Bob Goff is the bestselling author of “Love Does” and “Everybody, Always.” He is an attorney, speaker and the founder of Love Does—a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq and Somalia. Goff just released “Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It.” He lives with his wife, Maria, in California.
What was the first big dream you acted on?
Even if you haven’t met Goff, two things stand out pretty quickly: He likes to talk and has a boatload of energy.
“There’s a difference between having an ambition and actually accomplishing it,” Goff said. “I wanted to go on a date in high school. That didn’t happen. I met Sweet Maria in law school, and I wanted to go on a date, but that didn’t happen. It took several years to accomplish that. I think we each have to decide how resilient we’re going to be. Sometimes people in our faith communities have had an ambition for 20 years and ask some guy named Billy whether they can do something for 20 minutes. Billy says, ‘No,’ and they say some nonsense like, ‘God shut the door.’ All that happened is some dude named Billy said, ‘No.’”
He says we should be cautious to close ourselves to opportunities.
“Sometimes we get a little off track because we think we need to get invited to or sign a petition to identify with, but I’m thinking what if you look at your life and assume you already have permission to do quite a few things,” Goff added.
Talk about your new book, “Dream Big.”
Goff said it’s time to stop thinking about our dreams and do something about them.
“Some people are prone to have bigger dreams and thoughts, some are prone to treat this stuff as brain candy,” Goff said. “They think about it, but never do it. They think about the trip to Mexico, but never do it. They think about meeting the person, but never do it. They think about the impact they can make, but never show up to the event where they can make it. I think this is about actualizing some of that and encouraging people to make a move.”
For Goff, dreaming big doesn’t mean every dream comes with a celebration of balloons.
“I think for some people, running a Fortune 500 company would be a really small dream for them and probably wouldn’t be worth pursuing,” Goff added. “For somebody else, providing rent for their family can be a really immense dream. I just don’t think God compares what He creates. He gives us this life. He sets the timer. We don’t know how many winds He put in it.”
According to Goff, the risk is worth the reward.
“You can do it the way Jesus said, which is to love God and your neighbor across the street or you can do it across the ocean,” he said. “I think we learn about our faith in the doing, not in the hypothesizing. I think people in general gravitate toward safety over adventure. Every time I hear somebody pray for our safety and that God would keep us safe and eliminate these risks, I’m kind of praying the other thing—that we would lead risky or engaged lives.”
Do you think people delay to act on their dreams more than they don’t know what their dreams are?
“I think people don’t want to look bad on social media,” Goff said. “When you blow the foam off the top, you never see anybody whose Facebook picture is of themselves turning back five feet from the summit of Everest. You never see somebody whose Facebook image is them letting somebody down in a relationship. You never see somebody who aimed low and hit what they’re aiming for in a career. So, I think a lot of this is driven by, ‘How will I look?’ I think the paradigm shift is where Jesus says to Peter, “Who will you be?”
Dreaming big can be dangerous if it’s self-serving. What’s the difference between fame and influence?
“If you want to get a lot of applause, join the circus. If you want to have a lot of influence, then join Jesus,” Goff said. “Like Paul talking to Timothy in Philippians 2:20, he says, ‘I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare.’ If you want to be first, be last. If you want to lead, follow … Some people taking their victory lap will say, ‘I started here and then I achieved and I achieved and I achieved.’ Instead, what if you just said, ‘I started at a very difficult and challenging place. What I did was found my way to personal success by—not my 401K or acquisitions—but in taking a genuine interest in other people. I think the way you can express that is just don’t send anyone to voicemail anymore. You don’t have to have a big plan or speech, you just need to say, ‘Hello.’”
Goff said he took an interest in skydiving—something he was terrified of—because he wanted to connect with one of his children.
You’re careful not to categorize or label people. Why?
“When you use a term that has been used frequently, you get all the baggage that comes with that,” Goff said. “Instead of assisting you in a conversation, it becomes an impediment. You say one thing that either describes or nods to a political leaning or the social issue of the day, then people will tune in or tune out. I don’t think we were meant to be compartmentalized like that. Wise voices sometimes pause and use more inclusive language. Somebody asked me one time whether I was watering down the Gospel by the way that I was describing things, and I told him, ‘I hope so because I just want to make it available to people who are thirsty.’”
How did your background as a lawyer influence your walk with Jesus?
Goff said we should quit focusing on small theological differences.
“It isn’t that the disputes or different viewpoints go away, just compared to Him, they don’t matter,” Goff said. “I just wanted to do things that were going to last longer. Take whatever social issue of the day … but these will be replaced by new issues. It doesn’t mean we don’t take the present ones seriously, but if we were to focus on our character—like who do I want to show up as when I see injustice? What kind of character do I want to bring to that? That will transcend careers and opinions that come and go. So, instead of winning arguments in courtrooms, I started helping kids overseas. I didn’t want my legacy on my tombstone to say, ‘He won a lot of arguments and had no friends.’”