Mere Christians

Deb Liu (CEO of

Episode Summary

How tech can serve the least of these

Episode Notes

Jordan Raynor sits down with Deb Liu, CEO of, to talk about rethinking evangelism as something we do every minute of every day, why Deb pitched Facebook Marketplace in her first interview with Sheryl Sandberg, and the super practical thing you can do today to show your co-workers that you value them beyond their productivity.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[00:00:04] JR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to The Mere Christians Podcast. I'm Jordan Raynor. How does the gospel influence the work of mere Christians? Those of us who aren't pastors or religious professionals, but who work as product managers, occupational therapists, and pest control workers? That's the question we explore every week. Today, I'm posing it to Deb Liu, the incredible CEO of Before that, Deb was a senior executive at Facebook, where she created Facebook marketplace and before that, she spent several years in product roles at PayPal and eBay, where she led the integration between those two products. No big deal, right?


Deb and I recently sat down and had a terrific conversation about how we need to rethink evangelism as something we do every single minute of every single day. We talked about the wild story of Deb pitching Facebook marketplace, in her very first interview with Sheryl Sandberg back in 2009-ish. We talked about the super practical thing Deb does and that you can do today to show your co-workers that you love and value them beyond their productivity. I think you guys are going to love this conversation with my new friend, Deb Liu.




[00:01:31] JR: Deb Liu. Welcome to the podcast.


[00:01:33] DL: Thank you so much for inviting me.


[00:01:35] JR: In the introduction, I just rattled off some of your incredible titles, but I may have left out maybe the most fun title. You're the creator of the Mommy School Comics, are you not?


[00:01:48] DL: I am. I am.


[00:01:50] JR: This website's hilarious. Tell our listeners what this is, real quickly.


[00:01:55] DL: You know what? When my kids were young, they used to just say the silliest things. I used to post them on Facebook with the #mommyschool. My friends were like, “You should turn this into a comic.” So at one point I finally did. I still make them after all of these years. It's been super fun. I haven't posted as many as I'd like, I still a ton I need to post, but it's been a great adventure to remember your kid’s childhood through comics.


[00:02:18] JR: It's hilarious. You can be forgiven for slowing down the content. You got a pretty big job, these days. Do you draw the cartoons?


[00:02:26] DL: No. I love arts and I do, it just takes me so long. I hired a few artists over the years to help me with the comic.


[00:02:34] JR: You guys got to go check it out, at It's hilarious. All right, Deb. Let's start here. I think pretty much everybody knows what is, but for those who don't, what's Ancestry?


[00:02:44] DL: We’re the world leader in genomics and family history. We help you discover, connect, and share your family story with your family and with the world. If that's what you choose.


[00:02:56] JR: Have you, I'm assuming you've gone through the process, right?


[00:02:59] DL: Yes. I have built my family tree with a lot of my cousins. I also have done the DNA test. It's been really interesting to connect with your family in LA.


[00:03:08] JR: What's the most interesting thing you discovered through that process?


[00:03:11] DL: You know, our records are really fascinating. We actually have billions of records that we have collected over the years. A lot of them, I think 70, or 80% of them are actually proprietary collections. So one of the things that we do is we have immigration records. I actually found the original immigration records for my mother-in-law when she came to America, including the attestation record, from a woman from her church. I showed it to my husband, and he's like, “Oh, that's Aunt Mary from our old church.” My in-laws actually helped found a Chinese church inside of a Southern Baptist Church in North Carolina. There was a woman from the Southern Baptist Church who helped them immigrate to America, which is amazing.


[00:03:49] JR: That's super cool. I love that. All right, you left Facebook in what was it? February 2021? Is that about right?


[00:03:58] DL: Yeah.


[00:03:58] JR: To become CEO of Ancestry. What got you excited about the opportunity?


[00:04:02] DL: Well, when they called, I wasn't sure, I was thinking about leaving. I had been talking to a number of companies around a CEO position. When Ancestry called I had to learn more about the company. It was something which was a journey of self-discovery for me is I built out my own family history. There's just something really special about documenting your family history and being able to tell those stories. Family has been so important to me being so far away, we actually grew up in a small town in South Carolina, but my parents would save up for years, so we could afford to go to Asia to go to Hong Kong to see my relatives.


