The Soul of Steve Jobs
What would it have taken to reach the Apple founder’s core?
by Gordon MacDonald
Leadership Journal, Winter 2012
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This week I am reading Walter Isaacson’s fascinating biography, Steve Jobs. It’s like a car wreck on the interstate — I can’t turn my eyes away. The life of the late co-founder of Apple Computer covered the same time period as my own life, so the landscape and context reads like a road trip through Baby Boomer land: familiar yet freaky, comical, exotic, ludicrous, outlandish and bizarre and yet all of this became funneled through the American sieve into a story of business and enterprise.
I’ve been a Macintosh computer user since 1988 when I received a Mac SE for a seminary graduation present. As far as I know, that computer is still working; I donated it to a ministry that takes old computers to Africa for churches and ministers to use. I’ll confess that I drank the Kool-Aid from the beginning. Apple literally had their “evangelists” who sang the praises of this machine as something so revolutionary it would change the world. In some ways it has.
More recently, after Jobs’ death last October, I have wanted to read this biography to learn more about the man himself. I’ve had this sense that much of what we have seen in megachurch leadership in the past twenty five years has taken its cues from people like Jobs, who was the very symbol of cool, creative, innovative, visionary entrepreneurship. He saw possibilities others couldn’t see. He was famously said to have a “reality distortion field” that enabled him to ignore all the facts arrayed against his vision and push himself and others to produce amazing products. At tremendous cost, I might add, but we’ll discuss that when I review the book.
Today, just a suggestion that you read Gordon MacDonald’s thoughtful piece in Leadership and come back to discuss your own impressions of Jobs, Apple computer, the American way of “leadership,” the place of technology in our lives, our cultural fascination with innovation and charismatic visionaries, and any other related topic that comes to mind.
As we consider some of these things this week, I’m particularly interested in hearing how you think that all of this has affected the church and ministry in our day.