Tuesday, October 04, 2011

On the Death of a Visionary

After arriving home this evening from church, I took some time to help my wife straighten up the house and clean out our vacuum cleaner. After vacuuming some of the floor in our house, I sat down to eat, fired up my trusty iPad (upon which I am now typing this), and went to Facebook with the intent of viewing a post that I had been tagged in. No sooner had the screen finished loading when I saw some posts near the top of my newsfeed which implied that Steve Jobs, Apple's eminent leader, founder, and former CEO had passed away. I was a bit startled by the nature of these claims. Because these posts were semi-ambiguous and suspect as to the definiteness of their interpretation, I decided I'd head over to his Wikipedia article to confirm.

I didn't even need to proceed to actual article about him as his death was featured on the front page. Heading back to Facebook, I took some time to gander through my newsfeed at all the posts which had something to say about the death of this soon-to-be-legendary baron of computers and business. In my opinion, he was the greatest business leader of our time in terms of his influence and impact over American culture. For this even, In my mind, I morned his loss.

I have been fan of Apple for some time, longer than many current Apple users. Long before the company started dominating every market into which it did business, during my freshman year of college (2002-2003, to be specific), I told many of my fellow dorm dwellers how I thought Apple's product and design were vastly superior to the typical Windows-based PC. Most of them laughed at me and quickly dismissed my opinion. Personally, I consider Apple's present success (which started to gain noticeable momentum not too long after that time) to be a vindication of my opinions then—opinions which I still hold today. While some of my more computer-savvy friends would still disagree with me, none of them will ever convince me to use a slow, boring, confusing, unintuitive, Windows-based excuse for computer in place of a Mac (unless of course, Steve Jobs' designs and vision are truly incapable of being carried on!).

I bought my first iMac in 2006, my iPod in 2008, and got a new iMac and an iPad both this year. I am also a huge fan of Apple's software and apps, many of which I use on a daily basis in the work of sermon preparation. I have been throughly satisfied with every product I have used. Although I must do so indirectly, I would extend credit to Steve Jobs for much of this. Jobs poured his vision, creativity, and genius into every product of hardware and software that Mac has put out during his time as CEO. When he began his second stint as CEO back in 1997, Apple had been suffering from declining sales and languishing brand power. It mainly appealed to a niche market of diehards who loved Apple for the simple sake that it was Apple. Today, its success as one of the world's most dominant, influential, and popular companies is inseparably linked to Jobs' work as its leader. If anyone were to collect, arrange, and package Steve Jobs' thoughts and ideas on leadership as well as his leadership practices and put them into a book, a great service would be done to many potential readers.

Yet in spite of all the positive superlatives I could potentially attribute to Jobs, I must sadly mention how his life and death profoundly remind me of Jesus' words in Matthew 16:26, which says, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (ESV) Ad victorem spolias. As great as an impact as Jobs has left on this world, it will all be for naught one day. Jobs' sudden passing is a lesson to all of us both of how brief and how influential a single life has the potential to be. I am inclined to think of my yet unborn son and how one day I will tell him the legend of Steve Jobs. At the same time, I will also emphasize to him the futility of gain and riches in this life if not used for the glory of God and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

May we all focus on God's kingdom (Matthew 6:33) and run in such a way as to win the prize of the heavenward calling that is found in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:14). Ad victorem spolias.


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