It’s important to them, for us to stay connected to our family. Now with all the digital technology, that's not even an issue, but before it used to cost more than $1 for a minute to call your own family. My parents made three or $4 an hour. My mom actually worked a lot of minimum-wage jobs just to help make ends meet. So I just remember how important that was and to reconnect with your family, and to continue to tell that story. That's what Ancestry does.


[00:05:03] JR: Yeah. I had to explain to my young girls the other day what a calling card was. That was fun.


[00:05:09] DL: I used to have tons.


[00:05:10] JR: That was amazing. We're big fans of the musical in the heights. There's a line in one of my girl's favorite songs about calling cards. Now what? The sounds of kids, you'll never understand. It's not even worth me explaining to you. You'll see the movie someday. I am curious. You mentioned your husband's spiritual ancestry. What's yours? Did you grow up in the church? What's the story there?


[00:05:34] DL: You know, I grew up in the church. My mom when she came to America and went to a Christian university, it's called Calvin University today. It was Calvin College, back then. She was not a Christian. She had actually come and my parents and my in-laws applied to just one or two schools, didn't know anything about America. My mom ended up in Michigan with her brother. They both went to a Christian University. That's where she became a Christian. When she met my father, he became a Christian, as well. We have spent my entire life growing up in churches. It's been wonderful to have that as part of our lives and part of their journey, as well.


[00:06:09] JR: Yeah. It's cool. Deb, this podcast is all about how the gospel shapes the work of our guests. I'm just curious, real broad question. In your opinion, what's the most significant way you think your faith influences the work you do every day?


[00:06:23] DL: I think, the most important thing is just what I believe infuses every decision, and then how I live my life. I think that that faith, the faith that we are here to serve a purpose that we have meaning is so important to me. So as part of my book, in the very last chapter, I talk about my personal mission statement that –


[00:06:42] JR: Yeah. Well, it does.


[00:06:43] DL: Yeah. That we're here to leave the world better than we found it, right? The interaction we have with each person. We get to choose whether we lift up or we tear down. So, so much of my life has been that, which is how do we lift others up? How does the work that we have to leave its mark in the world? So much of that came from my faith.


[00:07:01] JR: Yeah. You mentioned your personal vision statement in the book, which reads, “God gave us a short time to make our mark. I want to live each day with purpose. I want to lead people better for having met me. I'm a problem solver connector and creator. I will use those skills to live with no regrets.” I love that so much. How did you arrive at that particular articulation of your personal vision statement, Deb?

[00:07:29] DL: I've always had a version of that in my head. Then as part of an exercise I was doing a couple of years ago, I put it down on paper. It helped walk through what do you believe? Why do you wake up every morning? What kind of person are you? What are your superpowers? As I sat down and wrapped around that personal mission statement, I realized that I wanted to put the words in such a way, simply enough that I could live by it. So that's what I did. I think it's a great exercise. I actually need to read more about the exercise I did, but it was just such an illuminating thing to know that in the back of your head, you have always lived by a credo and yet never written it down. So really forcing yourself to write down the words and remind yourself of that every single day.


[00:08:14] JR: Yeah. I love that so much. I'd love to see you write on that, maybe on your Substack newsletter, that would be a great topic to write on. Yeah. From the outside looking in, as I've studied your career a little bit. To me, it appears that one of the ways your faith shapes your work is your deep care for equality and serving underserved populations. Am I reading that right? Is there a connection here?


[00:08:37] DL: Yeah. That's something is incredibly important to me. One of the things that my book is about is how to bring equality in the workplace for women. I started women in product and nonprofit to bring more women into tech. The reason is product managers for those of you who aren't familiar is, they are the people who decide what goes on tech roadmaps, what products get built. They are the founders. They are a lot of investors, actually come out of this field. It's really important to me to have more voices represented. That's what I've spent the last 20 years really focus on is actually bringing more voices to the table. That those diverse voices can make our products better, can make our world more fair and equal.


