Everybody Always, Bob Goff
Love everybody, always. On a scale of one to ten, how would I rate my love? Do I love like Jesus? Yikes! I’m certainly not comparable to Jesus. Can I improve my ability to love? Absolutely.
Father, teach me to love wisely. This book was an encouragement to me to seek out more opportunities to love, and to be more proactive in the area of loving. I like how Bob used stories from his own experiences to explain loving everybody always. His stories were enjoyable, and his conclusions were meaningful. Big theme of the book is that love shouldn’t be complicated. It should just happen. We shouldn’t need to schedule our love, or brag about it, or act insincerely. Instead, we simply need to take more action and take more prudent risks. Great love involves taking tremendous risks.
In the “Yellow Truck” chapter, Bob makes two very good points. First, we are to tell people who they are, not tell them what to do. As humans, we don’t like to be told what to do. Being told orders rubs us in the wrong way. Bob’s dad told him to change the truck’s oil, and Bob stubbornly refused. He did not like being told by his father what to do. My mom tells me to be home by midnight. She has the best intentions for me, and she loves me I don’t doubt, but the order does not sit well with me. Orders and directions that do not sit well will backfire. Bob will not change the oil. I will not be home by midnight. In the church, we follow a similar pattern. The church tells people that they should be doing mission trips, quiet time, memorizing scripture, and witnessing. The church says we should not be drinking or swearing. With all of these rules, we perform the actions out of compliance, instead of faith. The genuine desire to do a mission trip or memorize scripture is lost, and we just perform the actions like a movie actor. Telling people what to do and forcing compliance does not produce genuine faith. Genuine faith comes from observing God’s love and God’s grace. To lead people to Jesus, we must be examples of God’s love. Barking directions will not lead people to Christ. Jesus’s love will lead people to him. Trust that God will work in their lives. Yes, I like that. Our role is to shower other people with love and grace, and then trust that God will work.
The second point in the “Yellow Truck” chapter that stood out to me was about shame. Shame causes us to run away and hide. Instead of running away from God when we are covered in guilt and shame, run towards him. I think this stood out to me, because I just finished reading “Notes from Underground,” which is a story focused on shame. The narrator does not know how to behave correctly in public, and as a result of feeling shame for his incompetence, he retreats “underground.” He is like a mouse that runs into his mouse hole. Because of his shame, the narrator separates himself from other people, and then tyrannizes a prostitute to compensate for his inadequacies. Unchecked shame leads to poor choices. When you feel guilt, run to God who is quick to demonstrate grace. Similarly, when your neighbor feels guilt or shame, show them love. Don’t tempt your neighbor to retreat into his mouse hole. Shame lures people away from God, and love lures people toward God. Handling shame by tyrannizing a prostitute, or running to hide in a mouse hole, is not the correct action.
Loving people does not mean controlling their conduct. It does not mean having an agenda. Loving people is more like giving lots and lots of medals to them. It means telling them who they are, and making them feel like they met a person from heaven. That’s good! There are no specific rules for loving people. Just act. Act in a way that demonstrates you care about the other person. Make the other person feel so much love that hey they think you’re an angel sent from heaven.
“Every time we fake it and aren’t authentic, we make God’s love look fake too.” I love this quote. Why do we fake it sometimes? Because we are not confident in whom God created us to be. God loves to see us pursue him with genuine actions, not the actions of a movie actor. Posing to love God is what killed Ananias in the Biblical story. Like Ananias, we try to pretend to be somebody we are not. We pose as people who love God. Jesus wants our hearts, and he doesn’t demand a perfect heart. He’s ok with broken, imperfect people! What he wants is a heart that is striving daily to grow. He wants a heart that is continuously working to seek him more fully. It’s ok to be fallible. That’s encouraging, because I know that my love is far from perfect. But he does want to see us genuinely pursuing Christ-like love. He does not want a poser’s heart. He wants a truthful, humble, albeit imperfect, heart. I don’t know why people try to lie to God? Or why we lie about ourselves? Lies and deceit do nothing but cause pain and suffering. I understand that being honest and truthful can hurt sometimes. However, being truthful and honest is the only way to improve, and it is the only way to truly represent God. When we are not honest, we make God look like a fake. That’s terrifying! I don’t want my life to represent a fake god. I do not want any part of my life to be fake. I want to live with full integrity. I want my life to be an example for Christ! I want people to seek God for themselves, because they see God’s genuine love inside me. I have parts of me that are broken. But I don’t lie about them. Because first of all, I’m a bad liar. But second of all, because it misrepresents God. The conclusion is to be authentic. Be genuine. Be you. Live with integrity.
