What the Church Can Learn from Steve Jobs
Today, Michael Fassbender and Danny Boyle bring us into the world and mind of Steve Jobs.
It is no argument to say that Jobs is a genius in many ways. From founding Apple, to helping get Pixar off the ground, to the iPod- Steve Jobs changed the way the world experienced itself. But what can the church learn from Steve Jobs?
1. He created and shaped culture, he did not simply follow it.
Too often, the Church waits for the world around it to dictate culture, and simply follows along (many times far behind the curve). But if we are to learn from Steve Jobs, we need to be on the frontlines, grabbing hold of the possibilities of the future. Jobs said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
The Church has what this world needs- the salvation given by Jesus. We need to be at the forefront, shaping culture to help show the world what it is they are looking for.
2. Make the small things unforgettable.
Excellence isn’t easy. But its worth the hard work. In a scene in 2013’s Jobs, Steve Wozniak is building the first Apple circuit boards. Steve Jobs stops him and tells him to fix the resistors and wires that seem to be thrown together. He wanted the board, which no one would see, to be symmetrical, beautiful, and excellent.
I love the sound my iPhone makes when I turn off the screen. The reverb on that sound byte is spectacular. Most people will never notice it- but when they were creating it I guarantee they spent weeks if not months perfecting that one tiny sound.
In our services, are we planning for excellence?
Are we thinking through the mundane things to make sure that transitions are smooth, that the small parts of our services become unforgettable?
3. He recognized great potential.
In a Time Magazine article, author Lev Grossman wrote, “He [Jobs] didn’t invent things; he recognized them.” Whether it be the mouse driven GUI, PIXAR, the iPod, or the iPad- he didn’t invent them from scratch. He recognized the potential that product, business, or person had, and worked with “superhuman strength and speed and clarity” to make them the innovative products we can’t imagine living without.” Grossman goes on to write, “He saw what other people had, made it perfect, and sold it to the world. And when he was done, the world was a far better place.”
This goes especially as we work with volunteers- look for that great potential that others might have skipped over. You might surprise yourself by looking at things from a way others haven’t.
4. Don’t put the product ahead of relationships.
Few people, if any, would deny the fact that Steve Jobs was not what many people would call a “nice guy.” Product came first in many ways, and for many in the church world, it can be easy to get our priorities out of whack.
Repeat after me- God. Family. Ministry. Don’t let your family suffer for your ministry, because your family is your primary ministry.
Jobs was also known to use people, to belittle people, to simply be mean to people. Take a lesson from him in what not to do- make sure you pour into your team. Having a team that stays together and can function together cohesively is better than a great product. Don’t get me wrong- a good product is great, but not if it means throwing away relationships.
Services come and go. But ministry is so much more than just planning great services. Ministry, at the heart of it, is relationships. And if you put your focus on relationships, you will find a team that buys into your vision.
5. Whole-heartedly believe in your project.
If Steve Jobs was going to put his focus on something, it meant he whole-heartedly believed in it. He believed in it so much, he would fight for it. PIXAR president Ed Catmull wrote in his book, Creativity, Inc, “We tend to think of emotion and logic as two distinct, mutually exclusive domains. Not Steve, from the beginning, when making decisions, passion was a key part of his calculus.” Passion for a project is going to be the extra push to make sure the project gets done according to the standard of excellence you have given yourself.
There are countless other things we can learn from Steve Jobs, both positive and negative. At the core of it all, Steve Jobs was a man who passionately pursued perfection and excellence, who risked it all to reap the reward. And because of that, because of the innovation that he helped orchestrate and capitalize on, the world is changed forever.
Josh is a native of Greenville, SC, where he lives with his wife, Dorothy, and daughter, Juliette. With just about 10 years of some sort of creative ministry experience, he serves at Velocity Church leading the worship, production, and stage design teams. Starting in music, he began to become interested in the technical side of making worship services happen. While serving at Lowcountry Community Church in Bluffton, SC- he began to learn and experiment with stage design and lighting. Since then, he has created many stage designs and consulted to help churches think creatively despite their size or budget. Josh’s goal in his ministry is to point people to Jesus, and believes that all the pieces of a service, from booth to stage and everywhere in between, need to work together to point to a singular goal of Christ.