The filmed was released two weeks ago and immediately received lukewarm reviews. I’m sure that any movie buffs reading this post will want to start debating the good and bad points of the film. However, I’m not here to talk about the film as a cinematic work, rather, I’m here to unpack what the life of Steve Jobs can teach us about the patient love of God.
As an artist, writer, and creator myself, I’m always deeply moved and inspired by great innovation. The truth is, regardless of his personal pitfalls as a leader and as a man, Steve Jobs was one of, if not the most influential innovator of the last half century. The idea of home computers, portable music players, digital calendars that remind us when we need to be somewhere, not to mention a phone that has the ability to serve all those needs and more; all these things are a product of the vision of one man, and the company he led.
A brain like that of Steve Jobs absolutely baffles me. Jobs was able to envision and create a better, faster, and more well connected future that most people weren’t even dreaming of yet. He began meeting the wants, needs, and desires of his customers before they were even aware they had them. In short, Steve Jobs saw our future, and using Apple, he ushered us into it.
The film paints an extremely dark portrait of Jobs as a man. His character could be described as prideful, brash, impatient, and irresponsible. These are just to name a few traits. At first, I sat high up on my judgment seat, saying to myself, “I certainly hope I would never deal with my employees that way! What an unhealthy work environment he’s creating!” But as I thought more about it, I did not begin to excuse Jobs’ behavior, but I did begin to understand it on a deeper level.
Imagine a time before computers, before the internet, and before social networking. Imagine if you, in that world, were able to see a bright, shining, globally connected future where the potential for innovation and creativity were in the hands of each and every human being. Imagine if you were able to see all that, and no one else was. Imagine being so forward minded in your thoughts, that no matter who you brought on your team, it always felt like they were ten steps behind you, doubting and questioning what you already knew was going to work out as a modern miracle. I imagine that, and then I imagine just how frustrating that would be. If that was how my mind worked, I too may be a little prideful, brash, impatient, and perhaps even a little irresponsible.
Steve Jobs had an incredible mind and incredible vision. But the truth is, Jobs’ foresight into a better future was nothing compared to God’s current omniscience in our lives.
Deuteronomy 31:8 promises that, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.”
The truth is, God, much like Jobs, has seen and gone before us into the future. He has gone ahead and he has made a way for us. He has created a bright, shining, globally connected future, and he know exactly how he will bring us there. Yet we as his children sit in the desert of our lives complaining and fearing, turning to anything and everything else that we think might provide us with the hope we long for. And all the while, God is able to see this amazing future, but everyone on his team is always ten steps behind him. How frustrating would that be?
Let us ask the question though, what does God’s character look like in the midst of this frustration? Is he prideful? Brash? Impatient? Irresponsible? Some might venture to say so. But I would rather believe that his promise in Deuteronomy 31 is actually true, that even when we are unable to envision the hopeful future that he has gone before us to prepare, he is patient, kind, and will never leave us or forsake us as he slowly ushers us into it.
The future that God offers is more innovative than we could ever imagine. He is ready to meet wants, needs, and desires that we don’t even realize we have yet. His innovation looks a bit different than what we might find in the world around us however. It is not scatterbrained and malicious; it is not prideful or hateful; it is steady, kind, and loving. This is the patient innovation of God, and it surrounds each of us every single day.