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Anchored in Faith: A Father's Journey and Wisdom for the Next Generation

Hey there wonderful readers,

I'm a proud father to six incredible adults and a grandparent to a growing tribe of little ones. If you've been following along on "Common Ground", you know that this space is all about bridging gaps, finding connections, and nurturing understanding in a world that too often seems bent on highlighting our differences.

Today, I'm here to take you on a personal journey, a path traveled through years of learning, loving, and yes, stumbling too. It’s the road of fatherhood, seen through the lens of faith—a road marked with 'aha' moments that have both startled and comforted me, providing unexpected guidance and a reservoir of deep, abiding joy.

I remember it as though it was yesterday, the moment I learned that I was going to be a dad. It was a surprise, breaking through our plans like a sudden burst of sunshine. You see, we had intended to wait a year after tying the knot before welcoming a little one into our lives. But life, with its delightful sense of humor, had other plans. We landed at our friend's wedding in picturesque Chamonix, France, not as a duo, but a trio, with our wonderful 3-month-old in tow.

Yes, it was a surprise, but oh, what a joyous one! It opened a new chapter, a journey of awe, overwhelming love, and a deep sense of responsibility that was nothing short of a revelation.

As I prepare to share my story, I invite you to walk with me through my personal landscape of fatherhood infused with faith, a journey marked with discoveries, learning, and the nurturing hand of God guiding us as we navigated the rewarding, yet sometimes turbulent waters of parenthood.

So, come along as we travel down memory lane, revisiting the milestones that defined my path as a father, guided every step of the way by a growing understanding and embrace of my faith.

Journey to Fatherhood

Early Days

Growing up with parents who divorced when I was just a toddler, my notions of fatherhood were, to say the least, a bit fragmented. Those weekend visits to my dad and his wife, and the intervening time spent with my hardworking, single mom shaped a patchwork image of what it meant to be a father. My dad, the intellectual with a heart as big as his brain, and my mom, the disciplinarian, the law enforcer in our home, both played distinct, yet vital roles in my upbringing.

Dad - aka Dr. Jerry J Tobias

Yet amidst the mixed bag of influences, I perceived glimpses of the kind of father I aspired to be. My dad, a rare blend of academic (doctoral degree) and a man of action (police officer), was largely the good guy in my story, showing me that fatherhood bore the imprint of love, understanding, and being there when it counted.

As I stood on the threshold of fatherhood myself, a medley of feelings surged within me — awe, joy, and an inescapable sense of responsibility. I looked forward to being the ‘good guy’ in someone else’s story, yet I also knew that I wanted to blend the loving presence of my dad with the strong guiding hand that my mom had been for me.

Embracing Faith

When that day arrived, the day I held my very own flesh and blood in my arms, resembling a mini-version of myself, a profound realization dawned upon me; this journey required a roadmap, a spiritual compass to guide me in nurturing this innocent life into a wonderful human being.

During my early days as a dad, the role of faith in my life was akin to a background score, present yet not dominating. My interactions with faith were casual, more social than spiritual, manifested through the camaraderie I shared with my buddies on the Catholic softball teams, despite not being a regular at the church masses.

But holding my child, I understood that the background score needed to become a guiding symphony, a harmonious guide to navigating the uncharted waters of fatherhood. It became clear that this new chapter needed a solid foundation, rooted in the timeless teachings of Christianity.

And so, my wife and I began our journey deeper into the embrace of the church, now not as individuals but as stewards of the precious life entrusted to us. We found our spiritual home in a non-denominational church, a place where we not only nurtured our faith but began to weave it intricately into the tapestry of our family life.

From casual softball player to an involved member of a spiritual community, my role transformed, growing as my family did, blossoming from a young couple into a bustling household of energetic kids. And before I knew it, I was not just a father but a children’s pastor, guiding not just my children but a flock of young minds towards a path of faith and understanding.

As I took on this role, the church transformed from being just a place of worship to a nurturing ground, a space where my family found guidance, support, and the blessed company of people who shared our vision of a faith-guided family life.

Navigating Parenthood with Faith


The journey of parenthood is often likened to sailing in uncharted waters, where each day brings new discoveries and challenges. My awakening to the role of faith in parenting was similarly an unfolding journey, characterized by 'aha' moments that slowly but surely guided my path.

In the initial days, it was about grasping the enormity of the responsibility that lay ahead, a realization that amplified with the birth of each child. It was during this phase that we made a conscious choice to root our parenting approach firmly in Christian teachings, to provide our children with a bedrock of faith and values to lean on in the face of life’s adversities.

