Regent University School of Divinity associate professor, Dr. Antipas Harris, is no stranger to Instagram.
His feed on the picture and video-clip sharing app is a collage of inspirational quotes, selfies and bowties. What he’s unfamiliar with is his posts being shared by models and journalists — and being “liked” more than 6,000 times.
This spike in social attention was born out of one of several 15-second clips stripped from his sermon, Different to Make a Difference, at The Potter’s House, a mega-church in Dallas, Texas led by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
“He’s like the ‘Oprah of the Christian world. We wouldn’t know who Dr. Phil was if there was no Oprah. She threw him, she threw him far,” said Harris. “That’s what Bishop Jakes does. He brings someone in when he believes in them, and he throws them far.”
Harris was cast into the deep end of preaching to the Potters House’s 8,000-member congregation and 300,000 “e-members” streaming the service online. Jakes and Harris first connected on an appearance for the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
Now Jakes serves as Harris’ official mentor and extended the invitation for him to speak.
“[Jakes] said, ‘by this time next week, 500,000 people will have seen your sermon,'” said Harris. “It’s madness.”
“I believe what makes me different is my life in Christ, first of all. But it’s also my gifts and my impediments — my challenges,” said Harris. “What we’re given to make us unique is not only our gifts, but our challenges and struggles.”
For Harris, his struggle comes in the very area he’s flourished: reading and speaking. A factor that caused him intimidation when Jakes initially requested that he preach a message. “When I got the initial request, every excuse in the book came through my head,” said Harris. Even the week before I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.'”
But this doubt, this uncertainty, is how Harris says he is able to encourage his students. And it’s the very thing that has given him the drive to earn a Ph.D., and become a teacher, a speaker and an author.
“My gifts are intertwined with my struggles,” explained Harris. “I often think, ‘what if I hadn’t kept struggling?’ Without struggle, there’s no progress. And in this case my struggle became my greatest asset.”
Learn more about Regent University’s School of Divinity.