T.D. Jakes: Communication, Words and a Subject that Brings Him to Tears

T.D. Jakes was Interviewed for Risen Magazine for his Book: “Don’t Drop the Mic”

Risen Magazine: I am so excited that you wrote this book on communication, because I feel that it is a skill, and I purposely placed that word skill, because so many people don’t understand that the words that you choose to use, are the way that people hear and understand you… and you need to know your audience. This isn’t just for broadcasters and pastors, professors and filmmakers, this is for families and friends – talk to me about it’s needed for everybody?

TD Jakes: Absolutely everybody. I’m so pleased with your interest because your passion about it, it’s just like mine. Your world will become no bigger than your tongue. If you have a narrow sphere of communication, and you only communicate with people who agree with you, you miss the massive opportunity to evolve and to learn. And it is somewhat arrogant to think that you have mastered all truth. You can learn from anybody and everybody. My mother used to say, “The world is a university, and everybody in it is a teacher. When you wake up in the morning, be sure you go to school.”

And if you followed that philosophy, the Uber driver, you can learn something; the bellhop, the bus boy, it doesn’t matter, you can learn something about life. We learn during the pandemic, how important people were that we ignored – the grocery clerk, people who fed the hospital, people who mop the room…they started becoming heroes to us. Let’s not get away from that and start treating them as trivial, because they know something too. And they have courage too, and they are heroes too. And to respect each other, even when we disagree with each other.

Why are we so angry? Because we disagree. If we go to a dinner and you’re at one table, I’m at another and we get to the end and I order a banana split. If you ordered a chocolate cake, I shouldn’t hate you. I shouldn’t hate you because you didn’t get a banana split. And yet some kind of way, disagreement, has deteriorated down to hate vitriol, and sometimes even murder. When you’re killing somebody, you don’t even know who you’re killing. And you’re killing them because you don’t see them as on your team. And that tribalism, is killing us. You got me on a rant. Now I’ve got to stop. You started this.

RM: No, I agree with you. And I’ve always been one to I feel fully understand the importance of words and try to be very careful with my words. Especially when it comes to the parent-child relationship. I feel like if you continually speak over a child and tell them that they’re loved, and that they’re smart, eventually they are going to apply themselves, and they’re going to feel secure enough to take risks. But if you tell them that they’re worthless and that they’re dumb, unfortunately many believe that and they just kind of adhere to that moniker rather than fight. So talk, maybe specifically, in that relationship when you have power over somebody, whether it’s a parent-child, or a different type of career relationship, the importance of words that build up or words that can be destructive.

TDJ: Every time I go to my mother’s cemetery, I hug it and thank her. Because the way she raised me, I would not have been able to survive being me. Had she not instilled in me the things she did… my father died early, he got sick when I was 10, died when I was 16. My mother taught me a lot of things. My father taught me my work ethic and my determination. My mother taught me loyalty and taking care of a sick person for eight years until they died. My mother taught me to believe in myself. My mother taught me the value of your own opinion and thoughts and ideas. My mother taught me courage. By standing me up in front of crowds and having me speak on Easter and different days, and growing, being in plays and the arts, and a relatively poor family, but rich in class.

She taught me the beauty of diversity, and not to be narrow. And I’m so grateful. I shouldn’t even of brought it up and almost makes me emotional. I cannot express to mothers and fathers how important your communication in the home is. And then as the kids get older, stop talking and just listen. Know when to be a teacher, and know when to be a student. And ultimately, even though they deviate and they do things that drive you crazy and you wonder, should you check their DNA? Eventually what you put in them, will come up out of the ground and bless you. My children now bless me to the point that it’s amazing. What they lift up off of me, it’s amazing.

RM: I’ve always found it fascinating that the lyrics from songs stick with people, or a verse, or a specific sentence from a sermon – it’s so interesting to me that everybody can hear the same words, yet they affect us individually, and differently. Talk about why that occurs and why it’s so important the way we interact and understand each other.

TDJ: I tell people the best sermon you ever had is the one you needed the most at the time you had it. They say, “I’ve enjoyed a lot of your services, but nothing will be, ‘This fellow is Broken’…” All that really means is, that message found you at a time that it really resonated with you. And certain phrases stick with us based on what we brought into the room, before we had it. Whether it’s grief, or divorce, or suicide, or arrogance and pride. And it really touched your heart and humbled you. That’s why we hear everything differently. And that’s why we need to hear the same message again, because you will hear things different the second time, because you’re in a different place. Sometimes the miracle of Pentecost is not about what the Holy spirit did with the tongues, but what he did with the ears of them that heard them speak.

T.D. Jakes book Don’t Drop the Mic: The Power of Your Words Can Change the World is available now


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