Eugene Cho

steve jobs: reflections about birth, death, and the life in between

By now, you’ve heard the shocking news of Steve Jobs’ passing at the age of 56. Like many, I extend grace and prayers to the entire Jobs family.

Like some of my friends and readers, I do not personally have an “emotional” connection with Steve Jobs because I am not a Mac user for these reasons (although I occasionally use an iPad that was given to me as a gift). I’m sure many of you could write and write about your appreciation and admiration for Steve Jobs. And perhaps, how he changed the way you live your life.

But like others, I have much respect for him.

Needless to say, Steve Jobs was a brilliant man. For reasons that many of us already know, Steve Job rightfully deserves much praise for his legacy and oh, what a legacy! President Barack Obama conveyed it well in his recent statement:

Brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world & talented enough to do it.

While I am not the most qualified person to speak about all of Steve Jobs’ accomplishments, these things I know:

  • He was brilliant and charismatic.
  • He was wealthy.
  • He created a global icon and was an icon himself.
  • He was the epitome of innovation.
  • And the list goes on an on.

And yet, he died. None of those things could have saved him from death.

And he knew he was going to die. All the money and all the advanced treatments could not turn back the devastation of his pancreatic cancer.

Steve Jobs wasn’t naive about death; he shared this wisdom so beautifully and poignantly in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart…

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

There are no certainties in life.

The myth of the straight line from A -> B has been debunked and if you don’t know that, you’ll soon know and be humbled like so many of us have been humbled.

But…there is actually ONE certainly or rather, TWO certainties in life that unifies all of humanity:

Life and Death.

These two things, we share.

If you are reading this now…congratulations…because you are alive but also know this: you will one day face death as Steve Jobs faced death…as I will one day face death.

It’s not a statement of morbidity but simple truth.

Steve Jobs shared:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life

So. very. true.

But let me add couple more thoughts:

I’d like to strongly encourage that for us, as followers of Christ, to be reminded again that death is NOT the final song. It is not a statement of arrogance or condescension but rather a declaration of the hope and grace of the Gospel.

Death is NOT the final word.

Rather, it is only the beginning of eternity of communion and fellowship with God our Creator. But be warned: Rather than seeking eternity, we live in the present – in the HERE and NOW – with beauty, hope, and courage.

Lastly, while I certainly resonate with Steve Jobs’ encouragement not to waste it “living someone else’s life” – may we indeed live our lives but may it also

reflect the life of one person that is worthy to emulated: Christ.

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8 Responses

  1. Marguerite Hwang says:

    Thank you for this pastor Eugene. well said. amen!

  2. […] appreciate what Eugene Cho writes: Death is NOT the final word. Rather, it is only the beginning of eternity of communion and […]

  3. Tim says:

    Thanks for this perspective.

  4. gadberry says:

    The thoughts here are poignant and
    Wise. Death is a reality and if looked at honestly gives good and specific perspective.

    It is a pleasure knowing that Christ has overcome death for us and our eternity is secure and real.

    Let us live expressing the love of Christ so that ultimate life can be discovered by others.

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Do small things with great love. Think simple. Not spectacular. C'mon! We still got it.

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#19YearsAndGoingStrong Grateful for the life and leadership of Dr. John M. Perkins. There are alot of sprinters in our culture but make sure to also look for those who are persevering in the marathon of justice and reconciliation. When I think of him and others I consider mentors in my life, they're not necessarily flashy or fancy. Rather, I'm reminded that a life faithfully and honestly lived through life's trials and messiness is one's greatest sermon. The best thing a father can do for their kids...is to care well for their mother. It took me awhile to learn this and I'm still learning this. As a leader, I refuse to sacrifice my marriage and kids for the sake of ministry. How can I? Loving my family IS ministry and leadership.

I acknowledge that I'm so privileged with platform, resources, and opportunities - including the opportunity to travel and take vacations like this trip last month. Its not lost on me. I'm so grateful. I want to steward that privilege well - not just for personal or family enjoyment - but also for the sake of others and the building of the Kingdom of God. 
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I used to feel guilty about Sabbath-ing, vacations for my family, being in the outdoors, fishing, and self-care but it's too important  As a lifelong recovering workaholic, I don't want to burn out and I don't want this for others. Flying in and out of Seattle never gets old. One of the most mesmerizing topographies in the country. #windowseat Thank you, Chicago. Put in 10,000 steps. Still one of the best cities to walk.

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