A man comes home from work and flops on the couch. His children runs and jumps all over their father, but he remains motionless. His lovely wife comes over and asks, “Dead tired?” And the man says, “Dad tired.” Fathers everywhere, how is fatherhood going for you?
Hi, my name is Terence and I’m your host for Reading and Readers, a podcast where I review Christian books for you. Today I review “Dad Tired and Loving It: Stumbling Your Way to Spiritual Leadership” by Jerrad Lopes. 192 pages, published by Harvest House Publishers in September 2019. Available in Amazon Kindle for USD12.99 and for USD3.99 at Faithlife, only in March.
Every month, Faithlife has a new free book to offer along with a long list of deeply discounted books. The free book for March is No Reason to Hide: Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture by Erwin W. Lutzer. Normally, I consider the free book as an assignment, or a challenge, and I’ll just read what ever Faithlife gives me. But as I scroll down the list of titles, this title just pulled me in. Dad Tired and Loving It. I’m a Dad. I’m tired. And I would love to hear someone tell me how they are loving it.
So I pulled the trigger, got the book and finished all 192 pages to tell you all about it today.
Who is the author, Jerrad Lopes? Let me read the biodata from his website:
Jerrad Lopes is a best-selling author, international speaker, and host of the Dad Tired Podcast; downloaded over 5 million times by men from around the world.
Lopes has become one of the most influential voices in the men’s ministry space and has been featured on Focus on The Family, The Hallmark Channel, The Mike Huckabee Show, along with many other media outlets.
Through his speaking and Dad Tired ministry, he has partnered with thought leaders like Gary Chapman, Paul Tripp, John Mark Comer, and many more to equip men for the sake of the Gospel. He and his wife Leila live in South Carolina with their four children.
What is this book about? Let me read a long excerpt from the introduction and I’ll get to my thoughts. I quote:
When I was a junior in high school, I landed my first-ever job at a local gym in town. I have to admit, as a sixteen-year-old boy, it sounded pretty cool to tell your peers that you worked as a gym employee. I never really told them exactly what I did at my job; I just wanted my friends to imagine that it was something amazing. In my mind, I hoped they pictured me lifting weights and teaching other people how to get in the best shape of their lives.
The truth is, I was a towel boy.
My job was to collect the nasty, sweaty, used towels from around the facility, throw them in a giant bin, wash them, fold them, and then hand them to the members as they walked in the front door.
It was far from glamorous. In fact, most of the time it was completely disgusting, and I spent the majority of my shift trying not to vomit. But I was determined to convince my friends that I had the best job in the world—and, more importantly, that I was an expert in physical fitness.
I wasn’t an expert in physical fitness, however. I was a towel boy.
I didn’t possess the skills to get my friends in shape, but I could offer them a clean towel.
Sometimes when I tell people I run a ministry for young dads, I secretly hope they think I’m an expert in parenting. In my mind, I imagine they look at me as a young father who has wisdom well beyond his years.
The truth is, when it comes to parenting, I’m a towel boy.
This tells us what to expect from the book.
The tone is a I’m one of the boys, I’m just like you, I’m just a towel boy. So it’s an invitational tone. Not a master-to-student but student-to-student conversation or rather a dad-to-dad talk.
Your friend calls you up for coffee. You head over to meet. And over cups of coffee, he tells you a story. While you are still laughing, you didn’t realise but your guards are down. Then your friend slips in a Biblical truth. Tells you about Jesus. Tells you that he knows how hard it is to be a good dad, a good husband. But God. He tells you about God. And you thank him for it.
That’s the whole book. That’s how every chapter is.
Let’s take chapter one as an example. The chapter title is Color-Blind. Lopes tells us how watches videos of color-blind people who put on special glasses, and now they can see in colour. Then he tells us of his disappointments that despite all the test and eyeglasses, he still can’t see in colour. He can’t see the world as it should be. And he writes, “Sometimes I think none of us can see the world as it should be.” And with that he segue ways to the story of Genesis, the Fall, Jesus, the Lord’s Prayer and he closes the chapter with a personal note to the reader.
Sometimes as tired dads, it can seem like our only objective is to survive the day. There have been many nights where I’ve laid my head on my pillow and tried to think about what I accomplished as a parent. It often feels like I spend most of my days saying “No!” or “Don’t touch that!” or “Not right now.” When I zoom in to the daily moments of my life and parenting, I am often discouraged. My guess is that as a dad, you’ve probably felt the same.
As a follower of Jesus, I am convinced that there is more to parenting than simply surviving. If we get lost in the chaos of dirty diapers, grumpy bosses, and overflowing dishwashers, we’ll lose sight of the bigger story of God’s redeeming work around us. We’ll forget that God is relentlessly at work fixing the brokenness of our hearts and equipping us to be part of that same work in the lives of our children.
If we miss that story, the rest of this book is pointless. On the other hand, if all you gain from this book is a bigger picture of the gospel and God’s work throughout the world, it will be worth it.
The nine chapters in the book are divided into three equal parts.
