rebelling against low expectations

Myth of Adolescence (Part 2)


In Part 1 of this series, I wrote of the great elephants of India, who, although they have the physical capacity to uproot trees during the day, can be restrained all night long by a piece of twine and a twig. How is this possible?

The elephant’s training begins when it is still young and considerably less powerful. Removed from its mother, the elephant is then shackled with an iron chain to a large tree. For days and weeks on end, the baby elephant strains against its restraints, only to find that all exertion is useless. Then slowly, over a period of several weeks, sometimes months, smaller chains and smaller trees are used. Eventually, you can use a piece of twine and a small branch, and the great beast will not budge. Its mind is fully committed to the idea that it cannot go anywhere when there is something around its right hind leg.

And so I ask my generation, individually and corporately, “What is holding us back?” History demonstrates that we are far more capable than we think we are. Our failure to realize substantial achievement at early ages is due, not to any innate inadequacies on our part, but rather to our social conditioning. American society, with its media-saturated youth culture, not only follows trends and fads, but it creates them. Classrooms, TV shows, magazines, and websites, are not only addressing us at the level of social expectations, but they are in fact dictating those expectations. They tell us how to act, think, and talk; they tell us what to wear, what to buy, and where to buy it; they tell us what to dream, what to value, and what to hate. We are being squeezed into a mold where there is no room for Christian character or competence. And as the famous proverb goes, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

In what could be considered the most maddening aspect of this crisis, not all areas of maturity are being stunted. In a powerful demonstration of teenagers’ ability to meet the expectations set before them, we witness young people today reaching unprecedented levels of technological proficiency and sexual experience. It is ironic that many teenagers, while fluent in multiple computer languages, are not expected to carry on an intelligent conversation with an adult. It is heartbreaking that so many young girls, while constantly pressed to become more and more sexually alluring, are not expected to attain any notable level of character beneath the surface.

Our world cannot last another generation of Christian young people who fit in. The shackles of society are on our minds and hearts, not our ankles. We are held back only by the myth of adolescence and the lies of social expectations. If we would only recognize that our restraints are illusory, and then let God’s Word and all of history govern our sense of what we are capable of, we would be a force this world could no longer ignore.

We face a crisis and an opportunity. A crisis, in the sense that we can no longer afford to slowly drift towards adulthood, viewing the teen years as a vacation from responsibility, and an opportunity, in the sense that we can embrace life now and make a difference for the glory of God, and for the good our family, our nation, and our world. Look down at your “ankle” and see the pathetic contrivance that has been restraining you. Now renew your mind in the light of God’s Word and take a step forward.

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Alex –

    I have seen the bending of the twig with my son’s peers. Others are amazed at what my children know and the way they behave, but when they ask me about their learning, they quickly decide it would never work with their children. Their children MUST watch television, they MUST play video games, they WON’T go to Bible study and they HATE museums. The parent’s have already imposed the shackles on their children.

    I would love it if you would tell us about your young childhood and the things to which your parents exposed you. You and your brother are such impressive young men!

  • The sociological concept of institutionalization applies to what you’ve been writing about adolescence. Personal characteristics and meaning become subsumed in the requirements and restrictions of institutionally imposed meaning and identity. Eventually, after enough subsuming, the person understands himself only within the limited parameters of institutional requirements. For young people in our culture, school is the institutionalizing ogre, abetted fervently by church youth groups and many other “youth friendly” structures.

  • Hey Alex,
    Wow that was a great post (well actually they have all been great, but i havn’t comented till now)! Most everyone I know has these shackles of social expectation hung all around them. I agree our media is one of the biggest encouragers telling us to fit into the mold. How can we show teens that the media is forcing them into these fads, and that it goes against the Christian morals and character that we have been instilled with? While writing this i am just thinking about my classmates that are supposedly “Christians” but they have no morals and are weighd down with the expectations of our society. Thanks so much for your great posts! Keep up the good work!
    God Bless!
    In Christ,
    Lauren Hammerstrom

  • Very true, Alex…let me congratulate you on the clear understanding that you present on the issue.

