He was stoned (the old fashioned way) and thrown into jail for rescuing a young girl trapped in a brothel. He has established schools in areas where large numbers of children aren’t allowed an education, and personally pays their tuition if they continue on to college. He invites world leaders to his ranch just to love and serve them. At Point Loma University, he teaches a business class on failure. His name is Bob Goff, and he is a living example of the message he preaches in his best-selling book, Love Does.
I had the enormous—and unexpected—pleasure of spending time with this inspiring man when the conference group I was part of was invited to attend Bob’s class on failure. How the invitation came about is it’s own incredible story, but today I’m writing to share with you what I got from spending a little time with Bob.
- Bob regularly asks the people in his life, “How’s my life working for you?”
- For loving “difficult” people, Bob does it 30 seconds at a time. “I can love you for 30 seconds. And repeat.”
- “Extravagant love won’t make sense.”
- “I’m okay when my loved ones are okay.”
That last statement is particularly interesting to me. On the surface it could look like a co-dependent reliance on others in order to be okay. That’s not it at all. Bob’s definition of his own wellbeing has moved beyond just himself and has expanded to also include the wellbeing of those he loves. He’s committed to their highest good and has made it his priority. And he really lives it. When someone asks Bob how he’s doing, he literally calls his wife or children to check in with them before answering. He doesn’t live life as “me”; he lives it as “we.”
What strikes me the most about how Bob lives is the absence of trying to preserve his own life and the tangible presence of loving others as his highest priority. Some people may call his lack of self-preservation reckless. Bold living often looks reckless to people whose main concern is survival (ensuring safety and avoiding risk). I call him fearless. And free. Without the concern for hanging onto his life—or his stuff—Bob lives with a contagious joy and generosity that our world is starving for.
When I die up front, I’m no longer concerned with survival—survival becomes moot, archaic, outdated and irrelevant. Survival becomes just so unnecessary. Without the concern for survival, I’m left with the possibility of my life being fully multiplied 10, 50 or 100 fold. When I die up front, I’m free to love lavishly and generously and unreasonably. I’m free from the concern of what others will think when I do. I’m free to take on risks that stand a good chance of not working out—but hey, they might! And won’t that be cool if they do?
Clinging to my survival kills my only shot at real life. That’s the paradox! Let that sink in. For yourself, consider where you may be clinging to survival and forgoing fullness of life. Your marriage? Work? Health? Reputation? Now imagine being free from the concern of keeping or losing it. How would you live then? I’m guessing it would be a whole new world.
If you haven’t yet read Love Does, you need to. If you’ve read it already, read it again. Or join in the inspiring work being done at lovedoes.org. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity we had with Bob. And I’m thankful for his powerful example that before love does love dies. That’s the only way it can fully live.