Life Lessons From An Innovator Part 1

Steve Jobs 2/24/55–10/5/11

Can’t believe it’s already been a year since the death of one of history’s greatest innovators and entrepreneurs.  Steve Jobs helped define a generation of technology junkies and how they lived their daily lives.  As the founder of Pixar and Apple (serving as CEO twice) he challenged not only computer companies and public opinion, but human imagination and desire.  While I have no idea what Mr. Jobs’ particular faith consisted of, I do know that we can still learn quite a bit from his remarkable career.

Be Generous
Sometimes when gleaning from another’s life lesson, it’s not just what they do but also what they don’t do.  While know for creativity and many other traits, he was not known for his generosity.  Very little of his immense $7 billion dollar fortune went beyond his own bank accounts.  In an era where corporations are suspect, it would have been an amazing humanitarian gesture to even start at home among the 30,000 homeless people in the Bay Area.  Upon returning to Apple in the late 90’s, he ended all of the company’s benevolent services.  The very key to our faith is sacrifice as we think of Christ’s death.  In doing so, He gave us eternal life.  Now, God is wanting us to die to our ambitions to serve others.  And when we are blessed with resources, it’s so we can reinvest in people and His Kingdom.

Take Risks
“Again, 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. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”  Mr. Jobs went against the grain constantly, challenging apathy and the lack of ingenuity.  He didn’t even conduct customer surveys because he considered people to be fickle.  He gave them what they wanted before they even knew what it was.

Sometimes we just have to go for it.  We won’t have all the details we need but if we could really trust in God’s promises, we could spend our energies elsewhere.  I am speaking to a symptom of indecisiveness which leads to inactive, stagnant faith.  Bleh!  People aren’t looking for Christ but there is a void in their lives crying out to their Father.

Push the Limits
“And I sort of look at us as two of the luckiest guys [Bill Gates the other] on the planet because we found what we loved to do and we were at the right place at the right time…I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

Every era has had its pioneers and explorers, those who were willing to jump into the unknown.  Anywhere from leaving the cave to discover fire to space exploration. They possessed the drive or fuel that made it possible to conquer distance, uncharted territories, fear, and self.  Mr. Jobs is noted as one of the greatest inspirational inventors who extracted creativity and pushed people to greatness.  What a lesson for leaders as we help people to follow Christ.  We are not here to just go through basic Christianity lessons with our students.  Do we dare to pull the best out of people, equipping them with confidence, passion, and joy?  Push them not only to greatness but to do great things for God?

Turn Adversity Into A Win
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”  Mr. Jobs, while a co-founder of Apple, found himself getting fired by the man he “stole” from Coca Cola.  The next several years of his life, while humiliating and discouraging, became the dry erase board to innovation.  He not only founded Pixar Studios but made a triumphal return to the failing company he had started.  Even though he put Apple back on the map and he became a technological giant, he still lived simply in a small subdivision in Palo Alto.  But the key is that he allowed misfortune to be a tremendous learning experience.  Even while battling pancreatic cancer, he came up with his greatest inventions.  How do we handle the valleys and the desert experiences?  While frustrating and often enduring a season of complaining and self-pity, we need to determine what God is teaching us and embrace and embrace them as character development.

Strive to Do Something Amazing
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”  The line he used to lure John Sculley into becoming Apple’s CEO.  “I want to make a ding in the universe.”  Mr. Jobs didn’t just go to work and just go to board meetings.  Every ounce of his being was dedicated to discovering the next awesome breakthrough, to open the potential of imagination.  I wonder sometimes why we try so hard to find out current trends and replicate what the world or some other ministry is doing.  Instead of imitation, how about innovation?  After all, we serve THE CREATOR.  Is it possible that we think and dream too small?  Oh that we would have God sized dreams so that He would receive the credit and people would follow Christ!  Let’s strive to accomplish something of eternal and lasting value, something out of this world!

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

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