[00:09:19] JR: Yeah. Whether it's women or any other group of people, what can we as Christ followers be doing in businesses today to help create more opportunities for all and do it in a non-patronizing way? What does that look like, Deb?


[00:09:33] DL: Well, I think we go back to, what Jesus represents in the Bible. How he cares for those who are, when we talk about our products, when we talk about our companies, we often are serving the wealthiest. We're serving those who have the most, but what if we built products that serve the whole world equally? What if we made our products more accessible to everybody? You look at the history of the Samaritan. Somebody who was reviled for what that person believed, and yet just that choose to how they chose to worship, and yet with somebody he praised. So you look at that, and you look at his encounter with the Samaritan woman as well.


You see that the story of God is one that Jesus tells us a story of actually connection of connecting with people who aren't like us. Who have less power than us, and how he raises them up as opposed to tearing them down and I think in our society, we don't care as much about the poor, or those who have less, who have less opportunity. One thing I'd us all as Christians to do is really open up to what, the gospel is radical, honestly, and uncomfortable sometimes. I think that we need to actually ask ourselves when we say we want to be Christ like, what are we mimicking? What are we saying?


[00:10:50] JR: Yeah. You mentioned this before. You grew up in South Carolina, right?


[00:10:54] DL: Yes.


[00:10:55] JR: You're this Chinese kid living in the deep American self. I'm curious if God used that experience to mold your heart, shape your heart, and give you deep care for those who have historically had less power in our society.


[00:11:10] DL: Yeah. I mean, I grew up in a place where I looked like nobody around me, where we would go out in the malls or in the streets, and people would shout, go back to where you came from. I just remember that sense of alienation, because –


[00:11:23] JR: You actually heard that, you actually heard people –


[00:11:25] DL: A lot. People are surprised when they hear me tell that story. I said, “It didn't happen once. It's happened all the time.” I think people just don't realize how when you grow up feeling like the other, as they say Asian-Americans are the forever foreigners, because we always look like foreigners, no matter how long we've been here. I mean, our friends are Asian-Americans whose grandparents or great-grandparents came. They are still seen as foreigners. Such an interesting way and that sense is a reminder that we as a society tend to tear down those who are different from us. For me, that was impetus to say, “You know what, what is God's love do?” It should lift up. It should care for others. So for me, that formative experience helped me see how to support others who have less or who are supported less.


[00:12:14] JR: Was this part of the reason why you went into business? Did you see business as a vehicle for serving the underserved?


[00:12:21] DL: Well, I actually started in engineering. My father is an engineer for the government and the Army Corps of Engineers. I had wanted – I studied environmental engineering, hoping to perhaps work on wastewater treatments in emerging markets, actually. Then the thing about business, though, is that's so powerful, and how it shapes our worlds. I decided to go into business because it was an opportunity to shape the products that we build and the things that we see every single day. It has such scale. Some of the products I built have billions of people using it, which is amazing, over a billion people use Facebook marketplace, a place to connect through commerce. That is the scale that I think only business can do.


[00:13:01] JR: Yeah. I'm glad you brought up marketplace. It's great example of this, right? How is a Christ follower in the chair of owning that product, a billion users, how were you able to use that position and steward that power on behalf of the powerless? What was different about how you approach the product, because of your heart for the marginalized?


[00:13:24] DL: The interesting thing is, yeah. I could see that the power of community commerce could be so powerful on a platform like Facebook, that when I interviewed in 2009, they were like 900 employees at the company I interview with Sheryl Sandberg. She interviewed me, and then I pitched her on building marketplace. First time I met her. This is my one chance to meet Sheryl Sandberg and I was going to pitch on it.


[00:13:45] JR: Amazing. This is Sheryl Sandberg Interview, and you're pitching it.