- Part 1: The Kingdom of God Around You
- Part 2: The Kingdom of God in You
- Part 3: The Kingdom of God Through You
Honestly, I don’t think the three part division really matters. The chapter titles don’t say much. What can Football Jerseys (that’s the title for Chapter 3) and Squirrel Food (the title for Chapter 6) tell you? But the subtitles, they reveal the substance behind the fun stories. The subtitle for chapter 3 is “What’s the Goal of Parenting?” At the end of the chapter he says this to you:
Your kids ultimately don’t need to have the best report card in their class. They don’t need to excel at a sport or master an instrument. Ultimately, your kids need Jesus. May we be fathers who aren’t just passionate about good things. May we be passionate about eternal things. Running toward anything else is running toward the wrong end zone.
Dumb and Dumber, Again
When I read reached the last chapter, as I read the first sentences, I laughed out loud. Not because he said anything especially funny. The last chapter’s title is “Headed to Aspen” and that title, which sets the scene for the entire chapter, comes from a scene from Lopes all-time favourite movie, Dumb and Dumber. This is the second time in less than a month, I have two pastors referencing Dumb and Dumber. The last writer who did it was Pastor Kees Postma and his book, “The Retreat”.
If I read a third Christian book that somehow references Dumb and Dumber, maybe it’s a sign that I need to re-watch it. Maybe I am directed by divine providence by all these books to learn something profound from the movie. If I make Dumb and Dumber my favourite all time movies, I too can be a best-selling writer like Kees Postma and Jerrad Lopes.
Alright, I finished the last chapter so I want to share my thoughts on Dad Tired and Loving It: Stumbling Your Way to Spiritual Leadership by Jerrad Lopes.
This book does not tell me anything new. But sometimes, oftentimes, what we need is not to learn something new, but to be reminded of eternal truths. The Gospel.
What Lopes offers is the Gospel in the hustle and bustle of being a dad. Yes, we know that Creation is Fallen but did you know that fatherhood is likewise fallen. Yes, we know that the World needs Christ the Redeemer. But did you know that as a father, as a dad, you need Christ the Redeemer.
Are there are many Christian books for dads? I might be wrong but I imagine there is a bigger book market for mothers than there is for dads. I could be wildly wrong here.
Would this be a good gift for a new dad? Yes! A Father’s Day gift? Yes! Or a spontaneous gift for your brother, your friend, a buddy who really needs encouragement as a dad. Yes!
If you are buying a book for someone, especially if that someone is not a reader, you want to get him something that is easy to read.
Lopes begins his sentences saying, “Last year, something happened…”, “Once my family did this…”, “I remember when X, Y, Z happened.”
It’s stories after stories. Easily digestible. Often amusing. Told with a purpose, he directs you to a Biblical truth. The first chapter is, “Why the Gospel Changes Everything”, the second chapter is, “How Your Marriage Points Your Kids to the Gospel”, the third chapter is “What’s the Goal of Parenting” and so on. It’s not preachy, it’s story telling. Stories after stories. And many would like that. I know many people around me, who are not readers, who would appreciate getting this book as a gift.
Not For Me, Why?
And if you are listening carefully to what I’m saying, you will sense that I think this is a book for other people and not for me. I actually struggled with reviewing this book because it’s not a bad book but I personally didn’t gain as much from the book as I think I should.
And that troubled me. Is it because I’m deeply suspicious of sermons, and hence books, that are made up overwhelmingly of stories? But I enjoy 27 Servants of Sovereign Joy, which is a collection of mini biographies. Is that because I’m impressed by great feats of heroism, sacrifices of great giants of the faith? No, I don’t think so because I truly believe that God loves all creatures big and small. Jesus said that the whole world will remember the widow and her copper coins, and what he said came to pass.
So why am I struggling with this fun, insightful and sincere book? Somehow the lessons are not sticking to me. And as I reflect, I think I have somehow conditioned myself, and this is not necessarily a good or a bad thing, it’s just me reflecting on myself here, I have somehow conditioned myself to separate what the Bible says and what Man says.
And I make such a sharp distinction, I put up all sorts of guards cause don’t want to be sucked into the story, unless it’s such a good story told so well that my guards just come down.
What does all this mean? If I hear a sermon or read a book, and let’s say this personal story or anecdote is not true, it’s an exaggeration, hyperbole, or a bald-face lie, do I gain anything from the session? If it’s a Bible-saturated exposition, even if the illustration is flawed, but the truth remains true, I am convicted of that truth.
With today’s book, Lopes tells me of God and Jesus, and everything he tells me is true, and he does draw upon Scripture, but much of the space is taken up by personal anecdotes that I end up listening to wonderful, amusing stories, but nothing convicting reaches me.
I know he sincerely wants to encourage me, comfort me, challenge me, Lopes desires to draw me to Christ, but because of who I am, this book not for me or for the reader who over-thinks, or over-analyses and thus ruins a perfectly good movie, or as the case may be, a perfectly good book.
If you are a dad, a tired dad, why not give this book a try. You might end up loving it. The stumbling towards spiritual leadership. And if you are not a dad, give this book to a tired dad.
This is a Reading and Reader’s review of “Dad Tired and Loving It: Stumbling Your Way to Spiritual Leadership” by Jerrad Lopes. 192 pages, published by Harvest House Publishers in September 2019. Available in Amazon Kindle for USD12.99 and for USD3.99 at Faithlife, only in March.
Speaking of tiredness, there is one book that is coming out next month that I would like to read: “On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living” by Alan Noble. That book may make a good companion or comparison to today’s book. It’s coming out next month, I hope to read it and review it soon.
Before that, I have another book to get to. It’s honestly a thorn in my flesh. Tell you more about it next time. Until then, bye bye.