    In my own studies, I’ve come to the conclusion that Satan and his angels were in on this myth. I mean, hey, he is the father of lies. I don’t think he would have forgotten the youth that God had used in the past – David, Josiah, Timothy, Titus, and the Apostle John. I suppose the last one is the most surprising but it must be remembered that John didn’t die until c. 96 AD – assuming he lived to be around 80+ (which is still an extraordinary age for those days), he would have been 13 or so (at the youngest) when Jesus’ ministry began. Shocking, yes?

  • Oops, I submitted that before I was finished…

    In any case, Satan would not have forgotten the impact that they had in the world and was probably bound and determined to do whatever he could to stop it. I have to admit that he’s done a pretty thorough job in the Western hemisphere.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Hey David, I’m sure the father of lies is in on this one… No doubt.

    I also think that Satan and his demons use different tactics in different areas of the world. In the western hemisphere, where Christianity is more prevalent, they are better served if people don’t believe they exist. In other, lesser-developed areas, their presence is very real and oppressive. Both strategies are equally as effective… Especially if the people of God become lackadaisical and careless, failing to respond with the Truth of God’s Word.

  • AWESOME!!! I don’t think it could have been said any better. I’m a SR and have been homeshcooled all my life. But man did you ever say exactly what I have been feeling since…well…..I became a “teenager”. Keep up the good work. I love your BLOG

  • Wow, that is really good writing! I just got sucked in.

    Sorry, a little off the subject. Excellent point too. Now if only we could spread the word.

  • I totally agree. Girls my age (14) in other countries are already assuming the responsibility of being a wife, mother, and house keeper while in American society the expectations are get through school and look pretty. It pains me to see so many teenagers wasting their lives away with internet, tv, music, and video games but yet complain about mowing the lawn and homework. It just saddens me to see our generation sinking so low.

  • When I read this I began to think of one time when Jesus approached the man who had many demons in him, and they said to him “What do you want with us Son of Man, we are legion”, or sommething to that effect. As you have pointed out we are being ganged up on by many demons that are in legion against us. Now they may only be corporeal but as they say “It’s the thought that counts”. I find it very comforting that my peers have addressed a situation that I thought only crotchety old people talked about. Hearing this from someone closer to my age really hit the point home with me. Congratulations on a very inspiring message.

  • Wow. Thank you for posting this.

    I’m an “adolescent” myself, and though I thought it ridiculous the amount of immaturity that is expected (and drawn out!) of my generation, I’d never considered that the idea of “adolescence” was a factor. It’s only too true that people long ago were not children longer than necessary, but that, these days, we’re encouraged to be children until we can “handle” the pressures of adulthood.

    Really interesting thoughts. Thank you for sharing 🙂 I just found your blog today, through someone’s link to your article called “The Modern Day Gentleman”, and all the resources here look great.

    God bless you both! 🙂

  • As a mom of a young adult and a “pre-adolescent” (both girls) I am cheering you on! Like Grace, I too discovered your BLOG through the “Modern Day Gentleman” link. The link I followed was on the Ladies Against Feminism Website. They have a few links to your site, here. It encourages me so to know that there are young adults who “get it” and who are brave enough to stand up and say that the culture is WRONG. GOOD FOR YOU ALL!!! I was first impressed by the quote by CJ Mahaney… but now I’m impressed by your personal conviction. Bless you all….

    Gina Vail
    Houston, AR

  • I see christian elephants. You will use the bible as the twig and to do the same thing that the progressives have done.

  • I will simply point out that the shackles are not entirely illusory; as many homeschoolers can attest, there are federal and state laws regulating not only the age a person may seek gainful employment, but even the hours. Just look this issue up on HSLDA’s website and you’ll see what I mean. Many a homeschooling high schooler has been told by an employer or somebody in the government that they were not allowed to work yet, or they couldn’t work full time, or during regular school hours. There is a whole body of legal precedent in this country establishing persons under 18 as “minors”, that would have to be dealt with.

  • Is the chain that is holding us back really that small? It’s culture, law, family and school (we’re not all home-schoolers here), at the least, all of which demand our time to do things which we may see as useless. Can we break from these four: culture (being seen as someone who doesn’t fit in), law (marry or work at an early age), family (disobey our parents who still treat us as children), school (decide not to go to some obligatory classes)?
    On the other hand, we are holding ourselves back from doing great things by simply wasting time on some “leisure” activities, stuff like computer, Internet, TV… And I agree that we could be capable of much more than we think. We may not be able to break chains like the law, but we can break others, like the leisure activities.
    Thanks for writing this. Instead of surrendering, let’s pull hard at our chains, and I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much we can break.

