Ep. 68 || How Can Mom Support Dad Spiritually?: An Interview With Jerrad Lopes Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. Just in time for Father’s Day, we are excited to have our very first male guest on the show to talk about some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we get about marriage and our husbands; including things like, how do we encourage them spiritually, specifically in the areas of scripture reading and family leadership, family worship, and more. He is going to address a lot of practical topics, and it so interesting to listen in, and hear what he has to say. I know Laura and I learned a lot from this show. Our guest today is Jerrad Lopes. He is from Dad Tired. He started this ministry to point men to Jesus and to help them understand how the gospel impacts their fatherhood. So it’s kind of a similar counterpart ministry to Risen Motherhood. We get asked a lot, “Hey, what’s something my husband can listen to, or learn from, about gospel-centred fatherhood?” Dad Tired is one of those ministries. Jerrad lives with his wife in Portland, Oregon. They have two kiddos, and they just started foster care. He also runs Dad Tired, and he has been busy getting his devotional ready to be released. It’s called Stop Behaving—a four-week, 28-day devotional written for men to take their family life and their marriage seriously in light of the gospel. You guys can check that out at his website, dadtired.com. We know you guys will have lots of things to think about after listening to this interview today. Hopefully, it will help you celebrate and encourage your husband in light of Father’s Day. So here we go, here’s Jerrad.

Laura: Hey Jerrad, thanks so much for joining us. We are so excited today to have Jerrad from Dad Tired. I know we’ve given you guys all a little bit of an intro. But this is the first male we’ve had on our show, and I feel that’s a mile marker, Emily.

Emily: It’s a big deal.

Laura: Yes, so thanks for being on.

Jerrad: Oh my gosh, no pressure [laughter]. I’ll try not to mess it up for every guy out there. [laughter]

Laura: We’re super excited because you’ve got a great podcast that we’ve promoted in the past, and we think that every dad should listen to. We often get asked, from our listeners, “Hey, what can my husband listen to? What’s the Risen Motherhood counterpart?” We feel that’s Dad Tired, so we’re thrilled to have you on the show today. Can you give us a little background about who you are, what’s your family make up?  What is the heart behind Dad Tired, and who you hope to reach?

Jerrad: Yes. My name is Jerrad, I am married—way up—to a woman named Leila. She’s a nurse, and the mother of my children, and just an amazing woman. We have two little ones—a three-year-old girl, five-year-old boy. Then, we’re foster parents now, and actually as of today, we’re getting our first foster child placement with us. So that’s our family dynamic.

I have been a pastor for 13 years, most of that was in the church. Then in the last two years, I stepped out of the church role, started Dad Tired, the ministry. Now I host that podcast, and help guys fall in love with Jesus.

Emily: Today, we are excited to have a guy and to ask you anything. [laughs]

Laura: Get all the details, all the things we want to know. So we’re going to dig into some of the most commonly asked questions we get about marriage and fatherhood, from moms who really want to love their husbands well and encourage them spiritually. Let’s kick it off with, "How can a wife best support her husband, in serving as a spiritual leader of her home?" A lot of times it can seem like, for some marriages, that maybe the husband isn’t initiating. Or maybe he’s not showing much interest in leading the family. What would you say to a wife who’s in that position, and just how to equip husbands well?

