Posted by: ritagone | November 9, 2011

One More Thought on Steve Jobs

It’s complicated.

That’s how I felt after finishing reading the biographical tome of “Steve Jobs” masterfully written by Walter Isaacson.

Steve Jobs’ name is a household word, especially in the United States in 2011.  Apple is a household word.  I’m sure that everyone reading this has at least heard of a Mac computer if not owns one.  Or owns an iPhone or an iPad, or knows someone who does.  The creative, driving force behind all of these technological innovations died last month, leaving a void in the world of computers and software and hardware that will be hard to fill.  We will not see his likes again soon, much as we didn’t see another Einstein or Walt Disney or another brilliant mind who could accomplish so much in one generation and affect so many.

And yet…

Just when I began to shake my head in awe and admiration for this man, of his humble beginnings in a garage as he started the process of changing the world, he would treat someone with so much disdain and antipathy that it was hard to imagine spending five minutes in the same room with him without being seriously disturbed by his behavior.  How did people stand him? (Many didn’t.  Many employees just couldn’t take working for him and quit.)  How did his family put up with his complete selfishness?  Is genius worth the price that he extracted from the people around him?  That’s the question I kept asking myself over and over again as I read the book.  And I think it resounded – at least in my own mind – over and over again:  NO!

There was so much hubris, so much arrogance that it’s hard to escape when you read the biography.  A man who truly believed that the laws of man didn’t apply to him, and probably felt that the laws of God also shouldn’t, which is why when cancer struck him, he felt for the longest time that he could beat it, that it wasn’t real and wouldn’t be much of a problem.  From inside his famous “reality distortion field,” he could make anything into whatever he wanted.

Well, not quite.  The cancer was real.  And the cancer eventually won.  No amount of money, no number of brilliant doctors from both coasts could stop the spread of the disease that ultimately took his life at 56.  Try as he might, he grew weaker and weaker.  Oh, he fought a good fight, because he really didn’t want to leave this earth.  He still had dreams and plans for Apple.  He wanted to see his kids continue to grow up.  He had a boat he was designing.  But here was something – at last – beyond his control.

I picture God watching Steve Jobs.  Remember that God created the universe.  Surely this outweighs even, yes, even the iPad.  The iPhone.  The Mac computer.  For all his genius, for all of his many forays into changing the way the world communicates and listens to music and watches movies, still, when you compare what Jobs contributed to what God contributed, it’s not much of a contest.  So when Jobs says that he made a deal with God or “whatever” that if so and so would happen, Jobs would do such and such, surely God must have smiled, because in 99.9% of his life, Jobs gave no recognition to God at all.  It was only as he saw that he might lose the battle with cancer that he began to wonder if perhaps there was a life after death, if there was a God beyond his own imaginings.

And that’s good.  I’d like to think that perhaps in those last minutes or hours of his life, Steve Jobs might have had his greatest epiphany, revealed not even to Isaacson, not of a technological improvement or advancement, but of a recognition that all along he had been on the wrong road, looking for the wrong things, answering the wrong questions.  I’d like to believe that when he supposedly muttered “Oh, wow, oh, wow, oh, wow,” it was because his eyes were finally opened and he saw Jesus Christ and his heart was for the first time softened and touched and humbled, and Steve Jobs became not the Apple and Pixar guy, but a man who had come to the end of his life and had an opportunity to reach out to his Saviour, a man who took that opportunity and wound up making the best decision of his life.

I don’t know what happened.

You don’t know.

I do wish now that over all the years that I owned a Mac computer and an iPhone and all the wonderful technology which Jobs brought to the world, I had thought about praying for him and his family.  My fault.  And hopefully going forward I will try to be more aware of the people behind the tools I use so easily and glibly.

But for right now, I’m going to leave Steve Jobs in God’s hands.


  1. I didn’t read the book, but saw the 60 Minutes interview with the author. Your words pretty much summarize what was expressed in the program. Sad that he felt like it was okay to demean people. I, too, wonder what happened at the very end. We’ll never know, but there are reminders here for all of us still living and breathing that God is the author of life and the one who numbers our days. Do we reflect Him much in our daily activities? Good for us to think about.

  2. Great, great thoughts, Rita. Thanks for this.

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