It’s not about me. I don’t need to keep track of how many times I mention Jesus’s name during the day. If I tracked this, I would be doing it only so that I could boast to others about my faith. Instead, just live your life, and daily demonstrate God’s love through your actions. Just act, and don’t concern yourself with keeping count. Continuously act from a heart of love. A major theme of this book is to analyze less and act more. Stop keeping track and just do something.
“Three Green Lights” is another amazing chapter! The big point of this chapter was to take a risk. Our guidance will not always be as clear as three green lights. Often, we only have two green lights. Just because we don’t have all the green lights we want, that does not mean that we should be paralyzed. To grow your faith and to grow more like Christ, you must take some prudent risks. Sometimes two green lights is sufficient. What are you passionate about? What gives you enjoyment? What are your skills? Follow your interests. Interests and desires are God-given green lights. Follow these green lights, even though there might not be as many as you want. They will guide you in the right direction. Trust in how God created you, and trust the green lights. Follow your passions and skills, and if you do these things, then you will see your faith grow. This does not mean you won’t be challenged nor need to take risks. Rather, it means that the challenges and risks will shape our hearts to be totally dependent on him. Follow your noble interests.
What are my noble interests and my skills? Exercising, cycling, engineering, programming, and reading. These things give me enjoyment. They make me feel good. These are my interests, and they are also my skills. If I continue to pursue these passions, then I trust that God will continue to work in my life and through me. Sometimes I question this though. Cycling – how will God use this activity to gain glory? Programming – same question? In the process of trying to answer these questions, I need to remember to trust God, and when I hear my inner voice yelling, then I need to act. When I hear that internal voice, listen to it. These are Jesus’s directions. I don’t know where Christ is going to lead me, but honestly, I feel like I’m in the best position that I can be in right now. Even in the midst of a global pandemic.
Through this situation, teach me total dependence on you and teach me to love. I will take prudent actions and then depend on you, Lord. Amen.
“Go. Land. The. Plane.” Another very good chapter. This chapter made me wonder about Bob’s material possessions. He has a nice house (maybe multiple nice houses), a remote cabin, airplanes, and fancy suits. He has a lot of money, but he also has a lot of love. He uses his resources to host parades and parties, and by doing these things he is able to demonstrate God’s love. He has much, and he does much with it. Bob doesn’t hoard his wealth. He shares it and uses it to lavish love on other people. God gives resources to people who are going to use those resources wisely, people like Bob. I’m impressed with the stories he has from all of his activities. “If we want more faith, we need to do more stuff.” Over and over, this is the theme of the book. Do more stuff. Take more risks. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations, because it is through these situations that your faith will grow, that you’ll see God work, and others will observe God’s love and grace. How can I “do more stuff?” Right now, I’m attempting to love others during a time of a global social quarantine by talking with co-workers, asking them about their days, and about their families. I am showing love by showing that I care. It is difficult to do much more in the current situation. Or I am simply not creative enough.
I’m not quite there yet. My heart is not perfect. But that’s ok, because Jesus is not interested in perfection. He’s more interested in helping us grow. So how do we grow? We fill our bucket with good things. Whatever we fill our bucket with, this will be shown outwardly in our lives. Bob filled his bucket with patience, so that he would have more patience when dealing with people, despite always being in a frantic hurry. I’m filling my bucket right now with Bob’s book. I’m reading about, and thinking about, how to practice love. Hopefully by filling my bucket with this book about love, and other similar books, love will be shown outwardly in my life. We will become whatever we put in our bucket. Fill your bucket with love, and your life will become love. Extravagant love is never wasted. How do I show extravagant love? I can pray for this. I can ask for it. Just like I ask for wisdom.
