On the season 2 finale of The Mike Thakur Show, we catch up with NY Times best-selling author, Bob Goff. Bob calls himself a “recovering lawyer”. After practicing law for 25 years, then becoming the Honorary Consul to Uganda. He gave up his successful law firm to pursue writing and speaking full time. He’s inspired millions to dream big and make life more awesome. Bob’s driven by a desire to help others unlock their potential to love, and be loved greater.
Take it from a guy who had the audacity to put his cell number in the back of his book: there’s a huge power in just being present and being available to those around you. What if you took time for the people in your life? What if you made some audacious plans to rock their lives?
BEST ADVICE HE’S EVER RECEIVED
Goff recalled a quote from Keith Green, a famous Christian singer from the 70s who died in a plane crash way too young. Keith said:
The pen never asked for applause for the poem it wrote.
He was talking about the idea of just being the instrument. Like a pen that writes out the poem in the hands of the poet. That’s us! Although Bob didn’t know Keith personally, he’d sent him a letter as a young college kid who was trying to figure out life and Keith actually took the time to write back. 3 sentences. So Goff employs the same approach today and responds to everyone who writes him. No more than 3 sentences.
Goff became a trial lawyer and practiced for almost 32 years, living in San Diego and commuting every morning to Seattle. He jumped on a plane five days a week and then flew home for supper. During that time he started writing books and because he loved learning and with a heart to help people learn, he started paying for mission projects from the profits of his law firm. He’d think to himself in a deposition as being in a fundraising session!
As he spent more time overseas, with the trips getting longer and longer he recalls a moment he walked into his office, getting off the elevator on the 18th floor of the Washington Mutual tower and being greeted by a receptionist who asked, “Who are you here to see?”. He replied, “Actually, that’s my name behind you!” and so he got everyone together in the conference room and quit. Just burned the ship right there that day.
He recognizes that it would have been a smarter business decision to find a way to sell and work his way out of a job, but he wanted to be ‘new Bob’ and so jumped ship.
He wanted to build a school and a publisher asked him if he’d write a book. He had an idea at that moment; He’d write a book if they’d build a school. Seemed fair enough!
“Well how big is the school?” they asked?
“1600 child soldiers, and 100 teachers” Bob replied.
“That’s a big school”.
“It’s a big book”.
And then they sold a couple million, so he started giving the money away.
Loving people like your neighbor matters. Loving people without an agenda matters more. Although faith is a big deal for Bob, it doesn’t have to be for the people reading his books. He just wants people to know he believes in them.
If you just start with loving your neighbor, yeah, like a person that’s a little cantankerous that leaves their garbage out, or they park their car on the lawn, or whatever it is, that takes you off.
Living out this crazy love, Bob announced to the judiciary in the Republic of Uganda that he wanted to start a witch doctor school. Not a school to teach them how to be witch doctors, they already know that! But to teach them how to read and write. But he also wanted them to know that if they sacrifice children, they would be the next case he takes and it’s a death penalty case. And, and they’ll never be seen again.
Bob quotes Paul and the book called First Peter, where he sees the instruction to treat people with kindness and respect. That’s the part he wants to get right. So even if somebody is flat wrong, he doesn’t feel like he needs to be the one straightening them. Jesus certainly doesn’t need an advocate. He’s ours. We’re not his. Sometimes, we try to place ourselves as one and he’s asking “Who appointed you and you’re not good enough”!
Goff has big aspirations for the guy he hopes to be someday. He thinks about it, recognizing there’s a big cloud of witnesses in Heaven cheering him on. He’s trying to keep his eyes on Jesus and keep his eyes off everybody else. He stays focused on running his race but at the same time helping others run their race, rather than trying to get them to join him in his.
If you just get discouraged enough, you’ll just find yourself saying “Well why do it?” and I think that is not coming from heaven. That is not the overflow of the gates of Heaven. I think it may be coming from another direction.
To get there. For each of us, we need to think of overflow. We need to keep filling up the reservoir. Water goes out of reservoirs either over the top or out the bottom (from the drain hole). The river downstream flows from both, but as leaders, we need to pour water out by overflowing, not by being drained.