LISTEN TO EP.88
Dads, Feeling Tired and Stuck? Here are Practical Ways to Lead Your Family Well
With Father’s Day approaching, do you feel like you’re stumbling your way through being a dad? Jerrad Lopes, best-selling author, speaker, business owner, and founder of Dad Tired, joins Dave and Scott to talk about what it means to be a faithful husband, father, and disciple. As he shares the brokenness of his past, Lopes discusses the importance of understanding your identity and the power of affirmation. If you feel like you’ve blown it as a dad, he reminds us that God is close to messy people and can redeem and use them for His glory. Listen today and realize your full potential as a father and spiritual leader.
Welcome to the Influencers Podcast. I’m Scott Young, along with co-host Dave Donaldson. We’re really here to see you increase the influence of your life and make your world better. And the world better today. We’re talking about one of the most important subjects that we could address. Being a dad is one of the hardest, but most rewarding jobs in the whole world.
Today’s guest had his dad walk out of his life when he was about three years old and he’s been on a journey to be the dad he never had. Jerrad Lopes, for the last 13 years, has been helping people to fall in love with Jesus and discover a Gospel centered message, which changes their world. He’s a bestselling author, speaker, a business owner, and the founder of Dad Tired. And we’ll have to talk about that. Dad Tired. In fact, he’s written a book, a called, “Dad Tired; Stumbling Your Way to Spiritual Leadership”. He’s also written, “Stop Behaving; A Gospel-Centered Devotional for Men”. His podcast has been downloaded over 4 million times. He and his lovely wife, Lila, live in South Carolina with their four children and Jerrad, we are so glad that you have joined us on the Influencers Podcast. Thank you. Thank you. Thank You.
Oh man. It’s an honor to be here. Thanks for having me.
Origin of Dad Tired
So just the name, “Dad Tired”. Where does that come from? Dad Tired? Do you find dads are tired? Are you tired as a dad? Where does that come from?
Well, yes, to both. I’m tired. I think a lot of dads are tired. I wish I could say I had like some clever way that I came up with that. I didn’t, I wasn’t trying to start a ministry. We can get into that story of how Dad Tired started, if it makes sense for our time together. But I was in a spot. I was in a really, really rough spot in my own marriage. And Dad Tired kind of came out of that season – out of complete accident. And you know, again, we can get into the story if it’s helpful, but as I was talking to some guys who could relate to that story, which was basically, I feel like I’m not doing very well as a husband. I’m not doing very well as a dad, but I want to. As I met some of those guys, I started a Facebook group just to try to get them to talk to each other.
Because there was very few places for guys to talk to each other and Facebook said, “Well, what do you want to name the group?” And almost as a joke, I was just like “Dad Tired” and that was just what I named the group. And anyway, it turned into an entire ministry. I always say, God tricked me back into ministry because I was really committed to never being in ministry again. Even the fact that I’m sitting here talking to you about a ministry called Dad Tired is still kind of funny to me cause I had no plans for doing that.
So you’ve been married for how long now?
13 years. And your marriage went into a crisis that you talked about. How far into your marriage was that?
Oh man, you’d make me have to do some math. We weren’t married very long. Our son was three, which was the age that I was when my dad bailed on me. I was helping plant the church with who I thought was a close friend. That guy ended up hurting me pretty deeply. And I had heard people say you know, “They’ve been hurt by the church”. And I had never been hurt by the church up until that point. So I had always thought, “Well, that’s probably on you, man” I’d only seen, I’d only had good experiences in churches. And it was the first time I had been hurt by someone in church leadership. And that really sent me on a spiral. I just didn’t know what to do. I had some major identity crisis. It was the first time since I was 18 that I wasn’t working in full-time ministry. And I just really pulled away from my wife. I pulled away from my kids. I was a terrible husband, terrible father. We were fighting all the time. I thought for sure, we were going to end a divorce. Like quite literally was looking up divorce lawyers, trying to figure out schedules of when the kids would go with whom. We were in the middle of this big fight and we were in staying in our bedroom and I said something on purpose to hurt her in my immaturity. So I say something on purpose to hurt her. And I look at her and she’s got tears in her eyes and in my stupidity, I thought, “I’m winning, I’m winning this fight”. And she looked at me and she said, “Jerrad, I just want you to know I’ve been waking up at two in the morning every morning and I’ve been going into the living room and I’ve been praying that God would capture your heart again”. And that was really the start of God tearing down some walls that I had started to build up, and he just started recapturing my heart for him. And that’s how Dad Tired started. But yeah, that was the point where I realized like, “Okay, my son is the age I was when my dad left, am I going to leave? Am I going to keep on this legacy? That has been generations long in our family?”
