Becoming a Kingdom Man
Pastor Jerrad Lopes' father left when he was 3 years old, instilling in Jerrad a deep desire to be the father to his children that he never had. Marriage and fatherhood proved challenging, however, and he tells what finally woke him up from his self-absorption.
About the Guest
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Jerrad Lopes’ father left when he was 3 years old, which instilled in Jerrad a desire to be the father he never had. Marriage and fatherhood proved challenging, however, and he tells what finally woke him up from his self-absorption.
Becoming a Kingdom Man
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, November 6th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. If being a husband and a dad is harder work than you thought it was going to be, what we’re going to talk about today is just for you. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So I’d like to see a show of hands from our listeners—the dads who are listening/the husbands who are listening—
Dave: I know where you’re going with this!
Bob: —I’d like a show of hands if you want to be a good husband and a good father. Now, all—same show of hands for those of you who feel like you are equipped to do the job. [Laughter] So—
Dave: Good question.
Bob: —I wonder how many hands went up the first time and how many stayed down the second time; right? Don't you think most guys have the desire but don't have the blueprints?
Dave: Yes; and I actually remember going to the FamilyLife®Weekend to Remember®— engaged/two weeks before my wedding—going through the dad talk on Sunday morning—
Dave: —as a potential going-to-be husband/hopefully, going-to-be dad—and walking out absolutely overwhelmed; I did. I remember number one, first time I’d ever heard a vision of what God wanted a godly husband and dad to be.
Dave: Never heard that before; but then secondly, “I'll never be able to do that; no chance.” Then later realizing that's exactly where God wanted me—overwhelmed to the point where I can't do that without Him.
Bob: We've got a guy joining us today, who is regularly mentoring husbands and dads through a weekly podcast and, now, through a book. The book is called Dad Tired and Loving It. The podcast is called Dad Tired. Jerrad Lopes joins us on FamilyLife Today. Jerrad welcome.
Jerrad: So grateful to be here.
Bob: Well, we're glad to have you here. I want to read through—here's the equipping you're going to get—these are the chapter titles from Jerrad's book; okay?—“Color Blind,” “Satan's Cesspool,” “Football Jerseys,” “The Syrup Aisle,” “Hide-and-Seek,” “Squirrel Food,” “Lost In the Woods,” “A Case of the Ronalds,” and, “Headed to Aspen.” So you can see we've got a vision for your—
Jerrad: It's obvious; yes. [Laughter]
Dave: Let's just close in prayer; I think I know everything I need to do. [Laughter]
Here's what I love about those chapter titles—is, as I read the book, I love the way, Jerrad, I love the way you write. They’re story-based. That's how we tried to write our book—story and then truth. That's you; there's so many great stories and great truth.
Bob: You had a favorite story, as you are reading the book; didn't you? The dentist office—was that your favorite story?
Dave: I mean, there were so many; but you know, when I met Jerrad, I was like, “So I’m looking at the guy, who walks in a dentist’s office—
Jerrad: I never imagined that this was actually going to be aired anywhere; you know? [Laughter] It's much easier to put it on paper than it is to talk about it.
Dave: Yes; and I don't want a visual, but tell us the story.
Ann: Wait, Jerrad; how old were you, first?
Jerrad: I mean, I think I was married—yes; so I was, at least, in my mid-20s.
Bob: So you're in your mid-20s; you go to the dentist. What happened?
Jerrad: Well, the back story is—I had just recently, before that/before I had gone to the dentist, I had my appendix out.
Jerrad: You know, when you go into the surgery, you get stripped down; you put the gown on; and you go into surgery. So a couple of weeks—or it was either a couple of weeks or a couple months later—I am at the dentist’s to have some teeth pulled.
Ann: —your wisdom teeth.
Jerrad: —wisdom teeth; yes. The dental assistant hands me a gown and a cover up, and then leaves the room. I just was—you know, I was like, “I've been here before; I know what to do.” [Laughter] I stripped down, man; and put the gown on. [Laughter] She comes back in the room, just mortified—
Bob: I guess so. [Laughter]
Jerrad: —just ready to call whoever she needs to call to get the lawsuit started. I immediately realized I had made a bad decision. [Laughter]
Dave: Can you imagine how she tells that story?—“I had this dude; he takes his pants off to get his teeth pulled!”
Jerrad: She says, “Sir, you can keep your pants on; this is just for your teeth today.”
Bob: I'm sure there's a spiritual lesson we're going to get from that.
Bob: But before we get to the spiritual lesson, just take us back in your own journey. At what point did you realize you had the desire to be a godly husband and father but didn't have the training to know how to do it?
Jerrad: My dad left when I was three. I grew up with my mom—who's a single mom; raised us—and I had three older sisters; that was my upbringing. They were actually much older than me, so my closest sister in age is five years. I always felt like a single or like an only child in many ways.
I remember being in the driveway, playing basketball; and I would imagine my dad in the driveway, coaching me, as a kid. I had these fantasies of a dad actually being present and mentoring me. I remember, as quickly as I can make the connection: “I want to be the dad that I never had.” I always wanted to be a dad/always wanted to be a husband. I had looked forward to that for many, many years.
[I] became a dad/became a husband in my early 20s; realized: “I’m not as good at this as I thought I would be.” I think what I realized, pretty quickly in marriage, is: “I can fake a lot of things but you can't fake it in marriage.” You can’t fake it as a dad—like you’re under the microscope; you can only hide for so long before your stuff is revealed.
Bob: Where were the cracks showing up in your marriage and in your parenting?
Jerrad: So there was actually this time—we were married probably four or five years—where I had been part of planting some churches. One of the churches that we helped plant, things went really bad. Pretty quickly and unexpectedly, I found myself without work; I wasn't working at the church anymore. It was the first time I hadn't worked at a church since I was 18.
I went into a depression, just like a tailspin; I didn't know my identity. Like I said—from 18 years old, I had been a pastor at a church; so now, all of a sudden, I'm not. I just distanced myself—started to distance myself from my wife—became very, very selfish; was really a poor excuse of a dad—I wasn’t engaging with my kids.
That was the first time my wife and I—the first four or five years of marriage, we were like still in that honeymoon phase; things were great. We had good jobs, house, and kids. Things were great; but it was the first time we'd experience some real trials, in which they always say—you know, I just read this morning that: “You find out who you really are”—right?—“in the trials.”
In the trials, I found out: “Man, I'm actually not that great of a guy. I'm not the kind of man that I thought I would be.” I think one of the beautiful and hard things of marriage is the way that God allows you to/your wife to expose that in you. As a single guy, I could run from that.
Bob: What was coming through? I mean, what was the stuff that was coming to the surface that you're going, “This is not who I'm supposed to be”?
Jerrad: Yes; so for me, I became really, really selfish. My thought was, originally: “Okay; I'm out of a job. I was hurt by the church, I’m just going to”—I had made a commitment: “I'm never going to be in ministry again. Don't want to do this anymore.”
I thought, “I'll start some businesses,”—I was just trying to overcompensate. “I think I’m qualified; I think I've got talent. I'll just go/let me just go prove to the world and to myself—I can be successful and do it.” I started a business; I thought: “I'll just—I’m going to go create a bucket list of things to do and just start checking those things off.” Meanwhile, my wife’s suffering—we’re not emotionally engaged; we're not spiritually engaged; physically—I mean, we're just distant from each other as I'm off running my own little dreams here.
There was one particular moment/day, where we were standing in our bedroom. We were in the middle of an argument—which, in that season of life, was a pretty regular thing. I had said something hurtful to my wife. We’re standing there, and she starts to get tears in her eyes. She's just staring at me and she says: “Jerrad, I just want you to know that I've been setting my alarm to go off at 2:00 a.m. every morning. I go into the living room, and I get on my face, and I just pray that God would capture your heart again/that you’d fall in love with Him again.”
The Holy Spirit really used that as a wake-up call for me—like, “Man what am I doing here?” That's actually how Dad Tired started.
Dave: If she says that, and it changes your life—what?—how did you respond? Because some guys—I could see me, in a weak moment, being mad and angry and saying, “Who are you to tell me that?”—yet, the other side is: “I can feel what you're feeling. The Holy Spirit just spoke through my wife.” What happened?
Jerrad: I think that the Holy Spirit had already been softening my heart; just in His sovereign timing, had had that moment planned for the recapturing of my heart.
