Steve and Me
My mom says she’ll always remember that she was sitting in a social studies class when the loudspeaker beeped and crackled and someone announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. All the kids would be going home for the day.
I wonder if I’ll always remember that my two sons and I had just shared kung pao shrimp at P.F. Chang’s when I stopped in my tracks on the way out the door. I had to make sure I had correctly read the words that were scrolling across every television within sight:
Apple founder Steve Jobs—dead at 56.
I can’t explain why, but my hands were shaky and sweaty as I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket to verify.
One of the first things I saw was a statement from President Obama. He said that Steve Jobs “was among the greatest of American innovators.” That “he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.”
Then I looked at my Twitter time line to see what the rest of the world was saying about Jobs. Everybody seemed to be weighing in. The outpouring was overwhelming.
“R.I.P. Steve Jobs. You led the world into the 21st century.”
“R.I.P. Steve Jobs. You improved life as we know it.”
“Steve Jobs—On behalf of every dreamer sitting in his or her garage who is crazy enough to try to change the world, you will be missed.”
I suddenly felt the urge to tweet my own thoughts about his passing. But it felt melodramatic for me to share some deep thought about a person I’d never met. Still, he was the greatest business leader of my lifetime. So I fired off a three-word tweet:
Steven Furtick @stevenfurtick 5 Oct “What a life.”
My next thoughts made my stomach hurt. Or was it the kung pao? Either way, I got downright introspective. I was wrestling with a tension:
Steve Jobs was a great man. He changed the world through technology.
I’m a pastor. I have a mission to change the world through the gospel.
But am I really achieving that mission? I’m doing well by some standards, I guess.
I love Jesus. I have integrity. I love my family.
I’m not redefining an industry. I’m not accomplishing one of the greatest feats in human history. So what am I really doing? That matters? That will matter?
That will set my life apart?
In short, I was processing the nauseating feeling that, when I stack it all up, I don’t feel like I’m anything close to being the great man of God I want to be. Some days, actually, I feel like I sort of suck as a Christian. I didn’t tweet any of that. But I couldn’t stop thinking it.
I’m guessing you’ve had thoughts like that too. I’m not saying you want to be the next Steve Jobs or build your own technology empire. But I think we all have these honest moments when we’re gripped by a desire to feel that what we’re doing matters more. That who we are matters more. A few hours later, after I tucked my boys into bed and prayed for them, I sat on my bed and opened my MacBook.
For some reason I felt compelled to pull up a certain Bible verse. It’s one of the most staggering statements Jesus ever made.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
I’d read that verse so many times. But I had a new context for it.
And it sliced me with the edge of fresh challenge. Greater things than Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived? What does that even mean? How can we do greater things than Jesus?
Does it mean that we’re able to do more powerful miracles than Jesus? Have a bigger impact than Jesus? I don’t think so. After all, I don’t know many people who have walked on water, multiplied fish and loaves to feed thousands, opened the eyes of the blind, or given salvation to the world.
If you’re looking to be greater than Jesus, put down your crack pipe, my friend. That’s not happening.
By leaving and then sending His Spirit to dwell inside His followers—ordinary people like you and me—Jesus released a greater power for us to do extraordinary things on an extraordinary scale. The kinds of things the early church saw and did.
The kinds of things He still wants to do today through us. Jesus isn’t calling us to be greater than He is.
He’s calling us to be greater with Him through His Spirit within us.
Meant for More
As I tried to process the brain-bending implications of that claim, I thought through some conversations I’d had recently with people who were feeling disappointed and stuck in their relationship with God and their place in life.
I’m meeting more and more believers who are unsatisfied with the kind of Christians they’re becoming and the version of the Christian life they’re experiencing. These aren’t bad people. They aren’t gangbangers and ungodly pagans. If they were, their discontent would make more sense.
The thing is, most believers aren’t in imminent danger of ruining their lives. They’re facing a danger that’s far greater: wasting them.
These are some of the very people Jesus talked about in John 14:12. People who are supposed to be doing greater works than—forget about Steve Jobs—Jesus Christ Himself.
Yet it’s not happening. For most of us, the experience of our daily lives is a far cry from the greater works Jesus talked about in John 14:12. Or even the achievements of a luminary like Steve Jobs.
We’ve had some big dreams about what God might want for our lives. But so many of us are stuck in the starting blocks. Or are dragging along at the back of the pack.
We know we were meant for more. Yet we end up settling for less.
We’re frustrated about where we are. But we’re confused about how to move forward.
I wonder if you can relate.
What a life…