Kids don’t need presents. They need parents. Two little boys had a favor to ask of their mother, but they were afraid she wouldn’t grant it. “You ask her,” said the older one.

“No, you.”

“Just go ahead and ask her,” the bigger boy repeated.

“No, it would be better if you did it—you’ve known her longer than I have.”

I can’t think of a more challenging, yet rewarding, responsibility than that of being a parent. It’s one of those decisions we make that can’t be undone. For the next 18 years, it is our sole responsibility to teach, train, lead, love, encourage, and listen to our children. Parenting is a commitment that demands sacrifice. It means putting down a good book so little Bobby can show us the craft he made at school. It means sometimes taking little Jenna out for a breakfast “date” at her favorite restaurant.

Parenting also involves difficult things like saying “No” and giving our children a spanking when necessary. Silence toward sin is approval. Our kids need to know that we care enough to set boundaries for them and that there will be a penalty when they disobey. Then we’ve got to follow through. We want to show them that we love them enough to give them everything they need for a successful, Christ-centered life, but not everything they want—and teach them the difference.

Strong parenting takes hard work. You will make mistakes just like I did. There will be times when you’re ready to give up because you don’t know what to do. But remember the commitment you made when those children were born. You’ve got to be diligent to love and train them so they’ll serve Christ. If not you, who? And if not now, when? I challenge you to step up to the plate and be the parent God wants you to be today.

Many things we need can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are being formed; his blood is being made; his mind is being developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow. His name is today. — Gabriela Mistral

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder