The Dad Tired 3-Way Decision Filter For All of Life: Jerrad Lopes
Your plate as a dad has more than your life can ever eat. How do you decide where your attention goes? Dad Tired Author & podcaster Jerrad Lopes offers his decision filter for a wise, loving, fulfilling life.
About the Guest
- Connect with Jerrad Lopes at DadTired.com, or on Instagram @dad.tired.
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Your plate as a dad has more than your life can ever eat. Dad Tired Author & podcaster Jerrad Lopes offers his decision filter for a wise, loving life.
The Dad Tired 3-Way Decision Filter For All of Life: Jerrad Lopes
Jerrad: The more time I spend with Jesus the more I realize I don’t deserve the amount of grace I’ve been given. It’s hard to think about that often. That man, God should have turned His back on me, and He didn’t. Instead of turning His back on me He did the opposite, He adopted me in and then called me son and delights in me. He should be furious at me because of my sin but because of Jesus I bring a smile to His face. Incredible. How do you hear that message and not show more patience to you kids?
Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most, I’m Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Dave: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: I can remember bringing CJ our number one son home from the hospital and looking at him in the crib. I don’t know what you thought. I thought. I have no idea what to do. [Laughter] I mean I was scared.
Ann: I thought the same thing because we’re both the youngest. So, we hadn’t been around babies, I had babysat some.
Dave: Yes, but your brothers had kids. I remembered, remember when I got Jim’s little guy-
Ann: –Oh yes
Dave: –Ted and I had never really held a baby and I saw everybody throws them up so I threw him up and he hit the ceiling [Laughter] and I’m like, “Oh man, I am so bad at this.” And now I’ve got my own kid [Laughter]
Ann: –I do remember-
Dave: –and I thought I’m going to mess this up so bad. He’s going to be in a counselor’s couch the rest of his life. I literally thought that.
Ann: Well, especially since your dad left when you were seven.
Dave: I had all kinds of reasons not to be a good dad.
Ann: I wonder if a lot of dads feel like that? You ended up being a great dad and most of that was because of Jesus has just transformed you and me.
Dave: You’re being very nice.
Ann: No but, do you think most men feel that overwhelming what am I going to do?
Dave: I think we’re going to find out today. [Laughter] We’ve got Mr. Dad Tired in the studio. Jerrad Lopes is back with FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Jerrad: Thank you. When you say, “Mr. Dad Tired,” I was up all night with my four-year-old so yes [Laughter] I actually feel very dad tired. And I do think most guys feel that. I remember they handed me the baby, our first, our son.
Jerrad: It’s like, “Okday, you’re free to leave.” I legitimately was like, “I thought we were in here a week.” Like you know, a couple weeks [Laughter]-
Ann: –to learn something
Jerrad: –yes you’ve got to teach me what to do. I had no idea. I could not believe they were sending me home after two days [Laughter] with that baby, because I had no idea what to do.
Dave: Because your dad left too.
Jerrad: –mmm hmm
Dave: How old were you?
Jerrad: I was three. Yes, my dad bailed when I was three.
Dave: Wow so I mean there’s definitely that sense from us because we never had a dad, but your ministry is Dad Tired, literally some people are like, that’s the name of the ministry which thousands of men all around the world basically are in a community where they talk about dad stuff and husband stuff as men, right?
Jerrad: Yes, it’s a bunch of humble guys who are saying, “I’m tired. I don’t really know what I’m doing but I’m fully committed to falling in love with Jesus and helping my family do the same.
Ann: Every wife now just pulled out her phone and she’s [Laughter] looking this up.
Dave: Yes, and so we’re going to talk a little bit today about your newest book The Dad Tired Q&A Mixtape. By the way, what’s the whole idea of the mixtape?
