What can a major wardrobe malfunction on a pulpit in front of tens of thousands of worshippers teach us about total surrender to God? Plenty, says Premier’s Dami Okeke.
The Potters House in Dallas, Texas is one of the largest and most influential churches in America. Admittedly most of my knowledge of the female minister at the centre of this story has been based on my brief encounters with snippets of her sermons and pictures online. Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts is a bestselling author, business woman, YouTuber and the daughter of megachurch Pastor T.D. Jakes. She also has a large following on social media.
The climactic moment in the sermon comes when Sarah declares “I’m about to take it off!”
Two things stood out for me about Sarah Jakes Roberts, one she is a passionate fiery preacher, and two, she looks good doing it. More than once I’ve had to do a double take of pictures of her wearing her Sunday best without a hair out of place - no pun intended!. Last Sunday, Sarah was preaching a sermon titled ‘Locked In’ in her usual passionate manner. The message was resonating with the congregation and she looked beautiful as usual. Around 40 minutes into the sermon and something is clearly awry - we watch with bated breath as Sarah’s wig gradually slips back. The climactic moment in the sermon comes when Sarah declares “I’m about to take it off!” And off it came accompanied by a roar of support from the congregation.
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So what is the big deal about a Pastor’s wig falling off during a sermon, and why has the sermon now gone “viral” with over 700,000 views? In our current social climate, aesthetics are prioritised, and physical perfection is applauded and pursued by any means. Pulling your wig off fully aware of the potential shame and embarrassment, and not opting for self-preservation is a bold act of surrender. After throwing it aside, Sarah rightly asked “Do you think the woman with the issue of blood cared about her hair… [and] what she looked like?”
In a response video following the sermon going viral Sarah’s husband and fellow Pastor Touré Roberts said her response in some ways was the breaking of an image idol. I suspect this female preacher with over two million Instagram followers, may not have gained her large following solely because of her compelling sermons, but because of how she looked. And yet! She allowed the marring of that image of perfection, undeterred by any potential ridicule; choosing to remain obedient to God’s call to deliver His message.
It may not involve a wig, but God will draw each of us into circumstances that make us vulnerable
Of course the video has also been received by some with scepticism. Was it all a publicity stunt? Why did she bother to wear a wig in the first place if she was just as confident without it? Those are questions to tackle perhaps in another conversation. What we can learn from Sarah’s response is that God is able to be glorified in our obedience, even when it doesn’t look how we planned. It may not involve a wig, but God will draw each of us into circumstances that make us vulnerable; like asking a stammering Moses to confront Pharaoh or calling Peter to walk on water. He will call each us out of our comfort zones in order to free us from our crutches (and idols), and ultimately fulfil His purpose. The important question is, how will we respond when it’s our turn?