Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

iGrieve: What every Christian can learn from Steve Jobs

by Michael J. Klassen

The good people at Microsoft must be breathing a sigh of relief this week because their worthy opponent is now gone. As you’ve assuredly heard, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc., and one of the greatest innovators of the last century, died last Wednesday at only 56 years of age from complications related to pancreatic cancer.

Countless obituaries have been written about this man over the last few days, and my intention is not to regurgitate them. But as I’ve reflected on this man’s life, the thought occurred to me, What can people of faith learn from this man?

Let me begin by saying that Steve Jobs wasn’t perfect. Unlike his competitor Bill Gates, he wasn’t much of a philanthropist. He fathered a child out of wedlock in his early 20’s, which he regretted for many years. When a paternity suit was brought against him, he claimed that he was sterile. He lost the suit and fathered three more children after that. He also experimented with psychedelic drugs in his earlier years.

In other words, Steve Jobs was just as messed up as the rest of us. No one is going to christen him St.Eve Jobs.

A product of the hippie counterculture, Jobs eschewed organized religion—including Christianity—and practiced elements of Buddhism.

But looking at Steve Jobs’ life, as a professing follower of Christ, I must admit that my faith has been enriched by him for the following reasons:

He refused to allow conventional thinking to force him into its mold. Think about it: he built the most valuable company in the world by reinventing a miniature music player. Granted, the company began with computers, and still sells computers. But Steve Jobs looked at the tired Sony Walkman cassette player (remember those?) and developed a cool gadget that became a staple of 20th century society. Other digital music players were on the market at the time, but nothing excited people about the experience.

The apostle Paul wrote “Do not conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2). Years ago, JB Phillips offered a refreshing twist on this verse: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” What if we refused to allow the world around us to squeeze us into its own mold? What if we looked at problems and tried to develop ways of working around them, even coming up with new solutions? Status quo is so alluring…and mind-numbing.

He focused on simplicity and ease of use. The key to the success of the products Steve Jobs developed was their ease of use. The iPad is so easy to use (I’ve heard) that it doesn’t even come with an instruction manual. No one ever had to teach me how to use my iPod. And, now that I own a Mac, I’ll never go back to PCs. They’re too clunky and difficult to use.

In college, I enrolled in Cobalt 101. If you’re long in the tooth like me, you remember that it’s a computer programming language for business. Unfortunately, my class included Cobalt whizzes and computer idiots like me. As a result, the professor tried to teach to people in the middle, which meant I didn’t have a clue all semester long what all the letters and numbers meant. The fact that my teacher gave me a C is proof that God exists.

All too often, churches are as difficult to navigate as Cobalt. Insiders know what to do, but newbies don’t. So what do their leaders do? They focus on the people in the middle, which means that many of the new people don’t have a clue what everything means.

If you are involved in a church community, please join me in trying to focus on simplicity and ease of use. And no, that doesn’t mean dumbing things down.

He built a culture of service. Walk into any Apple store and you’ll quickly discover that the customer is king. Friendly, knowledgeable people ask how they can help you. Free classes acquaint customers with how to use their Apple gadget. One area is dedicated to introducing children to their computers, replete with fun chairs to sit on. I know, it’s a ploy to win the kids’ loyalty, but no one’s complaining.

A year ago, my wife finally caved and decided to get an iPhone. Then, a couple of months ago, she dropped her iPhone, shattering the lens (if you know her, you know this is par for the course!). She assumed she would need to shell out more money to get a new phone, but I told her to take it to the Apple store. She went in, told them her sob story, and they replaced the lens for free. And no, she didn’t have an extended warranty. I’ve had similar experiences. When Kelley told me the good news, I asked her, “Did Apple win your loyalty?” Definitely. There’s a reason the Apple stores are packed full of people at 8:30 in the morning.

But this is a picture of grace—getting what we don’t deserve. Most studies show that Christians are the most generous and helpful group of people in the world. What if we committed ourselves to raising the bar and committing ourselves to greater generosity? What if we followed Jesus’ lead in serving everyone around us to a greater degree? It would change the world, which leads me to my last point…

He sought to change the world. When Steve Jobs invited John Sculley, the PepsiCo president, to run his much-smaller Apple computer company, he asked him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” How could John Sculley say “no”?

I once spent a weekend with a pastor who lived in a small town in Vermont. His motto was, “We want to change the world from Bennington, Vermont.” Would that all of us approached our everyday lives asking ourselves that question.

You don’t need a blog to change the world. You don’t need be a pastor to change the world. Be who God created you to be. Work your everyday job. But seek to be different. Think outside the box. Serve others. Don’t be overly complicated. The gospel Jesus preached sure wasn’t.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado. He does some freelance writing on the side and  enjoys his wife Kelley’s chicken tortilla soup.

