I don't often look to the secular world for my spiritual advice but every now and again a man or woman of the world stumbles upon a profound truth. Steve Jobs once said, "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."
I think it is safe to say that we don't have to wonder if Steve Jobs achieved this objective. From all accounts he believed he was doing a great, noteworthy work and seemed to find fulfillment in the creative and inventive process. He found great success and monetary rewards in this life as a result of his endeavors. He became a household name and will certainly be remembered and written about for years to come.
So the question is, is that the measure of great work? Notoriety? Fame? Fortune? Applause and a massive memorial of flowers and apples upon one's passing?
Sarah Adams would say no. In fact she would probably have argued that there is an even greater work to be done.
Sarah was born in 1981 to a normal, middle class family in middle America. She went to a normal high school, normal college and went back to a normal job as a field hockey coach for girls in her hometown.
But she wasn't doing her great work yet.
A lifelong Christian, Sarah had an itch to do more for the Kingdom of God and that more was in Africa working with children affected by the AIDS epidemic. In 2008 she made the move to Malawi and began working as a full time missionary.
Sarah's name never became famous outside of her family who missed her terribly. Other than her local community, Sarah was just another face. To look at her you would never guess that she gave up a life of comfort in the United States to live everyday in service to the Kingdom of God, sharing the love of Christ with children in Africa. Sarah did her great work without fanfare, without a camera crew and without a book deal. But she loved every minute of it. She had found her calling, her place in the world and the pocket of the world where she was born to do God's work.
And then she was tragically killed. Sarah died in a car accident in Africa in 2013. There was no media coverage or gigantic memorial service or TV coverage of the funeral service. Just like Sarah quietly served, she quietly passed from this life to the next where she is dwelling eternally with Christ.
Steve Jobs was right, you will only be satisfied with your life if you do a great work. For him that meant technology and computers and innovation. To Sarah that meant spreading the Gospel and the love of Christ.
I thank Steve Jobs for his contributions to this world and my life (as I write on an iMac computer) but I don't believe he did the greatest of works. I think Sarah did. She understood something in her short 32 years that some people three times her age never understand. The greatest work we can do in this life is work for God. That might mean going to Africa or it might mean scooping out mashed potatoes at the local soup kitchen. The great work isn't one size fits all but it is in service to the one true, perfect, Holy and living God. When we devote our lives to the work of God we are continually putting our labor and pursuits towards an eternal purpose that will never go out of style or become outdated. When we devote our lives to work for Him and His Kingdom we will be forever satisfied - in this life and, more importantly, in the life to come.