John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Filtering by Category: Hearts and Minds

Baby in the Bargain Bin

Not too long ago I went to a big Christian conference. There were speakers and musicians and classes and keynotes. There was also a giant room filled with Christian products. Everything you can imagine from puppets to communion trays to computer software to t-shirts with terribly cheesy slogans printed on them like "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven" and "His pain, your gain". Christian candle makers were there, as were Christian architects and Christian painters. And there was a bookstore. All the usual suspects were well-represented. Max Lucado. Chuck Swindoll. John Ortberg. Andy Stanley. Beth Moore. Liz Curtis Higgs. Tons of Christian romance novels. Lots of sanitized, age-appropriate Bibles for the kiddos.

It was there, tucked away in a bargain bin, that I saw a book I'd written a few years ago, Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World (Tyndale, '06) on sale, 50% off.

I remember when that book came out. It had taken two years to research and write. I'd been thinking about that book for so long that when I finally held it in my hand, it seemed so perfect -- like one of my children almost. All the contracts and editing and marketing and distribution. All the radio interviews and speaking engagements. All the prayers and hopes and efforts converging into that one amazing moment when I at last received that first copy from the publisher.

But I'll tell you a secret: the same feelings I've been describing the past couple of weeks, those feelings of fullness and emptiness, that combination of happy and sad, sweet and sour simultaneously -- that's what I felt when I held that book initially.

As good as it felt, it wasn't enough. It certainly didn't satisfy me forever. It didn't take away all my fears or quench my thirst once and for all. I still had longings and desires and insecurities. I wasn't fulfilled by holding that book.

And now here it was reduced for quick sales, on the clearance shelf. My baby in a bargain bin.

In that moment, I was really glad that our accomplishments and triumphs aren't all there is, that they are not the highest heights we'll ever know, that the moment of my book's unveiling will not be as good as it ever gets. I was glad because it also means that our tragedies will not have the last word. That my book's failing does not destine me to failure.

I do not have to rise and fall with my Amazon.com ranking, if I just keep remembering that I'm made for something bigger, something better, something this world cannot provide because this world cannot contain it.

I was made for heaven, and, in heaven, there is no bargain bin.

Hearts and Minds: The Study Guide

I've had several people ask me if there is a study guide for Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World. And the answer is...yes. Actually, the answer is not quite yet, but it is in the works. My wife Jill (who really wrote a lot of the book -- shhh -- don't tell anyone), is busy working on a study guide for individual use or (better yet) use with a small group.

So, if you've got a copy of the book and want to order a study guide, leave me a note in the comments.

Also, if you want to order a copy of the book, you can do that here.

If you've got a copy and have read it, it would help me out if you'd go someplace like Amazon.com and write a brief review.

Finally, if you're interested in hosting a parenting seminar for the folks in your community, you can get more info by going here.

Helping Faith 2.0

I have been asked by a couple of people recently what they can do to help me personally and Faith 2.0. I have a few thoughts and ideas that you could all do if you'd like to be a part of the ministry that is changing people's lives by helping them re-examine what they really believe. First, you can donate to the ministry. Faith 2.0 is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so you're donations are tax deductible. Any donation above $100 will get you a signed copy of my new book and a subscription to all the .mp3 files on the website.

Second, you can buy a copy of the new book, Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World, from our online store. By purchasing from us, rather than your local bookstore, the money goes directly to Faith 2.0. With Christmas coming up, several people have already purchased copies to give as presents.

Third, you can bring me in to speak at your church -- perhaps to conduct a parenting seminar based on the material in the parenting book. A few years ago I made the decision to do no travel between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do not regret that choice one bit. It does, however, make it a little difficult to pay all the bills on time! The more bookings I can get scheduled for the new year, the easier it will be to honor my commitment to my family during the holidays.

Finally, you can help create a positive buzz about the new book by doing simple things. For example, you could visit a website like Amazon.com and write a review of the book. You can ask your local Christian bookstore if they have the book in stock. You could talk to other parents about using the book in a small group study.

It would be inconsiderate of me to fail to thank those of you who have already made contributions. It is because of your generosity and support that I am able to do what I do. I can provide for my family, meet my financial obligations and help people better understand how to live the life God has called them to live. Without your help, none of this would be possible.