Wives often ask me, “What do I need to do to encourage my husband?” Pray often for their heart and don't relent in your prayers for your husband. Ultimately, what my wife knew, which was so profound, was: “He doesn't need behavior change; he needs heart change.” She could have nagged me, and nagged me, and nagged me to change my behavior. I would’ve either gotten mad, or I would have relented and changed my behavior; but that’s surface level.
What she was doing was saying: “I want this to go way deeper. I want his heart to actually be changed.” She knew: “I can't change Jerrad’s heart. There's only One who can.” So she went to the One who can actually change my heart
That was a moment, where I was like, “Okay; I don't want to be this kind of husband.” I, like any good Millennial, just started to process on social media. [Laughter] In hindsight, you’re like, “Why are you putting all your stuff on social media?” But I just actually/I wrote this little blog that basically said, “I feel like I am a terrible husband and dad, but I don't want to be.” I put it on my Facebook® page for just my friends, and that blog ended up being shared over a million times.
Jerrad: What happened was—there was all kinds of guys, from around the world, saying: “Bro, I feel the same way. I feel like I'm failing as a husband and a dad.”
To answer that question that you started the segment on—“I feel like I want to be a good husband and dad, but I'm not. I’m nowhere near what I thought I would be or where I want to be.” They just started saying, “We should band together,” and that's really how Dad Tired started.
Bob: It's interesting because “band together” is what's happened. It's one thing to be a blogger and have people who read your blog. You've created an underground tribe/a community of guys, where it's almost like you could pull out, and it would keep going; wouldn’t it?
Jerrad: Absolutely; yes. I often tell people: “I feel like the mascot: ‘Hey, let me fail in front of everybody and, then, talk to you guys about it.’” I've got kids, who are eight, six, and seven months. To try to present to anybody that I have some sage wisdom, as a dad, would be absolutely ridiculous. I was literally yelling at my kid two days ago—and like not in tears, “What am I doing as a dad?”
I still don't know what I'm doing; but really—I think for whatever reason—God just said, “Okay, Jerrad; I'm going to give you a platform to process what it looks like to try to love Me and to lead your family well.” Now, there's a bunch of guys in this community together. But you're right, there is a community of men now. It's incredible how God is using social media and online platforms to connect men together. We're talking to dads, who are 24 to 35 years old. I don't have data, but I would guess that's probably the number one most disengaged group of people/demographic in the church; and yet, these guys are just hungry for community. God’s using a little thing like Facebook to get guys together to push each other.
Bob: Guys are connecting by reading your blog, but you also have this group that guys can join. There's like an entrance exam you've got to take to get in; right? How does that work?
Jerrad: So we have a Facebook group. It’s a closed group, where guys come in. There are some—guys can be a little bit anonymous in that. They have a Facebook profile picture if they so choose; but other than that, they're a little bit anonymous, which I think helps guys be more honest than they would be. All their friends and family aren't reading it, so it's closed in that way.
What had happened at the beginning is—Facebook actually started to recommend all these guys to come in the group, so guys just started flocking in there. What I learned was—they didn't have the same desires as the guys who are part of the Dad Tired community. They were just looking for dad jokes and, “Let's make fun of our wife and kids,” which wasn't the thing we were trying to do. So, yes; I created a—Facebook allowed me to filter who comes in. I just ask a little bit of an entrance exam to make sure that we're getting the right guys.
Dave: Yes, you just got a new member today.
Ann: What kind of questions are on that exam?
Dave: I joined.
Bob: You joined?!
Dave: Yes, I joined this morning.
Dave: I didn't know—I knew about the book, and I knew about the blog; I didn't know there was a group to join. I was like, “Oh, oh, I can't just jump in!”
Jerrad: Yes; I almost declined you, man.
Dave: I had to answer a few questions.
Bob: Like what?—what questions?
Dave: I had to say, “Bob Lepine was my best friend, and he’s a great dad.” [Laughter] I mean, basically, it was really getting at—and it wasn't extensive—but it was getting at: “Why do you want to be a part of this? Just tell us why,” and “Have you read what we're about?” and “Let's go.” I'm excited to see where it goes.
Here's what's really interesting—that I didn't know this part of the story; that I don't want to make the issue—but think about how this started from a wife praying.
Dave: There's so many wives, I think, that think, “Okay; I'll pray; but I also have to confront, and talk, and nag, and nag.” She didn't; she just prayed and had to trust God. She didn't know one man/her husband was going to be changed; but now, thousands.