[00:13:48] DL: During my interview. She looked at me, and she nodded and smiled. She was very kind about it. She mentioned this in the foreword of the book. I had never asked her what she thought and she actually wrote in the foreword, which I think it's really interesting when I read it. Years later, actually, till tonight, actually I didn't really start in earnest until 2015, starting to work on that product. I didn't get the green light to work on it for many, many years. I've worked on a number of different interesting businesses. Python’s, I also worked on the games business. I worked on some ads products, including the ad network. Finally, I had the opportunity to build this.


The reason I saw how powerful this was, was because I was a mom. I was working in tech, and I was one of the few moms at the company. I could see how moms connected with each other to help save money. I mean, it's very expensive to raise a child and so many moms are telling me, “Well, I buy all my stuff and moms groups.” I did as well. I have bought and sold all my kids bicycles, let’s say, everything that they had, all their clothes and everything. So I just love the opportunity to be able to build a commerce that connects communities closer together. So finally we had a chance to work on it. It didn't work actually the first two or three years we worked on it.


I just remember people asking who I worked with. I mean, again, we work in tech companies where everyone makes six figures and can afford to buy new, because somebody said, “Well who's using this product. A lot of my colleagues were somewhat skeptical. They would never buy something used. I said like, “Look, we built a product for the world, that a world that doesn't look like us.” I still drive a 12-year-old Hyundai. I have bought mostly used cars. I still love my Hyundai. I have bought used things. I remember saying in a meeting, I bought a used refrigerator at marketplace and someone said, “We don't pay you enough to buy a new refrigerator.”


I just remember thinking, that's not the point. The point is, there are people who can't afford this. For me, it's actually about environmentalism. It’s about caring for the world that God has made for us that we shouldn't just if you can buy a used refrigerator, that's one less thing that goes to the dump. I still have that use refrigerator, by the way. It's been about six, seven years, and it's great. I think that my heart was for those who not just for those who want to be environmentally conscious, but for those who can't afford the day-to-day of buying new for everything, and just think about the gift we can give the world by making it possible for people to connect with each other and to buy and sell and to make having children a little bit more affordable, and to be able to get a used car to get to work. It became a place that connected people in a special way. I'm so proud to have been able to work on that project.


[00:16:22] JR: That's amazing. You would say that work is ministry that has been in the hands of Jesus. How so? Articulate that for us.


[00:16:30] DL: I feel like, we talk about our work like it's this thing, where it's completely separate from what we will need. Every single day you wake up, you spend way more time at work than you do with even your family. You spent eight, nine hours at work. Suddenly at home, you might spend that much time with your own family, your kids, but they go to bed at nine, 10 o'clock. So you think about that. How many hours you're spending at work? So if that's not something that if what you're doing, it doesn't have any relation to your faith, if your faith doesn't help you choose to make decisions, to make the world better. Then what are you doing every single day for the majority of your time that you're awake?


[00:17:09] JR: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I think there's a really good example. I wrote an article in preparation for today about something you're doing right now that I think is serving the underserved in a pretty powerful way. This program called, Ancestry for All. Can you tell us a little bit about that, and maybe talk through the science of how ancestry works, because I didn't understand that before even reading the article, but it's all based on the samples, right?


[00:17:33] DL: Yeah. One of the things we do, actually Ancestry for All, actually covers both of our products. On the DNA side, is really helping people to discover their origins, but also getting samples from underrepresented communities in particular. One of the things we want to do is to explore getting helping people connect, for example, to the community that they're from, especially, for example, those who are black and have been in this country and migrated forcibly to this country and have no connection to their home country, because they lost all of the – there's no records. There's no way to connect. So one of the things we did as part of our family history side is we scanned and documented and indexed and made for free available the Freedmen's Bureau and Freedmen's bank records, which happens after the Civil War.


You think about after the Civil War, there was such displacement and the creation of the Freedmen's Bureau was to connect those who were formerly enslaved with their community and with their families, if possible. We did this show called the Hawkins letter, which a man writes a letter he was sold off as a child. Imagine the age of my daughter, who was sold off, because he was collateral for someone else's debt. He was sold off from, I believe, Virginia to Texas, and he never went home.


