"Steve Jobs, the most visionary technology maker of the digital era, died Wednesday at the age of 56.
His death represents the end of the first era of computing when, under his guidance, the computer went from a thing nerds built in their garage to a friend everyone carries in their pocket. Sometimes called the Leonardo Da Vinci of our times, he made the computer personal, the phone smart, and the mouse magical.
He was also famously guarded about his personal life. He kept his family, his illness, and his religious beliefs out of the spotlight in order to focus on the things he made. But as he neared the end of his life, he allowed Walter Isaacson to write a biography, which will be released later this month. But until it comes out is there anything that we might learn from this man's life and work?
Life and Work
A natural starting point can be found in the details we do know about Jobs's life and business decisions. Born to parents who didn't want him and adopted by parents who never attended college, Jobs went on to drop out of the same college where Donald Miller made his famous confessions. He and his friend Steve Wozniak ("the Woz") started Apple in a garage, but years later his own board pushed him out of the company he founded. Undeterred, he started a new computer company (NeXT), and a few years later was invited back to Apple as a kind of savior. Then over the past 14 years, he hit home run after home run---iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad---each of which shaped computing, the music industry, and even the consumer. Are there not lessons here about second chances, redemption, and what can come from a little, unwanted baby?
When he came back as CEO in 1997, Apple was making all kinds of superfluous products like digital cameras, printers, and PDAs. One of Steve's first decisions was to drop the axe on most of those extraneous products and focus the entire company on a single idea: making better computers. Should pastors do the same with the programs at their churches, trimming the fat, and focusing on essentials like the gospel, worship, and community? We could also learn from his treatment of archrival Microsoft. After striking a deal with Bill Gates, Jobs warned Apple loyalists, "We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose." Could we not all learn from that in our congregations, ministries, and blogs?
But I think the significance of Steve Jobs's life goes beyond these sorts of sermonettes. It is rather in his approach to technology and creativity that I think we can find a profound warning and hidden testimony of God's grace.
Though Wozniak was clearly the brains of the operation, much of what made Apple successful was Jobs's ability to market products in such a way that they didn't feel like products, but rather a way of life, something you're either in to or out of.
The company's very name---Apple---is...." (read the rest of the article)