Jerrad: The book is really for all the seasons of dadhood. You’re going to think through how do you make big decisions as a family? How do you stay intimate with your wife? How do you connect with your kids? How do you pray with your kids? Do you really need to go to church? How do you find a church? Basically we’re trying to have a soundtrack for you as a dad in all the seasons that you’re going to experience in life as a father and really have kind of a roadmap that’s going to point you back to Jesus, back to the gospel, so you can be the husband, father, disciple God’s called you to be.
Dave: Now you’ve got four kids-
Dave: –from twelve down to two. You just said man when you brought home number one you felt the same thing, so let’s just hit some questions you just raised. As a dad, how would you start to coach a dad, how would you really connect with your son or daughter?
Jerrad: You know what I found interesting when I first had my kids? My wife obviously carried the baby and so there’s something happening. I’m not smart enough to tell you all the things that are happening medically and from you know a physiological perspective, but she’s carrying the baby and for my wife she nursed the baby. So there’s like instant bonding.
Jerrad: But for me I remember thinking like, “This is just a blob, like a human blob. What do I do with this little creature?”
Ann: And they can do nothing.
Jerrad: And they can do nothing.
Jerrad: My wife’s up in the middle of the night and she’s really experiencing this bonding. For me as a dad I remember for the first time, my son rolled a ball to me. He was old enough to sit up and he rolled a ball and it was just like, “Game over [Laughter] Now we can do stuff together.” That was like honestly, I remember so distinctly this is the first time we–I felt a deep–of course I loved him, you know, but there was this deep bond.
I was just thinking about this, it was actually on the plane ride today. One of the coolest things about God, the Bible tells us that He dwells with us. Literally from Genesis to Revelation there’s just over and over, “God is with–He’s with them in the garden. He’s with them on their worst day. He’s with them in the wilderness as they’re turning their back on Him. The Bible says in John 1 that He dwelled among them. He gives us the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of us and then He comes back in Revelation and He will be with us again. He will be our God. God is a dwelling God.
So what do we do as dads? We dwell with our kids. It doesn’t need to be fancy. God doesn’t always have to do miracles and miraculous stuff, literally just be fully present. The times I feel I’m the best dad are the times I’m dwelling with the Lord, I rest in His presence, and then I’m just with my kids. I’m literally just fully present with them.
Ann: Dave I feel like a lot of dads are saying, “I don’t know how to do that.” Did you feel that with our kids?
Dave: Oh, 1,000 percent.
Dave: I really did. I was full of fear and it didn’t go away. I almost felt–and I think this is wrong, tell me if you’ve done this or if in your community of Dad Tired if you hear men say this. I almost felt like yes, the first two or three years are just their mom years. They’re going to connect with mom better. I’m going to wait until they can do stuff. [Laughter]
Jerrad: Right, right
Dave: You know, throw the ball back to me and then I’ll engage. I sort of had that perspective of I’m just going to wait. I can sometimes feel that with the grandkids now. It’s like, “Ah, my days are coming,” but I don’t think that’s the way we should approach it.
Jerrad: Yes. I had a mentor tell me one time, “Jerrad, you’re going to have a million job titles, but you will die a husband, you will die a father, you will die a disciple. Go crush it at those three things.” So how do we connect with our kids? What are you saying yes to that doesn’t hit those three categories? If you’re saying yes to something that doesn’t hit those three categories, start saying no more often.
Ann: Name those again Jerrad.
Jerrad: Husband, father, disciple. Everything that gets thrown in your life and on your plate should get filtered through those three things. If it doesn’t help you become better at those three things, say no to it and start saying yes to those three.
Dave: You mentioned earlier being fully present.
Jerrad: Mmm hmm
Dave: So, have you figured out a way to be–your soul is there with your wife and your kids? [Laughter]
Jerrad: No, I have not figured that out [Laughter] if I’m honest. I’ve been convicted by it-
Jerrad: –and I’m trying to grow in that. I just met with a group of guys this last weekend and we were–they were strangers to me. I was speaking at an event and then we met afterwards for dinner. We were literally all talking about what it’s like to be present but not present.