An Overview of the Book

The following is an excerpt from the Introduction of my new book, Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World. The book, co-authored with Dr. Kenneth Boa, is published by Tyndale Publishing and has a foreword by Chuck Colson. John is now taking requests to visit churches to conduct parenting seminars based on this material. You can now purchase an autographed copy of the book from our online store.

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In part 1, we will talk about families as the basic building blocks of society. As families go, so goes society -- not the other way around. Therefore, if something has gone wrong with society, it is precisely because something has gone terribly wrong in our families. If we are ever going to stem the tide of moral decay in our world, we must begin at the family level.

Several factors make this difficult to do. In chapter 1, we'll consider the challenge of parenting in an age of specialization, and we'll make the case that parents must stop outsourcing their children's faith development. During the past couple of generations, the faith development of children has become church-based and home-supported. According to the biblical paradigm, however, it's supposed to be home-based and church-supported.

Parents are often afraid to take ownership of the faith-development process. It can be a daunting task; but with a simple understanding of the typical stages of faith development, parents can devise age-appropriate strategies. In chapter 2, we'll walk through four basic stages of faith development and give some practical examples of the things you can do at each stage to smooth the transitions your child will naturally go through.

One idea in this first section that isn't usually part of parenting discussions -- even of biblical parenting -- is using Jesus as our example. We tend to think that because Jesus did not have children, he doesn't have much to say about how we parent. In chapter 3, we'll look at Jesus' relationship with his disciples to glean some tips for teaching and training our children.

In part 2, we'll begin the heavy lifting. We'll unpack the basics of a Christian worldview in a way that busy dads and even-busier moms can understand. We hope it will help that we are both busy dads ourselves.

In chapter 4, we address the basic questions that a worldview seeks to answer, such as, Who am I? Where am I? How did I get here? Why am I here? What's wrong with me and my world? and, Is there a solution to the problems of this life? We can tell our children what we believe, but the way we live reveals more about our faith than our words ever will. If our lives were congruent with what we say we believe, the whole world would change.

Everything begins and ends with our concept of God. Either he exists or he does not. If he is who he says he is, then he defines reality. If our children are convinced that God exists and that he is not silent, more than half the battle is over. Chapter 5 deals with the importance of giving our children an accurate picture of God.

Once we grasp the fact that God exists and has revealed himself and his will to us, we can begin to piece together some answers to questions about meaning, purpose, and destiny. Chapter 6 presses the premise of God's character to its logical conclusions and shows how God's existence and his revealed will affect the other fundamental life questions.

Part 3 examines what we value as Christians. There is a wrongheaded notion in our society that all ideas are equally valid and that truth is relative. Values are often culturally determined, but some things are more valuable than others. Some values have been held by all (or most) societies throughout history.

The first such value is truth, the subject of chapter 7. Societies have generally attached high value to truth and honesty over error and dishonesty. Truth is the basis for social order. Without truth, there can be no trust, and trust is what cements human relationships. Trust must be given and received.

The second value is goodness. History often divides the good guys from the bad. In old Westerns, it's pretty easy to tell them apart: Good guys wear white hats; bad guys wear black. In real life, no one is completely good or absolutely bad, but societies nevertheless agree that there is a difference between good and bad, right and wrong. In chapter 8, we consider who gets to decide which is which. Without an objective source of truth, good and bad are easily confused.

The final value we examine is beauty. Our cultural biases make it tricky to deal with the concept of beauty, but people throughout time have considered nature to be beautiful. Likewise, people have always regarded destruction as ugly. We believe that nature is beautiful because it is a reflection of God's nature. God is creative. Satan is destructive, and thus destruction manifests our fallenness.

Part 4 deals with our actions. Our children may not care much about what we say, but they are watching what we do. Biblically speaking, certain behaviors and activities validate our faith in God. Without evidence of life change, however, our faith will be shallow and ineffective. It won't be the attractive force that our children need if they are going to grow deep in their relationship with God.

God calls us to make a difference for him in the world. In this section, we'll see how faith prompts us to engage the world, hope sustains us in our engagement, and love is the means by which we engage.

