Do Hard Things
A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
Alex and Brett Harris
Multnomah Books, 2008, 241 pp., ISBN 978-1-60142-112-8
Twin teenage brothers Alex and Brett are the founders of TheRebelution.com, a movement of young people rebelling against low expectations. Rebelution is the combination of rebellion and revolution. The authors take their message on tour and have been featured nationally on major TV networks. They provide a compelling glimpse of the possibilities for teens who break the mold of what society expects of teens. The book is full of great examples. This is a great read for your kids.
Prior to the twentieth century people were either children or adults. (30) What changed? Why can twenty five-year-olds today not do the things teenagers did then? They are held back by the modern understanding of adolescence that credits them with the desires and abilities of adults but few of the expectations or responsibilities. (33-5) The teen years are viewed as a vacation. Competence, maturity and productivity simply aren't expected. Youth have dropped to meet the reduced expectations. (36) Once they meet the minimum requirements they stop pushing themselves. Expectations have consequences. (39) Wasting teen years is not really what they want. (44)
"We are convinced that the teen years are the primary time God has given to us for 'strict training.'" "By choosing to use our teen years for strict training, we can choose to set direction, develop character, and build momentum for an amazing future." (50)
We can do things now that will equip us for greater things God may have for us. "A historian once said that George Washington 'became the man he strove to be.'" (56)
Here are five different kinds of hard things: (57-9)
Taking the first step outside your comfort zone is the most terrifying. (65) "But there's a high cost for choosing comfort:…we build an invisible fence around ourselves." (67) The fence is usually fear and we can't live by fear and by faith. (79) "Great faith is the product of great fights. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials." (71 quoting Smith Wigglesworth)
"The good news is that all it takes to overcome many of our fears is to face them--with God's help--by taking the first step." (78)
All effort, even effort that fails, builds muscle. Failure is a way to grow stronger. (81)
"It's easy to be content with less than our best, especially when our halfhearted efforts seem to satisfy everyone around us. And being 'good enough' can turn into a special hazard." (88) "Complacency thrives when hidden behind rationalizations ('Hey, I did my best….')" (90) "We slide into habits of mediocrity and excuse making. Life gets boring…." (91) "Pursue excellence, not excuses." (93)
"Instead of focusing on our individual limitations, what if we stepped back, looked around, and asked, 'Who could be motivated to tackle this with me?'" The answer is collaboration--literally 'working together. (110)
Start with questions about things like what God is saying, what my parents think, whether I am the one to lead, my strengths and weaknesses, who can help, etc. Look for reliable guidance from those who are older and wiser. Don't overlook the wisdom and help from your family and/or other families in your community. Use technology to grow your team. Value constructive criticism. Give lots of credit to others. Give grace. Expect problems. Don't give up.
"Your life…will require you to invest a lot of time and energy in things that aren't big and that don't seem to make much of an impact." Doing small things plays a big roll and delivers incredible dividends in your future. (134) "Habits like working hard, maintaining a positive attitude, living with self-discipline and integrity, and serving others bring benefits to our lives now and pay enormous dividends in the future--if we do them faithfully." (137-38)
"When we make decisions to obey God--even when it costs us something--and to live out our faith in our day-to-day life, it will be hard, but it will be good. And it will be good because God loves to bless us when we are faithful to stand for Him." (153-54)
"Be part of the solution. Don't get a reputation for always being against everything: be for something." (161)
"Is there a stand you know you should be taking but haven't? Is there something in your life you know is wrong but continue to do? If a challenge comes to mind, don't ignore it. Take a first rebelutionary step." (164)
When you see a big need that you feel compelled to do something about, step up. (169) "In every generation that faces intense challenges, God raises up those who will be His representatives to do His work." (170)
"A thriving Christian counterculture will fight poverty, heal disease, and expose corruption even as we earnestly fight against the sin and spiritual darkness at the root of all suffering. A generation of rebelutionaries will write books, direct films, raise and train children, design buildings, run for office, and make scientific and medical discoveries. We will strive to bring the truth of God's Word and the gospel to bear on every area of life we touch." (175)
The three critical values: character, competence, and collaboration. (176) "Our vision for the Rebelution is to see these three qualities coming together in a new generation--young people who are passionate about growing in Christlikeness and sharing the gospel (character), who care deeply about skill, strategy, and creativity (competence), and who are committed to finding and working with a community of like-minded rebelutionaries (collaboration) to bring hope and healing to a lost and hurting world." (177)
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