Turning Imagination into Action. Guest Post by Bob Goff

Donald Miller

By now, you’ve probably heard about Bob Goff. He’s the construction lawyer who is changing the world by loving individuals. He’s the American Consul to Uganda who closes major deals on a satellite phone from rural africa, stands between his children and an angry bear and hosts a parade down his street every year. In short, he’s the most clear-thinking crazy man on the planet. And you know you’re life is changing when you realize he makes sense. Anyway, I encouraged Bob to write a book a couple years ago and he thought the idea sounded fun. Amazingly, it’s coming out next month and it’s called Love Does. It figures, because Bob is small on making plans and huge on taking action. I’ll be featuring excerpts from the book from here till the book comes out. You can only get a sneak peak here. Here’s another excerpt:

From Tom Sawyer Island

I do all of my best thinking on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. There’s a picnic table at the end of a little pier right across from the pirate ship. I suppose most people think this place is just a prop because there are a couple wooden kegs marked “gunpowder” and some pirate paraphernalia hung over the railings. But it’s not just a prop to me; it’s my office.

Bob and Don with members of the Ugandan Supreme Court at Tom Sawyer Island, Disneyland

There are no admission requirements at Tom Sawyer Island. It doesn’t matter how tall or short you are, old or young, religious or not. There are no lines on Tom Sawyer Island; it can be whatever you want it to be. You can do countless things there. Most of them involve running and jumping and using your creativity and imagination. It’s a place where you can go and just do stuff. In that way, it’s a place that mirrors life well—at least the opportunity to do much with our lives.

I like this place because a guy named Disney had a hair-brained scheme to make a magical world where people could go and feel free. And it worked. And if he could do that, I could be a lawyer maybe or write a book or work with the justice system in Uganda. I come here to remind myself we get to make the world we want, in large part.

Somewhere in each of us, I believe there’s a desire for a place like Tom Sawyer Island, a place where the stuff of imagination, whimsy, and wonder are easier to live out—not just think about or put off until “next time.” This is a weighty thing to think about on my island, but I often consider what I’m tempted to call the greatest lie of all time. And that lie can be bound up in two words: someone else.

On Tom Sawyer Island, I reflect on God, who didn’t choose someone else to express His creative presence to the world, who didn’t tap the rock star or the popular kid to get things done. He chose you and me. We are the means, the method, the object, and the delivery vehicles. God can use anyone, for sure. If you can shred on a Fender or won “Best Personality,” you’re not disqualified—it just doesn’t make you more qualified. You see, God usually chooses ordinary people like us to get things done.

As I sit on my island, it becomes clear we need to stop plotting the course and instead just land the plane on our plans to make a difference by getting to the “do” part of faith. That’s because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.

* This was an excerpt from Bob Goff’s book Love Does. He lives in San Diego, but this was probably written on Tom Sawyer Island. Love Does will be released on May 1st but you can pre-order it here. You won’t be sorry.

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is a student of story. He helps people live a better story at Storyline through this blog and the Storyline Conference. He helps leaders grow their businesses at StoryBrand, where they get an entire marketing education in 2 days at his Workshop. Donald lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Betsy, and their chocolate lab, Lucy. For regular updates, follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller) and Instagram. To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.

  • http://rise365.com Michael Good


    So many times we write off our own gifts and abilities. I love how you point out that God could have chose someone else, but he didn’t. He chose us.

    I see the value and necessity to go to a “Tom Sawyer Island” but I get caught up with life and don’t as often as I’d like. How do you remember to take the time to go to your Tom Sawyer Island?

  • Valerie Lancaster

    …already pre-ordered it on my kindle. can’t wait to read it!

  • http://benthompsoncanchange.com Ben

    Sounds absolutely awesome!

    You’re an inspiration to us all!

    Question: Will reading your book automatically make me take action?

  • http://www.christopherneiger.com/blog Chris Neiger

    Can’t wait to read this book! It’ll be great to hear Bob guest speak at the Storyline Conference in May as well.

  • Lonnie

    Wow, talk about timing. I literally finished reading A Million Miles in a Thousand years 15 minutes ago and here is a post by The Bob.

    Thank you for challenging Don and for challenging the rest of us too.

    May we live a story worthy.

  • http://secretsofagrocerystoreworker.blogspot.com/ Triston Lajon

    Appears to be a book that I need to own.

