What stories did Bob Goff inspire you to tell?

Nov. 29, 2022, the American Studies Institute hosted Bob Goff, New York Times bestselling author, as part of its Distinguished Lecture Series. Goff is also honorary consul to the Republic of Uganda, an attorney, and founder of Love Does — a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq and Somalia. Goff’s lecture, titled “Undistracted in Business and in Life,” was the anchor event for his visit, which included a special presentation for ASI students and a writing seminar for members of the Student Association. His encouragement to live bold lives and share meaningful stories inspired many.

Bob Goff shared his unbridled happiness and interest in the world. He taught students the art of storytelling: tell a story with good characters and conflict, say something important, and do not resolve the conflict. He reminded us that when we are not spending so much time fighting others for Jesus’ sake, we are more free to see and meet and love people.

His genial demeanor paves the road for the stories he shares. He talked about his service as an honorary consul of Uganda, a position he found himself in because he took time to ask questions and be genuinely curious in his pursuit of relationship. He is committed to connecting with people to help them reach for their dreams, and that is the story Bob Goff inspired me to repeat.

Grant Countess , senior ASI student

Stories allow us to temporarily exist in a different time and place. They allow us to see, hear and feel through someone else, and the hidden emotions connect us to each other.

Hearing Bob Goff speak on compelling storytelling reminded me not how to tell stories but why we tell them in the first place. We tell stories for people to consume, and we consume stories to feel and learn. I am blessed with the rare opportunity of a platform to share stories and to give others the chance to have their stories heard.

Living is an interesting experience. Nobody really knows what’s going on, and every person has a very different perspective. It is important to live through others’ stories to gain the wisdom required to live the best life possible — a life that’s meaningful and a life for God.

So to Bob Goff, I say thank you for coming to Harding to share your story. The energy on campus was electrifying, and because of you I know more stories will be told and more people will be heard. Thank you for inspiring me to share life.

Jake Ward (’22), videographer

I was blessed to share a meal with eight students before Bob Goff’s presentation; what a treat it was to spend dinner learning about their areas of interest and career dreams. One of the students asked me why I was such a fan of Goff. In a word, it’s accessibility. In a world full of “Treat yourself!” and “You do you!” messaging, he is teaching the same accessibility we see in the life of Jesus.

During my sophomore year at Harding, I had a series of kidney stones; I was hundreds of miles from home and terrified. A teacher saw me suffering and immediately canceled her day to take me to the ER. I expected her to get me settled and get back to her responsibilities. Instead, she stayed for hours until I was discharged and took me to recover on her sofa rather than in my dorm room. She was accessible to me in a way that made me feel loved and safe. A friendship began as she encouraged and challenged me in ways that continue to bless me, even more than 10 years after her passing. Mrs. Neva White set an example of accessibility I aspire to live up to. Bob absolutely would have loved her.

Kristen Prince (’02), chief operating officer at Searcy Physical Therapy

I adventured to Costa Rica with 19 strangers. This was totally out of our comfort zones, but we were freshly involved in a book club called Between the Covers. Twenty strangers in a foreign country with only Rising Strong by Brene Brown and a howler monkey we named Steve.

One of those strangers was Madison Bynum. She is the spark that ignited sisterhood across the nation. It all started when her life began to unravel. She realized her friendships were unfulfilling and toxic, fueled by gossip, alcohol and drama. Secondly, her twin brother started contemplating suicide. On her way to and from visiting him, she had a mental health awakening. These are real problems affecting real people, and she knew none of us were alone in them.

On her way back from visiting her brother, Madison heard a tiny voice in her head urging action — to start a book club. At first she laughed and rolled her eyes, but that voice persisted, pushing her to start a unique community where the members could be wrapped in love, vulnerability and self-betterment. Life is hard, and we all need a safe place.

Today, Between the Covers book club has grown to include more than 50 chapters with more than 2,000 women meeting across the country actively reading, traveling and sharing their lives with one another. All because Madison felt a nudge in one of her darkest times. What has been nudging you?

Kendal Escue (’16), graphic designer

The SA theme for this year is “We Tell the Story.” We have encouraged our community to tell more stories — about their lives, the Harding experience and ultimately Jesus. Bob Goff is a storyteller. It amazes me to see how God works through all of his stories. I have read all of his books and learned so much from him, but experiencing him in person inspired me to tell more of my own story. I see the importance of spreading the love of Christ through our own unique experiences. We can focus so intently on telling the story of the word of God that we don’t realize we are also given individual stories worth telling to lead others to Christ. Bob Goff helped open my eyes to the impact my own personal story can have in conjunction with the truth of Scripture. We should never keep quiet about the ways in which the Lord has bestowed blessings upon us to share his goodness with others.

Megan Sledge , Student Association president

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