Bishop Thomas Dexter Jakes: A Profile

Bishop Thomas Dexter Jakes is a popular religious leader for the black American community. He is known affectionately as the “shepherd to the shattered” for his humanitarian work and compassionate personality. He is the founder and pastor of Potter’s House, which is a rapidly rising Church in the country with more than 27,000 members. Bishop T.D. Jakes’ is also an acclaimed author with more than 2 dozen books to his credit. They cover a wide range of subjects including philanthropy, religion and business. His latest book titled ‘God’s Leading Lady: Out of the Shadows and into the Light is a work addressed to women. Bishop Jakes’ unique scholarship applies the distilled wisdom of the scriptures to contemporary problems and issues. Talking about the trust behind his books for women, Bishop Jakes notes

“The secret to being able to help people is to be a good listener. In the book, I serve as counselor, as a male best friend, as a big brother, and even sometimes as a father. And I’m shocked to find there are many women, both aspiring to success and already successful, who have never had those roles fulfilled in their lives–perhaps because they grew up with absentee or distracted fathers, or because the men in their lives are focused more on amorous intentions than on building a wholesome friendship.” (Jakes, 2002, p.24)

Bishop Jakes can be considered to belong to a long line of illustrious African American community leaders, going back a century and a half. In his life and work we see semblances of the same spirit that moved Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Whitney Young Jr. While there is a common current with preceding leaders, he is also distinct in his promotion of ‘Entrepreneurial Spirituality’. This concept tries to fit the best tenets of free-enterprise capitalism with the principles of Christian faith. He also breaks away from other African American clergy in instituting a nondenominational church called the Potter’s House. Although a product of the Civil Rights movement, T.D. Jakes has carved a leadership style that is his own. He has also devised new methods of public organization.

“He can turn an ordinary sermon into high theater. Perhaps you’ve seen his rapt face ministering to hurting women. People know him best, he says, for his gospel of healing. But that’s just one aspect of his pioneering ways. His Potter’s House is a techno-church, with innovations from pews equipped with outlets for laptops to live broadcasts to home viewers to satellite links to prisons. He is an entrepreneur, playwright, best-selling author and composer. He is a motivator, encouraging his members to buy stock and build wealth.” (Starling, 2001, p.108)

Bishop Jakes is also a businessman and has established a profitable multimedia conglomerate called TDJ Enterprises, which manufactures books and DVDs and an array of other faith-based articles. He is also a “respected entrepreneurial trailblazer. As CEO of TDJ Enterprises L.L.P. (previously T.D. Jakes Enterprises Inc.), Jakes is a New York Times best-selling author; founder of the Grammy Award-winning record label Dexterity Sounds; and founder of his own film company through which he’s produced three faith-based films, including his new release, Jumping the Broom, in theaters May 6th this year” (Smith, 2011, p.120)

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