Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

by Bob Goff

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Rating: 9 / 10

Read: December 2017


Jesus didn’t just sit around talking about “loving our neighbors” with other Godly and righteous people. They didn’t need his help. Instead, he sought out “the least of these.” He hung out with beggars, prostitutes, and outcasts. He talked with them and built genuine relationships. He treated them like people. “Love” was an action.

Bob Goff doesn’t love passively. He doesn’t just send money to charities or donate cans to food drives. Instead, he tackles the issues that hurt his heart. He flies to Uganda on a whim to start building schools. He visits with foreign leaders who aren’t exactly “friendly” to the U.S. When someone else runs a red light and totals his car, he sends them flowers.

He says “yes.” A lot. And he treats love like an action verb.

Quick Thoughts

Love Does is an autobiographical manifesto — a “how to” book for loving our neighbors. It’s full of inspiring stories and insights. And most people can agree that showing compassion and treating people kindly is a good way to go through life.

This is a fantastic and inspiring read for anyone, regardless of religious beliefs. You can’t read this and not want to be a better person.

Highlights and Notes

When you are in high school, you don’t give much thought to what you can’t do. For most people, that gets learned later…

I think it all starts when we’re forced to pick a major in college:

You’re 18 years old. You’re an adult now. It’s time to choose a major and focus on that for the next few years. And choose wisely–you’ll be doing this for the rest of your life.

So, we read a bunch of books, do a few projects, and take some exams. And when we’re finished, they hand us a piece of paper that somehow proves we’re qualified to work at a job related to the field we studied.

Then we start our first job. For the next few years, we work hard and get promoted. We have bills to pay. We start families. Then we have too many responsibilities to even think of doing something else or trying something new. Somewhere along the way, we lose our curiosity.

Society tries to shoehorn everyone into categories. It labels us and identifies us based on what we “do.” And if we ever try to break the mold or try a new path, people look at us like we’re crazy.

But we can unlearn everything we were taught. We can start over anytime we want.

I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.

The things we think matter to us aren’t really important — especially since we all return to dust.

I always wanted to “succeed.” So, I worked hard. I bought expensive toys and overpriced watches to prove I’d made it. I still struggle with this.

But, as I’ve gotten older, I realize those things don’t matter. What matters is spending time with my wife. And hanging out in my son’s world, teaching him how to be a good person. And doing good work that maybe makes someone else’s life a little better.

I just want to succeed at those things.

Words of encouragement are like that. They have their own power. And when they are said by the right people, they can change everything.

The things we say to people can have a lifelong impact on them.

I’m very conscious of how much impact I will have on my son for the next 18 years. But, I don’t always think about how I might impact other people.

I have vivid memories of the times in my life when people said things that shook my world. I also have vivid memories — tons of them — of times when I said things to other people that were far from positive.

I have a tendency to say things without thinking about the impact. Most of the time, I think I’m just being funny. But what if I’m the “right” person in someone else’s eyes, and I don’t know it? What if I say something that shatters their worldview, when all they really needed was a little positivity?

I also remember the times when people said encouraging things to me. I remember how I felt, and I want to feel more of that.

Other people want that, too — and that’s something I can do something about.

You become like the people you hang around, and to a great degree, you end up going wherever they’re headed.

This is age-old wisdom.

When we’re kids, it’s “I don’t like you running with that crowd.” When we’re adults who read Forbes, it’s “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with.” But, it’s really just a symptom of our tribal nature.

Human beings have always lived in tribes, and many people still live in tribes. It’s in our nature to belong to groups. In fact, our survival used to depend on it.

Now, most of us get to choose which groups we belong to. And since we know it’s in our DNA to want to fit in, why wouldn’t we want to fit in with a group that’s moving in a positive direction?

Most great adventures work that way. You don’t plan them, you don’t wait to get all the details right, you just do them.

I can’t read this without picturing Calvin and Hobbes. My brother had all the comic books when we were kids. I couldn’t even guess how many times I’ve read them.

Calvin and Hobbes didn’t plan their days. They didn’t come up with an agenda or to-do list for their adventures. They just jumped in their wagon, pushed off down the hill, and held on for the ride.

I get it. We’re adults now. We have responsibilities.

But maybe a little curiosity and exploration wouldn’t hurt us.

You don’t need to know everything when you’re with someone you trust.

Understanding this concept was the turning point in my life.

I stopped wasting my time with people I didn’t trust. I stopped caring about the wrong things. Then, God put the right person in my life — someone who was good and honest and kind. So, I made her my best friend and married her.

We don’t always know what we’re doing, but we’re figuring things out along the way.

People who take huge risks aren’t afraid to fail. In fact, they love to fail. It’s because failing means they found the edge.

That’s easy for you to say, Elon Musk.

“Huge risks” are relative. Most of us don’t have billions of dollars to fall back on, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try those crazy ideas we have.

When we surround ourselves with those people that we trust — the ones who have our backs and encourage us — then we’ll never really fail. These are the same people who will pick us back up and encourage is to try again.

I don’t think Bible verses were meant to be thrown like grenades at each other. They were meant for us to use to point each other toward love and grace and invite us into something much bigger.

This is what gives Christianity a bad name. There’s a “gotcha” verse for everything under the sun, and some people can quote them at will. Then, when someone else points out a conflicting verse, they’re “taking things out of context.”

But, the overall direction is pretty simple: love people. It shouldn’t be nearly as hard as we make it.

Kids don’t care about facts, and they certainly don’t study each other. They’re just with each other; they do stuff together. That’s what Jesus had in mind.

The coolest thing about having a 1-year old is watching him learn new stuff every day. How does he learn? He just does stuff.

He climbs on couches, then he falls off. He says words only he can understand. When he gets older, he’ll run around with his friends chasing invisible monsters.

Little kids don’t judge. They just hang out and play. We should do more of that.

Pick something you aren’t just able to do; instead, pick something you feel like you were made to do and then do lots of that.

It’s easy to keep doing the things we know how to do. It feels safe only doing things we’re good at. That’s why it’s called the “comfort zone.”

It’s a lot scarier to do the things we dream of — the things that excite us. Because maybe we’ll fail. Maybe we’ll stink at it. People may laugh at us, and we may wonder why we ever had those dreams.

But so what? There are 7 billion people in this world. The odds are pretty good that one or two of them will believe in you.

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