Dave: That's beautiful!
Jerrad: That’s such a beautiful perspective, too; and really, I should trade places with her. The fact that lives are changing/God is drawing the heart of men has really started because of a woman, who said, “I need to trust Jesus with my husband.”
Ann: She was using her influence, and she was using her desperation and going to the Father first. I think that's not easy for us to do. As women, we’d like to go to our husband first and tell him to change. I love her walk with God and her need for Him—look what He did.
Dave: Yes; and the other side is—you responded.
Dave: I know there's women that have maybe prayed and their husband’s just hard/hard; and you repented.
Dave: The rest is a legacy that you don't even know yet; but your own children are going to be changed because of you deciding to say, “I've got to hear this from—not my wife—my Savior.”
Bob: So I want to know: “What was the biggest course correction?—the biggest pivot that occurred, from the time that your wife said, ‘I've been praying that God would grab ahold of your heart,’ to where you are today—and still in process, still stumbling, still getting upset with your kids at the wrong time; right?—so it's not like you’ve arrived; but you're different today then when you had that conversation with your wife, years ago.”
Jerrad: Right; she would say so, definitely.
Bob: That's good.
Jerrad: Yes; for me, the biggest thing was—in that season of life, I was really, really isolated on purpose. I didn't want to be around Christians. Sin loves darkness, so I wanted to stay under the cover of that darkness and not be around anything that had to do with light. I would‘ve never said those words out loud, but that was definitely the reflection of my life; right? One of the very first things that we did was—I actually said to my wife, “We need to be around Christians,”—like, “We need to be around community again.”
You know, God—the way that He designed things—I was leading my family. Men often are leading their family, whether they know it or not; it's just a matter of what they're leading them to. Even in my sin and rebellion, I was leading my family toward isolation. I wasn’t the first one to say, “Let’s get up and be around Christian community.” I was one saying: “Let's stay home. I don't want to be anywhere near it.” As a result, oftentimes, my kids weren't going to church; they're not around Christian community.
So the first thing I said was like, “We need people around us.” I always think about it as like bumpers when you go bowling—you know, the guardrails. Pretty quickly, if you watch me bowl, I can't even get three feet down before I’m in the gutter; right? [Laughter] I always say like: “For me, as a man, I get three feet by myself; and you'll find me in the gutter.” We don't drift towards God; we drift away from Him.
So for me, the railing for that gutter is Christian community—other men and women, of all different ages, to be around me to say: “Hey, Bro; you're about to go in the gutter. Let me point you back towards Jesus.” One cool thing—I'm a really visual—I believe really heavily in having visual reminders in our home to kind of point us back towards Jesus. One of the things we did was—my wife actually bought me a Polaroid camera. I said, “I want to have 100 people in our house, over the next year, eating dinner at our table.”
She was like, “I don't know if we can hit it.” I'm like, “Well, let’s just—let’s try.” She got me that Polaroid camera; so every time somebody would come over, after dinner, we’d gather in the living room and we’d take a Polaroid picture with them. Then we would take that picture and put it up on our wall. We did that for a lot of reasons; but one of the reasons was just to see like: “Okay; these are the people that we need around us—that are going to keep us from being in the gutter.”
Bob: I want to point out—I read these chapters in your book about “Satan Cesspool,” “In the Syrup Aisle,” and “Lost In the Woods”—but I look at the sections of your book: “Here's a book about how to be the kind of dad that you want to be.” The main sections are: “The Kingdom of God Around You,” “The Kingdom of God in You,” and, “The Kingdom of God Through You.” When you stop and think about it, if you want to be the dad God's calling you to be, the key is: “Are you a kingdom man?”—right?
Bob: To organize your book in this direction and say: “Let's talk about the kingdom of God around you, and the kingdom of God in you, and then the kingdom of God through you—that's going all the way back to the taproot to say, ‘The fruit of being the kind of husband and dad we want to be is going to come when the taproot is right.’”
Jerrad: I think a lot of guys are bored. I think our churches are actually filled with men, who are really bored.
I tell this story of the time I was in Egypt, and we had to have police escorts with us at all times. We had a big film company/our crew with us, so we just had to have police with us at all times. Towards the end of the trip, I wanted to go out and get a souvenir for my wife; so I'm laying in the hotel bed—it's probably midnight—but the city, I could hear, was still bustling around me. I didn't have enough luggage space to get all the candy and treats that I bought for my wife home; so I’m like, “I need a backpack, or a suitcase, or something.”