He wanted to write a letter to the Freedmen's Bureau to connect with his family and said, “Here's everything I remember about my family. I want you to help me find that.” He never found them. This letter was in the Freedmen's Bureau, it was scanned and indexed. Then actually, we had a team go meet the descendants and introduce them. It was just so incredible to see their descendants so many generations later meet up over a letter that was written so many, so many years ago.


[00:19:13] JR: Yeah. I love that. Love your heart for the underrepresented. You told this story in your new book, Take Back Your Power that really resonated with me. I'm going to save the book for my girls to read as they get older. This heartbreaking story of something a pastor told you and your husband when you were doing premarital counseling. Would you mind sharing that story with our listeners?


[00:19:35] DL: Yeah. I was so excited. We had started dating when I was 19. We've been together for a long time. Then we were dating long distance for several years. We moved to Atlanta, and we were doing pre marriage counseling. I got into Stanford for Business School, which was my dream and I was so excited. We went and told the pastor who was counseling us and we were preparing to get married that summer. I would have – my husband or my boyfriend at the time, said, “She got into Stanford. We're going to move out there right after we get married.” The pastor just looked at us and he said to my husband, “The man should have the lead career, why are you going with her? She doesn't need a graduate degree to stay at home.”


These things that I just, he lectured us, and I just remember feeling my heart sunk. What if this was against God's will for me? I was 23 years old at the time and much less sure of myself. I just remember thinking like, “This is a man of God. He's telling me that my dream was outside the will of God.” I just didn't know what to do. I was really hurt and upset, and I just sat on it. Afterwards I was talking to David, and he said something –


[00:20:47] JR: David's your husband?


[00:20:48] DL: David’s my husband. I said to David how I felt about this. He said, “There's a reason you're named Deborah. She is a powerful woman. God does not make mistakes.” He shared with me. He's like, “She is a leader. She's a leader of her community. She's a leader of, of Israel. So think about that, right.” Then he said, “Think about the Proverbs 31 Woman. She's an entrepreneur. She's a mother. She's a wife.” Her husband probably just sits at the gate and spits in each other's shoes with the other men making contracts. Funnily enough, my husband's a lawyer.


[00:21:22] JR: That's awesome.


[00:21:23] DL: He jokes, and he said, “There are powerful women in the Bible. Why do you think he's right?” So he encouraged me. We went to speak to the other pastor. The senior pastor at the churches, this is a Chinese church. The senior pastor shared how powerful his own life is, who has a graduate degree of leave and had shared with us that he gave us his blessing. He actually blessed our marriage, and we moved to California. It's so incredible to see that your life is not fixed, that there's not one answer that God has picked for you that somebody is going to tell you what that is. In fact, two pastors from the same church disagreed on what it was that we should be doing with my life. Luckily, I have this incredible husband who is so supportive.


[00:22:07] JR: Yeah. That's amazing. I'm so glad you shared that such an encouragement to our listeners. We got a lot of young Christian women listening to this. I'm curious, if you were to pull them into a small room, years after that conversation, and make a case as to why the world needs more women in the workplace, specifically Christian women. What would you say? What would your case be?


[00:22:29] DL: That's the thing in the Bible, the women of the Bible did so many things, were so powerful, and know their own right. There are women who are innkeepers like, Rahab. There are those who are leaders like Deborah. They labor alongside their husbands in so many cases, leading churches, leading communities. I just feel like, they are powerful in their own right. It's because God gave them their profession, just like the Proverbs 31 Woman. She didn't just care for her home, she had a small business, she was a witness in her community, through her hard work. She's praised by the psalmist, about her industriousness and her care for her family and for her community. I think that is the witness that God has given us about what women can do in the workplace and in their home as well. It doesn't mean that one has to take over the other. It's not about one or the other. It's actually about integrating the witness that you have at home and at work together.


[00:23:32] JR: Yeah. It's good. By the way, there was this great speech by Researchers Uncovered. They give a few years ago. We'll try to put in the show. It's on YouTube. I think it's called, “Who is Jesus to you?” It was terrific. You shared this little anecdote about how you had an open-door policy. I can't remember where you were working at the time, maybe with Facebook or eBay. Where anybody within the company could come and talk to you about anything personally, or professionally. What was that experience like?


