An Interview with Max Lucado

Last fall amid a struggling economy and political turmoil Max Lucado released a very timely book called Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear. Now a year later, he is releasing his newest book, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference (Thomas Nelson).

Book Cover for Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

I love all of Max’s books, but I believe this to be his most important one yet. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview him about why he wrote this book and what he hopes to accomplish.

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Q: How did you choose the message for this book? Why do you think this message is important today?

A few years back, three questions rocked my world. They came from different people in the span of a month. The first question: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler? Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism? The third question: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?

I didn’t mind the first two questions. They were hypothetical. I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism. But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine. But the third question has kept me awake at night.

I do live today; so do you. And we are given a choice . . . an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope?

All of us have an opportunity now to do something to set a great example for our children and our grandchildren. That’s why I wrote Outlive Your Life. We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven but here on earth.

Q: Last year you and I, along with our wives, traveled to Ethiopia with Rich Stearns, President of World Vision. How did that trip surprise you? What impact did it have on Outlive Your Life?

It impacted me and my wife Denalyn in countless ways. I don’t think I expected to see such unending poverty in Ethiopia. But I was surprised to see the joy—the smiles—of the Ethiopian people. They are gentle, thankful people.

It was also an impressive trip because I was able to see that sponsoring a child through World Vision not only enables the child to have a better life, but helps the entire village where that child lives. It can really be life-changing for an entire community. I knew World Vision helped individual children, but I didn’t realize how World Vision could impact an entire community.

Q: In Outlive Your Life, you talk a lot about God using “common” people to change the world. And it’s true, peppered throughout the Bible are stories of ordinary people doing game-changing things. Why do you think as Christians we are so reluctant to believe that God can use us?

It all boils down to this—God uses common folk to do uncommon things. The disciples were common. I mean they were regular guys. Peter knew more about bass and boat docks then he did the Roman culture. Most of the disciples, if not all of them, had never traveled more than a week from their hometown. They weren’t the most predictable of guys either. Peter told Jesus to forget the cross. John wanted Jesus to torch the city. When Jesus needed people to pray with him, they slept. When he needed friends, they ran.

But after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus—only six weeks later—we see these guys literally on fire. They changed the world. We’re common folk like that too. Most of us sit in the bleachers. Most of us aren’t the straight-A students. Most of us aren’t selected to lead the organization. We’re just common folk.

The big message of the book of Acts is that God can use regular folk like you and like me to literally change the world. There is no indication that Jesus chose his disciples for any other reason except this, that when he said, “follow me,” they said, “I will.”

What would happen if when Jesus says, “follow me,” we say the same?

People really do want to make a difference in the world. I think there’s something built within each one of us that resonates with the idea of making a difference, changing the world. And I think that’s just a gift from God inside of us that every person has.

Q: You write about the disparity between the “haves” and “have nots.” What, if anything, can be done to bridge the gap?

A few of us have a lot while many of us don’t have much. About 75% of the world’s resources go to about 20% of the people. The “haves” and the “have nots” are not very close together. This is a very complex issue but why does it exist? Why does this disparity exist on the earth?

As the singer and humanitarian, Bono, says: People are born in the wrong latitude. People are simply born and raised in areas of the world that don’t have the basic resources that many of us have taken for granted.

I’m thinking of a friend of mine who lives in Ethiopia named Dahdi. He’s every bit of hard working as I am, likely more so. He’s well-respected in his village. He has a delightful family. The truth of the matter is he was born in a place that doesn’t have some of the basic things that I’ve benefited from, things like paved roads, access to education, vaccinations, and government subsidies. Things I take for granted are things that he’s never seen.

What can we do about this disparity? The book of Acts teaches us the whole church should get involved. When the apostles realized that some of the people were not being fed in the city of Jerusalem they called for a church-wide meeting. The problem of poverty needs to engage every single person in the church.

Second, the Acts church decided to get the brightest among us to direct us. The apostles said the problem is so big we need our best thinkers thinking about it. That’s why we need to partner with organizations like World Vision, Compassion, Living Water, and International Justice Mission. These people who are giving their best thoughts, their best energies, and their best hours to disentangling these difficult knots.

Third, we can just get ticked off. We need to be upset. We need to be troubled by the fact that 850 million people are going to bed hungry every night. It needs to bother us that 30,000 children are dying every day from preventable diseases. The church should get mad and let’s see what we can do about it.

Q: In its review of your book Publisher’s Weekly calls you “…a powerful voice in the call to authentic Christianity.” What does authentic Christianity mean to you?

We indwell a generation that has an allergy to phony saints and an attraction to honest ones. Authentic Christianity takes Sunday’s worship into Monday’s service. It bridges the beliefs with the behavior.

Q: I love that 100% of the royalties from Outlive Your Life will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries. What will that money go to specifically?

