3 lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a fascinating character – he’s seen as one of the most influential people of the last three decades. He’s changed the way that computing and technology intersects with the liberal arts street as he so often used to put it.

I love to read good biographies and I am fascinated by people’s stories. Not even necessarily famous people or key world leaders, I just love the story of someone’s life. Walter Isaacson does a fantastic job of truly getting underneath the surface of Steve Jobs – sharing the story, the values, the highs and the lows.

A few things jumped out at me:

FOCUS

Steve Jobs consistently developed news ideas, but it seems that very few of the ideas that and the brilliant Jony Ive (his main designer) came up with made it to even board level, let alone a product for consumers.

Too often I think in the church we try to use every idea for fear of missing an opportunity – we sometimes need to be pickier about the quality of those ideas. Equally, don’t be afraid of the radical ideas – the iPhone, the iPad, Pixar and Apple Stores were all ideas that were revolutionary in their own way – pushing the edge of our normal understanding.

TEAMS WORKING TOGETHER

Jobs didn’t organize Apple into separate divisions like, for example, Sony or Philips, instead he pushed his teams to work together under the one profit and loss line. My experience of working in the church is that we’re very quick to adopt a business model of silos: children’s and youth, worship, pastoral care, teaching, work with older people all have separate teams.

Instead, we need to be clear that whilst there are experts working in their own field that people must contribute to the one profit and loss for the company – we must contribute and work together for the vision and goals of the organization. Jobs uses to use phrases such as “deep collaboration” and “concurrent engineering” to describe the process. I’m deeply passionate that we need to see more of this in the 21st century church.

HAVE CONFIDENCE IN WHAT YOU’RE DEVELOPING

In today’s consumeristic world there’s a lot of focus on giving the customers what they want. Jobs challenged that. He took a quote from Henry Ford: “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’”. Jobs believed that people don’t know what they want until you show it to them and that’s why he didn’t place a large emphasis on market research.

Too often in youth ministry we’re tempted to swing from one iniative to the next trying to find the magic formula to get lots of young people to come to Christ and then grow in discipleship. Instead, Jobs believes that our task is to read things that are not yet on the page and that’s what youth ministry needs to be for the church – the prophetic voice that shows what the church should look like.

Leaders in business and politics have lots of to teach us, and we shouldn’t be afraid to learn from these leaders, but we also need to be clear that church isn’t an organization that can be run in the way a business or government can. Church has very different priorities, especially around values, in comparison with those organisations.

If you haven’t read Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson then do get a copy – it’s a fascinating insight into the change in technology and the arts that’s happened in the last 30 years.

Funny stories from around the world

Some more funny and random headlines from around the world:

  • South Africa’s Zuma in dog row: South Africa’s government seeks to clarify remarks by President Jacob Zuma, who angered dog lovers by reportedly saying pets were part of white culture.
  • Apple’s boss in massive pay cut: Tim Cook is to take home a salary that works out to 1% of the $378m (£235m) he received to be Apple’s boss last year.
  • US man admits dinosaur smuggling: A fossils dealer admits smuggling dinosaur bones into the US, including the skeleton of a 70 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus bataar from Mongolia.
  • Wikipedia’s most searched revealed: Articles about Facebook, cul-de-sacs, adult video actresses, One Direction and the @ symbol are among some of 2012’s most clicked Wikipedia pages.
  • Kim and Kanye expecting baby: The rapper Kanye West and his girlfriend Kim Kardashian are expecting a baby.
  • Blood of Louis XVI ‘identified’: Scientists say an old dried out squash contains the blood of beheaded French King Louis XVI, and a genetic link with the mummified head of Henri IV.
  • Woman trapped in shop at new year: While most people celebrated New Year’s Eve with parties and fireworks one pensioner in France spent the night alone in a locked supermarket.
  • Author offers role to dog rescuer: US author Dennis Lehane, who wrote Shutter Island and Mystic River, pledges to name a new character after the person who returns his missing pet dog.
  • Kenya ‘fake police chief’ charged: A Kenyan man is charged after allegedly pretending to be an assistant commissioner of police for five years – during which time he reportedly sacked and recruited police officers.
  • China wedding boom on ‘lucky day’: Thousands of couples across China rush to marry on 4 January, because the Mandarin wording for the date sounds like a promise of eternal love.