[00:24:00] DL: I did it on a whim. I was teaching a new hire class, actually, to all the product managers at Facebook. These classes started out with this big three or five people. Suddenly towards the end, it was like, 30, 50 people starting each time. Each time I taught this class, I realized, I remember what it was like to feel alone. At the very end, I said, “You know, if you ever need a friend, if you ever need a voice, if you ever just need somebody where you need an ally, something went wrong, or something you want to ask, just ping me and I will make time.” I said this off-hand. I said at the end of every class and suddenly over the course of eight years, and I started when I taught the new hire class at Facebook.


I still do this, by the way. I have an open-door policy and I still connect with people, a couple people a week. I've talked to over 1000 people mostly women over that time and you realize that there are a lot of people in this world who feel really alone. They feel like they don't have a friend. They don't have a listening ear. This open-door policies connect you with me with such and such credible people, many of whom it's hard to remember the details of having met them. Many years later, one woman said, I just went back and got my graduate degree. They didn't even know that I never spoke up.


Thank you for telling me how to speak up and to really show up. I just thought, wow, that is such an incredible testimony of what I said about my mission statement, right? Leaving everyone better for having meet me. It's just so incredible to see the journeys and years later have words that you toss off that you don't even remember saying, other people remember. It's been such a blessing to be a part of so many people's lives.


[00:25:34] JR: Yeah. Man, it's hard to think of a more practical way to show the difference that Christ makes in our lives. Other people would look at the big this is crazy. You're killing your productivity and qualities like this are going to be extremely rare like, an intern could theoretically get on your calendar as the CEO of That's insane. I don't know I like, I think it shows in a powerful way that you love and care for people beyond what they can do for you, right?


[00:26:08] DL: Well, they think the Bible it says what we do for the least of these, right? That is our witness, not the powerful, but those who have less. I think that that's really important. It's not something I can do a ton of anymore, but still just putting aside half an hour a week, and spending 15 minutes with someone who just needs a listening ear. That's all it is. Often, I still do it today when I'm commuting places, when I'm on a walk. It's just an opportunity for me to reach out to somebody and say, you know what? I care. Even if no one else feels like they do. I can always solve the problems, but so many times, my only work is to offer a mirror and a listening ear for somebody who's hurting or is struggling with something.


[00:26:49] JR: Yeah. Most of the time, people don't necessarily want their problem solved. They just want a friend and somebody to see them as a human being, right?


[00:26:57] DL: Yes. So many times, it's just human connection is so important. I did this through the pandemic. I actually did a lot more during the pandemic. I did a lot of walk. So many people are really struggling with this juggling home and work. A lot of women have asked me like, “Should I quit my job? I feel like I'm failing at work at home.” Or “I'm facing the situation at work where I feel like, I've been sidelined. What do I do?” Just having a person who says, “I hear you. I might not be able to solve the problem, but let me reflect on it with you.” I've met such incredible people that say.


[00:27:30] JR: I love it. I'm going to put this out there as a challenge to anyone who's got significant power within their organizations or not to model Deb, here. I think it's a really great practice.


[00:27:40] DL: Well, a part that I do when to touch on is, I started this when I was teaching that class, but I wasn't super powerful. I might have had, two or three people reporting to me. You don't have to be powerful to be listening ear. You don't have to be powerful to be a great witness and to get around others.


[00:27:57] JR: Yeah. That's a good word. That same speech, I referenced, you said that you are a “Master tentmaker and an okay Christian” which I love so much. What do you mean by this? Explain what you mean.


[00:28:11] DL: Well, I think sometimes when they ask Christians to speak at these events, they ask people who are very prominent, who happened to be Christians, too.


[00:28:19] JR: Sure. Right. Right. Right.


[00:28:21] DL: The best Christians I know, are not necessarily the most successful in their career in the traditional sense, but they are the ones who labor day-to-day and I see that. Some of the best Christians I have ever met are those who do not seek the limelight or not seeking promotion or giving of themselves in different ways. So I feel like sometimes, in these conferences, they we're asked to speak. It's wonderful to share the stories of people who have had an incredible career, who are also Christian. That's what I say, which is I told my husband, I said that. I should like, it turns out I'm a pretty good tentmaker. I'm just an okay, Christian and I feel unequipped to share my story with so many people, because of that.