Why Work Life and Relationships Shouldn’t Be Balanced
So your life would look to be out of balance at that point. And is now, would you say more balanced? What does a day look like that you go through to juggle podcasting writing, speaking business? How do you balance these things now to have a healthy relationship?
Well, that’s a question I get asked a lot. I just did a podcast yesterday and somebody asked me, “What’s the key to balancing work and family for as a guy?” And you know every guy is trying to figure that out, trying to provide the best they can for his family and also be completely present for the family. In my personal opinion, this really comes from what a mentor taught me, I just don’t try to balance it. I tip the scales. If we’re thinking balance, you think two scales, right? So you want those to be even. I just don’t balance ’em – I work as hard as I can with the body and mind and that God’s given me, and I want to do it for his glory. But at the end of the day, I want the scales to be out of balance. I want my family to be first. I want my wife to feel like she doesn’t even have to compete with work my kids to feel like we don’t have to compete with work for dad.
I had a mentor, tell me, “Jerrad, you’re probably going to have a million job titles by the time you die, just knowing you and your personality”, he said, “But you will die a husband, you will die with the title father, and you will die with the title ‘disciple’.” And he said, “Just go home and crush it at those things”. And he was a successful guy. So I thought, “All right, I’m going to do that”. And I’ve just really held to that. Like If I’m going to be successful at anything, man, I just want to be a really faithful disciple of Jesus, a faithful husband and a faithful dad.
That line was just so good – that we will end our lives with husband, discipline…what was the third one?
Father? Yeah. For those of us who are dads. Yeah.
For dads. Wow.
Jerrad, I remember my youngest daughter, when she was a child, and she came home from school. She was excited to share with me what had happened. And I was in a chair reading a magazine and she said, “Daddy, I got something to tell you”. And I said, “I’m listening”. And she said, “It’s really exciting. I’ve have to tell you this”. And I’m still buried in that magazine. And she says, “Daddy, will you listen to me with your eyes?”
We live in a very challenging time, as we know so many things are trying to compete for our attention. But our kids also are really overwhelmed if you will, with social media entertainment and everything else that’s trying to buy for their attention in the midst of all of this. How do you establish the disciplines as a dad to listen but also to get their attention?
Well, I appreciate you sharing that story. I had a similar one, not too long ago. I was watching the news and it was big alert, breaking news. And I’m just glued onto it. And my son was sitting right next to me and he kept saying, “Daddy”, and I was like, “Hold on son. There’s a really big deal”. And he said, “Daddy” again. I said, “Son, hold on. This is really big deal”. And he said, “Daddy”, the third time, and I said, “Son, this is a big deal about our future.” And man, as soon as those words came out of my mouth, I felt the Holy Spirit say, “You want to worry about the future? He’s sitting right next to you”. And I was just like, “Man, what am I doing?” as a dad.
But I heard somebody say the other day that if you don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t have any sense of kind of intentionality and purpose, every distraction can seem like an opportunity. And I thought that was really, really good. And because man, for all of us, if we don’t have, especially for dads, husbands, men, here’s where I’m trying to go… if by God’s grace I can live an old life and I have the opportunity to look back and say, “Here’s where I’m trying to go. Here’s where I was trying to go with my life”. If I don’t have what I want that day to look like, every day is going to feel like every distraction is going to just take me on that off ramp. It’s a highway and I’m trying to get to a destination.
Well, if I don’t know the destination, I’ll pull off every exit. “Well, this looks fun. That’s a shiny light. Let’s try this. Or that’s a shiny one. Let’s go over here”. And everyone else in the world, your boss, the soccer team, the extracurricular activities, the school, all of it’s going to tell you, “Hey, this is the most important thing”.
