Pastoring a church of 30,000 members comes with its own complexities and stresses but this can be multiplied many times over when your teenage daughter gives the news that she is pregnant.
After nine years, megachurch Pastor T. D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, is opening up about how he handled the news of his then 14-year-old daughter’s pregnancy.
“Shocked, crushed, emotionally devastated, and yet there was something down inside of me and in her mother as well, that said we have to rise above the trauma,” Jakes said on the Roland Martin Report describing his first reaction to the news nearly a decade ago.
After expressing his initial feelings of disturbance over the incident, Jakes concluded that “love overrides everything.”
When news of the pregnancy spread, the prominent pastor also encountered difficulty emanating beyond his home.
“We got letters, we got blogs, we got stuff that was lies and garbage told about us. We had the press swarming the church.”
With various media coming to the church to further report on the story, Jakes commended his congregants' integrity, refusing to say anything and telling the press that it was a personal matter that they had nothing to do with.
Despite the pressure, Jakes stood by his daughter keeping her, and not his image, as his chief concern.
“It wasn’t about being embarrassed, it wasn’t about protecting my image. I cared nothing about that. I cared about what you see sitting right here,” referring to his daughter, Sarah Henson, as he placed a hand on her back to comfort her.
Knowing that her father would face a lot of attacks and criticisms over her pregnancy, Henson recalled telling Jakes at the time, "Dad, if you want me to .... I don't have to come to church, whatever's going to make this easier for you. He told me 'I'll give the whole church up before they make me disown my daughter.'"