Walk into any Christian bookstore in the country, and you’re likely to find whole shelves bearing the works of writer, pastor, and preacher Max Lucado. As a man who likes to “write books for people who don’t like to read books,” Lucado has left a mark on countless readers’ theological imaginations with his wisdom, accessible style, and warm, hospitable heart—qualities that are also on full display in his latest book, Because of Bethlehem.

On this week’s episode of TheCalling, Lucado spoke with CT managing editor Richard Clark about Christmas, the upcoming election, and the lessons he’s learned in pursuing his pastoral calling:

On his leadership style: “I’m a pastor. I can sit down with somebody who has a broken heart and love them and encourage them and remind them of how God cares. But I struggle when I look at a budget. Or I struggle when somebody says, ‘Well, what’s the long-term strategy for our church?’ Well, I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. Let’s love God, preach Jesus, and pray. There were times when I struggled because I didn’t match up to some of the people who had that great strategic leadership skill.”

On his struggle with alcohol: “I come from a family of alcoholics. Even to this day, I have to watch it. I really do.”

On why he loves Christmas: “I never get over the fact that you can be in a shopping mall and hear ‘Away in a Manger’ being played over the speakers.”

On the 2016 election: “There is still a God in heaven. Even when the person on the throne or in the White House or leading the country is far from God, God is not far from the nation. Books like the Book of Daniel give us hope during seasons when we don’t see any good options….The primary job of the church is not politics. It’s prayer. We’re people who lead forth in prayer. If we fail at that, then I don’t think we have much hope.”

On Texans: “I think Texans are kinda prideful. I can say that since I am one.”

On the value of the pastorate: “There’s a distrust, maybe, of religious authority. But I do believe people want shepherds. They want somebody to help them figure life out….People get so beat up in life; they long for somebody to say, ‘God is still on the throne, and God still loves you.’”

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The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Cray Allred.

Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.