A Lesson from Steve Jobs

This is the second and last post I’ll make about Steve Jobs (promise). CNN just reported that Jobs died today at the tender age of 56. As I read various accounts of his life and accomplishments, some of his statements from Stanford’s 2005 commencement caught my attention. He said

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…Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do…If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.

Related to my previous post on Steve Jobs, I read this and I’m reminded of how we long for our lives to connect to something bigger. We want our stories to count, for the dots to connect in our future. I wonder though, how can we be sure that the dots will connect? Steve Jobs’ counsel seems like nothing more than wishful thinking unless it is connected to the plan of something greater. Yes, I said ‘plan’ – as in divine intent, agency, deliberate action. For us to act, and then hope that it connects is a pretty risky play. Rather, we have a divine word that says that God has a plan for our lives, and it is connected to his plan for the entire world (see Jer 29:11).

At the same time, his counsel that the only way to do great work is to love what you do is brilliant. It’s the advice my (then) non-believing uncle gave me 14 years ago. I remember sitting in a smoke-filled coffee shop as he counseled me about the course of my life. “Mitchel,” he said, “I don’t care if you are a lawyer, doctore, engineer, or millionaire. What matters at the end of your life is that you are a good man, and that you do what you love.” That was the beginning of my suspicions concerning my life’s course – that maybe God had something different in store for me than being a doctor. What do you love to do? What passion has consumed you? Does your work reflect that? I don’t necessarily mean the work you get paid to do. I mean the work you know you are called to. I do believe it’s true that you’ll know when you find it, and it will get better as you get better at it.

Steve Jobs made an impact on the world and now he’s gone. He’s being celebrated for impacting the last 10 years as a culture maker. I want to make an impact on more than that, and the work that God has called us to do could impact generations on into eternity. So I ask you again, what has God called you to, and who will it impact?

One thought on “A Lesson from Steve Jobs

  1. Good one Mitchel. I’ll be 55 next month, and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be “when I grow up”! Except for a few glitches along the way, I am doing what I want to do. I’m not making any money, so there are those people who tell me, “Get a job!” Along the lines of your uncle’s advice, I’ve tried to be a good woman and do what I love. Actually, how can you ever really be good at anything if your heart is not in it.

    My first and primary job has been to be a mother. It may be one of the most underestimated and “underpaid” jobs ever; but then you can’t put a price on it. It begins before others know you have the position, and continues long after the primary product, or “child” wonders if you’re ever going to retire. My answer to that, “Not if I have a choice”. Once a mother, always a mother. I still have many moments when I wish I could consult my own mom; though I often ignored her counsel when I was too young to appreciate it.

    I guess the other “job” is my love of communication and writing. Again, I never really got paid for it except for a short time as a stringer for a local paper. Even then, it took more time than I was ever paid for the job. Yet, I enjoyed it, and did very well. You probably know the satisfaction in being able to express yourself and actually have others listen and respond.

    So it’s like you said. We all wish to try and make an impact on other’s lives. What better way than to be a mother or father. The pay-out is huge and it’s impact, for better or worse, can last for generations.

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