[00:29:04] JR: Yeah. You point out something really important there, right? We're living at a time in history, where the world highly values master tent making. Obviously, we're using tent making in the context of a poll and just the thing that we do for pay. I think, because of that that should lead us as Christians to flock into these industries and businesses that we sometimes deemed “secular” because they'll be open to what we believe and what we have to say if we can build a really great tent, right?


[00:29:37] DL: Yes. Well, I think that we are welcome, because if the work that we do is useful to the world and touches others. Who's going to say no to that? That is your opportunity to be a great witness with your actions. I often say no one ever shouted anyone else into heaven. Instead like really living your life in such a way that people are curious about what you believe. That is such a much more powerful witness. For me, it's really about living my life in a way that I would be proud and that I can answer for one day.


[00:30:08] JR: Hey, I want to go back to something you mentioned previously. You're a civil engineering major. Is that right?


[00:30:12] DL: Yes.


[00:30:13] JR: Yeah. I've heard that you thought for a little bit there have been an architect, because you were so inspired by the great cathedrals in Europe, which I agree. I think they're incredible. You shared in this speech, I keep referencing that those cathedrals are just this beautiful picture of what our work is like. Would you mind sharing that analogy with our listeners, because I thought it was really beautiful.


[00:30:36] DL: I got an architectural engineering certificate, so later, after getting my environmental engineering. I was studying that, but I got a stomachache because I consider going to architecture school. I just remember the story. This has really stuck with me, which is a man walks up to – he's watching these workers. These workers are chiseling it's down. He goes to the first man, and he says, “What are you doing?” He's like, “I'm creating a stone, right, I'm making a brick to put in.” He said, “Okay.” He walks the second man. The second man is doing the same thing. He said, “What are you doing?” The man's like, “I’m building part of the wall, right, I’m building a wall.” Which is great.


Then he walks to the third man. Then he says, “What are you doing?” He looks, they're all doing the same thing. This man is radiant and he shines light in his eyes and he says, “I'm building a cathedral in the honor of God.” But they're all doing the same work. How you look at the work that you do every single day? Are you building something that is a witness to others? Are you just barely making a stone? I think that how you look at your work matters a lot, not just the work that you do.


[00:31:43] JR: Yeah. I love that. I think N.T. Wright shared this analogy somewhere a long time ago, maybe that's where I'm remembering this from, but you also nobody remembers the names of who built these great cathedrals in Europe. That's okay. The point wasn't that their name was remembered. The point was that they contributed in a small way to the greater glory of God. Amen.


[00:32:07] DL: Yes, absolutely.


[00:32:09] JR: Deb, three questions we wrap up every conversation with. Number one, which books do you find yourself recommending or gifting most frequently to others?


[00:32:18] DL: Well, I recently read The Conversation by Dr. Robert Livingston. It's the uncomfortable conversation around race that I wish we could have. So I really recommend you read that book. It is an incredible book about things that I think, are really hard for the church to wrestle with. I think it's worth wrestling with those things. I love the book Quiet by Susan Cain.


[00:32:40] JR: Yeah. So good.


[00:32:42] DL: An amazing book. She reached out to me on LinkedIn. I just connected with her, but she's such an incredible author, but she talks about how the world even churches, favor those who speak up the most, or actually marginalizing, or sidelining those who are quiet, and how we can be great allies to those who are quiet. Help those who are quiet can be such powerful forces in the world. She talks about in all the different places, whether it's business school, in schools, as well as churches, and all of these places in the workplace, as well. So I love those two books, and I recommend them to everybody.


[00:33:17] JR: Yeah. Quiet is so great. How can we in the context like, apply this to business for a second. You got some business leaders listening, how can they encourage the quieter, more introverted members of their team to speak up?