Jerrad: –and how we’re all guilty of that. I was even thinking my dad left, it sounds like your dad left too, that’s so painful for a child to not have a dad around. But I was also thinking, I wonder how painful it is to have a dad who’s there but not really there. And if that’s even equally as painful? He’s sharing a home with you and yet you don’t feel like you’re connecting with him at all. I don’t know that reality, but I wonder if my kids might say that and that thought terrifies me.
Jerrad: –that I’m there but I’m not really there. You know I could spout out some answer,but I think, even just you asking that question, I think most parents, if they were honest could probably answer that question pretty easily like, “I’m spending a lot of time on things that just don’t matter.”
Ann: Ah, it’s so easy for both moms and dads right now to just be scrolling when our kids are present, we’re on our phones. I think it’s easy for all of us to just space out because that world feels more interesting sometimes than when we have toddlers.
Jerrad: It is more interesting.
Jerrad: I mean my toddler, literally two days ago colored all over our brand new house walls with a crayon and then took yogurt and threw it all over the house. Why would I not want to look at the top five destinations [Laughter] that I can go to on a budget?
Dave: Right now.
Jerrad: Right now.
Dave: I’m booking a flight.
Jerrad: I can mentally put myself there.
Dave: Well it’s easy.
Ann: It’s so easy to do you guys.
Dave: You want to escape in some ways because it is chaos.
Jerrad: Here’s what I tossed out to those guys I was just saying we were all relating to that.
Jerrad: We ended that meeting by saying, “I wonder if we would be better at dwelling with our kids, being more present with our kids, if we were intentional about dwelling with the Lord and spending time with the Lord?”
If I was intentional to say I was going to turn off all the noise and just spend time with the Father, to be in the presence of the Father, if that would have an impact on me being more present with my kids? I think it would. But I think it’s an experiment for all of us parents to do.
Do I have space carved out in my life where I’m just going to be quiet with the Lord? And you’re a parent listening wondering, “When am I possibly going to do that?” [Laughter] But it’s probably just a little bit intentionality you know, just 10-15 minutes before the kids get up or go to bed or whatever. I’m just going to be with the Lord and to see does that make me a more present parent as I make time with the Father.
Dave: Yes, and I think He gives you His eyes-
Dave: –and you’ll see things, like He did when you said your future’s sitting right here. I think you’re right. That’s the answer to be a better husband, to be a better dad.
Let me ask you this. Have you processed the father wound? Because you know my dad walked out and for decades, I didn’t really know I had one, but then when I realized, “Oh boy!” That processing made me a better man and dad and a lot of guys I don’t know if they’ve ever taken the journey. What about you?
Jerrad: Under 30 years old I would have said my dad’s absence didn’t impact me and I would have really believed that.
Jerrad: Like, “Yes he was gone but I didn't really know what it was like without him there so it doesn’t matter.” Something happened to me. You know they say for most guys, brains can take up to 25 years old to fully develop. It’s like it's got to be 30. [Laughter] Because I think that was like when I was starting to get it a little bit more.
But 30 years old when I was really starting to understand, “Oh, some of my behaviors are a direct result of my not having my dad around.” Part of it was what we talked about yesterday, which is I’m looking for affirmation in places because I didn’t have a man telling me, “You’re doing a good job and I’m proud of you.” So I’m looking for every possible way, for somebody to tell me both in good areas, sinful areas, I’m just looking for somebody to say, “You’re doing a good job and I’m proud of you.”
But I would say I’m in my mid 30s so I think I’ve just started that journey, of just starting to make that–but the other think I’d say too, for men one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to have some self-awareness to say, to pause for a moment, reflect on your own behaviors, your thoughts, your behaviors, your actions and to say, “Does that have a direct correlation to my childhood?” You start to do that, and I think you’ll find yourself maturing as a man.