In chapter 10, we consider the life of William Wilberforce, who sparked the beginnings of the worldwide outlawing of human slavery. Wilberforce demonstrated that we can make a difference for social good if we allow God to change our hearts. We must tackle social issues as ambassadors for Christ. Real faith is never relegated to Sundays only. It permeates every part of our lives.

Chapter 11 is about the hope that is necessary for sustaining life. The question is not, do you have hope? but rather, in what are you placing your hope? Martin Luther King, Jr. had the certain hope that he would inherit everlasting life with God, that justice would one day prevail, and that all our questions would be answered. These beliefs sustained his tireless efforts to see God's will accomplished in his generation. Such hope can be ours as well, and we can transfer it to our children by reminding them of great men and women of God.

Chapter 12 is about love, the core of the Christian life. As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves; to care for marginalized people; to be Good Samaritans; and to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned. Nineteenth-century prison reformer Elizabeth Fry is a great example of someone who carried out these loving acts. Her compassion and compulsion to care for others came from her belief that every person has inherent value and dignity because they are created in God's image. Without that, we have no logical reason to care for others. When we treat people with love, we offer the best argument for the love and goodness of God, and we show our children what it looks like to be an ambassador for him.

Our conclusion suggests that you -- yes, you! -- will be able to pull this whole project off. As we've already said, parenting is difficult, but God has promised to give us the tools and resources we need to pass our faith along to the next generation. With God's help, by using the Bible and relying on the Holy Spirit, Christians can become better parents than they ever thought they could be.

Better Parenting or Better Parents?

The following is an excerpt from the Introduction of my new book, Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World. The book, co-authored with Dr. Kenneth Boa, is published by Tyndale Publishing and has a foreword by Chuck Colson. If you are interested in reading an excerpt, request an electronic copy in the comment section of this blog. You may invite John to come to your church to conduct a parenting seminar. You will also soon be able to purchase an autographed copy of the book from our online store. **********

How would you answer if you were asked, "Are you better at being a Christian or at being a parent?" Most of us would say that being a good Christian is a snap compared to being a good parent. Most of us think of ourselves as decent Christians. The basics of Christianity are relatively easy to get a grip on, and they've remained constant for centuries. We have plenty of areas that we're working on, but God has helped us and brought us to where we are spiritually, so we feel relatively certain that he will continue to work in us.

But being a good parent? With all the talk shows and seminars out there, some of us feel that we must rely on the insight and education of professionally licensed and board-certified experts because they know more about our children than we do. It's difficult to master even the basics of parenting because there seem to be more basics now than there used to be.

Here's a secret that you may not have heard: Personhood sets the tone for parenthood. In other words, the kind of person you are will have a longer-lasting effect on your children than your parenting techniques. Whether or not you were able to insightfully discern the inner monologue of your preteen daughter will not matter as much as whether or not you were an example of Christlikeness to her. If you want to be a better parent, the place to begin is with your own relationship with God. The closer you draw to him, the more transformed you will be by the power of the Holy Spirit; the more you take on God's perspective, the better you will be at parenting.

The proliferation of parenting books at the local bookstore can be overwhelming, and parents can begin to feel doubtful, anxious, and guilty. The last thing we want to do is to make parents feel more intimidated. God has called you to do something remarkable -- to live in such a way that your child will see God and his purpose for each of us. That purpose is to bring glory to God by living with integrity, enjoying the gifts he gives us, and being good stewards of those gifts.

Chief among those gifts are our children. Part of living a God-honoring life is remembering that children are a blessing from God -- however much they may sometimes feel like part of the Curse! One of the best things you can do for your child is to become the kind of persho who feels good when you're told, "She's just like you." Instead of telling your son, "I can't wait until you have one just like you," what would it be like to say, "I hope you have a son who is as much of a blessing to you as yo uhave been to me"?

It might also be helpful to know that the basics you need to be a good Christian are the same basics you need to be a good parent. To be a good Christian you need to have the right beliefs, the right values, and the right practices. In other words, you must love God with your head, your heart, and your hands. As you do that, God's Spirit will transform you into a godly person, and your parenting will change as well.

