” I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and I’m a hugger and they’re not and I’m like, okay, whatever!” – Bob Goff
Up walked Bob Goff onto the stage, bear hugging Shauna Niequist after she gave him an introduction that made us all want to be his best friend. An attorney (recovering, in his own words) who has written a New York Times bestseller, Love Does, Goff goofily charmed his way into everyone’s hearts before asking the two questions every leader needs to know:
Who are you?
What do you want?
How does that translate into our relationships? Well, Goff points out in a story about the man who just married his daughter, we don’t want sons-in-law or employees. We want friends.
“Live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received,” Paul wrote in Ephesians. Don’t live someone else’s calling, which will come off like a bad Elvis impression. Take the time–the slow, developmental time–to find out who God has made you to be; why he has put you where he has. Goff took a photo of the audience with a Polaroid to remind us of the time that developing takes, especially in light of all the quicker alternatives we have at our disposal.
Goff talked about his wife, Maria, “the first thing I fell in love with.” She fell in love with him when he looked like “a happy Freddy Kruger with acne,” which is possibly the best description I’ve ever heard of an unfortunate youth. She could be in love with him because she could see who he was becoming and this, of course, is one of the most important tenets of leadership. We lead people both as they are and as they are becoming who they are becoming.
“If you want to lead strong in your communities, say yes,” Goff said. But then, every single Thursday, he quits something. It puts to mind the Queen’s adage from Through the Looking Glass: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Except with Goff, you get the feeling that not much is impossible. He’s simply electric. There isn’t much that he could say that I wouldn’t believe, and not because he’s so well-spoken or slick or poised. It’s because there is something about him that I can tell just gets it.
Especially when he ends on this note: “We will never, ever–like that Taylor Swift song–never, ever, be separated from the love of God.”