A tribute to the ‘Thomas Edison of our generation’

Published 11:39 am Tuesday, October 11, 2011

By KEN LETSON / Guest Columnist

News of the death of Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs last week shocked the world. Even though he had been sick for some time, we still just didn’t see it coming.

But apparently he did.

Among the many tributes to Jobs over the last week was a video of his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, about a year after he was first diagnosed with cancer. Specifically, he spoke in very frank terms about matters of life and death.  Here is an excerpt of what he said to those graduates:

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. “As much as I have great respect for the man who was called “the Thomas Edison of our generation,” I would suspect that he and I would have had serious differences of opinion about spiritual matters — and I have never seen anything that suggested he ever made the “big choice in life” to trust in Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. But I am not here to judge him, especially since I would have no way of knowing the matters of his heart. That doesn’t mean I don’t agree with much of what he said in that speech, especially when his words are read through the lens of faith in Christ.

As another man who greatly impacted his generation, the apostle Paul, wrote about life and death in Philippians, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

In other words, once you’ve come to grips with the truth that “life is terminal,” and once you’ve settled your eternity with the God who created you, then it sets you free to live passionately and “to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” as Jobs put it. Live or die, to know Christ is truly a “win, win.”

The Rev. Ken Letson is pastor of the Church at Shelby Crossings in Calera. You can reach him at kenletson@shelbycrossings.com.