Isn't parenting fun - get in the car (15-passenger van)!

The journey wasn’t always straightforward; it was a series of learning curves where my wife and I evolved, armed with insights from parenting courses and a treasure trove of books that promised to unlock the secrets of effective parenting. I even ventured into a role as a children's pastor, connecting deeper not just with my children but also with the community we were building around us.

The 1990s Context and Beyond

As we navigated the 90s, a time steeped in global uncertainties marked by the Gulf War and a surge in domestic crime rates, we keenly felt the responsibility of raising our children in a world brimming with complexities. The dissolution of the Soviet Union ushered in a new era of uncertainties, making the task of shielding our little ones from the turmoil around them even more pressing.

World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

Our mission to foster a nurturing and safe environment took on a renewed urgency with the turn of the century, as we, like millions around the world, watched in horror the unimaginable tragedy of 9/11 unfold before our eyes. I remember the heart-wrenching confusion as we watched the twin towers fall in real time, a chilling reminder of the fragility of life and the ever-present shadow of danger.

This period solidified our resolve to arm our children with a robust framework of Christian values, to guide them through the confounding realities of the world. It was a time of reflection, a time to delve deeper into our faith to find answers, understanding, and perhaps a semblance of peace in a world suddenly bereft of certainty.

We were determined to raise individuals resilient in their faith, capable of navigating a world that seemed more perplexing by the day. It became a mission to cultivate a haven of love, a sanctuary grounded in the teachings of Christ, where our children could find stability, understanding, and the courage to face the world with a kind and steadfast heart.

Practical Tips for New Dads

Discipline and Christianity

Entering the realm of fatherhood comes with the delightful duty of nurturing and the arduous task of disciplining. In our home, the approach to discipline was built not on punitive measures but on a foundation of Christian principles, honing a system that sought to guide rather than punish.

We adopted a mantra that resonated deeply with our Christian worldview, a simple yet powerful saying — "Tobias' do hard things." It became a rallying cry, a reminder that as a family, we were equipped to face challenges head-on, armed with faith and the nurturing guidance drawn from the teachings of Christ.

The difference between discipline and punishment

Discipline in the Tobias household evolved to be a form of teaching, an avenue to nurture resilience, empathy, and understanding, grounded in love rather than punishment. This approach wasn’t just about averting wrongdoings, but was a conscious strategy to raise individuals ready to tackle life's hardships with a brave heart and a faith-infused spirit, cultivating a home where forgiveness and understanding were just as paramount as rules and consequences.

Teaching Resilience

As parents, we walked a fine line, ever-teetering between guidance and grace. Our mission, albeit undertaken with heartfelt devotion, saw its fair share of failures. To say that we were perfect parents would be a gross exaggeration; we stumbled, we fell, but we carried with us an undying aim fueled by our faith. In the grand scheme of things, our shortcomings became the teaching moments, both for us and our children, acknowledging that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

We aimed to raise souls who would stand strong in a world fraught with challenges, not just as mere survivors but as individuals endowed with a Christ-centered resilience. It wasn’t just about shielding them from failures but teaching them to rise above, to learn, grow, and to find strength in their faith, drawing from the ever-present love and guidance of their Heavenly Father.

This resilience rooted in Christian teachings fostered a safe harbor, encouraging them to face life's adversities not with fear but with faith, courage, and a heart willing to "do hard things." It was about nurturing a mindset where effort transcended achievement, instilling the courage to keep forging ahead, even when the path was laden with hurdles.

We wished for them to grow into individuals who recognized their missteps, not as a means to demoralize, but as an opportunity to grow and to forge forward, driven by faith and a spirit resilient enough to “do hard things.”


Lessons Learned

Looking back, it's clear that our parenthood journey has been far from a straight path; it has been a road filled with dips and rises, trials and triumphs. We were far from perfect parents; we've had our fair share of misses and stumbles. But as the Bible reminds us, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," we embraced our imperfections, leaning heavily on our faith to guide us through.

In teaching resilience, a crucial lesson we've underscored is the willingness to let our children fail while they are still under our wing. It wasn’t about being helicopter parents, swooping in to save the day at every stumble; it was about teaching them the values of perseverance, grace, and the beautiful message of redemption through Christ’s teachings.

