TD Jakes - Know Your Role
You must understand me, that when it comes to knowing your role, it's not just important for disciples or preachers or leaders or thinkers or business leaders or fathers or mothers or wives or husbands, when it comes to knowing your role, it's important even for animals. Even all fowl are not the same, all reptiles are not the same, all four-footed beasts are not the same, all mammals are not the same, all fish are not the same. And peace comes in knowing who you are, knowing how you're created, and being willing to be yourself.
If you're a bird, be a bird. Be a bird. You don't see birds sit there, pray for me that I might fly better, pray for me that I might do this better, pray for me that I have more feathers, because they know that they're not created the same, because all of them have something but none of them have the same thing. And you ought to at least be as smart.
Take the chicken, for instance. The chicken is happy to be a chicken with his short little wings and his big fat body and his skinny little legs. They don't need therapists, they don't need counseling, they don't have emotional disorders, they don't have breakdowns, they don't cry. They walk around on them little bitty legs as happy as they can be, they jump and fly about 3, 4, 5 feet into the air, fall back down to the ground again. They know who they are, they're in a class all by themselves. You don't see any other bird any more popular on the cuisine on the restaurant list on the table list. And the chicken is in a class all by himself. In demand all over the world, from Japan to Jamaica.
The chicken is in demand. He is always in demand, but he is nothing like anybody else. He's not like the eagle, for example. The eagle, who is majestic and powerful and spreads his wings. The eagle's wings have a nine-foot span from tip to tip, he's able to spread his wings as if he is a god-made jet. He flies faster than any bird, he goes higher than the chicken would ever go. His eyesight is so keen that he can see miles away in the storm and in the dark, and he functions on another level. They mate in the air, they make love in the air, they lay their eggs in the high places.
Eagles are to the fowl kingdom what a lion is to the jungle, they are the masters of where they are, but they're happy to be eagles. They're not trying to be chickens, they're not tryin' to be an hors d'oeuvre, they're not tryin' to be filleted, they're not tryin' to be sauteed, they'll never be on a menu, they'll never be raised up to be eaten, because though they can fly, they are not tasty. They got something, but they didn't get everything.
And as long and as bright and as brilliant as the eagle's wings are, and as high as he can fly, his beauty cannot be compared to the peacock, who spreads its wings in the middle of mating to attract its mates, to show how beautiful its feathers is. His back is straight, his head is held up high. It may not fly like the eagle and it may not taste like the chicken, but it has amazing wings. And each of them, though they are the same species, they were created to play a different role. All of them have attributes and liabilities, but they know who they are and they are happy to play their role.
Lord, wouldn't it be amazing to be in a church where people knew their abilities and knew their limitations and they were happy to be who they were! I would love to work in a place where everybody knew their abilities and they knew their limitations and they were happy to play the role! I would love to be in a family where everybody knew their abilities and they knew their limitations and they were happy to play the role! Not comparing themselves. You gave him a bigger bicycle than you gave me, you did this, but no, no, no, no, no, no.
See, peace comes from knowing and comes from understanding that every one of these has its own kind of beauty and his own kind of purpose and its own kind of limitations, and it will all work out fine if you don't try to be like the eagle. Everything will be all right. And if you don't come down to the chicken coop, everything will be fine. And if you don't use those beautiful wings you have to try to climb to the top of a mountain and soar, you will remain beautiful. But if you go to the clifftop with them beautiful wings they will not support you.
You must know your role. I wanna talk to you this morning because the Holy Spirit said to me that there are some of you who do not know your role. And you say, God, I want to know my purpose, I wanna know my role, I wanna know what I'm supposed to do, I want to know where I am, I want to know this, you want all the information. You don't need information, you need understanding. You need an understanding that you are not a mistake, that you are not an accident, that you are not an afterthought, that you are not a mishap, that you are not a failure.
You need to understand that you got short wings for a reason. You need to understand that you're not supposed to fly like the eagles. You need to understand that God didn't make a mistake when he made you. You have to understand who you are so that you can interact with other people on other levels and know who you are because you know your role. You can't produce a film if the supporting actor is trying to compete with the leading actor. You signed up to be a supporting actor. Now be happy to be a supporting actor, don't get in the middle of the movie and start trying to steal the lines from the lead role, because that's not who you are in the movie.
