Bishop T.D. Jakes talks about his new book as well as staying grounded in his faith

For years, Bishop T.D. Jakes has been considered one of the country’s leading television evangelists. His ministry attracts millions of viewers every week.

But the pastor of Potter’s House in Dallas is also a movie producer and the author of 30 books. His latest book, “Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive,” is on the New York Times bestseller list. Jakes says he didn’t write the book to help people become rich or famous, but to offer a road map so that readers might more fully tap their potential.

“I write to share with you the importance of being led into your fulfilled purpose by leaving the confines of your conventional cave and entering the space where your heart longs to reside,” writes Jakes, 57. “The place you will discover when instinct is your guide.”

Jakes has been on a worldwide book tour since “Instinct” was released earlier this year. He spoke to Washington Post staff writer Hamil Harris recently about why his latest book has been so well received.

Why do you think that your book has been such a big success?

I suspect the reason that the book has been a success is because many people have to rebuild, remold and reshape their lives. They are grappling with choices they have to make as it relates to careers and trying to understand how . . . to do things that are authentic and organic as to who they are now and what they have to offer the world.

You are a man of God, a disciple of faith. Where is God in this book?

I am a man of God. I am a disciple of faith, but I am also a CEO of a company. I also run a business. I also produce films. The inventory of my experiences gives me a platform to talk about those experiences. I don’t think that this book deviates from being about God, because the whole theme of the book is that God created you with certain gifts, instincts and talents that need to be used to accomplish your purpose. I think that [the book] touches the core of where faith intersects with the human experience.

It transcends ideology. It transcends denominational entanglements. It goes back to the fact that we are people of purpose with plans for our lives, and if we don’t execute those plans we will experience frustration and feel underutilized.

In the church, preachers talk so much about salvation, heaven and hell, [but] some people are never given the opportunity to tap into their instincts and those inner voices. Can you talk about that?

My church is located in South Dallas, and we draw people from every walk of life. But once we have them in the church, they still have life dilemmas, whether it is parenting, single parenting, economic empowerment or the need for homeownership. There are a whole lot of things that come on the plate of discipleship. Jesus didn’t say, “I come that you may have church,” he said, “I come that you have life and have that life more abundantly.” A lot of people are having church, but it doesn’t mean that they have the life skills that they need to live that abundant life we need as believers.

In writing books, producing movies and directing stage plays, are you trying to make your message relevant to people day to day?

All institutions are being challenged to prove their relevance. Today, universities are struggling because of the shift to online education, and every institution is having to retool itself in order to be relevant. Because of online banking, bank customer service . . . is having to be addressed to keep up with that demand. The church also has that responsibility. God doesn’t change, but he dealt with people who changed during the scriptures. We have to continue to prove our relevancy and to meet people where they are.

When Jesus rose from the dead and showed himself to Peter while he was fishing — in the Gospel of John — he showed Peter how to catch more fish. Peter catching fish had nothing to do with the gospel, but it had everything to do with Peter’s livelihood. It touches me that we have a God who is concerned about our livelihood. Faith has to be relevant. It can’t be confined to the church. It has to be fit to the confines of everyday life.

In terms of your life and your schedule, how do you stay grounded and how do you stay close to the cross, especially when you have so many people and things competing for your time?

My life is very demanding. I can’t deny that, but in the midst of that, I have not lost my love for God, my love for the church and my basic love for humanity. I love being able to interact with people. Every time I meet someone, I learn as much as I teach. I think that if we keep that perspective of always being a student as well as a teacher, life remains vibrant all the way to the end.

INSTINCT
The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive

By T.D. Jakes
FaithWords.
288 pp. $25

Hamil Harris is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of The Washington Post.
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