A lesson from Steve Jobs

I’ve finally finished wading through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. There were many intriguing stories, sad moments, shocking confrontations, and inspirational insights contained therein. Jobs was obviously a genius, and obviously very difficult to work with. I liked his focus on simplicity and beauty; I disliked the ugly way he (at times) spoke to his staff.

However, the lesson that I want to hold onto is described by one of Jobs’ closest team mates, Andy Hertzfeld: “The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater” (p123).

As someone in church leadership, that strikes me as a good way to look at what we’re all about. We are not about beating the competition – in our case because we believe we’re actually on the same side where other Christian churches are concerned. We spend so much time looking at other churches and ministries, comparing numbers, seeing how we’re doing, and feeling either envious, judgemental, or proud. Rather, we should be about doing the absolute best we can, not copying or imitating; not mindlessly rolling out the same programmes plagiarised from others; but thinking imaginatively about how we can be the best ambassadors for Christ possible. As Peter puts it we should be “faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pet 4:10). In that sense we should be focused, creative, imaginative, and concerned for excellence. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to the ‘competition’ and lets do the greatest thing possible, or even (with God’s help) a little greater.

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