“It’s amazing how often a higher calling is buried by problems, smallness, and self-interest. It is the leader’s job to lift the sights of an organization to a higher place. People want to be part of something great, and they will rise to the occasion if given the chance. And it’s the leader’s job to help lift them to that place.” 

That’s from a recent talk delivered by Steve Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International, the largest nonprofit workforce developer in North America. I met him and his wife, Molly, while working on my book about Tim Keller. The Prestons were early members at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.

Steve’s comments for that book stood out to me before I knew anything about his background. Then I got to know Steve better last year as The Gospel Coalition was launching The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics. He served as the 14th secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 2008 to 2009 and the 22nd administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2006 until his appointment as HUD secretary. Before entering public service, Steve spent nearly 25 years in the private sector.

Steve’s work experience shows how strong leaders break the chain of problems from advancing beyond them. I like this line from one of his talks: “So many times, larger crises are averted, because good leaders have taken a stand, done the right thing, and been willing to stand tall when others were not—because they held fast to what they believed was right.”

We learn more about that history in this interview. And we talked about Goodwill, which I’m sure almost all of you will know from its 3,300 stores where we donate and shop. For nearly 120 years, Goodwill has recruited, trained, and placed employees who otherwise may have been trapped in poverty without meaningful work that blesses their neighbors.

Steve joined me on Gospelbound to share about his journey and how his faith in God carries him through various decisions and leadership challenges as he fights to provide opportunities for others.