There are other good books that deal with how to get your child to sleep through the night or sit still at the dinner table. We're more concerned with how you can help your children to see the world as it really is, to understand the world and their place in it, and to give them a filter through which they can interpret life as it is happening.

Your worldview shows up in why you vote, what you watch, where you shop, and how you drive. Your worldview determines how you talk to yourself and others, how you treat your neighbors, and whether or not you can forgive your enemies. Your worldview is demonstrated by your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.

Here's the scary part: If you say you believe one thing but your behavior reveals something completely opposite, guess what your kids will remember.

That's why we're going to focus less on children and more on parents; less on child rearing and more on how parents can live in a way that demonstrates a life of faith to their children.

Parenting Isn't Primarily About Kids; It's Primarily About Parents

The following is an excerpt from the Introduction of my new book, Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World. The book, co-authored with Dr. Kenneth Boa, is published by Tyndale Publishing and has a foreword by Chuck Colson. If you are interested in reading an excerpt, request an electronic copy in the comment section of this blog. You may invite John to come to your church to conduct a parenting seminar. You will also soon be able to purchase an autographed copy of the book from our online store. **********

We've intentionally avoided techniques and gimmicks for making your children behave better. We have tried not to get bogged down in external measures that can produce a false sense of success for parents. This is not a book about how our children ought to behave, but about how we ought to live as their parents.

We built this book on a foundation laid by researchers and theologians, experts in the fields of psychology and education, such as Hal Runkel, Kevin Leman, Alfie Kohn, Ray Guarendi, Tim Kimmel, Edward Hallowell, and many others. We read a lot of books during the process of writing this one to be sure that our opinions were sound.

One of the biggest flaws we've found in many parenting books (especially Christian parenting books) is the myth of technique. Often the impression is given that we can control our children with the proper technique. This usually comes from misreading Proverbs 22:6: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." The truth is that you cannot really control your children.

If your goal is to make your children behave in a certain way or to force them to be a certain kind of person, you may or may not achieve that goal. Kids grow up to be adults with minds of their own. You may do everything right and still see your kids walk away from their faith when they get older. Despite what you may have been led to believe, they may not come back. If your definition of successful parenting is having faithful children who make you proud and turn your friends green with envy, you may be setting yourself up for a rude awakening.

The truth is that you can't control your kids or their choices. The only person you can really control is yourself, and most of us struggle with that. What if we took Gary Thomas's advice? He says, "The ultimate issue is no longer how proud my children make me, but how faithful I've been to discharge the duties God has given me." Focusing on our God-given responsibilities as parents changes our definition of success.

Parenting our kids requires gifts and skills that we don't have. Only God has what it takes to raise children properly, and he calls us to parent in partnership with him because he knows that it will make us rely more on him. As we are invited to draw closer to him each step of the way, parenting becomes a spiritually formative activity. We need to raise children as much as they need us to raise them.

Redefining Success as Parents

Jeff Sandstrom, a Dove Award-winning music producer, grew up going to camp every summer. A Christian organization near his home in upstate New York hosted a summer camp for boys, designed to train them to be Christian leaders. In that time and place, being a Christian leader meant knowing how to lead congregational singing, stand in front of an audience, and preach. One of the main events each summer was for these young boys to memorize prewritten, three-minute sermonettes and recite them for the rest of the camp on parent-visitation day. There were hundreds of these mini-homilies -- with titles such as "Why Ivory Soap Floats" and "What Christ Did for Sinful Men" -- and whoever could recite the most sermonettes verbatim, would gain admittance to the Hall of Fame.

Jeff Sandstrom desperately wanted his name in the Hall of Fame. His father was an associate pastor at their church. He led worship and the youth group, and the Sandstrom family was a pillar of the congregation. As a pastor's son, there was some pressure on Jeff to act in certain ways and to know certain things. Everyone just knew that Jeff would leave camp that summer as the newest member of the Hall of Fame.

They did not expect Timmy Tollison to be as good as he proved to be.*

Timmy was a memorizing machine. It quickly became clear to everyone at the camp that he was better than Jeff at reciting the sermonettes. He was likely going to be admitted into the Hall of Fame first and steal all of Jeff's thunder.

