Ashton Kutcher is making headlines for his portrayal of Apple's founder Steve Jobs in "Jobs," which released Friday. In preparation for his role, the actor compiled everything Jobs ever said publicly. "All you got to do is start repeating Steve, and you sound really smart," he says.
Kutcher recently sounded "really smart" on his own when he won the "Ultimate Choice Award" at the Teen Choice Awards. After he accepted the award, he told the audience that he felt like a fraud. "My name is not even actually Ashton," he said. Ashton is his middle name; his first name is Chris. He changed it to Ashton when he became an actor at the age of 19.
Then he gave the crowd some advice he titled, "What I Learned While I Was Chris." He talked first about opportunity, beginning with the statement: "I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work." He said that he got his first job at the age of 13, tearing shingles off a roof. Then he washed dishes at a restaurant, then worked in a grocery store deli, then swept a factory floor. He made this remarkable observation: "I've never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job." And he added, "I never quit my job until I had my next job."
Known for his sex appeal, Kutcher then said, "The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, and being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you." He concluded by talking about life. Kutcher cited Jobs, who exhorted people to build their own lives rather than living in a world built by others. This quote was especially powerful: "Everything around us that we call life was made up by people that are no smarter than you." And he ended his speech, "Build a life, don't live one."
Kutcher is right: hard work, thoughtful generosity and courage will always be essential to living well. Here's the catch: none can be sustained fully without the One whose power alone can transform and sustain us. Acts tells us that before the disciples could be Jesus' hardworking, generous, courageous witnesses "to the end of the earth," they needed to receive power from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide. John Calvin warned: "There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence."
Methodist minister Samuel Chadwick observed, "Destitute of the Fire of God, nothing else counts; possessing Fire, nothing else matters." So let us pray with St. Augustine, "O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams." Amen?