[00:33:30] DL: I always ask people, when you actually set up a meeting, are you thinking about hearing all the voices, because you might be missing 50% of the great ideas in the room. When I challenged other business leaders about that, it just never occurred to them, because we have this we call it popcorn style of speaking, right? When somebody has an idea it pops, right? It favors those – I wrote this article called “The Secret Bias No One Talks About” It is so much the – those who can speak and discuss and debate on a dime, are given most of the airspace and we're missing tremendous ideas from people who just need time.


One of the most incredible product leaders I've ever worked with said to me because I asked her why she has become more. She said, “I'm a processor.” By the time I've processed and thought of what to say that the conversation has moved on. So I actually wrote this article with tips on how leaders can actually change the environment to make it possible to get all the ideas out. One is, send out pre-reads, so people who need time to process have a chance to do that if they choose to do so. The second one is actually going around the room telling everybody we're going to vote, but we're going to go around the room and do it. We're going to talk and we're going to go around the room and here are all the ideas.


Another way is actually I do these votes in documents ahead of time so people can write down what they want to say, yes or no or not now. Then they also write notes as to what their opinion is. If you see something, an idea that it was missed, you can actually go back and call on them and say, “Hey, I saw your idea in the document last night. Why don’t you share it with the rest of the group.” We only do small bias interrupters can be so powerful to actually opening the door to those who, whose voices you aren't hearing every single day.


[00:35:06] JR: Yeah. That's really good. I especially love the tip about the pre-read. Jeff Bezos instilled this policy at Amazon years ago, right? No PowerPoints. You got to write a memo and give everybody time to read the memo before the discussion begins. I just think that's really, really great. Hey, Deb, who would you like to hear on this podcast talking about how the gospel of Jesus Christ should influence the work we do in the world?


[00:35:30] DL: Well, I love – I just started the book by Albert Tate. I think that he would be incredible. I don't know if you've had him on yet, but I think he would be an incredible speaker. I have had a chance to meet him a couple times. Now I just started his book. He's just somebody who brings such light into the world.


[00:35:45] JR: Albert and I are speaking right after each other, right next to each other in a couple of weeks at the right now media conference. To extend an invitation for Albert to come on, that's a great answer.


[00:35:55] DL: You bring a microphone and you can record him there –


[00:35:57] JR: There you go. Hey, so Deb. You're talking to an audience of Mere Christians who are master tentmakers and okay, Christians, right? What's one thing from our conversation you want to reiterate, before we sign off?


[00:36:11] DL: The only thing I'd say is, you are bearing testimony and witness every single day with every action that you have. So are you salt and light or not? Are the decisions you make the things that you say, a blessing to others, or something that's tearing them down and taking them further away? I asked, because when we say salt and light. It's really about really looking at every single day that you live towards, are you leaving people better off having met you? That is what God has made us, brought us here on Earth to do is to build up, not tear down. So I hope that as you think about all of the things that happen regardless of how you feel in every day that you remember that.


[00:36:52] JR: It's great. Deb, I want to commend you for the exceptional redemptive restorative work you do every day for the glory of God and the good of others. Thank you for using your powerful voice on behalf of those who voices aren't as loud, right, who are quieter. Thank you for reminding us of the eternal significance of our work and that every action speaks a testimony about what we believe. Guys, Deb's new book is, Take Back Your Power. I've read most of it. It's terrific. Hey, where's your Substack? Where's your Substack newsletter, Deb?


[00:37:25] DL: It’s So really easy to get to it.


[00:37:30] JR: There you go. Deb, thanks for joining us.


[00:37:31] DL: Thank you so much.




[00:37:33] JR: Loved that episode. It's going in my archive of episodes. I'm going to force my girls so listen to in the future. So grateful for Deb and her work. Guys, if you've got a guest that you'd love to see here on the Mere Christians Podcast, let me know at Please feel free to nominate yourself. I know that's weird. I know it's awkward. Here I am giving you permission to do it. Some of the best episodes of the show come from listeners like you speaking of. Thank you for listening, week in week out. It's been amazing to see what God is doing with the show, with this community. I'm just grateful to be a part of it. See you guys next week.