Jerrad: I was that husband for a season in our marriage; that’s kind of how the Dad Tired podcast started. I felt like I was sucking as a dad and as a husband, and I was not leading my family well. I was not serving my wife well; I was not engaged with my children in being any kind of spiritual leader. My wife knew it, and we were in a really tough season in our marriage. Relationally we weren’t getting along or connecting with each other, nor were we communicating with each other. I remember we were in the middle of a little bit of an argument and she said, “Jerrad, I just want you to know I’ve been waking up every morning at 2 a.m. and I go into the living room and I pray for you, and I pray that God brings your heart back to him.” I remember thinking like I would rather her cursed me out; [laughs] I could have handled that better. But it was so convicting to hear she really wants, more than my behavior to change, she really wants my heart to come back to Jesus. I would encourage women who are not seeing their husbands leading their family spiritually that some guys just don’t know how and it’s totally foreign to them. Also, they’ve never been taught that. Other guys just feel far from God for whatever reason. But what often happens is, it can seem that our wives really start to, for lack of better words, nag our behavior. “Hey, do this, do this, do this.” Or, “Step up”, or, “Stop doing this, stop doing this.” I always say that behavior modification lasts for a little bit, but it doesn’t last for a long time. What lasts for a long time is when a heart’s changed, and my wife can’t change my heart. She knew that, and so she went to the one who can change hearts, and that’s Jesus. It’s kind of like a churchy answer, but really, as a wife, you do not possess the ability to change your husband’s heart, and that’s what he needs; his heart changed. But there is One who can change hearts, and that’s the one we serve. So pray and beg and plead that the Holy Spirit will start to chase after your husband’s heart relentlessly.

Emily: I love that you gave that answer. I know that Laura and I have tried to share that before. Even as you were saying it, I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to remember that! I need to set my 2 a.m. alarm.” Definitely that ministry of prayer for our husbands just cannot be overstated how important it is. That verse in 1 Peter always comes to mind—I am not going to be able to quote it exactly—about winning him over without a word. The way that we do that is by living out the gospel, and then praying that God would change his heart. That’s just an incredible testimony that you shared. It may be churchy, but it’s the right idea.

Laura: That segues well into the idea that a lot of moms—depending on our work schedules and stuff—can be involved in church programming nearly everyday of the week. We can have time, while it may be loud and noisy, there is time to study the word, or to open your Bible, or just listen to the Bible playing on your phone. To really get soaked into that scripture, even if it’s maybe not exactly the way we want it to be in these little years. How would you encourage a mom to equip her husband to get in God’s word? Because they’re just so short on time, especially when they’re gone all day. What would you say are some ways for her to encourage him? Are there some resources that they could look to?

Jerrad: First I would say to the husbands—because I get guys all the time that are telling me, “I am just too busy,” and I just call them out on that—I don’t care if you’re a 16 year-old dude, or a 95-year-old grandpa, we all feel too busy, right? [laughter] I am not going to take you working full-time as an excuse to not be in God’s word. We’re just all busy—moms are busy, dads are busy, singles are busy. We’re all busy. When I am walking guys through discipleship, what we often do is I have them write out a list of things that they say are most valuable to them. Like, in your heart what are your priorities? They often give me the churchy answer which is like, “God, my wife, my kids, my work.” They put things in the right order, as it should be. Then I ask them to write, what are you actually spending your time on? Make a second list, and that list then is all over the place. It’s work, it’s sports, it’s the NBA playoffs, it’s whatever else is going on, it’s the golf times, it’s the long lunches, or whatever. So, the first thing is what are you saying “Yes” to, that you need to be saying “No” to? What are you saying “Yes” to that doesn’t make sense for the kingdom of God, that is affecting the other things that you should be saying “Yes” to? The first is of just calling them out on the time thing. The second thing is using all the things; you guys have a lot of great resources on your website, that you’ve pointed other of your listeners to. There’s also the Bible app where you can listen to the entire Bible for free. That is an easy way as you’re driving from work, as you’re commuting to and from work, or to lunch, or sitting at your desk filling out a spreadsheet. Listen to the word of God. Let it start to permeate your heart, instead of listening to whatever else you have on the radio, or whatever podcast is talking about—an MMA fight or whatever [laughter]. Listen to the Word of God. So, using times, in the midst of busyness, to be intentional is a huge tool.

