A few months ago I heard about a blog called The Rebelution by two teen brothers, Alex and Brett Harris. They had been encouraged by their dad to read a stack of books one summer. The blog is the result of those books. They were both challenged to be a part of (which soon turned into leading) “a teenage rebellion against low expectations.”
Stop a minute. Read and think about that: a teenage rebellion against low expectations. Isn’t that great? Since when is it cool to be lame? Why is it cool for teenagers to be aloof and lazy? Why do parents think this is NORMAL?
As they started blogging, a huge following of teenagers appeared. These teens were saying, “This is what I’ve been wanting! I don’t want to be like everyone else!” Soon, the twins got an email from the Alabama Supreme Court. They wanted Alex and Brett to intern. The boys thought it was a joke. But basically Alabama Supreme Court was calling them on their blog’s mission to see if they would stand up and do something hard.
And they did. And they succeeded. They excelled.
This has led to conferences, speaking engagements and TWO books for these two brothers. I read their second book, Start Here (which is really a Part 2 and a how-to) to their first book, Do Hard Things. What kind of hard things? Here are some (of MANY) hard things that some of the teen “rebelutionaries” did after reading the first book:
Memorized a whole book of the Bible
Didn’t text for a week and used that time to read my Bible
Let my brother win in an argument
Put on a concert at church and raised $2000 for a missionary family in Mexico
Wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper
Designed and made modest but fashionable clothing
Set a bedtime for myself and kept to it
Started a pro-life group at my church
Babysat for a single mom who couldn’t pay me much
Hosted a 30 Hour Famine through World Vision
Shared a meal with a homeless man and listened to his story.
THESE ARE TEENAGERS. Yes, the ones that wear their pants on the ground (couldn’t resist!), move in packs through the mall, talk too loudly, roll their eyes and never unplug from their iPods. These are teenagers that are rebelling against teenage apathy.
There is so much I’d like to say about it because even though the audience is teenagers and college students, I felt myself being encouraged and pushed to do something hard. In fact, I felt like I HAD to do something hard. That I NEEDED to do something hard.
I dog-eared a bunch of stories and quotes that I want to share with you. This will be kind of stream of consciousness, but I think you’ll really enjoy what you read:
- Alex and Brett suggest that you get to know all you can about your subject—the hard thing you want to do. They site the Queen of Sheba in 1 Kings 10:1-3 who went to visit King Solomon and seek his advice. They suggest you do the same–find an expert in your field, read everything that person has written, know their website, listen to their talks and then make a solid attempt to meet that person–like at an event where they are speaking. Then you can walk confidently up to them and say, “I’ve read all your books. I want to be what you are. What would you do if you were me?” Isn’t that great? And with social media, how easy is this to do?
- These two boys have been praised by so many people and organizations. They have struggled with being prideful. One day one of their mentors (also one of MY favorite authors) Randy Alcorn sent them a letter endorsing their book. He encouraged them to humble themselves when they receive praise because that is when God will lift them up. And they said they literally fell on their faces and cried out to God for a spirit of humility. Don’t you want that attitude in your teenagers? Oh, I want it in MYSELF!
- They quote CJ Mahaney’s blog about a topic on busyness. And are you ready for this one? It’s rough…
“Lazy? Not me. I’m busy. Up early, up late. My schedule is filled form beginning to end…
I forget now who first brought these points to my attention. But the realization that I could be simultaneously buy and lazy, that I could be a hectic sluggard, that my busyness was no immunity from laziness, became a life-altering and work-altering insight…
Busyness does not mean I am diligent.
Busyness does not mean I am faithful.
Busyness does not mean I am fruitful.
The sluggard can be busy–busy neglecting the most important work, and busy knocking out a to-do list filled with tasks of secondary importance.”
I just don’t have anything else to say to that. Except: *gulp*
- Do you know the first thing I do when I have a free minute? Check my inbox. Or twitter. Or skype. The Harris brothers encouraged teens (read: me) to think about this: “when we really think something is important, we’ll make sure to give it our time as soon as we have a free moment–and we;ll carve out those free moments if they don’t come naturally. That’s how it should be with our personal time with God.”
- In the book, they tell many stories of teens who were encouraged by Do Hard Things and then went on to do something hard themselves. One story is of a girl from San Diego who decided to give her 17th birthday to God. She loaded up 30 of her friends and spent the day with some recent refugees from Africa. They made bracelets, gave makeovers, played soccer and shared food. She says she was afraid her friends would think it was weird. But in fact, her friends loved it and they have made it a regular event.
The whole book hit me square in the heart–I want to be this way! I want Lydia to be this way! I want Asa to be this way! I want to model this do-hard-things attitude for my children. I want to cultivate a work-for-God mentality in their lives.
Teenagers do NOT have to be immature, pampered overgrown children. They can do hard things. They can lead people (including adults) to do great things for God. If you’ve got a teen in your life…or if you ever WERE a teen, you need to pick up both of these books. I’m telling you. You’re going to want to start doing some hard things.
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PS. Please go poke around Alex and Brett’s website. You will love it. Just reading their About Us page will get you excited. And while I was looking through their store, I noticed a link to a conference called Raising Kids To Do Hard Things. It’s coming to Atlanta in October!! Who wants to go with me?
Disclosure: This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.