Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

What Church Planters Can Learn from Steve Jobs – Part 3

Steve Jobs was no saint. As his biographer Walter Issaacson has written, “He was not a model boss or human being, tidily packaged for emulation. Driven by demons, he could drive those around him to fury and despair.” But we can learn from every human being who has walked the planet, and we can learn much from Steve Jobs. Not just from his success, but his failures.

In Part I, I talked about how we can learn how to re-imagine what it means to be the church on mission. And in Part II, I talked about how we can allow the fact that we have been chosen by God to shape us more profoundly. Now for the third thing church planters can learn from Steve Jobs.

3. We can learn to overcome failure and lost.
Jobs dropped out of college to start Apple at the age of 20 and in ten years the company had grown to 4,000 employees and was worth about 2 billion dollars. You would think Jobs would be at the prime of his game. But at the age of 30, he was fired by his own company. He was publically ousted and it devasted him. In short, a rift developed between Jobs and Sculley. And though “Sculley had painfully craved Jobs’s affection,” and “Jobs had eagerly sought a father figure and mentor,” the growing breach between the two could not be hidden.

For Jobs, Sculley never became focused enough on the product(s) of Apple. Jobs was a perfectionist when it came to technical tweaks and design details. For Sculley, when Jobs wasn’t seeking to sell an idea he was frequently obnoxious, rude, selfish and nasty to other people. Sculley found this difficult, because he was “kind, caring and polite to a fault.” Add to this, the sales at Macintosh were only 10% of the budget forecast. Something needed to happen.

And in the showdown between these two, Sculley won the day when Job’s tried to take Sculley’s role, but was voted out instead. Being ousted by the company he started was extremely difficult for Jobs. The fact that it was public, made it all the more agonizing. So what did he do?

He got back to doing what he loved and entered into one of the most creative periods in his life. He started NeXT, with the help of some key people he brought from Apple, and he founded Pixar, which produced the first computer animated feature film, Toy Story. During this time he also got married. When Job’s speaks about this difficult time of his life, he talks about how this allowed him to focus on doing what he really loved, creating. He realized how important it is to do what you really love. “The only way to be truly satisfied, to do great work, is to love what you do. Don’t settle for anything else. You will know when you find it. Keep looking, don’t settle.”

This is great advice for church planters. The Apostle Paul was willing to preach the good news no matter what the circumstances, because he loved Christ and he loved preaching the gospel. Paul did not do what he did for money, he did what he did because he was called. He endured persecution, desertion and many other physical and emotional difficulties because he could not imagine doing anything else.

When we face failure and loss, it is time to reorient ourselves to our sense of call. If God has called us into ministry, we will feel compelled to minister the gospel no matter what. God’s love will fuel our love for Him and our heart to share transformative good news. And our love for the work will keep us going.


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