Emily: Jerrad, maybe I am going to jump in a question here that, at least in my mind, maybe other moms’ minds. Let’s say I am a wife, and I am seeing that in my husband’s life. I know he really does want to get into the Word of God, but I don’t see him doing that. Is it okay for a wife to recommend that to her husband? How could a wife suggest some of those ideas to her husband without coming off like a nag? [laughs] Or like, “Oh, I just want to give you a quick behavior modification.” Is there a way that that could be received well?

Jerrad: That’s a really good question [laughter]. My wife has never asked me how I am doing with the Lord, when I am doing well with the Lord [laughs]. In other words, when I am doing well with the Lord, it’s obvious, and I am leading the family well, and I am in scripture and all that. She only asks me when I am not doing well with the Lord, and so it immediately comes off as offensive or antagonistic. Right or wrong, that’s how I feel, and that’s how most guys feel when we’re asked like, “Hey, how’s your relationship with Jesus?” One’s like, “Why the heck are you asking me that, because you know it sucks right now?” [laughter] That’s why you’re asking me that. [laughter]

Laura: It’s so passive-aggressive of us, but we do it. [laughter] I can hear my voice saying those things. [laughter]

Jerrad:  There are other ways. There’s ways that Leila’s approached me and I am trying to think off the top of my head. Like there’s times when she’s said like, “Hey babe, what kinds of things can I be praying for you for?” That feels gentle; that’s probably making the same point that she was trying to make by like, “How are you doing with Jesus?” It’s making the same point, but I just feel like it’s a lot harder for me to feel any aggression towards that, like my wife is asking me how can she pray for me. Okay, “Can you pray that God would draw my heart back to him because I feel far from him,” might be one of my answers. Or she might even say like, “Hey, I am feeling like I want to re-read through the Bible again this year. Maybe we could do that together, or maybe we can make date nights out of that, after the kids go to bed?” That’s her prompting and taking an initiative that really I should have been the one doing. But it’s just God using her, in my life, to point me back to him, and maybe capture my heart again so that I can lead well.

Laura: Yes. There’s always something too about saying, “I’ll come alongside you in this.” Like, “”Let’s do this together.” I know I got all revved up, read a prayer book and wanted to pray with my husband, or see him pray on his knees every night. I was like, “Okay, now let’s just start with praying before bed. I am going to do this with you. We’re tired, but we’re both going to do this because it is good for both of us. I don’t expect you to do something, especially if I am not doing it too.”

Jerrad: That made me think. I don’t think most guys would be offended if their wife said, “Babe, will you pray for me right now?” Like, “I am feeling vulnerable or weak” or whatever. “Would you just pray for me out loud?” Some guys may totally be intimidated by that, but they’ll step up to that challenge and they won’t feel threatened by that request. It gives them an opportunity to lead.

Laura: That’s good advice.

Emily: Yes. Thanks for that practical insight there of the difference between what’s gentle and coming alongside, and what’s accusatory, [laughs] and is a subtle way of going, “I am noticing that you’re falling in this area right now.”

Jerrad: Yes, totally.

Laura: From a dad’s perspective then, what is it like to transition home after work? When mom’s busy, the kids are crazy, the dad is super tired and probably, we know, we hear they want downtime a little bit to adjust. How can a mom best serve her husband during that transition period?

Jerrad: Again, my natural responses and answers are always thinking through for the guys, because I want to talk to the guys.

Laura: Which we love as moms. We’re like, “Yes, just bring it to the dads.”

