What I Learnt From Steve Jobs

The other day I finished the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Incredible.

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This book excels in portraying a man who defined much of this generation. I know he’s certainly transformed the way I interact with the world through the iPhone and iPad, I suspect it’s the same for you.

There is something about reading a biography that provides insight into people you otherwise wouldn’t know. Isaacson’s masterful job of putting together the components of Jobs’ life is a perfect example. A deeper and fuller understanding of Jobs and his character gives cause to reflect on what can be learnt from him. Here then, are my thoughts on what I learnt from Steve Jobs:

1. I learnt Steve Jobs is a douche – There is no doubting it. He was a douche. His personality and the way he acted and behaved were terribly stupid and degrading to others at times. This wasn’t just one-off events every few years, ripping people apart in front of others occurred for sustained periods and made the guy a ripe proper douche. He even admits it himself.

2. I learnt Steve Jobs had a tremendous appreciation for quality – Everything he sought to do, whether it be his eating practices or the products he sought to produce, was to be of high quality. If they weren’t of the highest and best then they were crap. His push for quality products is what made Apple and Pixar. It’s a shame this wasn’t reflected in his relationships with others, including his parents, his daughters and his wife. Nevertheless, he pursued the best – products and employees. He wouldn’t settle for second.

3. I learnt Steve Jobs didn’t care about money – That’s always easy to say for someone who actually has millions already. But, I think that truly was the case. He didn’t seem fussed about money, it was the product, the A-class quality of a product, that mattered. If he made money by doing this then all the better.

4. I learnt Steve Jobs embodied Apple and Apple embodied him – After leading an organisation for so many years, even with a rather long period of exile, his personality shone through the company. There is no mistaking Jobs’ influence because he was the founder of the company but there is something that happens when you’ve been involved for 30 years. The company reflects your personality, and so it is with Apple. This desire for perfection, for high quality design and products, for pushing the boundaries in what people believe they can do, all comes from Steve Jobs.

5. I learnt that Steve Jobs is an inspiration – There is no doubting it, he’s one of a kind. There won’t be another Steve Jobs and the effect he’s had on Western society is very hard to measure, but needless to say it’s been enormous. His leadership and determination are inspiring. His passion for his industry and product is inspiring. He’s inspired me, through this book, to be a person who is more focussed, passionate, and determined in their work and life. I’ll skip the douche bit but have to say the other character traits are inspiring.

A sixth point would be that Walter Isaacson is an amazing writer. He inspires me to be a better writer and has made this book flow so well I didn’t want to put it down at times. If you happen to get the chance to read this book, I’d highly recommend it.

Top 3 Books For Youth Ministry

Late last night I was texted asking for what my top 3 book recommendations were on the topic of Youth Ministry. I thought I’d share them here for interest sake:

  1. Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
  2. Fruit That Will Last by Tim Hawkins
  3. Leaders That Will Last by Tim Hawkins

I’ve also added a fourth in my response as years ago Al Stewart put out a little primer on youth ministry called No Guts, No Glory worth reading.

I’d recommend these books to anyone beginning in youth ministry or a good refresher for those who’ve been in it for a while.

What are your favourites? What would you recommend if you were asked for your top 3?

My Theological Library

A month ago we moved house. It’s not really the most enjoyable of experiences but it’s something that has to be done when the time comes. The process of moving house meant that I had to move all the books that i have. I’m an avid reader and aim to read a book each fortnight (on average over the course of a year). The “industry” I’m in also lends itself to be around books. Ministry requires reading, preaching requires reading, studying requires reading. This means I’ve a growing collecting of around 700 books on the shelves and when the library reaches this point it’s probably time to get it sorted out.

I did toy with the idea of working the Dewey system or using the Library of Congress numbers but decided that might be a bit extreme. In the end the best advice came from Andy Naselli’s post on “Why you should organise your theological library and a way how”. I’ve adjusted some of what he’s suggested but used the main categories to organise mine. My library is obviously not as big as his so it doesn’t need as much detail as what he has laid out. But here it is:

1. Biblical Theology

  • Languages (NT Greek)
  • Hermenuetics (how to interpret the Bible etc.)
  • Commentaries (on each book of the Bible)
  • OT & NT introductions, theologies, and overviews

2. Historical Theology

  • Biographies
  • Church & Christian History
  • “Works” by old dead guys

3. Systematic Theology

  • Bible doctrine (the sort of topics in a general systematic theology book)
  • Apologetics
  • Philosophy

4. Practical Theology

  • Christian Living (all those great books people pick up at the front of Christian bookstores ;))
  • Preaching
  • Leadership
  • Youth Ministry
  • Church
  • Pastoral Ministry
  • Missions

At this stage all sub-categories are mixed in together in the broad categories. I’m not convinced this works for the Practical Theology section but it’ll take too much time sorting it out at the moment.

Comments? Suggestions? How do you sort yours?

The Discerning Book Buyer

I find great pleasure in looking through bookstores – call me odd, but that’s what I like to do sometimes. Other people have their hobbies and various traits, well, mine is bookstore perusing, which most likely leads to book buying.

As I walked out of my local Christian bookstore this morning it struck me that one really needs to be discerning in what they pick up. (I must admit that I went to the store b/c it had a 20% off sale and I knew I could find some bargains somewhere in there) I feel that when I walk into this said bookstore that I know where to go to find the quality Christian books – emphasis quality. To some that will seem like an oxymoron – a Christian bookstore actually selling ‘quality’ Christian books, are there such things!? Well, in fact there are but one has to be discerning in looking for them and know what ‘quality’ means.

I find myself sometimes wondering whether other people in the store are aware of what is quality or not. I don’t mean to judge, but I suppose I do. When I see someone with a book by Joel Osteen I want to talk to them about what they’re really buying. When I see someone looking at the commentary section I want to point them to the commentaries I have found most useful and which are clearly evangelical (Tip: Go to Best Commentaries to find how they rate). When I walk into the shop and see a few people looking over the latest books, the ones right at the front I want to tell them that there are better ones down the back. While people are trying to choose a bible for their grandchild I want to let them know that it’d be better for them to have an ESV over a KJV, and if they’re a teenager then don’t get them those silly “teen” bibles, get them the real thing and help them learn for themselves what the bible says about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Having said all this I realise that it is hard. Going into an unfamiliar bookstore where there are a whole range of books that are deemed ‘Christian’ makes everything seem like its OK. I mean if the Christian bookstore has for sale “The Jesus Diet” then it must an OK book, mustn’t it?

The fact is, no.

Just like everything one reads, watches, listens to, and does, care and discernment needs to be there. My encouragement would be to talk to your pastor or a Christian friend that you know reads a bit and ask them what they recommend and what they think you should stay away from. After all, it’s a dangerous world out there in “Christian bookstore land”.

Holiday Reading (July 2010)

I’ve recently been on holiday for two weeks and during that time had some great rest and a lot of reading. The following is the list of books i read during that time. I might blog about a few of them over the coming weeks – we’ll see.

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller.

Living the Resurrection by Eugene Peterson.

Desire and Deceit by Al Mohler.

Women, Authority & the Bible edited by Alvera Mickelsen.

Total Church by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis.

Shattered Icon by Bill Napier.

The Disappearance of God by Al Mohler.

Storm Warning by Billy Graham.