Dubbed "America's Best Preacher" by Time Magazine, T.D. Jakes continues to take America by storm, extending his call to ministry to his congregation and well beyond.
As a man of the cloth, he consistently proves he's not cut from the same bolt of fabric as the traditional minister. He's anything but.
Jakes' life interests and vocational versatility are as vast as his insight and wisdom. And his influence transcends the four walls of his Dallas, Texas-based megachurch in a way few other preachers can appreciate.
Through books, films, and radio and TV appearances, Jakes' impact on American culture is both straightforward and obvious yet sometimes surreptitiously indiscernible.
His newest book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, climbed to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list in its first week of release. Unlike his other works, Instinct isn't a book loaded with Bible verses or an overabundance of evangelical vocabulary. That's intentional.
During a recent interview with CBN News, Jakes confessed he wanted this book and this particular message to reach a wider audience.
The book tour brought him to the nation's capital, where I had the privilege to get his thoughts on politics, race, and the current state of religion in America.
Watch the video clips below
Bishop Jakes and John share a laugh during an interview at CBN's Washington, D.C. news bureau.
On a personal note, it was a privilege to meet a man who has been pouring so much into me spiritually and thank him for his ministry. I've been tuning in to Jakes' podcasts for the last several years, listening to his sermons during my short and long runs through Washington, D.C. (For anyone interested, my playlist also includes Craig Groeschel, Mark Batterson, Joel Osteen, and Ravi Zacharias.)
I've been inspired and deeply encouraged by many of the themes from Instinct, a subject Jakes has been preaching about since the start of 2014.
My prayer is that all who read his latest edition will find the keys to unlock some of life's most probing questions and discover a peace that surpasses all understanding in accepting and knowing the Creator and Giver of all life.
T.D. Jakes on Politics and Change
T.D. Jakes on Christianity and Culture Clash
T.D. Jakes on Race & Religion
In your book you mention intimate conversations that you've had with some of the biggest names in politics in America. You've had a chance to witness firsthand how some of those politicians have used their instincts to make decisions. How do you think those instincts have played out and shaped American policy today?
T.D. Jakes: Politics is a very unusual jungle, as it were. And I don't think that the policies are always a reflection of the leader's highest and best ideals and goals.
A lot of times in the process of getting things passed that you're trying to get passed, you end up owing somebody a favor or have to tack something on a bill that is not congruent with your ideas. It's very difficult to get through all of the menagerie that goes on in Washington and effect change in a positive way.
There's a lot of talk about Christian persecution these days -- not just what we hear about what's happening overseas with Christians being tortured, imprisoned, or even killed. Here in America, you have a lot of people saying religious liberties and freedoms are under attack. How would you encourage Christians to use their instincts to address issues of faith that are considered culturally controversial?
Jakes: First of all, I think some of the pain we incur right now we brought on ourselves. I think the language in which we approach people -- the whole narrative, sometimes was insensitive and angry. I think that sometimes we allowed our theology to become attached to politics, in a way that became unhealthy for both the theology and the politics.
And, so some of that we need to backtrack and adjust the language -- not the principle but the methodology with which you convey it. The other thing I’d like to say is when one of us comes up under persecution we're not nearly as vocal as we ought to be.
If we were on the phone making the phone calls, if we were calling the advertisers when injustices happens to our people, if we were writing letters and texting and tweeting, and raising a storm, things would turn the other way, because what really runs the country is green. And when advertisers sense that enough people are outraged either way, it's not the principle that they're after. It's the money.
And until we become -- the bible says the kingdom suffers violence and the violent take it by force -- until we become more forceful and supportive of people who reflect our values, then we become invisible when we complain outside the parameters of where people are listening who make the decisions.
Eleven o’clock on Sunday mornings have been described as the most segregated hour in America. Over the years as a pastor, do you feel as if things have improved racially? And, secondly, you pastor a multicultural church -- the Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. How did you use instinct, intellect, and intuition to foster that?
Jakes: I still think we have a long ways to go to be the total reflection of what the kingdom ought to look like. I think it is reprehensible that Dr. King said that so many years ago and that we can still point at so many sanctuaries and congregations who do not reflect the diversity that is described for heaven.
But then when you get ready to untangle that … it is an overly simplistic view to say that it is all racism. I don' t think that it is all racism. I think it is a culture. I think it that it is a comfort. People draw comfort when they look up front and see somebody that looks like you. I think it is a distinction between the general populace has never had to fit in.
As a minority, I have had to fit in. I have had to wear the tie that you said was appropriate and listen to the music in the elevator that you like and clap to the beat you had. I had to assimilate. But the general populace has never been a minority and had to assimilate into another audience. And I think sometimes there is no model through which that is achieved.
We have some work to do in that regard, and we have some demons to face. Because while that is a problem and those considerations are important, there's still a silent subtle racism that is eating at the underbelly, even in the church that needs to be addressed. And it is not addressed enough because it's not preached enough; and it's not preached enough because it is not on the radar of all of those who have the mic.“
When you stand in front of your congregation and you see people from all different walks of life, what is that you try to do -- considering all these different factors at play -- how do you try to create an environment where everyone feels welcome?
Jakes: First of all, I try to learn what makes you comfortable: food, family. What makes you laugh? Who are you? I take the time to dignify you with attention.
Second of all, I am honestly fascinated by other people's culture. It's hard to be publicly what you are not privately.
So you can't put up Asian people and Korean people and black people as props -- like see? And then I go home, and you have none in your life. So until you wash cars with me or we go to the football game together, it's hard to manufacture on stage something that is not a reflection of the totality of who you are?
I’m a broad-based person. I love all kinds of people. [I] grew up in West Virginia where it's 5 percent black. And I’m used to being involved with all types: whites and blacks and whoever came along my path. And I’m fascinated by Spanish-speaking people and Asian people and people of all descents.
What do you like? What's it like to be you? If we'd become students of one another and then be able to have honest conversations about race and expectations. If we could ever talk -- if we could just talk to each other -- without the gloves on. And Christians are the world's worst for always saying the right things we're supposed to, like God is color blind. Ugh. I know you mean well by that, but why would God be colorblind and make lilies and lilacs all these different colors -- and people.
He doesn't have to go blind to love me. He loves me black. He loves you brown. He loves them white. God doesn't have to go blind to love me. Those sorts of things are things where we need to talk a little bit so I can help you have a language that incorporates a better reflection of the love of God.