Steve Jobs gave the 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. He told the audience that his decision to drop out of college years earlier was the best one he’d ever made. Why? In part because dropping out of required courses that bored him made it possible for him to drop in on any courses that interested him. One of these was a course on calligraphy, a class that seemed entirely impractical, focusing as it did on all the minute details that make for great typography.
“None of this,” he told the Stanford students, “had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward ten years later.”
Jobs drove the point home again, saying, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”1
As Christians, we trust in something far better than our “gut” or “karma.” In these uncertain times, it’s worth remembering the advice of one of the world’s most successful men. No matter how hard we try to peer into the future, we can never connect the dots looking forward. Only God can do that. Even now, God is at work connecting the dots of our personal stories, working out his plan for all those who love him.
- Steve Jobs (commencement address, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, June 12, 2005), “‘You’ve Got to Find What You Love,’ Jobs Says,” prepared transcript, Stanford University News, accessed January 5, 2017, http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html.