Emily: Every mom is going to have her husband listen to this. [laughter]

Jerrad: For the dads, that’s what we’re preaching on Dad Tired all the time, is like, “Dude, you should be exhausted. It’s called dad tired.” Like, “You’re going to be tired, and if you’re not tired, you’re doing it wrong.” It means you’re probably spending too much time playing video games, or whatever else. Like, “You should be tired.” If you are living a life that God has called you to live, as an engaged husband, dad, worker, disciple, you’ll go to bed exhausted, and that’s the way it should be. We’re always telling guys like, “You pull up in the driveway, you turn off your car, you take a deep breath and you realize that the second shift has started. You move into your other titles that are going to last for eternity—your title as 'husband,' your title as 'dad.' You step up and get to it." So that’s what I’d say to the guys. For the wives, what’s helpful for us is clear expectations. For moms that have been in the routine all day, you know the rhythms of your kids, sometimes better than we do because you’re with them all the time and all the subtleties. There are times we’re like, “I accidentally gave them something to eat that they maybe shouldn’t have eaten.” [laughter] Or like, “Hey, let’s go get ice-cream,” and I didn’t know that mom had said earlier like, “No, you’re not having ice-cream today,” because of this whatever. But there’s should be clear expectations laid out so that we don’t have that guessing game or step into something that we didn’t know was outside of a rhythm because we were ignorant. We’re just straight up ignorant—we weren’t there, we didn’t know. It’s always best to give those expectations outside of the storm, not in the middle of the storm. You know, figuring out a time where before he comes home and steps in the door where you’re having conversations like, “Babe, how can we serve each other well when you get home from work? Here are some things that would be helpful for me. What would be helpful for you?” If it’s the dishes, then let him know, “The dishes.” If it’s the sweeping, if it’s the getting the kids through their bedtime routine. We often guess and we often guess wrong. [laughter]

Laura: Clear expectations are super info, and it’s helpful also for moms too, because sometimes I’ll find myself just keeping moving. Dad walks in the door and I am in the middle of dinner, or changing a diaper or whatever, and I am like, “Oh, hey hon,” and just ready to keep going, almost not acknowledging the fact that life has changed because Dad entered the door. It’s good for us as moms to stop and acknowledge that, “Dad is home,” and “Yay, this is exciting!" I remember my dad always went to my mom first before he went to the kids. He just went straight for her, and she welcomed him home, and then, he received the kids. I always thought that was a little unfair as a kid. [laughter] But I thought it’s a neat picture now of my mom and dad both prioritizing each other during a crazy time in the house.

Emily: Recently I’ve come back from some women’s conferences, or some times away, where I was super refreshed. Or maybe I was tired, but in a good way of something that I was really passionate about and worked hard at. I walked in the door, and heard everyone’s crazy, running around, my husband’s trying to hold it together, and thinking like, “Wooh, [laughter] this is a little abrasive.” I’ve even felt that, coming into these situations after I’ve been away. I think we have to remember that it can feel like that to a husband who just walks in the door and be handed a child or something. Even if you just know that he may be experiencing that, you’re probably going to treat him a little differently. [laughs]

Jerrad: One of the gifts that many men possess is the ability to compartmentalize, which we often use toward sin. We use it towards the negative, but it’s actually a strength, and it can be a strength in many ways. For a lot of men, we do have the ability to click off, literally. Like, “I am done with this, and now I am moving into dad-time.”  Even with what you said, part of me was thinking almost the opposite, like “Yep, I checked out of that conference, and now I’ve moved into my compartment of "Here I am as a dad."

Emily: I didn’t have a category for that. [laughter]

Laura: Sounds amazing.

Emily: It really does.

Jerrad: They say that women’s brain is spaghetti and men’s brain is waffles. Have you heard of that?

Laura & Emily: No.

Laura: I’ve never heard that. [laughter]

Jerrad: Women’s brain is spaghetti; everything touches everything. Like, this affects this, affects this, affects this. Guys’ brain is a waffle. We have compartments, and this does not touch this, does not touch this, does not touch this. [laughs]

Laura: I can’t imagine. Like Emily said, I can’t imagine [laughter]. One last practical, how do you handle family devotions in your house? Then, how can a mom, again, encourage her husband to be intentional with these types of things, especially if they’re lacking? Or if it’s just a crazy time to be able to settle down and know what to do. What’s mom’s role in a family devotion?