One of the things that we do at Dad Tired is just try to tell guys, “What are you trying to do in five years, 10 years, 50 years from now? Like, what do you want to be said about you as a man?” If you don’t know that, the rest of the world will try to define it for you.
Wow. So your dad walked out when you were just in your developmental year – three years old?
Yeah. Would you say that was a traumatizing event in your life?
I didn’t know. I didn’t know. Was traumatizing. At first, yeah. I grew up in kind of a rougher part of California and most of my friends didn’t have their dads around. So that was a pretty normal thing. So I didn’t know that you should have your dad, it’s a big deal to not have your dad around. And I didn’t know that until that season where my wife said she was getting up, praying for me, it was right in that moment where I thought, you know what? I probably should go see some kind of Christian counselor, which was a big pride pill for me to swallow. Cause I’ve always said, “I already know I’m not doing very good as a man. I don’t need to pay somebody to tell me I’m not doing very well.” That doesn’t seem like it makes much sense to me, but I just thought, “Clearly I’ve got some blind spots here. I need somebody to help me figure this stuff out”. So I remember sitting with this godly man, this man of God, this counselor, and he had said, “How did your dad leaving affect you?” And I was like, “What do you mean? It affected me? It didn’t affect me at all. He wasn’t around, he didn’t impact me at all.” And man, he just spent the next several months basically making every possible tie to all of my behaviors and my thinking and my worldview back to my dad not being there. And it was primarily identity. I did not have a man to say, “Jerrad, this is who you are. This is who God has made you to be”. And as a result, I spent the rest of my life to this day, struggling with who am I. And how can I find identity in all kinds of other things other than Christ. And I think that’s one of the primary roles of a dad is to look at their kids and say, “This is who you are. And this is who God’s made you to be; rest in that.”
Finding Identity When Dad Isn’t Around
Those are such powerful words, because there’s guys that are listening, that their dad walked out of their life. They need to find the very thing you’re talking about – their identity. So what was it that helped you to find your identity to become a better dad than the one that you had?
Well, even as you just said that about the guys listening, my son had a soccer game this last week. And as soon as the game was over, I went out, I went, I stood up, put my chair away, walked up to him as he got done with the soccer game. And his first words were, “Daddy, did I do a good job?” He just wanted daddy’s affirmation. And I just think about all the men. Yeah. Who all they wanted was daddy’s affirmation. Whether dad was around or dad wasn’t around – just dad. “Did I do a good job?” And for me I had to realize I’ve been searching for that everywhere, but God. That was the first realization that I’m looking for it everywhere. I want to find it in women. I want to find it in success. I want to find it in money. Just somebody tell me I’m doing a good job. And I think there are a lot of men right now who are desperately searching for “Somebody tell me I’m doing a good job”. So first is recognizing I’m looking for it. And then second realizing all those other places I’m looking for it are terrible “gods.” My wife can’t give that to me. My boss can’t. My bank account can’t. My kids can’t. Nobody can give me the kind of affirmation that my soul actually needs outside of Jesus.
Wow. So, Dave, you also had some trauma in your family as you were coming up and through a tragedy. And how have you gone through a struggle of finding your identity or how’s that affected you your life?
Yeah. My parents were hit head on by a drunk driver when I was nine. Dad was killed and my mother survived, but they had to pin her back together again. God said, “I’ll be a Father to the fatherless”. And He fulfilled that through other men. And one of those was Bill Davis who took us into their single wide trailer and nurtured us back to health. And I’ll never forget walking up to that trailer the first time, wondering if they really want us and will keep us. And as we shuffled in sight, he gave us hugs and he said, “You are with family and this is your home”. And that four letter word is what changed our lives because it meant that Davises were willing to not only share their space, but they’re willing to share our anger, our sorrow, our pain, and to invite that into our home. And I know he was definitely a Dad Tired because he had two kids of his own and he invited four more kids in. But he showed us really the power of “with,” to truly be with people and to fulfill, as I mentioned, God’s promise to the fatherless.
