He was a very famous father, only he wasn’t known for being a dad. He changed the world with his inventions, his ingenuity, his ambition, and his genius. Tragically, his life was cut short due to illness. In his final months on earth, this extremely private man authorized a tell-all biography allowing the world to have an intimate view of his life.
But he didn’t do it for the world. No, when asked by his biographer why the sudden transparency, he said,
It has been widely publicized that Steve Jobs had an unorthodox, distant, and even tumultuous relationship with his children, especially his three daughters. “I want my kids to know me,” he said as he told the story of his life to Walter Isaacson, his biographer.
Those words are haunting.
He wanted his children to know him from some print on a page written by a stranger. This man made a mark on the western world that few will ever match. I have five of his inventions within a hands reach right now. My fingers have been dangling over the sleek and stylish keyboard of my Mac Book Pro countless hours doing what I love, writing, while doing what I love even more, raising my kids.
Jobs was aptly named with the kind of handle that would be too obvious in a film or play, too on the nose. The workaholic father named Jobs. Ha! That would never happen in real life.
But it did.
The man named Jobs was obsessed with his work, and his work changed the world.
But in the end, Jobs thoughts turned to his children. And in the end, his children have a book written by a stranger to remember him by, and the rare moments he was there, as his daughter Lisa reminisced, like “a deity among us for a few tingling moments or hours.”
Hands down, the best part of our day, every day, is when the garage door engages making that tell-tale humming sound, usually mid-evening around dinner time, and all the kids from 14 years to 2 squeal with delight, “Daddy! Daddy’s home!” And they run to the kitchen door and tackle this unassuming, forty-something man carrying a half dozen dress shirts fresh from the cleaner and a gallon of milk.
A dad is supposed to be an everyday hero and a protector and, eventually, a friend, never some distant deity who graces us with his presence when he can find the time.
A dad is supposed to be flesh and blood, not print on a page.
Steve Jobs left an impressive footprint in the world, but not an impressive footprint with his kids. That is why, at the end of his life, he had to tell a stranger who he was so this stranger could tell his kids. In his desperate attempt to record his final thoughts, Steve Jobs was trying to leave a piece of himself for his children, to leave something meaningful that wouldn’t die.
How noble that he tried.
How sad that he had to.
I would rather live in such a way that an end of life confession isn’t necessary.
I believe our best chance at immortality is instilling something valuable from our lives into our children, and into their children. Moms and dads who value legacy over livelihood make an investment that isn’t easily forgotten and doesn’t need to be written down by strangers. Their impact may not be a convenient gadget that mystifies the world. No, the impact that really matters is not that grand, but it is far more necessary.
End of life realizations tend to put things in the proper perspective. In such times, what is common becomes essential, and what is grandiose becomes mere.
We are all born with an innate desire to make a difference in the world, but so many strive for the wrong kind of difference.
No one made a greater impact than the Man from Galilee, a real-life deity. This man made a mark on the western world that NONE will ever match.
And yet, world recognition was the furthest thing from His mind. He didn’t hang out with the right kind of crowds to further that kind of ambition. Jesus became infamous for investing His life in all the little people around Him. Most of those people were not important in terms of their notability or significance—they were culturally irrelevant—but they meant the world to this Man.
Especially the children.
That is how He changed the world, by focusing most of His time on the forgotten.
And when His disciples tried to chase the little ones away, He chastised them harshly saying,
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”
Spending your day caring for the citizens of heaven can seem like a pretty important job if you have the right perspective. What they require might seem trivial and mundane in comparison to conquering the world, but Jesus didn’t seem to mind. And He managed to do both.
Maybe we can too by not falling for the lure of what will, in the end, be mere. Maybe we can conquer the world by not letting the world define who we are and what we consider valuable. Maybe we can conquer the world by focusing on our little ones and giving them a better world to conquer themselves some day.
I think mothering is a pretty important job and, oddly, I learned that from a guy named Jobs. And a guy named Jesus.
Catherine Segars is an award-winning actress and playwright — turned stay-at-home-mother—turned author, speaker and blogger. She is dedicated to helping other women see their worth in a season when they often feel less-than.
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