Jerrad: Good question. First, a bigger picture premise here is that I want my kids to see all of life as worship. So I am really trying to use every single opportunity to gospel them, and to teach them the gospel. As opposed to having the compartments that I just talked about. I don’t want my kids to think, “Okay, it’s devotional time. It’s church time. It’s Bible study time or community group time,” or whatever, and they see us as a family have very clear cut compartments. The scriptures say in Deuteronomy, whether you’re sleeping or eating or walking or talking, whatever you’re doing, train up your child towards the things of God. Don’t quote me on how I just said that.

Laura: Paraphrased.

Jerrad: But I want them to see that in everything, and I really push hard for that. When we’re driving to school, when we have interactions at the grocery store, I am looking for every single opportunity to point them back to the gospel. My kid just heard a secular song on the radio that they were saying, “Please have mercy on me.” I won’t quote the song, but that’s a line,  “Please have mercy on me,” and he’s like, “Dad, what’s mercy?” Okay, a beautiful opportunity to talk about the gospel here. That’s the bigger picture here —that’s the goal where we want all of our families to get is to that point where the gospel was permeating every area of our lives and not just these sections. There are some good resources you guys have actually done on this. I think you did an Instagram story feed. Or maybe you posted them on the resources page on your website. But some, like children’s Bibles, you listed out all the children’s Bibles. We go through as a family, the Jesus Story Book Bible, which is one of my favorite Bibles for kids. That’s my time, that’s daddy time. Mommy’s done her stuff all day and I do the bedtime routine, get their jammies, make sure they’re bathed, teeth brushed, and then when they crawl into bed with daddy, daddy gets to read the Jesus Story Book Bible with them and talk through that part of life with them. That’s one really practical way where a wife could do some research, or maybe even utilize the resources that you guys have put out there already. Get some of those resources, and then just say, “Hey husband, will you lead this time? Will you be the one that reads these stories to the kids?” It’s also subconsciously getting him in the word, even if it’s a children’s Bible. I have actually found myself weeping in the children’s Bible. [laughter]

Laura: I like that because it’s so simple. There’s no prep—I think that’s what can get daunting to both parents, is like, “Oh, I have to gather my materials and my art supplies and my dress up clothes, and then we’re going to have this devo with a guitar that we don’t know how to play.” [laughter] We have these images in our mind of how big and grand it needs to be, of what this perfect, Christian family worship looks like. When really it can look as simple as, in bed, reading the Bible, and answering questions that out kids have because God just uses his word and never returns void. So he will use that time well, and to invest in our kids.

Emily: Jerrad, I’d be interested to get your insight on this. Let’s say there is a mom who’s going, “I don’t know if my husband would ever even do something like that. I think approaching him with that would even be potentially offensive, or would come off as nagging.” Is that something that a wife could faithfully start—getting that routine ingrained with her kids? Maybe for two or three months she reads it before bed, and then one night, “Hey honey, could you just step in and read this?” I know that sounds really manipulative actually now that I am saying it. But, I mean in a good way of, would you see that as undermining your position? Or would you be honored that your wife stepped in there and was like, “Hey, I am going to help get this established?” So it’s even easier for Dad to come in one night and just do it.

Jerrad: Possibly. If you’re just setting it up as the, we-do-story-time-before-bed, and the stories that we happen to do before bed are Jesus centered or the Bible, like the children’s Bible. If the dad is offended by leading that time, there’s deeper issues going on. That’s when we go back to question one, and be praying for your husband. Dude should be doing story time and reading. Like we just talked about, there’s really no prep work. We’re not asking you to give a sermon. We’re asking you to read the Bible to your kids, so step up and do it. If that’s offensive, again, there’s probably some deeper heart stuff going on. I guess to not just give like a harsh answer to that, the answer would be, maybe if you have to soften it up, set it up as story time. “Can you lead story time?” And the stories that you happen to have are all the Jesus stories.

Emily: I see.