Under the capable stewardship of World Vision, Outlive Your Life royalties will be creating healthy, sustainable communities in the Amuru District of Northern Uganda. We are also partnering with other faith-based ministries to help single mothers and children.

Q: This is a big year for you, Max. It is your 25th anniversary in book publishing. Congratulations on a long and fruitful career! What goals do you have for this year and for the next 25 years?

2010 has been big for me. One of the goals of this year is finding sponsors for 25,000 children through World Vision. I guess it could have thrown a party or given out plaques, but I wanted to have a party for some of the “have nots” in the world.

Q: Who are some voices that you are learning from these days?

As my wife Denalyn and I near 30 years of marriage, I rely on her counsel and wisdom more and more. I run everything past her. What a gift she is to my life.

Thank you, Max. I know we have only scratched the surface, but I hope it is enough to get people to buy this book and read it. I know it will prove life-changing for them.

Note: I gave away 100 autographed copies of the book, selecting the winners from the comments below. However, that opportunity is now over, and the comments have been closed.
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  • Gina Burgess

    As I was reading this, I was afraid. I was actually terrified that God wanted me to do something I wasn't prepared to do. Terrified that I would be lifted out of my comfort zone and placed smack in the middle of His work that He had prepared for me to do which wasn't in my comfortable home in my comfortable neighborhood. Why is it we have to sit for awhile to contemplate that job? Why must we "pray about" something that God has clearly commanded us to do all through His Word? I'm a typical American, comfortable sitting at my computer and writing while my Spiritual muscles atrophy, confident in my head knowledge but weak in my musculature because I'm frightened that I just might make a difference but in a way I am not comfortable.

  • @Langer123

    Its so easy to just get caught up in life that you miss what's happening all around. It's also so easy to choose not to see what's going on. It sounds like a great book that will help people not only see reality, but do something about it. I have had the privilege of running my churches short-term missions program and it is amazing to watch peoples eyes be opened to what is happening in the world around them. Its equally amazing to see that we all can do something. Great interview

  • Kurt M.


    Thanks again for taking the time to open our eyes on such a great subject. As there are people in the world who continue to try and prove that the world wasn't created by God….its books like this that give us the hope for a better tomorrow and that there's more to life than what we are currently giving. Keep up the great work on bringing people like Max into our lives. I know I need it.

  • Deb Kalmbach

    My world has been shaken since I read Rich Stearn's book last year. I am challenged to make a difference with my life! Max Lucado's writing has always touched me deeply and I would love the opportunity to learn more from his down-to-earth wisdom. Thank you!

  • @Daileen_Marie

    I'm 18 years old & I'm a Ovarian Teratoma Cancer Survivor, I was 5 years old when I was diagnose & battled with cancer till January, 2009. Going through treatment and the hard times I always read Max Lucado books, like He Chose the Nails, Experiencing the Heart of Jesus, The Cure for the Common Life, etc. Ever since I can remember my parents have had Max Lucado books and I enjoy reading them. They inspire me to do things, to talk to people to do things and even change my whole relationship with Christ. I recently finish reading Facing your giants and my God did that book changed my outlook on how I face my problems! I really truly want Outlive your Life because I think it will continue to help me grow in Christ, and strengthen my relationship with Christ!

    I promise that I will read this book, not only read but apply it to my day to day life.

    • Bishop Rodgers

      She deserves this book, What a strong girl at such a young age get diagnose with Ovarian Cancer fight for her life and still manage to keep her faith strong and going, WOW truly an eye opener to my life!!!! She deserves a book Max Lucado!

  • Nina

    Over the years, I have fed my neighbor and my brother when they needed help. But short of sponsoring one World Vision child, I have not done much for the world that is hungry. We are being bombarded to help others abroad, as more and more natural disasters fall upon the already poverty stricken. In an effort to be more of assistance to those in need, I have joined Rotary. The church supports missions, but it is World Vision (and others) and Rotary (and others) that supply food, medicines — real help to real people. I want to become more involved, and look forward to reading Max's new book! Thanks for this interview!

  • kim

    Hi. I'm happy I saw your tweet about this book, otherwise I may not have known about it. I've read Max Lucado's books before and am always touched and feel my eyes and my heart open. It's been a few years though, and I have a short story to tell to illustrate why I want a copy of this book.