Dave: It’s interesting I sat with a counselor a couple weeks ago, a guy that’s really a very helpful, wise therapist in my life, and I’m like, “Hey Greg, I’m struggling with forgiveness.” It’s not my dad. I’ve worked through that years ago, but with somebody in my life right now and he immediately did what you just did. He goes, “Just know this, and we can talk but this is where I’m going to go,” and I go, “Where?” I should know where he’s going to go. He goes, “Your struggle with forgiveness now is connected to your childhood. Now we’ve just got to be able to make the connection. It’s something with your dad or something with your brother dying or it’s something with God but somehow there’s a connection. The reason you’re struggling through this, it’s not just you’re struggling. It’s connected.”
I think you’re right. It’s like a man in his 30s doesn’t–it’s like we’re not ready yet maybe. Maybe other men are sharper than I am and did it in their 20s but for me it wasn’t until I was 32 that I even started to address my issue with my dad. But if you don’t make that connection, I think as men, I’m sure it’s true for women too, I mean I feel like I told Greg, “Why didn’t I meet with you when I was 28 or 30?” You know what he said? “You’re meeting with me now. Let’s do the work.” It’s often going to be connected there.
So, you’re a young man. Have you felt like you’re becoming the man God wants you to be because you processed that?
Jerrad: Well first I would just say first too. What you just said terrifies me as a parent now. To think he said basically I’m going to tie this back to your childhood and all I’m thinking is, “Oh Geez. How am I damaging my kids now right?”
Ann: We already know. [Laughter]
Jerrad: And they’re going to have the same conversation with my kid. So to go back to the point, I think if we can be men now while our kids are young, you know for a lot of the Dad Tired guys they still have young kids in the house.
Jerrad: To start now to become a healed man. - The other thing I would say, I talk to a lot of guys. The Bible says if we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive us of them, which is such an amazing promise. But there are a lot of guys walking around forgiven but not healed. God has forgiven them for sure, but they don’t feel forgiven or healed. But then James says, “Confess your sins to one another. Pray for one another that you would be healed,” and man if we could become dads who are healed men, and part of that healing is confession of sin, going to another brother and saying, “Man, I don’t know why I do this. I don’t know why I keep doing this, but I want to confess to you, but also to process this stuff to tie it back to things that happened in my childhood.” If we can become healed men now, I’m hoping that there will be less conversations or material available for my kids [Laughter] when they’re sitting there with their counselors.
Ann: Do you guys feel like men need to be in other groups or some sort of accountability with other men? Does that really help?
Jerrad: They need other brothers. Accountability has always been like a sticky word for guys-
Jerrad: –because it’s like, “Hey you want to meet on Tuesdays for accountability?” It’s like, “No,-
Jerrad: –why would I want to do that?”
Ann: Who wants to do that?
Jerrad: I don’t want to wake up at 6:00 am-
Dave: I want to run from that.
Jerrad: –that doesn’t sound fun. But I meet with a group of guys, a lot of whom are military. These are intense, tough men. The way we frame it is we know that the spiritual leadership thing is a battle for our families and that we’re at the front lines of that battle and the enemy’s going to attack us in hopes that our whole family is destroyed. So, I meet with them and we bring this up every week. “I’m meeting with you because I need you brothers to help me so that my family doesn’t come under attack, or when it does that, I have some truth, somebody to speak truth.” That sounds more compelling to me-
Jerrad: –than, “Hey, can you check in on my behavior every week?” you know.-
Jerrad: –but to really realize this is a real spiritual battle and I don’t want to lose it. I want to run the race well.
Ann: Oh, so good Jerrad.
Dave: Yes, and I would add I do not believe a man can be healed, or as John Eldridge says, finished, like become a finished man, without men.
