FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Story Behind Dad Tired: Jerrad Lopes

with Jerrad Lopes | June 14, 2023
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Author & podcaster Jerrad Lopes shares his story behind Dad Tired podcasts, conferences, & books—as well as the life-changing convictions that started it all.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Author & podcaster Jerrad Lopes shares his story behind Dad Tired podcasts, conferences, & books—as well as life-changing convictions that started it all.

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The Story Behind Dad Tired: Jerrad Lopes

With Jerrad Lopes
June 14, 2023
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Dave: Alright, so today we are talking about Dad Tired.

Ann: Is that a thing?

Dave: Well, I just want to know, do moms get tired?

Ann: Are you kidding? Like, every woman's listening like, “Of course, women are tired. Moms are tired.” Are dads tired?

Dave: All the time, a hundred times more than moms because we do so much more than the moms. [Laughter]

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 or on the FamilyLife® app.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

Dave: Literally, it's the opposite. I watched you and most moms; they never stop. And I'm not saying dads don't either, but you talk about tired and exhausted and worn out. Moms are worn out.

Ann: But so are dads. And sometimes we as women don't give them space to even admit it because we feel like our lives as moms can be so much harder. But I think this is a real thing, and I think it's good to talk about it.

Dave: Yes, and so we've got Mr. Dad Tired himself, Jerrad Lopes, in the studio; started a ministry years ago called Dad Tired []. Jerrad's been on here before, but it's been a few years. Welcome back.

Jerrad: It's good to be back with you guys. This feels right. And I'll just say I owe—every time I tell somebody Dad Tired, I do feel a little bit silly because I know my wife's like, “Okay.” [Laughter] Mom tired is very much a real thing. And everyone keeps saying you should start a ministry called Mom Tired.

Dave: Now, Jerrad, where'd you come up with even the title, Dad Tired?

Jerrad: Yes, somebody just asked me that. I wish I could say I was like, clever enough to [Laughter] sit down and put a bunch of names together that was going to be a hit. It was none of that. It was actually—that's how it started in a season of my own marriage that was—we thought we were on the brink of divorce. We were in a very, very rough spot. To this day, eight years later, we bring up this season of life and it still brings Leila to tears, you know. It was so, so hard. My son was three, which was the age that I was when my dad bailed on me, so it was just really an emotionally hard, hard season.

There was a story—I've told it many times in the book and I've even told it the last time I was here, but Leila had been waking up in the middle of the night. She'd been setting her alarm at 2:00 in the morning to go into the living room and she was praying, begging God that He would capture my heart again. Because I was so hard hearted, I’d pushed her away. I pushed the kids away.

And she had just been—she was like, “I don't know what to tell Jerrad. He had been a pastor” - I had been a pastor for 12 years, so she was like “What do I say to him? He knows all the answers, right, so I just need God to do what I can't do. I need God to change his heart.” And I didn't know she had been getting up in the middle of the night to do this. She told me in the middle of a fight, which is a terrible thing. [Laughter] You know I was ready to fight. I wasn't ready to hear that my wife’s praying for me.

She tells me this and that was what really, God used that to soften my heart. You know how the Bible says it's God's kindness that leads us to repentance. It was the kindness of God through my wife. And so, God just started changing my heart. I happened to write this blog that said “I feel like I'm failing as a husband and dad, but I don't want to. I don't want to do it to my son and to my kids what my dad did to me.” And these guys started to reach out and say “Jerrad, I feel the same way. I feel like I'm not the man I want to be or who I thought I would be.”

I was like, “These guys need to talk to each other. We need to encourage each other,” and so I created a little Facebook page and they said, “What do you want to call the Facebook page?” and I just said, “Dad Tired,” almost tongue in cheek. It was the smartest unintentional thing I've ever done because it—guys resonate with that.

Dave: Oh yes. Something happened around the country and the world when you put that blog out there and the title is perfect. I know it was just a thought but man, when you read that Dad Tired, you're like, “That's me. I want to be a winner. I want to be the best man and husband and dad.” We all have it, I think, in us and yet we feel so tired, and we feel like we're failing, so something connected with men.

Jerrad: I think that's it because you're starting off by saying “I'm not perfect at this.” That name kind of gives the indication “I'm not perfect at this.” We used to say, “Dad tired and loving it.” Like “I'm totally exhausted but I love this and I'm willing to keep going.”

Ann: Jerrad, when you talked about your wife praying for you, Leila, one of the—

Dave: And by the way, we didn't mention you’ve got four kids.

Jerrad: Four kids.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Twelve down to two?

Jerrad: That's right.

Dave: Wow.

