January 02, 2014

Lesson 156: Steve Jobs and Me.

Do you ever wonder about those people, the ones who are thinking a billion brilliant thoughts simultaneously? Do you ever wonder how it is that their brains don't explode?

I have an acquaintance from high school, who is (to put it lightly) extremely busy on facebook. He posts more links concerning more subjects than anyone else I know.

But it's not just that he posts the links, he comments on the links. He asks questions, seeks dialogue, and follows-up. He argues. He pushes his points. He genuinely seems to care. Perhaps, it amazes me, because half of the time, I have no idea what the articles he posts are talking about.

They just make me tired.

Over my self-imposed Christmas break, I read Steve Jobs' biography. Talk about a fascinating brain.

In the book, he comes across as the most egotistical, manipulative perfectionist, who was a nightmare to work for and frustrating to live with. At one point, I asked Mark, "When am I going to get to the redeeming aspect of this guy?"

I kept thinking, there is absolutely no way Steve Jobs would have ever hired me. I am one of the people he would have "gobbled" out of the room in an interview. If I had slipped into the company somehow, I would have sat securely in his bozo category until he eventually fired me.  

So much of what he fixated upon, so much of his drive, so much of what he cared about does not jive in the slightest with me.

In fact, it mostly makes me tired.

However, on a scaled down, more average Joe, less Steve Jobs level, much of his passion invirgorated a fire within my soul.

It makes me want to stretch, to breath, to open my eyes to possibilities. To think really hard. To sit down, in quiet, and to think. To make my brain hurt with such intense thinking. To discard bad ideas, but to foster good ones. To write down good ideas, and to continue to think about them. To edit, to adjust, to perfect. To grow something. To pour my time, my energy, my thoughts, my intellect into something that really matters. To produce.

Did I just get caught up in the Steve Jobs' reality distortion field for a second?

Y'all, while reading this book, I was totally sucked into the Steve Jobs' RDF. So much so, that mid-sentence, I jumped up, grabbed my idea notebook, and wrote, "Some days are best spent in bed with a basket of Christmas goodies and Steve Jobs' biography. I'm going to break-out in 2014. 2014 is my year."

What does that even mean? I have no idea. It's all cryptic and profound sounding, but more likely, hollow and weird. At least I didn't immediately post to twitter.

Perhaps, this is where the brain-hurting thinking comes into play.

I am no genius. In fact, as demonstrated, my brain gets real tired, real quick.

But neither am I content to idle away, letting potentially good thoughts turn to mush. I am not content to have no goals, no ideas churning, no growth occuring.

Perhaps, "breaking-out in 2014" simply means pushing through to the end of an idea trail rather than succumbing to fatigue and falling asleep. Perhaps it is forcing myself to do the brain work, even if it ends up leading nowhere. Perhaps its thinking through the connections of faith, passion, training, and how these components can be passed on or as Jobs would say, imputed, to the world. (Clarification: Imputation is not being used in a theological sense here.)

Steve Jobs never did marketing research. He was fond of saying that people don't know what they want. It was his job, Apple's job, to show them what they wanted, why they needed it.

Enter iphones.

He was a visionary, a motivator, and a perfectionist. His products were complete packages, they worked in themselves from end to end. The hardware, software, design, power, everything was connected, just like Jobs. He was the complete package.

His work was exact. And successful.

To be honest, my dreams for life, when I can stay awake long enough to dream them, are far bigger than connecting the world through perfectly designed mobile devices. They involve the God of the Universe, the Savior of the human race, and the people that he is lovingly drawing to himself.

The Lord's passions are good and perfect. His vision is one that I can get on board with. His work requires time, attention, thought, care, hard work. He inspires faithfulness and fosters creativity. He provides strength and courage to proceed.

Pray that we would not grow lazy or passive in the work we have been assigned to do.

Pray that we would engage in kingdom work, purposeful living, with faith, hope, love, joy, focus, grace. Not to earn our salvation. But to live fully as a result of it.

This is something worth staying awake for.

Lesson(s) Learned (from Steve Jobs): Focus intently on a few things, rather than a million. Commit to making your output excellent, rather than quick and mediocre. Simplify everything. Then simplify it again.


  1. I love this post so much. Your writing is beautiful, and the ideas you're grappling with here are ideas that many of us think, but sometimes abandon when we don't have the right words to articulate them. You have found the right words, and I find the message so appropriate for where many of our heads probably are right now with the start of the year. Thanks for reading, thinking, writing and sharing. We all need a little fuel to keep us going when the deep, but important, thinking gets exhausting.

    1. Janice, I'm so glad this post was encouraging to you! I can see how it would be, you've always been a person overflowing with ideas, passion, vision, all of it! I hope it was a helpful kick-start to the new year for you! Keep going! :)

  2. "...to show them what they wanted, why they needed it." Interestingly, that's not an inaccurate summary of loving people for Christ's sake. Loving them in such a way as to direct them to God's love for them. Thoughtful post!

    1. Bill - you've definitely hit on something that I "heard" throughout the Steve Jobs' message as well, whether or not the author intended it. Perhaps you've stumbled upon the theme of a new book ... :)

  3. Jobs was an inspiration to many people, for many different reasons. This quote is one of my all-time favorites (it’s posted on my desk):

    “When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

    I think this quote, like Jobs himself, is inspirational and can be applied to many life scenarios on multiple levels. That's why you and I, who most likely have very different dreams for life, can both be motivated by Jobs.

    1. Hey Jeremy,
      Thanks for posting a comment on my blog. This post about Steve Jobs was really the tip of the iceburg. He fascinated me in so many ways. I'm curious, do you have any other suggestions of people to look into learning about?

  4. Great writing Katherine, I really enjoyed it. Daniel 1:8 says, "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food..." Daniel was resolute, determined. I tend to lean one way or the other about most things but resolute or determined about nothing much at all. Yet, in Daniel we read that he was resolved or determined to do something. The same can be said of Ruth who who was 'determined' to go with her mother-in-law. As Christians we should be determined, resolute, not because we need to work but, as you say, as a result of His work for us.

    1. Thanks so much for leaving a comment and thinking about this material. It's so interesting, b/c we don't want to lose sight of the gospel (by grace, not of works), but at the same time, we don't want to lack the drive to do a good job. I think finding a proper balance could be super exciting for the kingdom.


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