Destiny, Step In To Your Purpose, by T. D. Jakes
I admit it: like most Americans, any exposure I had to T. D. Jakes was on the Jesus Channel. He was another pastor with an enormous church who writes lots of books for a huge audience. But on those times I paused to listen, I liked him. His message appears borne of real experience, and he has something to say. This, of course, is in contrast, to the run-of-the-mill televangelist, a Judgemental Knower of all Truth. And, hey. Oprah likes him.
I didn’t know it, but perusing through Oprah’s SuperSoul podcasts, I saw him interviewed I gave a listen and was a fan from the first words. There was a difference here, too, from other preachers. He strikes me as genuinely humble, surprised at his notoriety and accomplishments. I like his explanation for his success: you just keep showing up, day after day, and hour after hour, always relying on G for the outcome. He grew up poor and struggled to find any hint of success as a young man. Now, a successful television preacher, in this book he funnels his achievements down to common platitudes: authenticity, dreaming big, keep doing, never quit, do it bigger, and starting the circle all over again.
A Cheerleader in your Pocket?
The book strikes me as more of a pocket cheerleader than a manual, and that’s not bad: who of us doesn’t need a cheerleader sometimes? But at least one Amazon reviewer recoiled against this. They argue that for all the talk about destiny and purpose, Jakes never outlines a method to discover your special purpose. But he does. He never claims that G will write your purpose with His finger across the sky, but instead urges readers to dig deep to uncover those things that burn hottest in their hearts. That’s where you find your destiny, he says. Some readers will wonder why it takes 250 pages and twenty bucks to get that message out. Others will find it bargain at any cost. But I liked it. It wasn’t earth-shattering, and I’m not sure that it was meant to be. Like most books selling something, it works best if you come to it already believing.
Amazon reviewers overwhelmingly approve of the book, with 87% of the 700 reviewers giving it a five-star rating. Most regale the book as gloriously wonderful with no superlative doing it justice. There are a few 1-star reviews. Half list problems with book delivery from Amazon, and the other half rate it as the worst from this prolific author of generally fine books. I’m usually interested in the three-star reviews, though: they tend to be more honest and penetrating than 1s or 5s. Here, only three percent of the reviewers rated it as a three, and most of these folks liked the book but found the stories lacking any punch.
In general, I liked the book. I’ll keep it near, on the shelf, to read through a chapter from time to time. It’s an easy read with satisfying stories that come right to the point. Don’t linger for theology, though, and deep discussions about the whys and ways. Again: Jakes is talking to the believer, and he’s not trying to convince anyone. I know nothing else about Jakes but, both in his Oprah interview and in the book, the divine part of your divine purpose is spread awfully thin, I thought, for a preacher in a Christian church of 30,000 members. Maybe a deeper Christianity peppers his other books in a more robust way. I don’t know. Please note, though, that there is nothing in Destiny that appears anti-Christian: there’s simply little that overtly argues for it.
For those who want more, Jakes wrote a companion work that I haven’t read: Destiny Daily Readings: Inspirations For Your Life’s Journey. If you like Destiny, it’s worth checking out its sibling. And if you are searching for purpose, for a reason you feel what you feel, this might be a book for you. If you think the whole question is silly, there’s not much here to convince you that Jakes is right and you’re not.
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