Ann: But when—

Dave: You are dad tired. [Laughter]

Jerrad: I’m trying to be a—

Ann: She— [Laughter] When she talked to you that one night, do you remember what she said? Which to me, when I just got stuck on that of what she asked you of you being a Christian.

Dave: Well, that's a different conversation.

Jerrad: That was a different—

Ann: Do you not want to go there?

Dave: No. I mean—

Ann: Oh, it's a different time.

Dave: Different than that prayer at night.

Ann: I thought it was around that same time.

Jerrad: She asked me that when we got when we first started meeting and I was getting to know her. She had/she was fairly new to the faith.

Dave: Yes, tell our listeners what she said.

Jerrad: Yes, so Leila gave her life to Christ in college, so she came in with just a real hot fire for the Lord. Like, “This is all new and God has saved me,” and she was passionate for the Lord. That was attractive to me. She sees me just kind of going through the rhythms of ministry. I remember one time she said to me, she said, “Jerrad, are you a Christian because you really love Jesus or because you get paid to be?” I was like, “Who are you to say—” [Laughter] You know I teach people about Jesus. I do—and she was asking sincerely.

Ann: She wasn't being sarcastic.

Jerrad: She wasn't being sarcastic. She just was really curious, like, “It seems like you're just going through the motions.” She has a way of hitting you across the face with truth and somehow you still feel loved.

Dave: I guess so.

Jerrad: I honestly was mad. I remember I took her home, back to her apartment and I was like, you know, “I guess maybe I'll call you some other time.” [Laughter] But I got back to my apartment and that question kept going through my brain over and over and over again. Like, am I really committed to this or am I just going through the motions?

And I think—you know the Bible says in Genesis like “It's not good for man to be alone so let us create for him a helper.” Leila has helped me really figure out what it means to live a life for Lord. I think that's a key point for a lot of guys and our spouses in general like, do you view your spouse as somebody that is helping you become the person God wants you to be versus this person is just going to make me happy all the time?

Dave: Yes.

Jerrad: That question didn't make me happy, but it did make me more holy.

Dave: It's interesting that you have the conversation after you're married; that she's getting up at 2:00 AM and praying for God to get your heart. You had a conversation years before, before you even married, and it's still the same sort of request in prayer.

Ann and I spoke at a chapel at a seminary a few years back and they said, “Tell the students something they need to know.” You know what our first point was? I wonder what you think of this. Our first point was—and you know I've been in ministry 30 years as a church leader, pastor, and this was probably 10 years ago so 20 years. I said, “You can have a really successful ministry with a really lousy walk with God.” You can figure out “Here's what you do; here's how you pull off a good service.” And I'm not saying that's what you should do but it was like I never thought that was possible. I thought it had to be an overflow of your thing. And that's what she was getting at.

So as a man and as a husband and as a dad, what would you say to guys? Because there's part of me that goes, I think a lot of us need to hear that from our wife or somebody to say, “Are you the real deal? Is this walk with God, is it on fire?”

Ann: Even the spiritual leader part. What is that? I think men feel overwhelmed with that.

Jerrad: Yes, yes. I mean, a couple thoughts on that. First is I was thinking you could probably say the same thing about, like, appearing to have a successful marriage and family but be far from God. I can post pictures on social media, and I can show up in public and even to church and man it looks like we're we got our lives together and behind closed doors our marriage is falling apart. My heart is far from the Lord. I think there are a lot of us, if we're honest, there are a lot of people in that situation.

And what we don't want, like for us at Dad Tired, what we don't want is just tell guys “Here are the ten things you need to do to behave well so that you can just get your life figured out.” Guys know, like we know. That's why most guys don't want to go to counseling because they're just like, “I'm not going to pay somebody to tell me what I need to do. I already know what I need to do.”

I think what we're trying to do is say, “Man, what we really want you to understand is the gospel. That God should have bailed on you because of your brokenness, because of your sin that you're already well aware of, and instead of bailing on you, God has pursued you with His great love.” If a guy meditated on that, studied that, focused on that day in and day out, it's impossible to not love your wife more when you recognize how much God loves you. It's impossible to not be more patient with your kids when you realize how patient God has been with you and the list goes on and on and on. The gospel is actually what's changing us as men, not just behavior modification.

Dave: Well, it's interesting as I read your book this week, your latest book, The Dad Tired Q&A Mixtape: —which by the way, has a cassette tape on the front. Some of our listeners like, “What's that?” I grew up with it. Actually, I grew up with a—what was it?—eight track and then a cassette tape—and that Jesus-Centered Answers to Questions About Faith and Family. So you answer all kinds of different topics and questions, but the more I read it, the more you keep coming back to what you just said. If you want to love your wife, be the husband, be the dad your wife and your family longs for, it all comes back to this walk with God. I mean over and over cause you, like I said, you Q & A Mixtape. It's all kinds of questions but I kept getting, that's the theme, right?