I woke—I jumped up. I went down; and I kind of snuck out the lobby, through the police escorts, who are waiting down at the lobby. All of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of Egypt, by myself, without the police escorts; and I was freaked out. I was scared to death. You know, it's like: “This is what I wanted and, now, I'm terrified.”
I ended up finding a bag. I found some young people, who spoke English, and helped me with that. But I got back to the hotel room and I was laying on the bed. It was probably one in the morning by this point, and my heart was just racing. I thought to myself/I had this thought—like, “Was I—did I really want a backpack?—or did I want an adrenaline rush?” I think I wanted the adrenaline rush even more than I wanted the backpack.
I don't think guys ever stop wanting that; so I think we have a lot of guys, who are bored in our churches. They're just—I always say, “Bored men are dangerous men.” What's happening is—we're looking for adventure; but when we're bored, we often look for it in a lot of dumb places. This is why you see guys entangled with pornography, and having affairs, or even things that aren't necessarily "sinful,” but they're just into really like—for lack of better words—lame stuff—like: “Why are you spending so many hours on fantasy football, or on playing your video games, or whatever?”
I love sports and all that stuff, but you're spending a lot of time on the stuff that doesn't really matter at the end of the day. I think it’s just because men are bored. What I’m trying to do is invite guys to say: “Hey there’s a way bigger story happening around you. This is the kingdom of God around you; and He‘s, in His grace, invited you into this huge story. Let’s dive into that kind of adventure.”
Bob: Well, I do think, before we’re done—and I’m going to tell people how they can get a copy of your book, and how they can find your blog, and how they can find out about the Facebook group; you can go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. But before we’re done, you do have to explain what the spiritual principle was around the miscue in the dentist’s office; okay? [Laughter]
Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, if you want to find out about Jerrad's book and about his Facebook page. We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. The title of the book is Dad Tired and Loving It by Jerrad Lopes. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, if you want information about the blog or the Facebook group, it's on our website, as well, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, what was it that you learned from your disoriented moment in the dentist’s office, when you thought that that protective smock was actually a hospital gown? [Laughter]
Jerrad: Yes; I tell a few stories in that chapter. Essentially, the point I’m trying to make in that chapter is—oftentimes, for dads, they’re paralyzed by thinking, “I can’t really step into spiritual leadership, because I’m just going to do it wrong.” The point I’m trying to make in that chapter, specifically, is: “You will; you will mess up”—like—“for sure.” I give a couple of examples through stories, where it was the right thing but the wrong timing or the wrong place.
There have been so many times, with my kids, where I’m trying to give these great theological explanations of something; and it’s just terrible timing—it’s like straight through their head: like in one ear and out the other. They just—it never landed. That’s why the subtitle of the book is: Stumbling Your Way to Spiritual Leadership. That’s essentially the point I was trying to make.
Bob: Again, you can read about that and other miscues from our guest, Jerrad Lopes. [Laughter]
Jerrad: Many of them.
Bob: Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for information about Jerrad’s book, which is called Dad Tired and Loving It: Stumbling Your Way to Spiritual Leadership. There’s also a link to Jerrad’s blog on our website. Again, FamilyLifeToday.com is where you can get information about Jerrad's resources; or call us at 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I don’t know if you know this, Jerrad; I wrote a book, a number of years ago, called The Christian Husband, that’s about being a spiritual leader in your marriage. We want to make that book available for our listeners/for any of our listeners, who can help with a donation to support the ministry of FamilyLife. FamilyLife exists because folks, like you, who listen regularly, have decided this is important, not just for you and your family, but it’s important for your community. You want to help reach other people with practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families.
Every time you donate, you help extend the reach of this ministry. You’re actually pouring into the lives of young husbands and dads, young wives and moms; families are being reshaped as a result of your investment in this ministry. Again, if you can help with a donation today, we’ll send you a copy of my book, The Christian Husband, as a way of saying, “Thank you for your support.” Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make a donation, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. We appreciate your partnership with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today and look forward to hearing from you.
We hope you can be back with us, again, tomorrow when we're going to hear more from Jerrad Lopes about what spiritual leadership in the home should look like.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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