Pastoral Perspectives

Making A Difference

A child was born to a young and unwed lady and the world then did not know how he would one day change the way it works. He made such a huge impact that on the day he died, the world came to a halt and many cried over the loss of a truly great man. Who is he? No, I am not talking about Jesus of Nazareth. This person I have in mind is Steve Jobs and I believe you know him and may also own one or more of his iStuff. Jobs created such a cult following that some say you are either with him or against him. Sorry to say, I do not own any of his stuffs and I have nothing against him. But I have heard how some mocked him for his billions that he could not bring along with him. Agreed but none of us could either, whether it is billions or cents and while some live for the sake of the dollars, Job’s billions came to him because of how he had changed the world. Some ridicule at how millions cried over his death while none cried over the death of millions of African children. Agreed but millions also cried over MJ’s death and I believe our heavenly Father grieves over the death of those precious children. One wrote that Jobs wasn’t even close to being great! Based on his reasoning, I suppose I cannot consider the fiery John McEnroe a great player after all. Well, I am not writing to defend or glorify Jobs. I am writing to share three things I have learned regarding this man and how it reminded me of a much greater man who was also born to a young and unwed virgin. And yes, he is Jesus of Nazareth.

The first is a question Jobs famously asked John Sculley, who was then CEO of Pepsi-Cola, to persuade him to serve as CEO of Apple. And that question is this: ‘Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?’ I wonder how many of you wish you have the chance to be asked by the man himself. But if you were John back then when Pepsi-Cola was an established company while Apple was still a startup, would you dare follow Jobs and hope to change the world? And so Jesus came to some fishermen and said to them (Matthew 4:19 in my paraphrase) “Do you want to catch fishes for the rest of your lives or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Jesus had yet to begin his ministry but like John Sculley who jumped boat, the few fishermen also jumped out of their boats and followed Jesus. And the rest, as they say, is history. So what about us? Are you ready to follow Jesus and change the world now that you know he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords or are you happy to stay with selling your sugar stuff or catching your fishes, whatever they might be?

The second is an event that marked a turning point in Jobs’ life. Following an internal power struggle amidst poor sales and layoffs, Jobs was fired by his own founded company. He would later say at Stanford University in 2005 that being fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him, for it freed him to enter one of the most creative periods of his life. Apple would not have been what it is today if Jobs had not been fired. What about Jesus? I guess John’s gospel puts it best: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12). And so Paul writes in Romans 11 that salvation has come to the Gentiles because of Israel’s unbelief. So what can we learn from this? Well, the next time we feel betrayed, disappointed or rejected, do not despair. For it could also mark a turning point in our lives, just as it did for Jobs of Apple and Job of the Bible. Or it could lead to a momentous step forward for the advancement of the kingdom, just as it did for the apostle Paul when he was blinded on the road to Damascus. But if we want things to turn for the better, then it helps if we take up our cross and continue to follow Jesus.

The third is an advice in the speech that Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005. He said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Jesus’ time on earth was shorter than Jobs and he did not waste it by living to please those religious people. He healed on the Sabbath and offended them as a result. But he said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). Well, our time is also limited and so let us not waste it living for this world and be trapped by its values, standards and distractions. If we have to waste our time, then let us waste it by living for Jesus a life that is true. And while we need to have the courage to follow our heart and intuition, it is of greater important that we seek first the treasures of heaven. A recent article tells of a China undergrad who had offered sex in exchange for the new iPhone 4S. That’s her treasure and she has the courage to lay hold of it no matter how. For where your treasure is, there your heart will follow.

So these are the three lessons I have learned from a great man who had lived his short life to its fullest. Allow me to close with a tribute from President Obama. He says, “Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learnt of his passing on a device he invented.” If we can also live each day like our last, surely our lives can also impact and transform others’. We can also make a difference to the world like Steve Jobs did if we love God and make disciples. And there can be no greater tribute for us than when our Lord himself welcomes us and says, “Well done, good and faithful servants. Come and share your Master’s happiness!

Pastor Ronnie

October 30, 2011