Jerrad: I mean, I was, if I'm honest, I was thinking about that two nights ago as I was falling asleep. This is usually where God speaks to us in the silence. Our lives have so much noise in it. It's just so busy.

Dave: Especially your life with four kids.

Jerrad: Yes, literal noise all the time. But I was laying in bed, and I was falling asleep. It was quiet and I just was feeling that. It starts with, like, what am I doing? Am I being the man? Am I actually doing a good job as a dad? I was feeling that through the day, like haven't had a good conversation with my kids, haven't been intentional with my kids this week. I was coming up with all the strategies I needed to do. “Okay, maybe if I do these three things, I'll be a better dad this week.” And I just, I literally came back to that thought that you just said. What I really need to do is fall more in love with Jesus, come back to Jesus. Because if I'm in the presence of the Lord and I'm reminded of that gospel truth, I will be a better dad. I've seen that play out. I'm not just saying that because it makes a good book title or chapter, whatever, like I've seen it play out in my life. The closer I am to Jesus; that naturally the better husband and father I am.

Dave: And you know what I'm thinking as Jerrad says that. You represent all the women listening right now in some ways.

Ann: I’m still stuck back on when Jerrad said, “Guys know what they're supposed to do.” As a wife, as moms, I think we think, “Do they?” I didn't know that. Because that's why we as women keep reminding.

Dave: I think she's saying that because she's married to me.

Ann: No, no, I'm serious.

Dave: “My husband didn't know what to do.”

Ann: Because I talked to a lot of wives, and I think that our impression is guys probably never think about this stuff. Guys are thinking about how they can be a better dad and a better husband when they go to sleep at night, because some men aren't always verbal in saying “Man, I want to be a better husband or dad.” And so even that fact that guys know. You think they do?

Jerrad: I think intrinsically there's guys want to do well in their role as a man. Most don't know how and so they find other things to be good at. Work—the feedback loop at work is faster. I go to work; you tell me my job description and I do it. I get a raise, or I get a pat on the back, or I made the - I closed the sale or whatever it is.

And so that's just, I want to be good, but I but I don't know how to be good at home. I can be a good dad for five years and my kids never say “Dad, you're a good dad.” You know I try to go home and be a good husband, but my wife never says “You're doing a really good job. Thank you.” You know, so it's like, well, I'll just, I'll go play video games because I can beat all the levels of that. Or I can go to work and have my boss tell me I did a good job or get on the fantasy football team and beat all my friends at that. But there's—guys want to be good. We want to succeed and that's what, again, that's what we're trying to do at Dad Tired is like—

Ann: Then how can a wife help?

Jerrad: I think that women underestimate the power that their voice has to build up their husband.

Dave: Amen.

Jerrad: It is so powerful. I don't—I'll speak for myself. I didn't grow up with a dad, so I longed for somebody to tell me “You're doing a good job and I'm really proud of you.” And then again, like I was just saying, we look for places where we'll hear those words. Some places it's not even necessarily sinful. It's just work or the sports field or whatever. “You're doing a good job. I'm proud of you.”

But for a wife to look at her husband and say, even if she doesn't see it all, but to say, “I know you have what it takes to lead our family well. God has given you the skills,” and if you can be specific like “God's given you these three skills that I see, and you do such a good job at them. I can't wait to see that the man that God is calling you to be. I'm here with you.” You will put so much wind in your husband's sails by speaking those kinds of life-giving words.

Dave: [Laughter] I just, I was, I'm laughing because I’d say, “Jerrad, would you write the forward for Ann's next book?” Because that's what she's working on, that very idea of the power of a wife’s words, actions, attitudes.

Ann: Because I did it wrong so many years and I had no idea the power and influence I had as a woman to use those words in that kind of way.

Dave: Yes, and again, I don't know if you've experienced this Jerrad, but I felt like what you said earlier. I was pretty good outside the home because people told me and then when I came home, I'm doing my best, but I would hear “Boo.” I'd hear like, you know, “You're not as good a dad as you think.” I didn't even know I did it. I found myself navigating my life toward outside rather than inside.

And then when Ann, decades ago, started flipping the switch and started speaking like, “You're a good man.” We’ve said this many times on here, but at first, I was like, “No I’m not. You've never told me that before.” I didn't believe it, but she started to speak. It changed me to be a better man. And I think that's what happens, isn't it?

