Perhaps Certain Pastors Shouldn’t Read the Jobs Biography

kinnon —  November 30, 2011 — 2 Comments

I read Walter Isaacson’s Steve Job’s bio when it first came out. As much as I found it to be rather hagiographic, there was much I enjoyed in the reading.


One of the first thoughts that struck me was the hope that it would not be read by many church leaders. Jobs was both brilliant and a petulant, spoiled, narcissistic child. One of the two women he loved the most (the other was his wife), thought he was NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder.) (Page 266)

This article in the Atlantic expresses my concern far better than I can, Be A Jerk: The Worst Business Lesson from the Steve Jobs Biography, (Note that some may find the use by the author, Tom McNichol, of Bob Sutton’s technical term for bad leaders offensive for which I’m truly sorry… or not.)

You can be a genius and an asshole, but the two aren’t necessarily causally linked. In fact, there’s a strong body of evidence to suggest that there are plenty of assholes who aren’t geniuses at anything other than … being assholes.

But such subtleties may be lost on CEOs, middle managers and wannabe masters of the universe who are currently devouring the Steve Jobs biography and thinking to themselves: “See! Steve Jobs was an asshole and he was one of the most successful businessmen on the planet. Maybe if I become an even bigger asshole I’ll be successful like Steve.”

This sort of flawed thinking – call it asshole logic – isn’t something that’s necessarily endorsed by Jobs’s biographer.

“(Jobs) was not the world’s greatest manager,” Walter Isaacson said in a recent interview with 60 Minutes. “In fact, he could have been one of the world’s worst managers.”

But asshole logic, not surprisingly, tends to ignore facts that don’t sanction one’s own assholery.

Read the entire Atlantic Article, and when it comes to the church please be careful who you recommend Jobs’ biography too. We have more than our fair share of “Bob Sutton’s technical term for bad leader” leaders.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

2 responses to Perhaps Certain Pastors Shouldn’t Read the Jobs Biography

  1. This is the same logic that says “look at all the cigars George Burns had, and look how long he lived.”

  2. Interesting. I didn’t find it to be particularly deifying. Something I found interesting was the lack of commentary by Isaacson. He allowed those who new Jobs to be the primary commenters. I suppose the apologetic nature of Woz could have tempered the caution about replicating Steve, yet overall I found it to be quite a warty portrait.


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