“Tobias’ do hard things,” became more than just a saying in our household; it was a principle we lived by, encouraging our children to brave challenges head-on, understanding that falling down was a part of growth, a natural pathway to learning and evolving.

By allowing them the space to fail, we fostered a spirit of self-reliance and resilience, encouraging them to rise each time they fell, dust themselves off, and try again with renewed vigor. This stance echoed Christ’s message of forgiveness and grace, a gentle reminder that, much like Jesus encouraging us with a message of love and belief in our strength to rise again, we are here cheering them on, whispering in their ears, “It's okay, you’re okay, we’re okay. I believe in you, I am with you, I love you.”


Embarking on the journey of marriage, the first step was finding a strong partner, a woman of substance and grace, who shared the same values and vision for a family grounded in faith. Anyone that knows my wife Lisa knows that's true. A strong marriage, as we've come to realize, is the bedrock of good parenting, and finding a strong woman to be the mother to your children sets a positive precedence right from the start.

Me and Lisa

Central to our marital harmony was the principle of putting God above all - above myself, and above us as a couple. This wasn’t just a lofty idea, but a practical guide in our day-to-day interactions, steering us through choppy waters and keeping us anchored during storms. By turning our faces towards God, seeking His guidance and wisdom in every step, we created a focal point, a North Star, that guided our actions and decisions.

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." - Matthew 18:20 (NIV)

In the sanctity of our bedroom stands a testament to our journey – a big red chair paired with a bookshelf brimming with parenting books. That chair has been a witness to our highest and lowest points as a couple. It’s where we have poured out our fears, our frustrations, and sought solace and strength from each other and from God. It’s where tears have been shed, prayers have been lifted, and where we went arm in arm to seek God's guidance in the scriptures and various readings. It was our haven for open-hearted conversations, where we planned our family meetings, forging a roadmap guided by faith and shared vision for our family.

This approach fostered respect and unity, as we both saw each other actively seeking God's will in our family's life. It cultivated a relationship where disrespect found no ground, because when you are both aligned in God's path, the foundation is strong, rooted in mutual respect and understanding nurtured through shared faith and common purpose.

Moreover, it helped us avoid the pitfalls of blame games that are all too common in relationships. Instead of pointing fingers during difficult times, we learned to embrace our shortcomings, recognizing that neither of us has all the answers. Together, we committed to seeking God's wisdom, leaning on His understanding rather than solely on our own.

In this sacred space of understanding and forgiveness, we found the true meaning of being one flesh, unified in purpose and spirit, constantly aiming to reflect God's love in our marriage, a love that is patient, kind, and always ready to forgive, presenting a united front grounded in God's unwavering wisdom as we navigated the complex yet rewarding journey of parenthood.


As I draw this narrative to a close, I invite you all to be a part of this ever-evolving dialogue. Parenthood, a journey both marvelous and challenging, is richer when we share our experiences, the lessons learned, and the joys harvested along the way. I encourage you to reflect on your journey and share your stories, your 'aha' moments, and the wisdom harvested from walking this noble path of parenthood grounded in faith.


For those new dads out there, feeling perhaps a little lost or overwhelmed, I have exciting news for you. I am launching a podcast where I will be delving deeper into these topics, sharing insights, and hosting vibrant discussions aimed at equipping you with practical knowledge grounded in Christian principles. It’s a space where we will be real, raw, and honest about the trials and triumphs of fatherhood. So, stay tuned and be sure to sign up to join a community of dads navigating the complexities of fatherhood with grace and faith.


In conclusion, as you stand at the helm steering the ship of your family, I leave you with this — envision a family rooted in love, guided by a faith that provides a firm foundation, a rock upon which your children can build their lives with a sense of certainty, hope, and purpose.

I invite you to find those 'aha' moments through the integration of faith into parenting, fostering a home filled with love, understanding, and grace. It is a journey filled with wonderful discoveries, lessons learned, and the beautiful realization that in the grand scheme of things, we are all learning and growing together.

Embrace the adventure with a heart open to learning and a spirit tuned to the whispers of grace that beckon you to forge a path of love, resilience, and faith, for yourself and the beautiful family you are nurturing.

Remember, it's never too late to steer your family ship towards a harbor grounded in faith, where love reigns supreme and grace is the compass guiding every step.

Here's to finding strength in faith, to forging bonds that stand the test of time, and to crafting a legacy grounded in God's love, a legacy of resilience, understanding, and boundless love.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. May your path be blessed and your heart be guided by the loving hand of God, always.