Sarah Jakes Roberts is redefining what it means to be a modern woman. Her messages spread throughout the world defying cultural, religious, gender, and socio-economic boundaries. Whether through her bestselling books or viral messages, it only takes a few minutes of connecting with her to understand why she becomes an instant favourite. Sarah has a unique way of reaching people who are seeking to make peace with their past, maximize their present, and deepen their relationship with God.
Alongside her husband, Touré Roberts, she co-pastors The Potter’s House at One LA and The Potter’s House Denver. With her down to earth personality, contemporary style, and revelatory messages there’s no question why she is an emerging thought leader for this generation, yet her growing influence came by surprise. “If you would have told me five years ago that I would be in full time ministry, I would have asked if you were talking to the right person.” Sarah said. At twenty-three years old she was tempted to allow her journey as a woman battling insecurities, teen pregnancy stigma, low self-esteem, toxic relationships, and depression to define the rest of her life. It wasn’t until she was in her darkest moment that she realized she only had two options: settle or evolve.
Sarah regularly connects and inspires millions of women around the world through her Woman Evolve network, and in this exclusive interview I spoke to Sarah about her work and her new book Woman Evolve: Break Up With Your Fears and Revolutionise.
Q: What has been the role of faith in your life?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: I had to discover faith, even though I grew-up in a family of faith. My father is a faith leader, and I have been around faith since I was a little girl- yet, just because you have proximity, doesn’t mean faith gets in there. It wasn’t until I needed faith to stretch outside my own experiences that I realised that it was available to me. That’s when I started to tap into what faith looked like for me personally. It’s been an incredible journey.
[Vikas: Why do you think so many people have lost faith?]
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: I’ve always been interested in what has limited people or caused them to give-up in so many ways on faith. I’ve come to the conclusion that we lost faith in people. People disappoint us – whether it’s our family, other people we see on the news – and that makes it harder to believe in the goodness of humanity, and even god. This is why gratitude is so important. We have to take time to really meditate and acknowledge what is going on in our lives. Bad things always scream louder than the good, and it takes intentionality and practice. We have to be willing to centre ourselves.
Q: How can we find gratitude in the darkness?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: I can tell you that we’ve all had these moments through the pandemic where we felt things were coming to an end. Everything is so uncertain. It hit me one day though, when I was brushing my teeth, that some things haven’t changed. We have constants in our life that we can anchor to. We brush our teeth, we walk up and down our stairs, we still had a roof over our heads. I know that wasn’t the same for everyone – and for many, they had to suffer financial hardship, bury their loved-ones, but even then, there are opportunities to stay steady, to stay faithful, to find those constants in the small things. Sometimes we want big signs, big deals, big cheques, big relationships – but the goodness of small things is important. We have to give ourselves permission to shift focus from the big things that are going wrong, to the small things that are going well. I truly believe that will help us add goodness to our worlds.
Q: What is the unique power of women in creating change?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: When a woman speaks in whispers, to the heart of men, things begin to change. Women are the revolution. When women use their voice, things change. When a woman evolves, she gives permission to her community to do the same. And there’s nothing like having a woman in your corner, because when we’re for you, we’re totally for you. But I think we’re learning to be there for ourselves too.
Q: What is the role of community in bringing women together?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: What happens in a community, the culture of that community, becomes contagious… that contagion attracts other people who want to experience that culture.
I grew up in church, my family is a family of faith, yet I wanted to create a community where we knew scriptures but also knew Beyonce.
I created a community of women who I knew wanted to be part of a culture that looked like where I wanted to be. Here we are now… over 3 million followers.
I want to talk to you about our community. In our black communities, and our impoverished black communities, we’ve seen a culture of violence that begets violence. When someone comes-in and offers an alternative, it changes the culture of a community. It works the same way when we think about negativity, fear and depression – when those things take over, you create a community with a pathology, it shifts culture.
I want to be part of a culture that stretches me to become the best version of myself.
Q: How can we live with purpose?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: Only you can occupy the lane of your purpose in life and only you can define what goes in that lane. Society has seduced people by thinking that purpose and fulfilment only come with financial stability, but the reality is our lives are not random- we have a short window on this Earth, and that’s our opportunity to make lives better. We can find purpose in how we treat our neighbour, how we treat the person cashing us out at the grocery store. Purpose is not something you wait for it’s how you show up in the world.
I show up every single day with intention. I show up with this idea that I get to be part of change, and to make the world better every day. I may not know what my career will be, I may not know what my talent will be, I may not be rich or famous, but I can still add so much value to this world. When we wrap our minds around that, it’s liberating.
Q: Do we need to build healthier relationships with social media who push a narrative around what life should be?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: I’ve had to unfollow people who made me feel bad about my body, my life or my journey. We have to be intentional about community via social media and realise that who we follow defines ourselves in so many ways. We cannot constantly ingest the rhetoric, we cannot keep getting dragged into rabbit holes, we cannot allow ourselves to be radicalised by social media. We have to protect ourselves.
There are real women with real platforms who are sharing positive messages around body positivity, about raising kids, and about being women of faith. It’s not about people who appear to have everything together, it’s about people who are on the journey and who have achieved. It’s about people who help you become better, and who drown out your insecurity and fear, not add to them.
Q: How can we re-think failure, regret and disappointment?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: I hear over and over again that people carry a lifetime of shame, regret and disappointment from a single failure. Failure that hasn’t been processed can stop us dreaming.
You can think of leaps of faith like going from one cliff to another. There’s slow music playing, your legs are outstretched and you’re trying to make it to the next cliff. Instead, why not think of leaps of faith like leaping over a pile of leaves. If you didn’t make the jump, you land in the pile – you can still leap again… you can think differently about how to leap and keep trying till you make it.
We cannot allow failure to become part of our identity. We have to be introspective and learn what failure teaches us.
Q: Do we need to redefine success?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: People need to find success in the process, not the outcome. A lot of the time we feel our success is contingent on a destination. When you’re writing a book, you may not feel successful until you are on the New York Times best-sellers list. That approach sucks so much passion out of you.
Your success should be measured by the good you do day to day. The small things you do that can change someone’s life. That multiplies. Success is the journey, it’s in the process. You are successful because of who you became on the journey, not because of what you have in your hand at the end of it.
We can feel trapped in our own lives. You need to upset your world to upgrade your world, sometimes that’s the only way to fix things.
Q: What do you hope your legacy will be?
[Sarah Jakes Roberts]: My husband and I are a blended family with 6 children. We also have this incredible community of people following our journey – I have been given the opportunity to take the seed of my life, and to turn it into a harvest. For me, legacy would be empowering women from all different walks of life and life stages to dare to believe that there is more to life than they ever imagined. I want to help people find the hunger to connect to who they are- not just financially, not just from a career perspective, but literally the core of their being.
I hope I get to live out a life that inspires people to keep digging. Because I believe that I’m here because there’s more of me to be unearthed.