    About a year ago, I allowed myself to become too influenced by some worldly things and I stepped away from God. I thought it happened suddenly, but when I look back I see how it happened slowly, sneakily. I'm still living in a place of regret about it, and I've asked the Lord to forgive me and I know he has, but I struggle with forgiving myself. In my journey back, I've done a lot of thinking and a lot of praying about how I can not only "come back" to my relationship with God, but how I can improve it. And I know the only way to do that is to give myself wholly to Him. It's so odd, how easy it is to give yourself wholly to the world and how hard I can make it to give myself wholly to the one who made me and loves me unconditionally. what's that about?

    anyway, back to the point. When I was younger, I thought the best way to contribute to the world was to have children and raise them to love the Lord, share Him with others, and give to those who need. Now, I'm 40, I'm not married and I have no children and I cannot ever be pregnant. There will never be that little girl who looks like me the way I look like my mother and my grandmother, that I can teach those things, that will have children of her own and teach them… I can't do the thing that I thought was my thing to do, my way to contribute. So, I've begun looking for new ways to contribute. New ways to help people, new ways of thinking. I sponsor a child through Food for the Hungry. I help my family and my friends, and I help at the food bank in my community, and I've volunteered for community restoration projects. But I know in my heart that I can do more, I can make a bigger contribution, I know it, I know I'm meant to do more. But I don't know what that IS. I don't know how to find it. And I'm more than a little scared of what it might be and whether or not I'll have the faith and courage to do it. I want to read Max's book because I hope it might buoy me, I hope it might give me a little push to do what's right. I want to leave a legacy here, and that's selfish, but I'm hoping to turn my selfish desire to leave a legacy into something brighter for others. I don't know what that something is, and I don't know how to accomplish it, but I do know that I want to be a part of it. I'm not looking for recognition or appreciation, I don't want to say "hey, look at me, look at what I did", but I do want to be an example for my nieces and nephews so that when they grow up they want to contribute too.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. And whether or not I get a book isn't even the point anymore, I think I just needed to express this thing in my heart and find a way to sort it all out. thanks for the opportunity.

  • Eva Pauline Scott

    I am curious about this book, because it has been mentioned in a Bible class, by Dave Ramsey, and also on your blog. I would like to win a copy to find out if there is something I could do to make a difference that I'm not doing yet. It sounds as if some of the ideas are do-able by "ordinary" people.

  • Eric Lind

    I am in the recreational vehicle business. The ultimate discretionary purchase in the biggest economic downturn since the great depression. (Sound like I've said that a few times?) Fear has been a big part of my business world for the past three years. My faith in God, and Max's book "Fearless: Imagine your life without fear" have been what have taken me through the past three years. I've been looking forward to a new Max Lucado book, and would absolutely love to get one of the autographed copies. I am a huge fan of Max, and of your blog.

  • Daniel Becerra

    I want a copy of this book because I really just want to get an idea of what His people would do when they meet others in desperate situations. I weep often for the lost students in my university and I have no idea where to start but on my knees. The only ideas I get come from getting on my knees and praying to the almighty. The lost students on my campus are far from poor, but man… they have enough to HELP the poor!

    If I can just continue to get on my knees and continue to fill myself with inspiration and ideas from Biblical and life examples, then I am confident, I believe God can move in my university. Of course I promise to read this book

  • Katie

    I don't want to be part of a generation that turns a blind eye to all the need that is out there. We focus so much on ourselves and what we want and need. Part of the way I want to make a difference is helping my generation see these things and mobilize them to do so. However, the change must first start in me. I would love to read this book and allow it to impact me and open my eyes to the needs in the world today.

  • petetackett

    I am wrapping up an 18 month "halftime" after pastoring for 25 years and have really spent a lot of time considering what is important as we lead churches and Christian organizations. I think this book would be a good final read before I return to the pastorate. If I am selected, I most certainly will read it.

  • laura west kong

    Hi Michael,
    Hi Michael,
    After reading the interview and book excerpt from Max's site I am totally inspired. Thank you! I'm in the middle of setting up a creative project of my own (2 Cute Quilts) to benefit World Vision and other ministries, and make a difference in people's lives. I was planning to donate 20% of my profits, but now realize that although 20% is nice, I want to dedicate this venture completely to the Lord and making a difference by giving 100% of the profits. I hope to gain even more insights from Max's book on ways to make a positive impact through 2 Cute Quilts as well as my life in general.

    • laura west kong

      P.S. I promise to read the book :)

  • Brad

    I feel that God is calling me to do more with my life. Truly be a brother to others. What does that look like? What does it require from me? How do I outlive myself?

  • Davis Cutshaw

    I think I could use a book like this. I have a lot of issues I deal with on a daily basis but one that can hit me the hardest is the struggle for significance. With the day to day busyness of working a full-time job and raising a young family i find very little time for the things that make me feel alive( music/writing). The things I think I'm supposed to be doing. So i guess what I'm saying is that I could just use a little guidance and encouragement.

    Thanks for cool opportunities like this.

  • Stephanie

    A few months ago, I listened to Andy Stanley's sermon series, How to Be Rich. In one message he challenged us in the area of intentional, consistent service because we are rich and therefore should give and do more. As a new solopreneur, I have complete control over my schedule and have been praying about how I can "do more." Just today I was presented with an opportunity for ongoing service with a local ministry. Max's book is on target with the thoughts and desires that have surfaced for me in the past few months. I'd love to see how God would speak to me through it and pray that it would bring some clarity to my process and decisions.

