T.D. Jakes is the lead pastor of Potter’s House, a 30,000 member congregation in Dallas, Texas. In addition to his pastoral duties, Jakes is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and movie producer, most notably of Jumping the Broom, which grossed $37 million. His most recent book is Let it Go: Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven. Jakes spoke to Inc Editor-at-Large Kimberly Weisul about leadership, entrepreneurship, and his biggest pet peeve.
Most of our readers become leaders when they start a company. How did it happen for you? When did you know you were going to become a spiritual leader?
I started preaching when I was 19 years old. That’s when I knew.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is very much a part of my DNA. My father started a janitorial service with a mop and a bucket and ended up with 52 employees. My grandmother owned her own business and worked her way through school. She got her degree when she was 50, and then she was teaching.
I’ve always worked a job. In the early days, when I worked as an itinerant preacher, I still worked a job at Union Carbide.
Charismatic leaders often unwittingly create an environment that makes it difficult for others to take responsibility. How do you prevent that?
It’s true that people do have a tendency to direct things to me. They know that if they say “Bishop said,” or “Bishop wants this done,” it’s kind of like “Open sesame.” So when people bypass a leader I put in place, I send them back to that leader.