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Why Technology and Science Can’t Save Us

By Eugene C. Scott

The only time I’ve ever given something (my computer) up for Lent, it wasn’t even Lent. And I didn’t choose–of my own free will–to give up my computer.

A few years ago, despite the fact that I own one of the best and most reliable computers going (yes, you poor PC plugs it is a world-famous Mac), my 256 megabyte hard drive crashed and burned. After trying several home remedies such as opening and closing the laptop lid, pushing various mysterious buttons (I wonder what the “F” stands for on those buttons), and muttering to myself, I finally scheduled an appointment with the “Mac Genius” in the closest Apple Store, which happened to be a mere 150 miles away. At the time I lived in the mountains near Vail, which was great except when . . . . Anyway the 2.5 hour drive to Boulder, CO did give me time to reflect—to take stock of my life as it relates to computers and electronic stuff.

The way I remember that fateful drive is like this:

That drive turned out to be a sobering and painful several hour odyssey, during which my hands trembled on the steering wheel and thoughts of living computerless distracted me. The usually spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery passed in a blur. My skin became clammy to the touch, as I fought back fear and worry each time I thought of how long it had already been since I had last checked my e-mail—ten hours and counting.

What if someone sends me an extremely important e-mail chain letter and I break the chain? I worried. I sobbed when I realized my communication ties to my world had been sadistically and heartlessly severed. I had unwillingly joined the ranks of the out-of-touch and uninformed. I feared I might become e-illiterate.

Less important but equally traumatic it dawned on me that I had lost parts of my seventy-five page (so far) doctoral dissertation, and my most recent sermon (I convulsed at the idea that I now faced researching sermons using books rather than the internet and writing them on those hideous yellow legal pads).

And how could I live in a world where my entire iTunes library had vanished?

Then panic hit! With my Treo palmOne phone calendar lost in cyberspace, how could I possibly know when to be where and with whom I was supposed to be? I nearly ran off the road. I saw my life pass before my eyes. To my horror my life was configured in indecipherable ones and zeros. Tears blurred my vision. I pulled over and turned on my emergency flashers.

I was a mess. Right then and there I knew what I must do. Admit my dependency.

So looking up to the blue sky through my pitted windshield I mumbled, “Hi, my name is Eugene.” I paused; I breathed; I listened. Then white-knuckling the steering wheel, I continued, “And I am addicted to my Mac! Computers, and other electronic devices rule my life.” I listened again. Sadly there was no encouraging “Hi, Eugene” response because there is no support group for this. I sighed. More tears flowed. At least I had said it. It was out.

On the drive back to Edwards, CO, determined but frightened, I swore I would use the three to ten days it would take to repair my PowerBook G4, to overcome my addiction and start a new life. I told myself I would read more books, talk to people face to face, and occasionally— shudder—use a pen or pencil to write. I even thought I would break out the old turntable and listen to a record or two. I pulled into our driveway ready for anything. I was fearful but resolute.

Fortunately my PowerBook was ready in three days and I never had to follow through on those rash resolutions. Though on day two of web-sobriety I did pick up my old, loose-leaf Bible. I stumbled on this passage, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Then I googled the passage to find out what it could mean.

Some wise saint (possibly John Calvin) once said, the human heart is an idol factory. The ancients carved wood and stone into what they hoped would be gods of their salvation. We fashion chips and technology into the same hope.

If you listen to the chatter of our world, how many times a day will you hear that a certain scientific discovery, or hypothesis, or technical advancement will bring us the healing or answers we are looking for? Hundreds? All the while God stands at the side of the internet-super highway with his thumb out, hitching a ride. As wonderful as science and technology are, they are finite–limited–and can’t save us.

This is because they are creations of our own limited minds. Technology is created not in God’s image but ours. We are broken beings capable of taking anything good and using it for evil. And we do. Also, if our struggles were material/physical only, maybe physical/material solutions could help. But our problems run deep into our souls. And not even a super computer can go there. Only God can.

I may have exaggerated my struggle with my forced fasting from electronics of several years ago. But I did recognize then, and still do now, how easy it is for me to try to slip something else into that God shaped void in my life.

Maybe that’s what seasons like Lent are really about. Not just giving stuff up. But taking stock of where in our life God stands or who/what we have standing in God’s place.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO

Beginning on March 13–the Sunday following Ash Wednesday–we will begin a Lenten series titled “Embrace: Discover, Desire . . . Jesus” at The Neighborhood Church.  During worship we will explore those things of God we can embrace and add to our lives as a response of love to Jesus.  These worship gatherings will also include hands-on opportunities to practice these things God asks us to add to our lives.  Join us.  See tnc3.org for worship times.

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