Jerrad: I really want guys to be able to equip their kids in every situation with the gospel. My son’s been super into fishing, if you’ve been watching my Instagram story. We go fishing like five, six times a week and we’re just always at the pond fishing. He’s super into it right now, and there’s tons of analogies within fishing that I can point my son back to the gospel and even Jesus. We’ve been talking a lot about how Jesus says, “Let’s be fishers of men.” So then we come home and we read the Fishers of Men stories at night. Or, when Jesus told his disciples, “Don’t cast your nets on this side of the boat, cast them on this side of the boat”, and they caught that many fish. Using the things that your kids are already into, and figuring out how scripture can tie into that, how the gospel can tie into that. But again, we don’t want to compartmentalize, we want everything to interweave with each other.

Laura: It’s just a word of encouragement to dad or mom listening to, what Jerrad’s talking about. It sounds so beautiful, but it is kind of hard or daunting at first. I know at least for myself, when I first became a mommy and my husband too. We were like, “Aah, what does the gospel have?” Or, “How do I tie in this bird that my child’s admiring in the yard, or the worm, and the gospel? I know there’s a connection there, but how do I articulate it?” Just to encourage you guys to practice. The best way to do that is to fumble through, and you’re going to misstep, and there’s probably going to be some like, “Whoop, that was kind of wonky theology there.” But God uses everything that we do, no matter what we say. When we’re doing it with the right heart, and looking to speak truths to our children, he is going to use that. You will grow in that skill to see the gospel. I know if what he’s talking about seems a little bit scary and you feel, “Oh, I don’t know if my husband could do that,” or, “I don’t know if I could do that,” just start practicing, and start getting comfortable with that kind of language.

Jerrad: It’s so true; practice. I remember literally thinking, "I’ve been a pastor 13 years," and I started doing this recently when we had kids, and, it was daunting for myself. I remember one of the first times my son could talk and start to comprehend things, there was what felt like a beautiful opportunity to share the gospel with him. I went into this like a long sermon basically [laughter]. I remember he was staring at me, and I am like, “This is it. He gets it.” Like “He’s comprehending it and he’s with me.” At the end of it, literally his remark was,“Daddy, can I have a bowl of cereal?” I was like, “Yeah. But did you hear anything I said?” [laughter] I don’t think he got any of it, but I’ve learned through practice to tighten up my language and to not give 30-minute sermons to a three-year-old.

Laura: Exactly, and they don’t judge you. They don’t know any better. They forget about it the next five minutes, so these little years are the great years to practice because they’re not going to hold it against you. That’s covered in high school, right, or middle school, or something like that. [laughter] Looking at you cross-eyed and wondering, “What did you just say?”

Emily: They’re going to ask really hard questions afterwards.

Laura: As we wrap up here Jerrad, any last thoughts or words of advise to wives? Any words of advise you’d like to give women in supporting their husbands in fatherhood?

Jerrad: So here would be my final thoughts. What we get in Jesus is the ability to be fully known and fully loved at the same time. Which is freaky; we don’t get that anywhere else. We’re usually fully known and not loved, or we’re fully loved and not known. I don’t know any other relationship outside of Jesus, where you can be fully known, and fully loved at the same exact time. The only other place that we get a glimpse of that is marriage—that my wife could know me fully, and love me fully. So I would encourage wives to be intentional about setting up an environment where your husband feels the confidence to share his junk with you, to share his sin, that he feels like you are a safe spot to land so that he can be fully known and fully loved at the same time. Even bigger than that, that would give him a glimpse of the God that he serves through his wife.

Emily: That’s wonderful.

Laura: That’s inspirational. [laughter]

Jerrad: That’s all I got.

Laura: That was great. No, thank you.

Emily: I know, thank you.

Laura: That’s a real challenge and incorporates a lot of different things for sure. That’s a good word to end on. So thanks for joining us today on Risen Motherhood.

Jerrad: Thanks for having me.