  • jody

    Anything Max writes is a worthwhile read. I pray that one day my girls and I can make a difference in the lives of ones who struggle like we do. My girls are truly gifts from God, and I know without a doubt that they have been chosen to do something awesome. Two years after their father walked out on us, my now 12 yr old was saved in a wreck by a fallen tree. She was partially ejected. All I could see of her were her legs and my first thought was that she was gone…a wake up call for me…they were what was important-not him. My other daughter was healed in the womb. Amniotic fluids showed a neurological defect. A computer mistake is what I was told. So why does she have a birthmark consistent with the defect, but is a healthy, normal 15 year old? I know the answer-God does still perform miracles. Both of them are active in youth and mission work. We are just "regular folks" who love God. HE has truly blessed me with these girls. I will purchase this new book and make it a "family read". Having an autographed copy would most certainly be a "sign" for me…a "God wink". By the way, the only Bible I use is my Max Bible…wouldn't want to be without it!

  • Daniel

    the insight into how to make myself responsible for my generation in Christ's love and the apostles' mode will just be … invaluable.

  • Gloria

    Yearning to make a difference in the world, having a big dream burn in the heart but not knowing how to get started or whether its even possible.

    To remember that the disciples were ordinary people too makes me smile. I'd love to read his book to garner inspiration, get wisdom and fuel the dreams within!

  • Roana Bianca Reyes

    I want a copy of this book because I love Max Lucado and I love the fact that all the royalties will go to help the "have nots" in the world and I know I need that push to "get mad and do something about it"!

    But whether or not I get the free copy, this article prompted me to really do something about it — and as a gift to myself in my upcoming birthday this October, I will sponsor a child through World Vision. :)

    ~From a Filipino currently living in Singapore

  • Scott Van Dam

    Your interview with Max intrigued me and it comes at a time when I have been contemplating my story. My prayers have been about living a life that is meaningful yet I often struggle with worry & I flirt with anxiety. Is it the economic conditions? Is it having 3 little children at home? Then with reading this post I am reminded that I live in one of the richest countries in the world. It became starkingly clear how blessed we really are when several of my good friends were visiting Port au Prince, Haiti as part of a mission trip to a Christian School that my church supports when they felt the earth quake beneath them. They survived the massive natural disaster – just barely and after 5 terrifying days they finally made contact with home. (Praise God!) Their stories paint a first hand picture of the devastation and poverty on a scale that we cannot even imagine. Thanks for reminding me of how blessed we truly are and for fueling my contemplation of living a more meaningful story. I'm sure this book will help stir up some enthusasm to live for others and obey the command of God to love your neighbour as your self.

  • Dave VanAtter

    I pastor a new church plant in Frankfort, Ky and I love Max's writing. He has inspired me to be a better writer and I appreciate the approachability of his books. In fact, Six Hours One friday is a yearly read as I prepare for the Easter series. Can't wait to read this one.

  • Jacob

    I would love to read this book because I am interested in how Max thinks we can outlive our life! I am a college student and recently I have been in my cultural studies class and we have been talking a lot about poverty. People either answer our discussions with denial that there is poverty or they respond in a way that puts all of the blame on those that are extremely rich or powerful! I want to be a voice saying that the problems of poverty and hunger are problems for each of us to confront in a personal and ordinary way. What if the 60 students in our class decided that although we may be ordinary…we are still going to stand up and make a difference about poverty? There would be an exponential effect on our campus!

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  • Stephanie Whitcomb

    Oh boy–I have no idea how to make sure Max Lucado gets this message but I certainly hope someone can pass this along to him for I want bo give thanks to him.

    I am 29, divorced and have been a Christian majority of my life. God is number one and will always be in my life. This year, I went to my favorite “Lifeway” Christian book store and bought the book that Max Lucado wrote “Experiencing the Heart of Jesus.” I do a daily Bible study at my fav. Starbucks each day after my 12 hour shift at the hospital so I can learn more about God, and how to follow his commandments….well once I opened the book I bought from Max Lucado, this workbook has changed my life. No matter how deep of a relationship I had with God before….our relationship is deeper than it ever has been before. I have to give thanks to Max for his books, but this one, he has changed my life. I hope he gets this message. He puts the scriptures in ways I can understand and teaches me how to be an ever better daughter of Christ. Thank you so much Max Lucado for changing my life….and making my relationship with God on an even deeper level. Thank you so very much!!!
    Stephanie N. Whitcomb
    Louisville KY

    • Michael Hyatt

      I just forward your comment to Max via e-mail. I know this will bless him. Thanks for commenting!