Can I get after this? 'Cause I wanna get after this, 'cause I'm tired, I'm tired of shouting saints who get happy but ain't happy, who dance but have no joy, who cry but have no peace, who shout but have no power. And the reason you don't have any power is that you have never learned how to maximize your potential on your level. God didn't promise to give us all the same stuff. Some he'll give 30, and some he'll give 60, and some he'll give a hundredfold. And to one man he gave one talent, and to another one he gave two, and to another one he gave five. God did not prepare, did not say that he would equip us all the same. He says to us, "I gave you what I gave you, and the only thing you have to give an account for is what the lines I gave you and the script I read to you and the only thing I'm asking you to do is play your role".
Good God almighty, I'm going to help somebody today, I can feel it. I'm not asking you to play somebody else's role, I'm not asking you to work with a gift I didn't give you. The only thing I ask of you is to know your role and play your role and be confident to play the role that God has given you and to know that that is what this is all about.
Bishop, I hear you, and you're talking to me, and you're making great sense, but I wanna know, I wanna know, how does this all tie up together? I'm so glad you asked, because you won't really understand why I'm preaching this text because I've only talked to you about the 1 John. I'm talking to you about John, the gospel of Saint John, the apostle John, the disciple John, the one who laid on Jesus' breast, I've been talking to you about him, but he talks to you about John the Baptist. And you won't understand the power of this text until I tell you why in the first chapter of the gospel of Saint John that John the writer talks about John the Baptist.
There are two different Johns. John the writer is one of the sons of Zebedee, described as the son of thunder. His mother, Simone, is said to be the sister of Mary, and John the writer is said to be a cousin of Jesus. And now we understand why he lays on Jesus's breast, because he was a young protege, younger than Peter and the rest of them. That's why he outran them when they went to the empty tomb, because he was young, when they were getting older. That's why he outlived him and ends up out on Patmos, writing, and dies of old age. And he's not martyred the way the rest of them were, because we're talking about John the writer. But John the writer, immediately in the first chapter, introduces us to John the Baptist.
What was it about John the Baptist that made John the writer write about John the Baptist? Can I have some time with this? You see, John the Baptist is the one that introduced John the writer to Jesus. See, John, the Saint John, the writer who wrote the book, started out not as a disciple of Jesus Christ, he was a disciple of John the Baptist.
So John the Baptist was his first pastor. And he writes to us about the experience and the lesson he learned from his first pastor, John the Baptist. Wild locust and honey-eating John the Baptist. John the Baptist with the funny clothes, John the Baptist who ministered in the wilderness, John the Baptist who broke the protocol and was not like his father. He did not serve in the temple, but he preached in the wilderness. John The Baptist who was confident in his own skin, John the Baptist who had his own name set apart from all of his kindred, and none of his kindred had been called by his name John the Baptist.
His first pastor knew who he was. He says, I am not Elias, I am not Esias, I am not the Messiah. I am a voice. I am! The I am's keep goin' on and on. I am a voice crying in the wilderness. He said, "I indeed baptized you with water, but there is one coming after me who is mightier than I". And that's where most of us lose it. We're cool until somebody mightier comes, we're happy until somebody prettier comes, we're great until somebody smarter comes, we're satisfied until somebody more anointed comes, and then we become all frustrated and we stop being us tryin' to be them because we are comparing ourselves with other people rather than to be satisfied to be who they are.
But John said no! You're not gonna make me say I'm Esias, and you're not gonna make me play like I'm Isaiah, and you're not gonna trick me into trying to be the Messiah. I am not the one! I am the forerunner of the one, and there is one coming after me who is mightier than I, and I'm cool with it. There's one coming after me who's prettier than I, and I'm cool with it. There's one coming after me who is more intellectual than I, and I'm cool with it. Because there's always somebody coming along that's gonna do greater, and you gotta be happy to do you.
Until you learn to be happy with the gifts that God gave you, you'll never be strong enough to introduce somebody greater than you, you'll never be strong enough to walk into a mighty room and be comfortable enough not to be competitive, you'll never be strong enough to stop being envious of everybody else. John said the one coming after me is mightier than I, and I'm cool with it. 'Cause I know my role. I am excellent in preparing the way for what's next.
And John the Baptist was so self-assured that John, Saint John, wrote about him in his opening chapter, because John the Baptist knew how to play his role. He said you see him? Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He said this is the guy right here. This is the guy right here. What's coming after me, he's mightier than me, I'm not even worthy to tie his shoes, and I'm cool with it. I'm happy to be me. I'm happy to be me. I'm happy to be me.
You'll never find fulfillment until you learn to walk into the joy of how you are created. Even if you quack like a chicken, you gotta learn how to walk around in the barnyard and quack and crow and make your noises and be happy to understand, I'm doing what I was created to do. If you spread your wings like the eagle and soar in the air while the wind is up under your wings, you can't be lookin' down at the chicken sayin', they want their eggs more than they want mine. Or even if you walk around in the forests occasionally spreading your wings like the peacock and catching the attention of people, even though you don't fly at all, you know who you are.