Dave: If you are a guy listening right now and you’re trying to do this on your own, you can’t do it. Some of it’s fear. I don’t want to be that vulnerable with other guys. Man, if you take the risk to be vulnerable with other men, you are going to be–you’re going to get toward healing. They’re going to be just like you said in James, God forgives. It’s interesting He uses people to help us heal.-
Dave: –I mean He heals, but He says now if you keep that sin to yourself, that struggle to yourself, you’re not going to heal. You’re going to win for a day or for a week and then you’re going to be right back there. But when you get a brother in there–I know I used to say as a pastor, “If you come up to me and say, ‘Hey, here’s my confession,’ you’re just cheating because I’m not in your life.”-
Dave: -And then you’re going to walk out and go, “I’m all good now,” and you’re going to struggle again. But if you get a brother who’s going to say, “How are you doing with that area that we talked about last week?” Again, not just an accountability thing, but the brotherhood, that I want to walk with you, and I want to sharpen one another to be better, then you see healing. It sounds like you’re doing that on a weekly basis?
Jerrad: Yes, and that’s by the way like one or two guys it doesn’t need to be a Bible study of 10 guys. That’s like 1 or 2 guys we’re talking about.
Jerrad: It’s very small, tight knit group of brothers that I need you in my corner for this–for figuring this stuff out.
Dave: What do you say to the guy that doesn’t have it and is listening right now and going, “I’m good.”?
Jerrad: Well, you’re incredibly naive to think that you’re going to go through life and not take a lot of wounds and that your family–if you love your kids and your wife, dude you got to pursue this stuff. You’ve got to be serious about this stuff because you’re incredibly vulnerable by yourself.
Ann: Mmm. How do they do that? A listener could be thinking, “Yes it’s easy for your guys. You’ve got all these followers. You’ve probably got friends all over. Dave you’re a pastor, you’re around men all the time.” I hear a lot of wives say, “My husband needs some friends.” He says, “I have you as my friend. I don’t need anybody else.” So, I like that you address that but what are the first steps a man should take. You’re talking to these guys all the time.
Dave: Jump in the Dad Tired community.
Jerrad: Honestly, first like my followers aren’t those close friends so it doesn’t matter about followers and platforms. It’s the guy I went to high school with. Those are the guys I’m calling, not to say it’s the guys you went to high school with but what I’m saying- It’s a close friend that you already know. But honestly, I would say it’s easy to find a guy who’ll watch a game with you, come over watch March Madness or a football game or whatever.
It’s hard to find guys who are serious about this kind of stuff, and this is why the Dad Tired community is so powerful because you can go on there and I promise you there is a Dad Tired guy that lives near you. And even if he doesn’t there’s a Dad Tired guy who says, “I’ll zoom with you every Tuesday and be that brother in your corner.” I know that it really is a community of humble men who are trying to partner with each other and fight for this stuff.
Ann: That’s cool.
Dave: Yes, I think what you’re saying, and I agree Jerrad, if you want it you will find it. You will make it. In another sense if you want it ask God. God will bring men into your life.
Ann: That’s what I was going to say.
Dave: You might even already know who they are it’s just – it’s like let’s take this to the next level and sharpen one another and be the man and the husband our wives long for us to be.
Ann: I mean I love the Scripture. If we’re calling out to God and asking for that He will do it. As a wife I can pray that for my husband. “Father, bring other men into his life that will encourage him, love him, hang out with him.”
Jerrad: We have a thing on our website where you can type in your zip code and find Dad Tired guys. One guy did that and put in there, hey I live in this town, somebody else typed in their zip code, found him, emailed him. That group turned into four guys who have become best friends that have never had friendship like this where I can talk about what it means to be a husband, father, and disciple like this. Now their wives get together, and all their kids get together. Really there are men out there who are hungry for this stuff.
Dave: So, we mentioned earlier that if you want to really love your wife, basically follow Jesus. If you want to really love your kids, would you say the same thing or would it be different?
Jerrad: Absolutely it would be the same thing [Laughter] The more time I spend with Jesus the more I realize I don’t deserve the grace I’ve been given. It’s hard to think about that often, that man, God should have turned His back on me, and He didn’t.