Wow. So either one of you, were there other guys, the Bill Davis? But Jerrad, were there guys that helped you to become a man? Like you’re trying to do that now. Were there people that gave you a hand up on the, on the journey towards manhood?
Yeah. I remember my mom started taking us to church because I think she was just desperate to get some help. I’m sure she wanted me to be around some good guys. And I have so many memories of interactions that I had with godly men for short seasons who were just kind of a guy who gave me my first job here. I remember so vividly as a young boy shaking this guy’s hand, a business owner’s hand, at the church and a big strong guy. And I just I was real intimidated. I wouldn’t look him in the eye. I was scared and he said, “Try it again, shake my hand hard, look me in the eye”. And just so many of those little moments where somebody kind of stepped in for a moment.
I was mentored when I very first started ministry by a pastor who was older than me. And I didn’t know he was discipling me, but he really poured his life into me for probably seven straight years. And that guy I mean, he discipled me because we weren’t just meeting at Starbucks once a week having a cup of coffee, but he would bring me to his house and I would watch the way he talked to his wife and I would see him suffer and I would watch him the way he would handle things that would anger him and things that hurt him and you know, all these things and all of that was intentional discipleship. And then he literally told me, “This is what I’ve been doing”. “Now you go do it”, you know, and it was life changing for me. But yeah, I mean much like Dave said that men who have stepped up and said, “I’m going to be a father to the fatherless.”
The Church Needs Fathers; What You Can Do
There’s probably guys listening now that need to just open their eyes and look around for some boys, young men. Like stepped into both of your lives and just say, “Lord, what could I do to give this young man that’s a developing future father, possibly, husband, how could I give them a hand up?” We talk about influence on this podcast and there’s probably no greater influence than to reach out and lift somebody up a little bit higher. So keep your eyes open guys.
Yeah. If I could just give a ten second tagline on that. What we do at Dad Tired is tell guys, “You are sent by God as a missionary into this world, into your neighborhood. So when you sign your kids up for baseball, for soccer, for basketball, you’re signing up as a missionary to find those boys who need an influential man, you’re not signing up to get your kids to be in the NBA one day, because he is most likely not. You’re signing up as a missionary. So yeah, I love that challenge, Scott. That’s awesome. We need more men to do it.
Yeah. You think about all the opportunities, whether it be like Boy Scouts and Big Brother. Little league was life changing for me. I had incredible coaches that taught me a lot more about life than just baseball and then a youth pastor, like Jerrad said, just watching our youth, pastor Larry and his marriage and how he interfaced with people, and how he even handled situations where people were angry and all of that, all of those encounters begin to add up and they help to shape who you are.
Stumbling into Leadership?
Jerrad, you talk about stumbling into spiritual leadership. So it’s not a perfection thing you’re talking about. What, what do you say to guys to help move them forward in their, their journey that may be a stumbling journey?
Well, I mean, I think there’s a few things. One is I don’t know any dad who would claim that he’s got this whole thing figured out and if he does, I probably don’t want his advice. It’s absolutely a stumbling forward. I think there are a couple things that keep guys from leading. One is just ignorance: “I don’t really know what I’m doing. So I I guess I won’t do it at all. My wife seems to kind of know how to talk to the kids about God and lead them. So I guess I’ll let her do it”. So ignorance is one. And then I think, “Shame”. Guys who are like, “Man, I’m my past sins, my current sins, how can I lead my family to Jesus when I haven’t figured my own stuff out.”
And and both of those are just lies from the enemy to keep you paralyzed from leading. And we just stumble forward. I always tell guys discipleship happens more in 15 second increments than it does in 15 minute devotionals. So if you have this idea that you’re going to sit down with your kids for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, and have this deep theological discussion, you’re, you’re setting yourself up for failure. But if you think through, “I’m going to look for as many 15 second opportunities as I can throughout the day to shift their little eyes back to the Kingdom, that’s what discipleship looks like. We’ll stumble. I can give all kinds of stories before I failed in this, but you’ll say stuff that doesn’t make sense or goes over their head. They didn’t listen or whatever, but we’re just stumbling our way forward for their good, but also for your good – God’s using it both ways to shape you to be like him.
