.  It means living our lives with a whole hearted abandon to pleasing and serving God.

Steve shared since the age of 17, he purposed to begin each day looking in the mirror and asking:  “’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.’”  What a great example of living with a sense of purpose.

What would our lives in Christ be like if each morning we looked in the mirror and asked ourselves the same question – only framed it in terms of doing God’s will and bringing Him glory?  It would revolutionize our lives.

With this perspective in mind, you might want to view his Stanford address.  Here is the link to the video and also a link to the transcript.

I would be interested in your take on this.

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One Response to “3 Lessons from the Life of Steve Jobs”

  1. Excellent analysis of the Stanford speech, Tom. When I first watched it, I walked away with this same sense of living intentionally. Good stuff.

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