Instead of turning His back on me He did the opposite. He adopted me in and then called me son and delights in me. He should be furious at me because of my sin but instead because of Jesus, He calls me son and delights in me. I bring a smile to His face. Incredible. How do you hear that message and not show more patience to your kids?
God doesn’t just punish me when I mess up. He’s long suffering. He’s over and over–”How many times do you forgive?” somebody asks Jesus. You keep doing it essentially is what He says. You keep doing it and keep doing it. Well, when you sit in that. God keeps forgiving me, I’m going to keep showing grace to my kids. I’m going to keep loving my wife because God keeps loving me. It’s really hard to spend time with Jesus and not be a better husband and father.
Dave: You know as I’m listening to Jerrad, I’m thinking there’s a guy listening, he’s this close. You know maybe he’s fallen away or maybe he’s never really understood what you just articulated in a few sentences, the gospel, how would you call that guy? You even said at the end of lunch, “Man at the end of a lot of your talks I’m calling guys to surrender,” How would you call a guy to surrender? What would that look like? What would it sound like?
Jerrad: I imagine there’s somebody who’s listening to this episode right now because you saw something about fatherhood, and maybe you’re a wife and wanted to know more about parenting or maybe you’re a guy and you’re like, “Yes, maybe I could use some tips on how to be a better dad.” Maybe you didn’t know this was what God was like. You thought you had to get your stuff in order for God to like you or once I get these things figured out then God will be near me.
Brother if I could just speak to you for a second. That’s not the God of the Bible. Every other religion would say that’s what you need to get your stuff together, but the God of the Bible would say, “I see you in your mess and I’m not going to leave you there.” Instead of the Bible being one page long and because he would say, “Oh you’re too messy,” and leaving, the Bible is thousands of pages long because He says, “I’m going to keep pursuing you and chasing you down with My great love.”
So, brother if that’s you listening right now and you’re like, “I just didn’t know that’s what God was like,” that is what God is like. He’s different than any other god. If you are willing to see that message, to hear that message and say, “I want to follow that God. I want to surrender my life to that Jesus with as much information as I know, as confusing as it is.” Dude, there’s literally nothing more important. The work meeting that you’re going to right now. The place you’re going to right now. Whatever. The house you’re pulling into right now, whatever you’re doing right now is–there’s nothing more important than to say, “Jesus, I think you had an appointment for me to hear this message right now and I want to follow you the best that I know how.” I promise you, you start to fall in love with that God you will become the man that God is calling you to be.
Dave: Let me invite you brother to pray with me right now. I don’t know where you are right now, car, family room, wherever you are. If this is your moment to say, “I need to surrender,” just pray with me right now. “Jesus, I surrender all of my life to you as a man, as a husband, as a dad, as a single man,” whatever stage you’re in, “Lord, I’m surrendering areas of my life that I’m pursuing that are not what You want me to pursue. I’m giving those over to You and I’m surrendering my life to receive Jesus and what He’s done for me and that I’m forgiven, and I receive that now. God, would you make me the husband, the dad, the man that you created me to be, and I’ve tried to be but I’ve failed miserably. I can’t do it without you so I’m asking you Jesus, I’m giving you all of me. Make me the man you’ve created me to be.”
Shelby: I’m Shelby Abbott and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jerrad Lopes on FamilyLife Today. Jerrad has written a book called The Dad Tired Q & A Mixtape: Jesus-Centered Answers to Questions About Faith and Family. Who out there doesn’t have questions about faith and family? Well this book is incredible and it’s our gift to you when you give any amount to partner with us financially here at FamilyLife.
You can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, the number is 800, ‘F’ as in family ‘L’ as in life and then the word TODAY. Feel free to drop us something in the mail. Our address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, Florida 32832. Well tomorrow Dave and Ann Wilson are joined in the studio one last time with Jerrad Lopes. He’s going to talk to us about the five things we need to know to be a better dad. That’s tomorrow.
Shelby: On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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