Sarah Jakes Roberts, daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes, became a teen mom at age 14, and later went through a difficult public divorce. However, Roberts turned her pain into purpose by leading a ministry and creating her own entrepreneurial lane with a podcast, fashion line, and Woman Evolve, a national conference and movement to help women shatter glass ceilings.
[Related: BLACK ENTERPRISE PARTNERS WITH T.D. JAKES IN SOAR EMPOWERMENT SERIES]
Roberts is a four-time author, media personality, wife, and mother of four children. She has a flair for inspiring women to get through difficult times in their lives while deepening their relationship with God — and she does it her way. While comparisons with her famous father are inevitable, Roberts speaks on stage with a vibrant personality and her own style — she challenges everything from church and cultural norms to self-limiting beliefs, and toxic relationships.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: Tell us about the moment or event that inspired you to move past the public scrutiny of being a preacher’s daughter who became a mother at 14 years old.
Sarah Jakes Roberts: I wish that I could tell you that it was just one moment, but it was a series of events. Each of those events was rooted in service. I was in my first marriage, and at a really broken point in my life. I didn’t want to go through another church scandal by first being a teen mom, and then having a divorce so I thought to myself I’ll blog, and hopefully through blogging, I’ll be able to help another woman avoid some of the issues that I’m dealing with. The more that I blogged about my situation, the more I asked myself what if you became the woman who is on the other side of those words? What if you actually took control of your life and decided to not just be this “mother” who is just going to die for their sake? As I was blogging and connecting with other women, and seeing that I wasn’t the only one who had made difficult choices, it really inspired me to see what we could do if I dusted off the ashes and chose to rebuild.
How did you learn to trust your self to deliver messages that challenged the status quo in church, life, and business? For instance earlier this year, when you released Wild Woman—a woman commented on your Instagram post that your messages appeared to contradict the Bible.
What I trust more than anything is the depth of what I am delivering. I believe if what you are delivering is the answer to a need that you should trust it. I also realize that in the process of growing and manifesting whatever this vision is, that I’m not always going to get it right.
For instance, I was so engrossed in what Wild Woman means to me, that it never dawned on me it would make people uncomfortable. I was engrossed in the need. So in the process of manifestation, you have to know that you’re going to have a learning curve and you may not do things the way you would do them in 10 years. But you can never find out how to do them in 10 years unless you start now.
How do you plan your content and prioritize what messages you deliver on?
I deliver messages that resonate with where I am. I think that probably has a lot to do with the passion that I end up bringing to the message. I don’t look at what’s going wrong in the world and say, okay I’m going to preach about this because it’s the headlines. I think some people do that and that works for them. But I literally go into prayer and access my own life. I focus on where am I and what do I need to hear.
For instance, when I preached ‘Unleashed’ in January, I was at a place in my life where everything I had done up until that moment was because someone invited me to do it. For me, that meant I was living in the realm of someone else’s vision. Now, I think that’s incredible because you learn so many things, but there comes a certain point where you stop wanting to be invited into someone else’s vision and ask God what is the vision you have for my life—that’s where Woman Evolve came from. So I preached the kind of messages that deliver me from my own fears and insecurities and it just so happens that it ends up resonating with other people.
Recently you launched a fashion line. How else do you see yourself evolving?
I see myself evolving in a way that probably will not change a lot of what the public sees, but more about who I am behind the scenes. What I’m working on now has a lot to do with structure and accountability. Making sure that I have the type of infrastructure to support the influx of people who are attached to this messaging. I hope to continue to learn about different strategies and creating proper timelines for the different pinnacles of the brand, and just connecting and submitting myself to people who know more than I do.
I want to challenge the belief that your relationship with God has to look a certain way in order for it to be real, I also want to challenge the belief that in order for you to be a Christian you can’t also like fashion. I believe it’s important for our generation, especially millennials who are leaving the church in droves, to look relevant to the cultures so that they can learn about our Jesus.