This is how it came about that on a muggy summer morning in the early 1980s, Jeff Sandstrom prayed, "Dear Jesus, please do not let Timmy Tollison remember 'What Christ Did for Sinful Men.'"

It's a good thing we grow out of that kind of behavior, isn't it?

The July 19, 1996, issue of USA Today carried a story from Dadeville, Alabama, about a Bible-quoting contest gone wrong. Gabel Taylor and another man began an informal match to see who could quote the most Bible verses. Eventually, as in all such contests, one man bested the other. Thirty-eight-year-old Gabel Taylor was the victor. The other man, whose name was not revealed in the news article, got a gun and shot and killed Gabel Taylor.

Beyond making us laugh or wince, these two stories illustrate how important it is to define success properly for our children.

In this book, we're going to talk about how we as parents should live. We're not going to talk very much about how children ought to behave, although there will be some of that. Instead, we're going to cut straight to the heart of the matter and help you understand why it's more important to focus on what's happening inside your child than on what your child is doing.

Our goal is to help you train your children to think about and see the world in a certain way, and we firmly believe that their behavior will adjust itself accordingly. We are convinced that people usually act as they do because of what they believe. We're also convinced that parents who are overly concerned with external results (i.e., behavior) can turn out a lot of false positives -- children who look great on the outside but whose insides are corrupt; children who do the right thing only until no one is looking. We may think that our children are on the right track because they attend church and know their memory verses, but the truth about a person's character eventually reveals itself, often with devastating results. Ask Gabel Taylor's family.

*Timmy Tollison is not the boy's real name. We have changed the name to protect the innocent. Jeff Sandstrom's name has not been changed, because he told us we could use his story, and he was not innocent. 

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The above comes from the Introduction of my new book, Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World. The book, co-authored with Dr. Kenneth Boa, is published by Tyndale Publishing and has a foreword by Chuck Colson. If you are interested in reading an excerpt, request an electronic copy in the comment section of this blog. You may invite John to come to your church to conduct a parenting seminar. You will also soon be able to purchase an autographed copy of the book from our online store.

Who Wants One?

I returned from my eventful trip to California last night and found 100 copies of my new book (Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World) waiting for me. The back says I should charge $13.99, but you can get them for less at Amazon.com. I think I'll charge $12.00.

Who wants one?

Your Weltanschauung Is Showing

Greetings from Malibu, California. I'm sitting in a cafe at Pepperdine University overlooking the Pacific Ocean -- reflecting on my day. I'm here at the Pepperdine Lectures to speak Friday morning. They gave me one class to teach How Now Shall We Live As Parents? One class to teach a 70,000 word book. Great.

It's amazing to me that there has been so much talking and writing done in Christian circles on the importance of understanding our worldview. And yet the tribe of my heritage (the Churches of Christ) still hasn't much of a clue about the whole thing. You should see people's eyes glaze over when I tell them what the book is about.

"Oh, it's a book about parenting? Can you tell me how to get my kids to sit still at the dinner table?"

"Well, actually it's more about how parents can help their kids grasp a Christian worldview."

"Great! Worldliness is a big problem with kids these days. Most of them don't even want to come to church on Sunday nights."

"Yeah...uh...it's less about behavior and more about thinking and interpreting the world properly."

"I know all about that. I did a devo for the teens a couple of months ago about how dangerous the world is and what a slippery slope listening to rock-and-roll music is and going to the R-rated movies."

Helping your children develop an accurate worldview (from the German Weltanschauung) is not about behavior modification. It's not about getting them to sleep through the night or training them like dogs (I seriously get this from a lot of damaged parents -- they think they're supposed to train their children like dogs or horses or some other animal).

It's about helping them see the world as it really is. It's about helping them develop a filter through which they can interpret life as it is happening.

Your worldview shows up in why you vote, what you watch, where you shop, how you drive. Your worldview determines how you talk to yourself and others -- how you treat your neighbor and whether or not you can forgive your enemy. Your worldview is demonstrated by your thoughts, feelings, words and actions.

And here's the scary part: If you say you believe one thing, but your behavior reveals something completely opposite -- guess which one your kids will remember.

