I've been thinking about achievement...


Steve Jobs truly was a golden boy - the greatest business executive of our era. He built a company that thrived because his products were completely innovative in nature, successfully combining artistry and technology.

Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2003 and was told he had only months to live. Later, through further investigation, it was revealed that he had a rare form of the disease that could be controlled. Jobs eventually underwent surgery, recovered and returned. (Here, we notice that God granted him a gracious extension on his life.) During another medical leave in 2009, he received a liver transplant. (Again, God granted another brief extension.) He took a final medical leave in 2011 and this time it became permanent with his resignation as CEO on August 24.

With his recent passing, much has been written about his oscillating career of ups and downs. I just finished reading an article in TIME by Lev Grossman and Harry McCracken entitled, The Inventor of the Future (October 17, 2011).

In it, Jobs, who said little about his health issues, addressed them briefly in a commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005. "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life," he said. "Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noises of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." (page 44)

By following his heart and intuition, Steve Jobs rightfully earned a place in history alongside the greatest American inventors of all time, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. What one trait contributed most to his success?

The one trait that was most evident in Jobs was his intensity. TIME says, "This intensity encouraged a binary view of the world. ...something was either "the best thing ever" or it totally sucked." (page 34) "...Jobs' insistence on a simple, integrated approach led to astonishing products marked by delightful user experiences." (page 35)

I love the idea of following my heart and intuition - my heart is the place from which my desires spring forth - my intuition is what feels right for me to do in the moment. I believe my desires are carefully placed in my heart by God (Psalm 37:4) to give me direction and my intuition guides me step by step. However, what messes me up is that my intensity to follow His direction waxes and wanes.

What place does intensity have in my life? By intensity I mean to give force or emphasis to something. Am I staying the course? Am I remaining firm under pressure? Am I choosing to intentionally focus? Am I persistent in following through?

With all of his intensity, Steve Jobs at 56 years of age still could not beat a death sentence. Even a golden boy with two golden opportunities - two evident life extensions - could not escape the loosening of the bond of body and spirit.

Scripture says that each of us is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets(to remind us that life is short and we must chose carefully how we will live our lives) - before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, ...and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:5-7). A golden boy, a golden bowl, a life with two golden opportunities to chose wisely that eventually ends.

The book of Ecclesiastes closes with a memorable benediction - one that I can lean into with great personal intensity, Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man(Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Just like after a storm when the clouds are swept away, Lord, give me a searingly bright vision of what matters most in this life. Keep me seeking after You with relentless intensity. Remind me that my greatest reward - my most "golden" achievement - is being the grateful recipient of Your pleasure when my spirit returns to You. Everything else is secondary.