Jerrad: I'll just say as a man, even hearing the story of her telling you you're a good man made me emotional.

Dave: Really.

Ann: Wow.

Dave: That's like the DNA of the soul of a man, isn’t it?

Jerrad: That's how powerful it is. I literally, I'm like to hear a wife tell her husband, “You're a good man.” Because I think most men will have the same response you did. “No, I'm not. I’m failing in this area.” But for a wife to just keep speaking those words: “I know who God called you to be. I'm with you. I'm going to partner with you. I'm going to partner with God to see you become that man. I know you have what it takes.” And you—a lot of men will rise up when you start to hear those words.

Dave: It's like you have a superpower. It really is something, guys - and again, we're not saying there aren’t times when you as a wife needs need to speak truth.

Ann: As your wife has. It's interesting too, is many times when she's spoken truth to you, she's posed it as a question and then you're just like thinking about that. I like the way she's done that.

Jerrad: She's smarter than me and that frustrates me. [Laughter] She's playing chess. I'm playing checkers.

Dave: I mean what Jerrad said earlier about—and it's like I said, it's all through this book The Dad Tired Mixtape book—that the best way to love your wife is to be a spiritual man, basically. As a wife, do you feel like that? Like that is what we long for as women, our man to just walk with God?

Ann: Yes, I think so. And I think so many women are feeling weary of carrying that alone. They feel like they're pulling that part of the relationship. “Hey, let's go to church. Hey kids, let's go to church.” And you know, the dad just kind of tagging along and women don't know what to do. We hear like, “Oh, the man's supposed to be the spiritual leader,” and so everyone has a different picture of what that should be and look like. I think that men hear that, and they can feel overwhelmed by that. What does that mean to be the spiritual leader? Do you guys feel overwhelmed by that task?

Jerrad: First, most guys don't want to lead, and then you throw the word spiritual in front of it and it's like, “Well, gee, no way. You know, I'm not going to want to lead in that that way.” I always tell guys spiritual leadership is just first to take initiative. So not the first one to know all the answers, not the first one to be able to quote scripture and know all the theology and all that. Just the first one take initiative. “I'm going to get up first, make sure our kids get to church this Sunday.”

Ann: Oh, what a gift.

Jerrad: “I'm going to be the first one to say, ‘Let's crack open the Bible and let’s just study it together.’” I’ve been doing that with my kids. We just, we literally, we don't have any planned Bible studies. I didn't go to seminary. I don't know like all the answers. I just literally open the Bible to the book of Mark, sit my older kids down, and we just read one chapter a day. And there are a lot of times where my kids like, “What does that mean?” I say, “I have no idea.” But we took initiative and I think that's spiritual leadership. It's just initiative; that's what spiritual leadership is.

Ann: That’s good.

Jerrad: I was going to say, too, when you said wives want their men to lead. I think I would imagine it's hard for a wife to trust their husband in leadership if he's always being selfish and just doing his own thing. But if a man's actually chasing after God, he's repenting of sin, he's humble, he's serving. I just can't imagine a wife not saying, “I don't totally know what you mean by that,” or “I don't totally know what direction, but I do know your heart is with the Lord. I do know you want best for us. I do know you want to make the heart of the Lord happy.” So you know wives, it seems like, would be much more willing to submit to that kind of leadership if she could trust the heart of her husband.

Ann: It’s so attractive. Yes, that's good. And I think as women, we just want a partner. I think men can feel overwhelmed by it but we're thinking— I love that word initiate. If you initiate sometimes, if you're a partner in it, that we're a team, that feels really good.

Dave: Yes, I think, Jerrad, do you feel like this, like for us men sometimes we think leaders or leadership is this big, huge—you know, it's not a step; it's like a jump that I can't make. But when you say initiate, as a guy, I'm like, “Oh, I could do that.”

Jerrad: Yes.

Dave: I mean, it could be I'm at the dinner table and I say, “Hey, before we eat, let's pray.” And I'm going to—it's not some big holy prayer. It's just—that's accessible to a guy. Is that what you're saying? Is that what you're writing about? Is that what you're finding as you—

Jerrad: That’s Dad Tired in a heartbeat, man. Stumble your way forward. [Laughter] That's it; stumble your way. For spiritual leadership, as many ten to fifteen second moments throughout the day you can point your family's eyes back to Jesus. That's it.

Ann: What else have you done Jerrad? You've mentioned like, “Hey, we're reading the book of Mark.” What are some other steps dads can do?

