A Father’s Day Gift for Dead-Tired Dads
Being a dad is an adventure: one which fills me with joy and wonder, and one which often leaves me feeling dead-tired and discouraged. Am I doing enough to lead my kids towards Jesus? Am I making any substantial impact in their lives?
If you’re a dad asking questions like these – or if you know a dad who is – I am pleased to recommend a book that I just finished: Dad Tired and Loving It: Stumbling Your Way to Spiritual Leadership by Jerrad Lopes (Harvest House Publishers). This book would make a great Father’s Day gift for the dead-tired dads you know and love. (In fact, the church I pastor, Autumn Ridge Community Church, is giving this book to each dad who attends our Sunday Worship Gathering on Father’s Day!)
A Summary of Dad Tired and Loving It
Dad Tired and Loving It seeks to summarize what the Bible teaches men about serving as the spiritual leaders of their families: not only the “how-tos” of spiritual leadership, but also the heart behind it (8). To accomplish this goal, Lopes organizes the book into three sections:
Part 1: The Kingdom of God Around You. This first section presents the theological underpinnings of the book. Lopes summarizes the gospel narrative in Chapter 1, discusses the connection between being a healthy husband and being an effective father in Chapter 2, and reminds readers of the goal of fatherhood in Chapter 3: “Our goal is to raise disciples of Jesus who are madly in love with him” (54).
Part 2: The Kingdom of God In You. Lopes uses the second section of the book to address the obstacles men face in stepping into our God-given roles of spiritual leadership. In Chapter 4, Lopes reminds us, “Brother, you are going to stumble your way through this whole spiritual leadership thing….Don’t let that stop you from moving forward. God isn’t looking for perfection – he is looking for initiation” (78). In Chapter 5, Lopes sheds light on how sin and shame cripple many of us from leading our families – and how the gospel offers us freedom from these realities (98). Finally, in Chapter 6, Lopes challenges men to seek adventure in the Kingdom of God rather than in the fleeting pleasures of the world. “[A] bored man is a dangerous man” (105).
Part 3: The Kingdom of God Through You. The third section of Dad Tired and Loving It presents practical ideas that equip men to lead their families well. Chapter 7 gives dads a vision for utilizing everyday life events as opportunities to teach children about who Jesus is and what He has done. Chapter 8 addresses the fact that we all have “spiritual dementia” (147), and offers ideas for how we may remind our families of the goodness of God. Chapter 9, the books’ final chapter, challenges fathers to be intentional in tending to their own discipleship, as well as to the discipleship of their wives and children. “When you don’t know what your priorities are…everyone will tell you to head to theirs” (176).
Theological discourse. Heart-application. Practical instruction. Dad Tired and Loving It encapsulates all three themes with engaging writing and concise expression. But the book is not without a couple of shortcomings, which I highlight below.
1. Immature Language. Lopes writes in a very personable manner, but in a few places, the personable language borders on immature language. He frequently uses the descriptor, “Sucks,” to categorize a whole host of negative aspects of life in a fallen world. At one point, he also encourages readers to “[Grab] a freaking bag of Doritos and get back at it” (179). I’ll be honest, I chuckled at that last line – but as one who picked up this book primarily for spiritual nourishment as opposed to entertainment, I also grew distracted by this language. More substantially, I’m aware that some readers – particularly those in a socially-conservative context such as my native North Georgia – might not give this excellent book a chance, purely because it is written by a pastor who regularly uses words like, “Sucks,” “Heck,” and “Freaking.”
2. Light on Bible. In Dad Tired and Loving It, biblical passages are most often simply written out without being explained in-depth. Sometimes, biblical passages may simply be alluded to without an explicit reference being made. While the book’s teaching is thoroughly biblical, I would have preferred Lopes to make use of Scripture in a way that more closely resembles another Harvest House title: Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments (Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler, Harvest House Publishers, 2019). In that book, multiple Scripture references are explicitly footnoted at the bottom of most every page. That approach would be beneficial to the male readers of Dad Tired and Loving It, as well – especially for those readers who are seeking to step into spiritual leadership as relatively new believers, or as believers with little-to-no biblical training.
These critiques notwithstanding, I enthusiastically recommend Dad Tired and Loving It for the following three reasons.
1. The Book is Gospel-Centered. Lopes senses that he is writing to an audience of tired, discouraged dads who feel like failures – either on account of their past sinfulness or their present failings. Lopes refrains from burdening his readers with guilt or obligation to work for anyone’s approval as a father (whether God’s or anyone else’s). Instead, he challenges us to work from our identity as new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). For example:
You aren’t dealing with a grumpy God. You are dealing with the God of the Bible – one who is known for his radical grace and mercy. It’s not that he overlooks sins, but even better, he punishes them once and for all. The good news is that punishment was put on Jesus, not on you. So you don’t have to walk around in shame with your head held low….Rest assured, you are thinking about your past a lot more than Jesus is (98).
This is the sort of encouragement dead-tired dads need – and it’s found throughout Dad Tired and Loving It.
2. The Book is Grace-Driven. Lopes highlights Jesus as the hero not only through explicit theological reflection, but also by being transparent about his own shortcomings as a husband and father. Whether confessing his past struggle with pornography (29), or giving frank details about his failings as a father (140-141), Lopes’ gracious tone will give readers the sense that he is very much with them and for them.
3. The Book is Application-Focused. In closing Dad Tired and Loving It with three chapters of practical application, Lopes doesn’t leave busy dads helpless. He doesn’t leave us guessing about the “next steps” to take in stumbling our way into spiritual leadership. He gives us clear, common-sense, achievable ideas that can be put into practice as soon as we read about them.
I didn’t read this book in order to write an expert review. I read it because I am a dead-tired dad who senses my own need to grow as the spiritual leader of my family.
Similarly, I didn’t write this book review to receive free swag from the DadTired.com community (although Jerrad, if you’re reading this review, I’m open to it!). I wrote this review because I long to see fathers everywhere embrace their calling to serve as the spiritual leaders of their families, and to put into practice the things Lopes writes about in Dad Tired and Loving It.
From one dead-tired dad to another: like Lopes, I am with you. And I am for you. Let’s stumble our way into spiritual leadership, together, as we pursue our perfect Father who has made us his own, forever.