Sarah Jakes Roberts has an enviable list of accomplishments: She’s a mother raising six children with her loving husband Touré Roberts. Touré and Sarah are co-pastors at two thriving churches (The Potter’s House at One L.A. and The Potter’s House Denver). Sarah’s ministry, leadership, and entrepreneurial drive garners respect from her community (she has 1.7 million followers on Instagram alone) and media outlets like The Today Show, Essence, and Good Morning America. And she’s a best-selling author—her latest book Woman Evolve is out today.
But only listing her accomplishments doesn’t tell the full story.
There are parts of her story that she used to fill her with shame and fear. Pastor Sarah had a child when she was a teenager and dropped out of college her sophomore year. She navigated a toxic relationship and went through a divorce; she’s experienced low self-esteem and depression.
But owning her entire story—and not letting it define her life—is what makes her the healed and whole woman she is today.
“The fallen woman” is a theme so many of us have been taught to fear. One of the world’s oldest stories centers on one such woman: Eve.
Yet for all the shade thrown at Eve, Pastor Sarah says, we’ve all been her. We all have our version of “forbidden fruit” —the things we know we shouldn’t do, but do anyway—that keeps us from fully stepping into our value.
What would it look like if we had more empathy for Eve, and in turn ourselves? What would it look like if we were actually more like Eve—to make a mistake but not let that mistake define who we are for the rest of our lives?
In her latest book Woman Evolve, Pastor Sarah poses these questions and guides readers of all faiths on a journey to radical self-acceptance and evolution. Read an excerpt from Sarah Jakes Roberts’ book Woman Evolve below, and get your copy of Woman Evolve on Amazon or Bookshop.
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Up until Genesis 3:20, Eve is only referred to as the woman. When Adam names her, he gives the woman a unique name given her condition. Adam names the woman Eve, “the mother of all living.” I couldn’t help but wonder why Adam named this childless woman the mother of all living.
I initially saw it as Adam giving Eve a constant reminder that she was given a responsibility to produce seed. Why would Eve need a reminder that she was called to produce seed? Because as she got further and further away from God’s declaration in the garden, she may have run the risk of forgetting that there was a promise connected to her ability to make room for what God said in Genesis 3:15.
How often do we discount our now because it doesn’t reflect where we’ve been called?
I was satisfied living in the concept that Adam named Eve based on where she was headed and not where she was, but then I saw an insight that changed my mind. I believe Adam gave her this name because of who she already was in that moment, not who she could potentially become. She didn’t become a mother because Adam wanted to remind her of what to keep reaching for. She was named the mother of all living because of the organic expression of how she cared for all that was living at that time.
When the woman is named Eve, the only form of life that existed was the vegetation and the animals that God placed in the earth before her. While she may have not been a mother in the traditional sense, she was given the responsibility to use where she was to practice where she was headed. I doubt very seriously that Eve was as confused by her name as I was. She had no point of reference for motherhood that could make her feel like caring for the animals and vegetation was a demotion. All Eve had was her present circumstance and a calling that extended beyond her.
How often do we discount our now because it doesn’t reflect where we’ve been called? We fail to realize that our now qualifies us for our next. Let’s talk about that. Most of us know that Eve eventually gives birth to children and we will dive into that later, but before she gives birth to her own children, she learns to become a mother by nurturing what is around her. This is a valuable lesson worthy of digging into because so many of us think that when we arrive at a certain role or position then we will innately possess the characteristics, work ethic, and communication skills that will make us successful.
We all remember growing up and critiquing how our parents raised us, resolving, “When I become an adult, I’ll never do that!” While many people worked at not being like their parents, others found themselves repeating the very same things they vowed never to do. They didn’t realize that there’s no magic switch they could flip to help them turn on a different style of parenting.
My husband openly talks about his lifelong desire to be a good father. He is an exceptional father to our children, and I attribute that success to him keeping that desire in the forefront of his mind. It became the guide that determined what he would or would not do. Professional goals require a similar intentional focusing.
We fail to realize that our now qualifies us for our next.
A person who aspires to become a CEO one day doesn’t become a leader because she’s at the helm of a company. A woman becomes a CEO because of how she executed everything that came before opening the business.
When I dropped out of college, I waitressed at a strip club. But my first real job that didn’t include dark rooms, loud music, and scantily clad women was as a receptionist for an international aviation company. As a single mother I was so glad to finally have a job that allowed me to have more traditional work hours. I was working as a temporary receptionist with the promise of becoming permanent if I did well. On the organization chart my role was admittedly the lowest on the totem pole. That didn’t matter to me; I was so thankful to have the job that I wanted to make sure my presence added impact. I was hungry to establish my professional identity and to release the belief I had in my ability to work in a corporate environment through my work as a receptionist.
I had no team, support staff, office, or even an extension, but you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t running things. I created and improved systems for maintaining office supplies. I helped the executive team host luncheons and meetings with presentations that kept the clientele’s culture in mind. I was the first one there in the morning and one of the last to leave in the evening.
I skipped lunch, opting to eat at my desk instead of leaving the door unmanned. I submitted time sheets and payroll reports from our contractors to my supervisor for review and approval. My numbers were always double checked, reports alphabetized, and on her desk before she came in the office. If I was given a project or task, I turned it around long before it was due. It didn’t take very long before my work ethic began to stand out among the team. I wasn’t just doing enough to get the job, with plans to relax once the position was secured. There was a standard I set that I knew I could maintain or surpass because it was organic to how I was able to produce in other areas of my life.
Remember, my passion wasn’t connected to the position. It was connected to my desire to grow in the environment. In the same way, the position you’re in could be the job of your dreams or the practice field of a lifetime, but it is never time wasted.