Back in August I got a challenge in the Lutheran Youth Room Facebook Group. My friend (and former student) Tyler Parks posted “Dr. Oberdeck, I would love to get your take on these two books/the author.” So I ordered Love Does and Everybody Always by Bob Goff.
I didn’t know the author, nor had I read the books. When my order arrived from Half-Price Books, I was disappointed. HPB sent the five-session study guide for Love Does instead of the book. But Everybody Always arrived just fine. So, in spite of the fact that I was reading the second book before the first, I dug in.
It didn’t take long to figure out why Tyler wanted me to read these books. Tyler thinks just like Bob Goff, the author. He really does. And how does Tyler think? Well, here are a few quotes from Tyler’s favorite author in Everybody Always.
“Burning down others’ opinions doesn’t make us right. It makes us arsonists.” (4)
“Instead of telling people what they want, we need to tell them who they are. This works every time. We’ll become in our lives whoever the people we love the most say we are.” (31)
“But there’s a big difference between liking Jesus and being like Him, and He said we would never be able to be like Him unless we loved our enemies.” (193)
Goff’s theme/point/refrain throughout the book is that, like Jesus, we can love others. We can even love those whom we least think we can love.
To prove the point, Goff shares experience after experience of caring, helping, serving, and loving people. His style is personal, sometimes a little too personal, which must mean I have some growing to do. His good humor ripples through each chapter. As he retells the healing of the Gadarene Demoniac (Mark 5) he speculates about the pig farmers conversation with his wife when he got home that evening. “Then all two thousand of our pigs ran off a cliff and died.” (42)
What’s this book for? It’s so simple. This book is to encourage Christians to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Goff, who happens to be lawyer – believe it or not – gives example after example of how that can be done.
How does this book connect with youth ministry? Ever have a student you found difficult to love? Bingo!
Don’t look for systematic descriptions of the Christian faith with careful delineations of doctrine in this book. Maybe those are in the first book Love Does, but I doubt it. Goff’s not a theologian, he’s a lawyer giving extreme examples of self-giving love. None greater, by the way, than the last couple of chapters when he’s engaged in loving the witch-doctors in Uganda. (Yes, really!)
So, thanks Tyler. I can’t wait to get the first volume from HPB. We all need encouragement and examples as we do those good things that God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Dr. John Oberdeck was a parish pastor in Southern Illinois for ten years, and served on the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in the Practical Department for thirteen years before coming to Concordia University Wisconsin in 2002, most recently serving as the Director of Lay Ministry. He retired in June 2017. He and his wife, Ginny, live in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, and have three grown children and seven growing grandchildren.