The Gospel’s really important to you – just listening to your stuff and reading your stuff. And you just talked about shame. Can you just take a minute to say, how the Gospel removes our shame?
Yeah, I would love to. I spend a full-time job working with men and I know all many men who are struggling with shame again from past sins or current sins. And I would just say to that guy, if you feel paralyzed and stuck, you’re buried in the weight of your shame, I just want to remind you gently brother to brother, you are thinking about and maybe worshiping the wrong God, because the God of the Bible has always been near broken and messy people. Page one of the Bible, men turned their back on him, men and women turned their back on him and God, at that moment could have, and maybe should have said, “I’m out. I’ll go do this whole human earth thing somewhere else”. But he didn’t. He walked with them in the garden and He’s been walking with broken and messy people ever since. He has a reputation of doing it.
And then He takes those broken and messy people and redeeming them and he’s using them. And if you’re buried because you think, “Well, God doesn’t want to use me because I’m broken. I’m too sinful”, dude, you’re worshiping the wrong God. That’s not who God is. I don’t know what other God you’re thinking about that might be doing that. There are plenty of other gods around this world who will tell you, “Oh, you didn’t get your act together. So sorry, you don’t cut it. You can’t be part of this religion”, but our God, the God of the Bible says, “No, I know you’re messed up. I know you’re broken. I know you’ve fallen short, but I’m going to redeem you so that I can be in relationship with you and use you”. And bro, the story’s just not about you. It’s about a God who, despite your sin pursued you anyway. That’s good news.
The Gospel in Dad Tired
And how do people receive that Gospel message?
Well, here’s the thing. We’re a dad ministry. We’re called Dad Tired. We talk about what it means to be a husband and a dad, honestly, we’re a Gospel ministry. I’m getting ready. I was preparing all day to go speak at a men’s conference tomorrow. I’m just going to present that message again, because I truly believe if guys could really start to understand that like, “Dude, you just understand that God should have bailed on you. And he didn’t. Like you were wretched, you were wicked and God didn’t bail on you. If you really start to wrap your head around that, it’s amazing how you become a better husband. It’s amazing how you become a more patient dad and gracious husband and a gracious man. So my prayer is that this Holy Spirit goes before me and he does work in men’s hearts. And as a result of hearing that good news, it changes men.
It reminds me of a study that I read about people that are playing ring toss. So they’re trying to throw the ring onto the stake and they’re missing repeatedly. So instead of moving closer, they move back. They move back because I’m supposed to miss – it’s okay to miss. And one of the things I love about your ministry is that you’re calling men to lean in, lean into God. Even if you’re going to fail, you’re going to stumble, lean in and that includes telling our kids that we love them. That we are proud of them. I heard one leader say, “Don’t say “love you”. No, “I love you”. I love you. I’m proud of you.
You talk about all these different ways that we can lean in as a dad, as God is leaning into us, you draw near to him. He will draw near to you. Same with our kids, huh?
Yeah. That’s a good word. We father, as a result of the way the Father has parented our hearts and has shepherded our hearts,
Connecting with Dad Tired
We really want to thank you for taking time, when you’re prepping to speak to a conference, to just to hang out with us for some time. And I’m going to be thinking about those titles. And guys, if you’re listening, your first, most important title is you’re a disciple. You’re a follower of Jesus. If God graces you to have a beautiful woman in your life, as a husband, and if he blesses you with children, a dad, those are three just incredibly important titles. And I would just say, if guys are watching and they’d like to take the next step, want to learn how to lead their families in a stronger way, how can they connect to the Dad Tired community that you help lead?
We got tens of thousands of guys all over the world who are trying to figure this stuff out. I’ve always said, it’s easier to find guys who will watch a game with you than it is to find guys who will partner with you to become more like Jesus. And that’s what we’re trying to do is have a community of guys like that. And we’d love to have any guy come be part of that community. They can do it. https://www.dadtired.com/, is the best way to get plugged in and get started with what we’re doing.
Hey, thanks everyone for listening and being part of the podcast today. I’m Scott Young with cohost Dave Donaldson, and we’re so glad that you are increasing the influence of your life.