I’m not a worshipper of Steve Jobs. I’m a fan of his work, and I’ve long thought that he’s a very interesting person. However, I balk at the near-deification he’s received since he passed. However, this is pretty cool.
Apparently, Steve gave a talk at a conference back in June 1983 wherein he offered some insight about the future of computers . To provide a little perspective about how long ago that was, I was still six months away form being born! But anyway…
In this twenty-minute talk and the forty-minute Q/A that followed, Jobs pontificates and predicts, fairly accurately, the technological landscape for the next thirty years, including networking issues, the shift to computers for use as communication devices, and eventual dominance of computers in society. To me, however, his greatest little nugget was this:
[Jobs] says Apple’s strategy is to “put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you that you can learn how to use in 20 minutes”. Does that sound like anything we are familiar with today? And they wanted to do it with a “radio link” so that people wouldn’t need to hook it up to anything to communicate with “larger databases” and other computers.
Did you just get chills? It’s eerie, isn’t? It’s like he’s actually predicting the iPad. He isn’t, of course. No, he’s not predicting—he’s dreaming ahead!
Dreaming Ahead of Yourself and Your Surroundings
Did you know that they are good dreams and weak dreams? I don’t want to be mean, but a weak dream is something that is so achievable or so tame that it’s not a dream. “My dream is to travel to Europe one day.” That’s not a dream! That’s a to-do, so do it! Save the money, take the trip, buy me a t-shirt! Dreams are visions of what appears to be unattainable on your own or by those in your surroundings. Dreams require effort beyond what is normal, sometimes healthy, often taking us outside ourselves to a place where, in isolation, we can do the impossible.
I wonder if anyone in the crowd listening to Jobs thought, “He’s cracked! A computer in a book with a radio link? Not in your lifetime, pal!” I’m sure there was. Every visionary, every leader who dreams ahead experiences people who refuse to meet them in that dream. The dream’s too big, too far beyond what’s possible, or the dreamer seems too small, too unequal to the task.
It can be lonely to be the dreamer of a really good dream, a dream nearly three decades before its time, but wow, the payoff is huge. What if we dreamed ahead of ourselves about our churches, our ministries, our marriages and homes? Of course, dreams so large would definitely require that we step outside ourselves to a place where only God can give us the strength to accomplish the task. How to speak to your staff or you lay-people and say, “What if…” and then you unloaded on them some amazing dream that would be for your church the equivalent of Apple releasing the iPad? (And hopefully, with God’s help, it won’t take your thirty years!)
One More Thing…
Let’s remember that Jobs gave this talk in 1983. This is pre-Macintosh. This is pre-GUI, when computers displayed information like The Matrix—less stylistically but more legibly—and when you had to memorize a whole host of command line jargon to make these machines work. Shoot, this is back when CPU speed was measure in megahertz and memory was measured in kilobytes. This is the technological environment in which Steve Jobs dared to describe his dream of a “computer in a book.” You’re dream may seem light-years ahead of where you are. You may not even be able to describe your dream with as much eloquence as you like; Jobs didn’t. He didn’t call it “iPad.” He didn’t have the idea of apps, an App Store, and I bet even he had no idea how revolutionary the iPad’s touch interface would. (How awesome would it be to be impressed by the fruition of your own dream!)
You may be dreaming in a similarly stifling environment: no budget, resistance to change, or a past record of failure. Don’t let that stop you. The first step is to dream ahead, to dream God’s dreams which go beyond what is sensible and safe. Let’s be bold in asking God to lead us in dreaming ahead. Wherever He leads us, whatever He shows us, He’ll make it happen.
Are you willing to dream ahead?