First Things First

The fundamental assertion of faith among the people of God in the Old Testament is found in Deuteronomy 6: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (vv. 4-5). This statement was the central affirmation of Old Testament faith. Every time a person recited these words, they renewed their covenant with God. It was a gentle reminder of their true identity and the relationship they had with the One who gave them that identity.

They recited it at least twice every day -- when they woke up and when they went to sleep. It was also the first sentence taught to a Hebrew child. When a child developed the ability to speak, this was the sentence they were taught to say.

When an Israelite died, they often used their final breath to speak this sentence. That was a sign of someone who took their commitment to God seriously. The shema (a Hebrew word meaning "hear" or "listen") as it came to be called, was to be their first sentence and their last sentence -- not only of each day but of their lives as well.

Needless to say, this portion of Scripture was known by every Jewish person to be the very core of what it meant to be a child of God's covenant love. Everything else was subordinate to this one overarching principle: Love God with everything you've got!

But read what Moses says next: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Now think back to the question at hand: Who is responsible for making sure our children develop spiritually? The Old Testament is pretty clear on this. Parents have the primary responsibility for making sure their children know and respect God. Their worldview will flow from this foundational text, so parents should make every effort to teach this principle to their children.

But don't think this is merely an Old Testament concept. In the New Testament we find the Apostle Paul saying the same thing: "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Clearly, children are meant to be raised by their parents.

As obvious as this appears, however, we seem to have gotten off track somehow. Children spend less and less time with their parents these days. Between school, tutors, little league and band practice, a parent is just one of many voices in a child's life. And the less time we spend with our children, the less confidence we have in our ability to parent.

Parenting In An Age of Specialization

The days of broadcasting are over; the days of narrowcasting are upon us. Given the amount of information available on every subject imaginable, it's no wonder we find ourselves living in an age of specialists. In nearly every field, people's area of expertise is shrinking to miniscule proportions, and the impact is felt acutely by parents. We want our kids to be healthy so we make sure they have a doctor. But we don't want them to have a regular doctor. In fact, it's hard to find a good, old-fashioned general practitioner these days -- someone who cares for people from the cradle to the grave. Nowadays, we want our children to have an age-appropriate, gender-specialized pediatrician, someone who only treats left-handed girls between the ages of 18-24 months.

We want our kids to be intellectually advanced, so we choose the location of our home by school district. And we grill their teachers to ensure that our little Einstein will have the best environment possible to develop his mind. Gone are the days of the one-room schoolhouse with a dowdy schoolmarm who taught everything from reading and writing to arithmetic. Now we want young, attractive, energetic, multi-lingual math teachers who come in for one hour a day to teach only math (in a young, attractive, energetic, multi-lingual sort of way). If we want Alexandria to learn Spanish, we'll find her a good private tutor out in the suburbs somewhere who specializes in teaching suburban Spanish to suburban children.

We want our kids to be athletic, so we enroll them in sports programs. God forbid one kid in America might miss out on youth soccer! It's become like the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt pay hundreds of dollars so your child can play bee-hive soccer. Here too, however, we find that coaches tend to concentrate on one sport. After all, what hath basketball to do with soccer?

We want our children to be cultured, to appreciate the arts. So we enroll them in piano and art and ballet lessons. Can we be honest about something? Ballet lessons for a four year old are really just an excuse to dress your daughter up in a pretty outfit. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking it's more than it is.

On and on it goes. We send our overscheduled, under-rested, stressed-out kids from person to person, trying to make sure they are having a well-rounded childhood. Is there an appropriate balance of physical, cultural and academic activities? Are they growing up with all the advantages we never had? Is there a specialist out there whose help we have not sought out? A time-management expert or a nutritionist? Is there someone who can teach my child the most beneficial way of playing in the backyard?

There's nothing wrong with specializing in a particular skill. And there's nothing wrong with seeking out the help and expertise of someone uniquely qualified in a given field. If you can afford to give your child a leg up, go for it. After all, you're not responsible for teaching them history and science courses. No one said you have to coach little league or learn a foreign language in order to parent your kids.

But what about when it comes to your child's connection to God? What about your child's worldview? Who's responsible for that?