God and Steve Jobs

life magazine biafraA few months ago I read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple who passed away in October of 2011. I was impressed with the book and enjoyed the level of access Jobs had allowed Isaacson while researching it.

Much could be said about the biography, but I wanted to draw your attention to what might appear an insignificant event toward the beginning of the book. Isaacson is explaining Jobs’s faith background and shares this encounter between a young Steve and his pastor:

Even though they were not fervent about their faith, Jobs’s parents wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. “If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it?”

The pastor answered, “Yes, God knows everything.”

Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, “Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?”

“Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.”

Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.

It’s likely that Steve’s pastor never gave a second thought to this encounter; that it appeared to him an insignificant question posed by a young teenager who was incapable of wrestling with a substantial answer. And yet decades later Steve Jobs thought enough of the event to recall it to his biographer.

As a pastor I want to be so very mindful of the “Steve Jobs moments” that may come my way: opportunities to pray with someone, answer someone, or take their concerns and questions seriously. We never know how thoughtless comments or underestimating a child might affect them for the rest of their lives.

In many respects we don’t have complete control over these encounters. I’m sure Jobs’s pastor didn’t intend to underestimate the intellect of the child who asked the difficult question. I’m sure there was much more behind Steve’s decision to leave Christianity than this one encounter. But I’m also sure we should make every effort to be mindful of the Kingdom moments that present themselves to us; moments we have the opportunity to enter into as we go about our days.

May you be awake and mindful of your next “Steve Jobs moment.”

1 Comment

  1. great point. i know there are times when i’ve been flippant in my responses towards questions posed by youth. may i be more conscious as well!

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