Jerrad: The one thing I just said there was trying to find ten to fifteen second moments. Most of the time we think spiritual leadership is like “Okay, I need to do devotional; got to go on Amazon. I’ve got to find a devotional to pick through. I’ve got to sit down and find the time and I'm tired at night, so I don't want”—you know it feels big. I would just say pick as many moments throughout the day where you're trying to have that kingdom of heaven invade the kingdom of earth here in your child's life or in your wife's life.

So that could be—I was coaching my son at soccer, and we were out on the field and the sun was going down. The sunset was insane, so I just literally whispered in his ear “Man, look how creative God is. Just stop real quick and look at that.” He's like, “Whoa, that's cool.” Ten, fifteen seconds all I’m trying to do is just keep in mind “Son, there's a God bigger than us. You are part of a story that's bigger than you.”

One time we were we were in the grocery store—this didn't turn out to go as planned but we were in the grocery store and there was a couple fighting in the aisle next to us. The wife said to the husband, “I'll never forgive you for this” and I thought “Okay, ten to fifteen second moment I can point my eyes,” so I get down to my son's level and I say, “Son, I will always forgive you because God always forgives us.” And he had tears in his eyes, and I was like, “Oh my God.”

Dave: How old is he?

Jerrad: Well, he's 12 now. He was probably, I don't know, eight or nine when this happened.

Dave: Wow.

Jerrad: I'm like, “This is working. I'm doing a good job.” He looked at me with tears in his eyes. He said, “Daddy, I have to go potty so bad. It's an emergency.” [Laughter] He did not hear a word I just said. But stumbling your way forward, you know, just trying to use every opportunity you can to point your kids to Jesus.

Dave: I mean, that's actually a beautiful way to think about Dad Tired, whatever you want to call it. Just being a man. And obviously any mom or my wife could do the same thing.

Ann: It's Deuteronomy 6.

Jerrad: Yes, yes.

Dave: It's just bringing it down to simple ten—I like that. I like ten, fifteen second; that I can grab.

Jerrad: The other thing I would say too is a good—we all know the difference between a good leader versus a boss. Bosses just tell us what to do and we're in trouble if we don't do it. A good leader looks at the people that they're leading and says, “What skills do you offer to this team to make us all better?” A boss would say to his wife, “You do what I say because I'm the man.” A leader says “What skills do you have that I don't have? I'm going to delegate. You have, God has given you, as my wife, wisdom in ways that I do not have it. You can look at things differently.”

We've talked about my wife, and she's sharp. She's sharper than me, right, and so leadership is not, “I'm doing this all by myself.” Leadership is saying, “Whoa, let me point out the skills that you have in this marriage, and you lead us in this direction.” But again, I'm just taking initiative to get the whole team involved so that we can become the family that God wants us to be.

Ann: See, I get teary even as you talk about a husband telling a wife, “These are the gifts that I see you have, and I need you.” That melts a wife's heart. We long to hear those words; that's so good.

Shelby: That was amazing, and it reminds me of the time I asked my daughter when she was four. I said to her, “Hey, sweetie, who changes us?” And she goes “The Holy Spirit” and I say, “To make us more like who?” And she goes “Jesus” and I said, “For whose glory?” And then she goes “Chick-fil-A.” [Laughter] It's just amazing. And as dads, we press on, right, regardless of what they say.

My name is Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jerrad Lopes on FamilyLife Today. Listen, we're going to hear more from Ann here in just a second. She's got a specific word of encouragement for wives.

But first, I wanted you to know that Jerrad has written a book called The Dad Tired Q&A Mixtape: Jesus-Centered Answers to Questions About Faith and Family. You know, we've been talking a lot about dads, and Father's Day is coming up on Sunday, and we thought it was the perfect time to talk to you about this book that Jerrad has written.

And in fact, this book is going to be our gift to you when you partner with us financially here at FamilyLife. How do you do that? Well, you go online to or you could 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.” And feel free to drop us something in the mail. Our address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Dr, Orlando, FL 32832.

Alright, here's Ann Wilson with some specific encouragement for wives.

Ann: And I think for the wives, as we hear this, this is encouraging me and a good reminder to me to say “Thank you” to my husband, to point out the things my husband's doing right. I think as a woman, as a wife, as you're listening, even asking God, “God, show me the things that my husband's doing well and help me to say them.” That's a great application. Thanks, you guys, that was really good.

Shelby: Now, coming up tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson are joined again in the studio with Jerrad Lopes as he attempts to help us understand that we as dads need to dwell with our children. Be present with them. You know you will have 1000 titles in your life as a man, but you will die as a husband, a father and a disciple. Jerrad's going to talk to us about what that looks like and how that plays out in our lives. We hope you will join us tomorrow.

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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