Members of Oak Hills Church of Christ never understand what all the fuss is about when visitors want their pastor to sign a book or pose for a picture.
To them he's simply "Max," the guy who invites them over for a Labor Day picnic, plays with their children in front of the church on Sunday mornings, calls them when they're sick, and loves to tell golfing stories and talk Dallas Cowboys football.
Despite having sold 12 million books, syndicating a one-minute radio show in 900 markets, and pastoring a church approaching 3,000 in weekly attendance, Max Lucado (it rhymes with potato) is as unpretentious as if he had never left Andrews, his West Texas hometown.
His old friend, Kenny Wilson, an elder at the San Antonio church, says "There's not one shred of pretense or self-importance in Max. ? He's one of us."
Max's agent and college roommate Steve Green agrees. "Max is fun to be around whether it's playing golf, watching a football game, or sitting down to dinner and talking."
The soft-spoken son of a hard-working oil field mechanic and a nurse, Max grew up the youngest of four children in a "real happy home," he tells me in our interview. His "daddy," as 45-year-old Max still refers to him, was an elder in the small town's Church of Christ. Max was baptized at age 10 at Parkview Church of Christ in nearby Odessa.
In high school, Max played center on the football team, joined the debate team, and served as student body president. He considered becoming a football coach or a politician; his mother suspected her boy had the makings of a preacher, because of his leadership skills and conscientious church attendance.