Steve Jobs, John Wesley, and How Pursuing Opportunities Often Come at Great Cost to Our Personal and Family Lives

The annals of history are filled with people who have done great things (inventions, writings, art, building, etc.) at great cost to their personal and family life.

So it was not a surprise when I read Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson say the following:

Mr Jobs then explained why, despite his famous reclusiveness, he had decided to co-operate with a biographer…

“I wanted my kids to know me,” Mr Isaacson recalled Mr Jobs saying, in a posthumous tribute the biographer wrote for Time magazine. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

I was really struck by that statement “I wanted my kids to know me.”

You and I may never invent something like the iPhone, but everyday we are given the choice to pursue opportunities that pull us farther away from our kids and spouse…family — or to say no to opportunities that pull us away from them. And instead make decisions that enrich our families and the lives of our kids.

I wrote this post not as a moral indictment on what choices we make in regards to how we choose to live our family lives…but more so that we understand there is often great cost to our families when we pursue certain endeavors.

Often these choices get even more murky coming in the form of ministry as well. It’s not hard to find historical records and stories of great men and women of God who have left a huge mark on Christianity with their writings and ministries, but who have left a wake of destruction in their personal and family lives.

For example, I remember hearing in my Church history class of the bad marriage and family life of the famous cleric and theologian John Wesley. We can thank him for the legacy he has left, but there was a personal and family cost to getting there.

Are you willing to sacrifice your personal and family life for your pursuits?

People can still pursue opportunities of great cost, and follow God at great cost…without destroying their families in the process. Perhaps we need to pay attention to, and become better at discerning which opportunities allow us to continue to foster our marriages and families in the process, and which ones could be lethal to them.

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Rhett Smith
I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (MDiv, MSMFT, LMFT-A) and pastor to youth and families. I write about the relationships between psychology, theology and technology.