Lord, give me a heart that yearns to love others. Shape my actions so that through my actions and words, people will notice you, and you will have opportunities to pursue their hearts. Give me a passion to love. And I trust that this passion will become evidenced through my actions. Amen.
I liked the section where Bob talked about location and imagination. For teaching classes, he holds his office hours in an amusement park. His argument is that the location tends to shape the conversation. Each location is engaging and unique in its own way. Locations drive the content of the conversation. I think this is true, and it stands out because of the current quarantine situation. It makes it very difficult to hold conversations in unique places. The locations that we can visit are awfully limited. I think that we all know implicitly that location drives content. That’s why we go to restaurants, parks, and bowling alleys. Unique locations extract creative conversations.
The last few chapters are all about Bob’s experience with a witch doctor in Uganda named Kabi. Bob successfully convicted Kabi of attempting to murder a young boy, and as a result Kabi was placed in jail to die. Kabi is one of the most disgusting, broken people you can imagine. Yet, Bob felt compelled to visit Kabi in maximum security prison. Did Bob want to? Not really. But he did. And you know what happened as a result? Kabi asked for forgiveness, and Bob founded a school for witch doctors. By loving Kabi, like Jesus loved the broken, Bob founded a witch doctor school that teaches the Bible and Biblical love to hundreds of witch doctors in Uganda. That’s incredible! He’s making a big impact. But he didn’t make this impact by being passive or by not taking risks. In fact, he took a massive risk by visiting Kabi in prison, and then he had to humble himself immensely to love witch doctors to such an extent that he was willing and happy to found a school for them. Great love takes extraordinary risk. I’m impressed with Bob’s actions. Like he says, there is a big difference between agreeing with Jesus’s teachings and actually doing what Jesus says. Bob is a great example! Maybe by loving small now, I can continue to grow my ability to love, and one day be able to generate stories and have an impact like the author. That would be incredible! It gives me hope to know that it took Bob 30 years of practicing law to generate these stories and write this book. It took him a lifetime of growth and action to reach such an incredible state of love. This implies that it is ok that I don’t have the same type of love as Bob right now. I’m not even 30 years old! That means I still have time to grow and learn. This means working on my ability to love now, in the present, and seeking a lifetime of growth. How do I love people today? And tomorrow? And the day after? If I keep pursuing my noble interests, then I trust that I will love daily and travel along a path that glorifies God.
Lastly, I was impressed with Bob’s openness to new experiences. He draws the circle around himself that is safe and comfortable, but then he is always seeking to redraw that circle, larger every time. By drawing the circle larger, he is able to experience more activities and love more like Christ. Bob is not afraid to have fun and take some risk. He literally carried a bucket around with him as a personal reminder to be patient (I wonder if he literally carried around the bucket, or if he was just joking?). He learned to fly a plane, he attempted a risky landing in his plane, he visited a witch doctor in a maximum security prison, he hiked Mt Kilimanjaro with Charlie, he went skydiving with his son, he foraged for food at his off-the-grid cabin, he held a parade, he carries around medals in his back pocket. Honestly, he sounds like a weird but fun person. I love that he is unique, creative, and confident. I think that’s what I admire about his stories. He acts in a unique and creative manner, and a result he generates many unique stories, and in the midst of all this he remains confident, despite the unusual stares and comments that he undoubtedly receives. How can I act in unique and creative ways? I’m already weird, so how do I embrace this weirdness to something extraordinary? That’s the question I am constantly seeking. I would love to do something extraordinary for God’s kingdom (like found a witch doctor school). That would be so cool! I just don’t know what that something is yet. For now, I’ll continue pursuing what I’m passionate about and be open to new opportunities and risks.