Influential Christian author and preacher Max Lucado has revealed that he was a victim of sexual abuse in his youth and publicly repented for times in his own ministry when he took conversations about women and abuse too lightly.
“My name is also on the list of those who have been sexually abused,” Lucado said, according to CBN, during an evangelical summit on abuse at Wheaton College on Thursday. “As a young man, in my boyhood, not by a church member or a family member but by a community leader.”
Lucado was one of many speakers at the summit who described their own experiences of abuse and harassment. He said his decision to speak at the summit was "easy and quick,” as he wanted to help others learn how to "regain their balance, having gone through this type of situation.”
The Texas pastor said that he’d learned from the event and voiced regret over his failure to take conversations about sexual assault as seriously as he should have.
“I’d also like to add my name to the list of those who have sensed today some desire for increased personal repentance,” said Lucado. “In listening, I thought, ‘I had a conversation with her, I could have done better.’ Or remembering the locker room banter from my football days many, many years ago. And just condescending attitudes that I as a senior pastor have employed. So I seek the Lord’s forgiveness.”
Lucado also encouraged men to listen to the stories women are sharing, adding, “Now is the time for across-the-coffee-table conversations that begin with this phrase: ‘Help me to understand what it’s like to be a female in this day and age.’”
“‘Help me to understand what it’s like to never go on a jog without carrying a canister of mace. Help me to know what it’s like to overhear guys chuckling about weight or bust size,” he continued. “Help me to understand what it’s like to always be outnumbered in the boardroom. Help me to understand what it’s like to be hugged chest to chest, unable to break free. Help me to understand what it’s like to fear filing a workplace complaint because my supervisors are all male. Help me to understand what it’s like to be the brunt of catcalls, whistles, and dirty jokes. Help me to understand.’”
Other speakers at the summit included Christian author and speaker Beth Moore; Christine Caine, founder of the anti-human trafficking ministry A21 and the Christian women’s leadership program Propel; Nancy Beach, the first female teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church; and One Million Thumbprints founder Belinda Bauman.
While the summit marks the first time Lucado has publicly opened up about surviving sexual abuse, he previously penned an op-ed calling on faith leaders to take allegations of abuse within the church seriously.
"It is my desire to address the question many of us find ourselves facing at some point in life. When a leader lets me down, what do I do with the hurt?" he positioned.
"Even deeper, at risk is our faith in God; if not His existence, at least His goodness. How could God allow this to happen? To be clear (and we must strive to be clear), God has strong words for pastors who purvey pain upon His people," he reminded.
"Whether the perpetrator be a priest, a pastor, a rabbi or an evangelical leader, the struggle is a real one. When those who promised to nurture my soul bruised it, when those committed to taking care of me took advantage of me, how do I respond?"
While pastors, like all people, are expected to slip and sin, at the same time, they must remember that they have a "holy responsibility and a high calling."
"Yet, let all believers be reminded, for every clergy person who violates a trust, there are thousands who guard it jealously. For every religious leader who stumbles, there are thousands who serve faithfully, carefully, and lovingly. This is no time for blanket dismissals," he added.
"There is no perfect pastor or priest, except one. We, in the Christian faith, have found Jesus Christ to be exactly that."