My wife sent me a quote purporting to be the last words of Steve Jobs. The reason she sent them to me was because I am an “Apple” man. I rely on a number of Apple products to do my work, and I think Steve Jobs was a fascinating, though tragic character. Another reason she thought the speech would be important is because the multi-paragraph-long quote contained some fascinating admissions from a man who sacrificed several personal duties for something he considered a greater good.
I began researching “famous last words” and ran across a couple of articles that falsify the multi-paragraph-long quote of Steve Jobs. The articles argue that the quote did not begin circulating online until November 2015, and has not been published anywhere outside of unofficial social media accounts and low traffic blogs, and has not been confirmed by anyone close to the founder of Apple. Steve Jobs died in 2011. I was disappointed because the falsified “quote” would have validated some lessons on life’s priorities many need to hear.
Does this mean that in the absence of the quote that the lessons cannot be learned? Not at all. And, we do not need Steve Jobs to validate them, any more than the finding of Noah’s Ark would make the story in Genesis any more true.
Even though the quote in question cannot be substantiated, Mr. Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, did record Jobs expressing regret at the end of his life about how he raised his children:
I want my kids to know me. I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.
The official report from the Jobs family is that, before he died, he looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them, and said, “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”
Under the category of “last words” consider some of the final words spoken by people in Scripture.
Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Lk 23:46). An entire volume could be written on the ramifications of Jesus saying, “It is finished.”
Several books in the New Testament seem to contain the writers’ final words, at least written words. Paul’s Second letter to Timothy contains the final written words of the Apostle to the evangelist. Can you hear the note of finality:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (2 Tim 4:6-8).
Peter’s Second Epistle contain a similar sound of finality:
I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things (2 Pet 1:13-15).
These quotes are unlike the one purported to be from Steve Jobs in that they are not fabricated by someone else, they are the words of men who lived holy lives, and whose writings are inspired.
Here are some other last words from famous people. When Jane Austen was asked if there was anything she wanted, she said, “Nothing, but death.” Winston Churchill said, “I’m bored with it all.” Lou Costello said, “That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.” Edgar Allan Poe, “Lord help my poor soul.”
If given the time, what might your final words be? Will they be preserved in a book, or a letter to someone, or perhaps a few final words to someone close by.