Within Christian circles, Max Lucado is a household name, beloved for his gentle and inspiring books. The San Antonio-based pastor is a publishing icon. More than twenty million of his titles are in circulation, and his throngs of readers eagerly await each year’s new release. Now at about this point you’d probably expect me to share a story of Lucado’s humility, to tell you that even with his bestseller status, he doesn’t struggle with pride or ego.
But the fact is, he does, which is why Lucado is winning the battle we all fight, one way or the other.
Looking back to his early writing days he reflects:
“I really think God said, ‘I can’t trust Lucado with too much, but I’m going to give him this ability and see how he handles it … OK, he didn’t mess that up. OK, here’s another idea,’” he says. “I try to be faithful. I try to get my manuscripts in on time. I try not to let it go to my head, but sometimes I think too highly of myself.”
As minister of preaching to a congregation of three thousand, Lucado is refreshingly candid when he discusses the battle he endures with his ego.
“I confessed it to the church,” he stated. “I was sick of always wanting to know if our church was as big as the others. A man gave me some great advice. He reminded me that when another church does well, we all do well. After he said that, I suddenly saw Oak Hills as one tiny corpuscle in the body of Christ.” And despite having sold millions of books, he acknowledges he always hopes to sell more. “I take too much pride in that. I ideally want to be able to say that I can be content if 500 people read my books rather than 500,000. But I can’t … I know competitiveness can be healthy and good, unless it is pride driven. It’s a struggle for me.”
Max Lucado’s candidness should serve as a good model, and though most of us are not faced with balancing our gifts with widespread fame and even fortune, the premise is instructive. It’s easy to justify our own out-of-control pride and ego. Lucado could easily suggest he’s interested in selling more books because he wants to reach more souls for the Lord. But he knows better—and he’s honest about it!
A person obsessed with their physical image may claim they’re simply concerned with good grooming. A workaholic tells their spouse they’re providing for the family, but the truth is, they’re finding their identity at the workplace, not in the person and divinity of Jesus. On and on it goes.
Of pride and its pull, Puritan writer William Jenkyn puts it well. “It is only a Christian of strong grace,” he said, “that can bear the strong wine of his commendations without the spiritual intoxication of pride.”