  • http://www.ebonyjohanna.wordpress.com Ebony Adedayo

    I was just reflecting on this ‘someone else’ that Bob Golf describes this morning. I was driving in my car, and just thanking God that he chooses to use me and any of us really, in spite of our inadequacies, sin, and brokenness. There is this treasure in earthen vessels, right!?!?! So no, God does not use the people that have it altogether, he uses the ordinary folk who are so messed up, and that’s you and me, not someone else.

    Thanks for sharing the excerpt from this book, looks like I will have to add it to my reading list for 2012.

  • http://eyesoftheheart.com Mike McDade

    Can’t wait to read the book. I have realized that I have wasted much of my life with the statement “someone else”. Thanks Bob, and thanks Don for sharing him with the rest of us.

  • Natalie

    It seems in the transition of my life right now that there are some people who have written me off, including myself at times. Right after this thought crossed my mind the other night, ever so quietly I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, ” I haven’t written you off.”
    I needed that reminder that He’s actively doing something on my behalf right now. The thoughts and dreams that are stirring within me don’t have to make sense right now, but I know they will at some point.

  • Emily Jones

    One of these days, I’m going to go spend some time on Tom Sawyer Island. Maybe I’ll meet you there, Bob.

  • Tricia L

    Didn’t know what to say other than to say I needed to read that post today and thought you’d like to know. Thanks Bob.

  • http://rise365.com Claudia Good

    Bob – This lights the fire in all of us that is smoldering but waiting to be blown to life! Thank you for your words which brought tears to my eyes and fire back into my heart!

  • http://leadyofam.blogspot.com Chase Christy

    I spent some time in youth ministry. The coolest thing about the experience was watching God work through some of my students.

    One of my little seventh grade girls named Audrey, stood up to her entire school when they told her she couldn’t sing a Christian song at her music department concert. She insisted she had every right to sing a song about Jesus when some of the other students were singing songs with suggestive lyrics from the radio. After a great deal of ridicule, she got up in front of the microphone and told everyone there that she wanted to sing a song about Jesus because he saved the world, then proceeded to bring the house down.

    Katelyn told her obsessed softball coach that she was not going to miss church again to go to a softball game. She wanted to use that time to get refocused on God, and thought the sports culture of her small town was getting out of hand with scheduling things during traditional church time slots. The next Sunday morning the team had a game scheduled, they traveled to a tournament without her. Incredibly the game was delayed due to weather. When she got there, the game started. By the end of the day she had led her team to the championship. She didn’t miss a single minute of play or church.

    One of my other students, Adam, a sophomore in high school, was annoyed that we were scaling back our youth programming over the summer. He thought there was work to be done – people to reach, so he parked his truck at this friend’s house, and took out his Bible and Guitar. Each week, he sang some worship songs and preached a lesson. By the end of the summer “truck group” was larger than our formal youth group. He received zero support of any kind, and was reaching 100% unchurched students at a crazy rate.

    All of these stories are just simple examples of young people saying, “Here I am. I’m going to do something, rather than waiting for God to use someone else.”

    • Sandie Briggs-Gaunt

      I love hearing real stories about real people making real changes. Thank you for sharing this encouragement..it’s so refreshing to hear that young people are stepping up and serving Christ. We rarely hear that anymore. I love it and I hope you will continue to share your stories and maybe even make some new ones? God bless.

  • Michael Duell

    Bob, you are a true inspiration to us all. Your thoughts and commentary on the magic of Disneyland and what a person can achieve with a dream, desire, and determination coinciding with faith in God are very true.

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  • http://www.FaithandtheMagicKingdom.net Randy Crane

    Bob, thank you for sharing this. I’ve been writing for quite some time about examples, illustrations, and metaphors for the Christian life found at Disneyland. This is a perfect example of that! (May I borrow the concept? I will give proper credit, of course!)

    I am grateful that God used a man like Walt Disney to express His creativity in the world, and I’m thankful that He continues to allow myself and others to do the same, some in big ways, some in small ways, but all reflecting His glory as Creator.

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  • http://www.logfurniture.com/ Claire

    Love does… Wow, that’s truly unforgettable~ can’t wait to have a copy. :)

  • http://lauraannmiller.wordpress.com/ Laura Ann Miller

    This book will make a great birthday present! Thanks for sharing Bob’s words here. I can’t wait to read his book.

  • Kay

    “A Million Miles” is one of my favorite books – ever. I will be reading “Love Does” as soon as I can get my hands on it.

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