I was called ‘America’s Pastor’ but it didn’t reveal the truth

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Editor’s note: The following column is adapted from the author’s new book  “God Never Gives Up On You: What Jacob’s Story Teaches Us About Grace, Mercy and God’s Relentless Love” (Thomas Nelson, September 12).

I have had my own occasions in which I’ve wrestled with God. Seems we all could account for a divine wrestling match. 

One of the most dramatic occurred some 20 years ago; I was about 50 years old. To the casual observer, I was on top of the world. Our brand-new church sanctuary was bursting at the seams. We added new members every week. The congregation had very little debt and absolutely no doubt that their pastor was doing great work.

Our church actually appeared on the list of popular San Antonio attractions. Tour companies bused tourists to our services. The magazine Christianity Today sent a reporter to write a profile on me. The writer called me “America’s Pastor.” Reader’s Digest designated me as the “Best Preacher in America.”


All cylinders were firing. I turned sermons into books. My publisher turned books into arena events. I wrote kids stories and recorded kids videos. It

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