I have never met Steve Jobs.
But his influence literally effects every day of my life in both profound and very practical ways.
Mr. Jobs never stepped into my house, but his legacy will be living here influencing my family for many years to come.
Almost every single picture and video of my two young children was either taken on or is stored on an Apple device. These are the most treasured recorded memories of our family and they owe their existence to a man I never met.
The family-connecting moments of grandma reading my 3-year-old a story before bed, all while sitting in her house hundreds of miles away, on the video FaceTime of my phone have allowed my children to discover their grandparents. This too was possible because of a stranger.
And let’s not forget about the times I’ve been away because of work and able to see my children before bed because of the same invention. Or the educational apps stored on my iPad that have entertained my children during moments we needed to extend their patience. Or the AppleTV device that streams Disney’s “Tangled” into my TV so my daughter can enjoy a movie and popcorn night with us in our sleeping bags on the living room floor.
Or the macbook that my wife uses to scrapbook the pictures and stories of our family life into a blog online that friends and family far away can view to follow along with our lives.
And what of all the hours spent reading news on one of his devices, emailing and communicating through his iPhone, finding my way to a destination by his map app, locating a restaurant through another app, following a live football game during a long meeting, and the countless work tools that I depend on each day.
This and so much more. Because of a man that I’ve never met.
I’ve been a Steve Jobs fan, from afar, and an Apple fanboy for many years now. I’ve stood in long lines for iPhones and iPads and all sorts of things. Each keynote address was as exciting as Christmas morning for a 9-year-old.
But, for me, it was never about having the coolest and newest device. My love of Steve’s Apple products isn’t about keeping up with the Jones’ or some sort of status symbol.
I’ve loved Apple because of Steve’s passion to blur the lines between art and technology.
He didn’t just make a phone; he made an iPhone. He didn’t just make a computer; he made a macbook. And anyone who’s used his products understands the difference.
Every product released under his guidance was like watching a new painting being completed by da Vinci or van Gogh. Each as striking as a new literary masterpiece by Shakespeare or Mark Twain. On par with the greatest sculptures, architecture, poetry, and music of all time.
Jobs didn’t just make items that were functional. They were beautiful.
Of course, like any good artist, he didn’t really want people changing his creation. He was famous for secrecy and closed systems that people couldn’t fundamentally customize. What he created he was passionate about and wanted it to stand as he had made it.
He was at heart an artist, who also happened to know computers and like technology. Touch screens, computer chips, mobile antennas and operating systems were his tools; the paint brushes, violins, and writer’s pen of his craft.
His tension and pursuit of both as the same thing is what is most inspiring to me.
And it strikes me that we could use a few Steve Jobs’ in our churches today. A person here or there that advances God’s kingdom with creativity, passion and courage.
Someone who challenges the status quo and with courage and braves a new path forward, despite previous failure and criticism.
Someone who refuses to see salvation as a cold transaction, but as a creative life experience.
Someone who doesn’t see building churches as a business model but as Divine art.
Someone not as concerned with “the bottom line” (number of people in the pews) or “financial margin” (how many new buildings we can put up) but, as Steve put it, to live with the purpose of putting “a ding in the universe”.
Someone who finds the beauty in simplicity and engages in life as a labor of love.
I don’t know what Steve Jobs thought about God, but I know what God thought about him. He loved him.
And for that much, so did I.
Thank you, Steve, for all your art over the years. I’m so glad to have been a witness to the artist God created in you. May we all be true to the creative genius He has placed in each of us as well.
. . . made on a mac . . .