Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Max Lucado – A Man Who Loves Words
‘I like to write books for people who don’t like to read books,’ he says
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
NASHVILLE, TN (ANS) -- Texas-born author and pastor, Max Lucado, is a man who loves words – both spoken and written.
Max is the only author to have won three Christian Book of the Year* awards—in 1999 for Just Like Jesus, in 1997 for In the Grip of Grace, and in 1995 for When God Whispers Your Name. In 2005, Reader’s Digest magazine dubbed him “America’s Best Preacher” and in 2004, Christianity Today magazine called him “America’s Pastor.”
The product line for 3:16—The Numbers of Hope sold more than four million units worldwide, including one million units of the cornerstone trade book of the same title (released in September 2007), making it the fastest selling Lucado product in his career. His Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference (September 2010) hit both the Publishers Weekly and New York Times bestseller lists and has been featured on “Fox & Friends” and “CNN American Morning.” He has participated on the “Good Morning America” Christmas Day panel in 2009 and 2010.
His works have appeared on every major national bestseller list including Publishers Weekly, USA Today, The New York Times, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and Christian Booksellers Association. He has been featured in countless media outlets and national broadcasts.
Max is also a Minister of Preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, where he has served since 1988. He has been married to Denalyn Preston Lucado since 1981, and they have three grown daughters—Jenna, Andrea and Sara—and one son-in-law, Brett.
I caught up with this delightful man at the NRB 2012 Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, where he shared about his life as a pastor, a missionary in Brazil and also as a best-selling author.
“And the thought occurred to me was why can we not have a great day every day? If we’re children of God, couldn’t a Monday be a fun as a Saturday or a Sunday and couldn’t you know a deadline day be as satisfying as a holiday. I know it’s not that easy but I think that as children of God we can really get to the point where every day is a great day.”
Lucado went on to say that he had read the verse from Psalm 118:24 that said, “Today is the day that the Lord has made ...”
“Every word of that verse is helpful when you know that today is the day God has made -- not some days are days that God has made but God makes every day. So that means that every day has the potential of being a good day. Then he says, ‘I will rejoice and be glad in it.’ The psalmist made a decision the that he was going to rejoice in this day, not after this day, not once I get through this day, but right in the middle of this day ‘I’m going to rejoice and be glad in it.’ So all of your all the readers right now could say, ‘OK, God made this day. I didn’t make it like this but God did, so I’m going to rejoice and be glad in it.”
“I wrote it while I was an associate minister of a church in Miami, Florida, and in those days back in the 1980s, every church sent out a newsletter -- just a little simple newsletter -- and my job was to write a little article with that newsletter,” he explained. “I really enjoyed that process although many pastors told me how much they hated to do that. I got good feedback from the church, and so I was encouraged by a good friend who told me, ‘Why don’t you try to get all of those articles?’ And so I did. I submitted it to fourteen publishers the fifteenth – Tyndale House -- said ‘Yes.’”
It was shortly after this that Max Lucado moved with his family to Brazil to start a church in Rio de Janeiro and lived there for five years.
“Well, I came to Christ when I was 20 and through the influence of some good friends in college who were planning to be missionaries, I started hanging out with them,” he explained. “Their enthusiasm was contagious. So before I knew it, I felt the same call that they did. We all moved to Brazil together and there was a group of several families and we stayed from 1983 to 1988.
“I found the culture to be wonderful. The people in Brazil, just like in any country, has its inherent challenges its unique challenges, but every country has its quorum of wonderful people we certainly found that to be true in Brazil. We really felt like we were part of the culture. That’s where two of our three children were born.
Does he speak Portuguese, the language of Brazil?
“I do speak Portuguese, and while there I continued writing and it became such an enjoyable outlet for me and so I wrote even though I was working in Portuguese,” Lucado said. “I continued doing the writing about a day or two a week. I published three books while I was in Brazil.
“They were ‘No Wonder They Call Him the Savior,’ then ‘God Came Near’ and the third was ‘Six Hours One Friday.’ And then I had the opportunity to move back to Texas where I was raised and pastor a church in San Antonio and I’ve been there ever since.”
Max then explained that his present church is a racial and cultural mix.
“We have a lot of Hispanic culture because San Antonio is so much Hispanic,” he said. “It’s pretty much a blue-collar church because that’s what San Antonio is. And just like in any other church, everybody’s just trying to get through life and be strong in life. So what I have found is if the sermon series that I give to the church connects, then it’ll probably be a good book. So more often than not whatever I present to the church eventually becomes a book.
“Right now in our church in San Antonio we’re studying through the life of Joseph.”
Lucado went on to say, “Every sermon series is a candidate for a book, so I try to discipline my thinking and be a pastor first and a writer second and consequently I’ve done sermon series that never became books. Like ‘Managing your Money.’ Every pastor will do a series on that topic, but only a few will turn those into books because none of us are really specialists in that area but still every church needs to walk through that.
“And yet at the same time most of the books that I’ve done in terms of salvation, steadfastness or perseverance or trusting or faith or joy, those do become books because those I feel like that’s more my sweet spot. So not everything I write becomes a book but everything is a candidate to become a book.”
He added, “I let the sermon cool for two or three months and stay away from it and then I’ll go back to it and I don’t do the transcription, but I take the original manuscript and look at it, clean it up and I try to tighten it up and strengthen it. And as you know as a journalist I try to weed out all the unnecessary phraseology and tighten the sentences. Sometimes I’ll find that in trying to make two or three points to the church I didn’t make any of them very well.”
I then asked him if Lucado is an Italian name and he explained its true source.
“Actually, though there is a strain of Italian Lucado’s, we really trace our ancestry to the French Huguenots and apparently, from what we understand our ancestry came out of the Huguenots revolution, came to England and then came to the US in the late 1700s. It was originally spelled in our case Lucadeaux, so it had a French spelling.”
I asked Max how he deals with fame?
“I don’t know if I deal with it very well; it’s a challenge you know,” he said. “I don’t like to ask the Lord to remind me that if it weren’t for Him that I couldn’t say anything -- I wouldn’t have anything to say -- but He does remind me whenever I start getting too haughty for my own good.
“It helps me to stay as a pastor of a church because if all I did was travel and do seminars and be introduced as the author of so and so, there is a danger that you start to think you’re pretty special. But when you’re pastor of a church and you’re trying to help people you know live life, they bring you down to keep your feet on the ground. But it is it’s a challenge I think pride is the oldest of the sins right?”
How does he describe his writing style?
He then revealed that his next book is called Grace.
Lucado said, “The subtitle is ‘More than you deserve, greater than you imagine.’ And it explores a question what happens when grace really happens to a person and trying to elevate and center stage this teaching of grace is so important for the church.”
I concluded by asking Max Lucado how he keeps on writing in a period where less and less people appear to be reading books?
“We’re all trying to figure out how to publish in the digital age so all of my books now are available to be read on a Kindle or an iPad in digital format,” explained. “But I do think we are very visual generation and consequently in my own ministry we’re doing more and more things with television stations.”
Note: I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.
If you would like to hear the audio version of this interview, please go to: http://www.assist-ministries.com/FrontPageRadio/FPR08.12.12MaxLucadoMono.mp3
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