John the Baptist knew who he was. He knew who he was. He was happy to be who he was. He said, "I am a voice crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of the Lord". I'm just a voice, my name is not important, my degrees are not important, my background is not important, my pedigree is not important. I'm a voice crying in the wilderness! Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Greater is coming and I'm cool with it, bigger is comin' and I'm cool with it, more is comin' and I'm cool with it. I'm not gonna compete with your calling or your gifting, I'm happy to be who I am.
And here's my final statement. John, who seems so humble and knows his role and is so cool to be in this role and says there's one coming after me who is mightier than I, he's talkin' about Jesus. Not long after he introduces Jesus, he has fulfilled his purpose and he dies, because he has done what he was created to do. That's why you die, because I have done what I was created to do. And when he had done it, he died. And the guy who was greater, Jesus, is now preaching the eulogy of John the Baptist. And Jesus is the one that John the Baptist said was greater. But when Jesus preaches John the Baptist's funeral, he said there is none greater. There is none greater amongst all the prophets than John the Baptist. None!
How could Jesus say that there is none greater than John the Baptist? John never wrote a book of the Bible, John never performed a miracle. John never stopped the Red Sea, John never was neither a major nor a minor prophet, he was just a voice crying in the wilderness. But Jesus says there is none greater than John the Baptist. What made John the Baptist greater is because John the Baptist knew his role.
And I want to pray for you, because the Lord said to me that if I would preach this message, he would minister to people who have been tormented by the success and accomplishments of other people, comparing themselves with other people. You have missed great moments of joy and peace and contentment because you're not happy to be the rooster, you wanna be the eagle. Or you're not happy to be the eagle, you want to be the peacock. And as long as you torment yourself, Satan won't even waste the devil on you, because you are your own worst enemy 'cause you don't know your role.
And I want to challenge you today, that today we break the curse, today we break the struggle. Today we break through the struggle that has tormented you all of your life. Today we break all the things that were said to you that compared you with your sister and compared you with your brother and made you always feel less than. You've always been fighting from a disadvantage because you were cursed as a child to feel insecure and inferior. And the Lord sent this Word to you, to break through all those other words that have ever been said about you. God said you're not a failure, you're not a mistake, you're not a mishap, you're not a less-than. You were created for a divine purpose, and everything you need to fulfill that purpose you have.
So stop prayin' for bigger wings, 'cause he didn't mean for you to fly. And stop praying, eagle, for more colors, 'cause where you are in height, nobody could see 'em anyway. You have to understand why God gave you what he gave you, and to just know your role. Jesus says there is none greater than John the Baptist, because rarely in this life do you run into anybody that has the confidence and self-esteem to just know your role and to be happy to be what God created you to be.
As I close today I wanna pray for secret torment. I don't want to pray for the eight o'clock in the morning you, I want to pray for the 1:30 a.m. you that lays in the bed at night wondering am I enough? I want to pray for the scared you and the worried you and the tormented you that keeps looking at other people's feathers. God said it stops today. God said today is the day that you step into the fullness of who you were created to be, and you simply know your role, and you are happy. If you're a background singer, you're a bad background singer. If you're a lead singer, you're happy to be a lead singer, but you're not tryin' to be a worship leader. If you're a worship leader, you're not tryin' to lead the solo in the choir, because you know your gifting and you know what God has given you.
And for once in your life, you're 50 years old, and for once in your life God wants you to be happy to be you, and to be the woman or the man or the preacher or the teacher or the son that God created you to be without measuring your feathers against your brother's. You have to do what God put you in the earth to do, and let somebody else come along, and let greater come all it wants to, because you cannot beat me. Nobody, hear me good, nobody can beat me being me. There will never, ever be another me. I am the one. I am the one. I am the one whom Jesus loved. And so, ah. You, little feathers and all. Pretty wings, but I can't fly and all. Broken feathers and skinny legs and all.
Are you not the one whom Jesus loved? And why aren't you happy? Why are you not living your life to the fullest? Why are you so easily intimidated and tormented? Measuring your feathers will drive you crazy. And the Lord said in the middle of this pandemic, while we have time for self-evaluation and introspection, that God wants this to be a healing moment in your life. God wants to break your ruler, your yardstick, and stop you from measuring feathers with whoever is comin' along next. And God will put you in the company of great men if it doesn't make you feel small.