Steve Jobs Addresses Death

06 Oct

The paragraphs below are a portion of the Commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Standford University on June 12, 2005. I’ve highlighted a few sentences for emphasis.

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.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

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.

I do not know what Steve Jobs’ spiritual condition was when he tasted death, but I do know that Someone superior to him, the One who created Steve Jobs, tasted death for all mankind so that when death does come, it doesn’t have to be something that we dread. His name is Jesus (Heb. 2.9)! Read the following two passages and rejoice over what Christ has done to give believers victory over death:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV).

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV).


Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Death, Jesus Christ


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5 responses to “Steve Jobs Addresses Death

  1. Tim Fulcher (@timfulcher)

    October 6, 2011 at 9:22 am

    “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”

    If everything I have read is true, Steve was a Buddhist and believed in repeated “rebirth” until finally reaching Nirvana. Sad. Hope he found true Faith in his last days.

    • Jeff Manning

      October 6, 2011 at 9:33 am

      Sad indeed, Tim, if he died holding to Buddhism. Having been an adopted son, how awesome it may have been if someone could have shared the reality of God’s willingness to adopt him as His son (Gal 4.4-5)?!

  2. stan bunch

    October 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Well stated Jeff.

  3. Scott Cheatham

    October 6, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I had heard through rumor that he had been prayed for by years by several Apple fans. I pray in his brilliant mind he considered the Lord. It sounds like he had. God alone knows. Hopefully, we will find him one day in heaven listening to “Amazing Grace” on his iPad XII 🙂

    • Jeff Manning

      October 6, 2011 at 8:38 am

      Loved your iPad XII comment, Scott! So, that means the Lord will tarry how much longer? Just a thought…


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