  • no the chain holding us back is small, I don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or soda. have never taken drugs, and am the proverbial health nut, yet at my current job though no one their is a Christian that i know of all but a few get allong great with me an perfectly accept me, theres no pressure to do wrong, and most wish they “could” do what i do (don’t do). the truth is they are held by that small twig, some lash out against the free, but most think they can never be free, when really all they have to do, like the elephant, is start moving in a better direction

    don’t accept other opinion of you, not even your parents, not your pastors, not your teachers, and not your friends, only what you know God’s opinion is: “your a great person who can accomplish any thing you want and treat people well and expect to be treated well. you will do great in life an no one can hold you back but yourself”

    believe that and see how your world changes

  • Part 1

    It might be claimed that in some cultures there has been a perceived period of adolescence. Knights spent a distinct time a squires before becoming knights. An apprentice were often “teen-agers”, learning the trade under the master’s authority, yet holding more position than children.

    But even in these cases, there was a clear time of childhood that ended with a sort of ceremony that signalled adulthood. These times of youth could be shortened or lengthened according to the individual’s ability and the difficulty of trade. There was no time of pre-adult freedom from responsibility. Children had steadily increasing responsibility and authority. At a point determined by their parents or other authority, they were pronounced adults by right of maturity, not age.

  • Part 2

    Now, youth are held into childhood until an age (18 or 21), where they are suddenly expected to be adults. Economically, we do not need workers so badly that children should be taught as efficiently as possible to work and sustain themselves. Therefore, we have superimposed an age of adulthood.

    Adolesence, or the teen years are times for big kids to goof off and get a little education. Teens do not have to know what job they are going to do, much less focus their education on it. I look around at my peers and see that they are wasting their energy on frivolity. Who cares that Hector got to such a level in Halo? Does it matter that Shelly just bought six new blouses? Why are all these smart people spewing out their potential on movies? If the kids around me can memorize sport stats, sport teams, actors, movies, games, and more, they are surrounded by low expectations.

    In my own life, I know what job I want and how I’m going to get there. My education is increasingly directed toward that occupation. But I still feel like my potential is not being realized at present. It sounds egotistical, but I do not feel like I have discovered or been given opportunities to do hard things. I want to burn off my testosterone on a hard labor job. I want to express creativity in many arts. I want to fill my brain with hard concepts. Certainly I am not mature enough to do any adult’s portion of work. But I can contribute to the kingdom and people more that I do.

    My abilities are not being used, and that is partially my fault. There are ministries, jobs, or activities that could challenge me. But half are verboten and the other half are eliminated by my mental twig and twine. Sometimes I feel like an elephant, but it is takes to much effort to prove it.

  • I’m really just posting to see if you’ll delete my thoughts, since I feel most of what you’ve written is pretty much balderdash, particularly teh contradiction you present between the responsibilities that have been removed from young people alongside perceived increases in sexual acivity amonst the young.

    Do you really think that teenagers of the seventeenth century who took jobs and other responsibilities weren’t sexually active? /why is there a constant need within this site and its links to focus on women’s responsibilities to be modest and to help men stay on a righteous path? The tone is so accusatory!

    Could it not be argues taht your keen analogy between the twig and modern society could just as easily be switched to an assertion that the twig is the church and its doctrine, and that the poor elephant is being squeezed into a lifestyle to fullfil the requirements of its master – to act as a slave!

    Just thought I’d share that. If you refuse to publish it, no-one will ever know, but if you’ve any integrity, you’d let it stand – I’m happy to see what further responses you receive.

    Many thanks
    Pete (UK)

  • Peter: Don’t worry, we don’t censor comments. Thanks for the comment. As Christian young people we are called to a high standard of purity — both guys and girls. We don’t expect you to agree or to admire us for it. Of course you could argue that the twine and twig are the church and its doctrine, but there’s nothing to support that assertion. Recent national studies of youth and religion demonstrate an undeniable link between commitment/involvement in the local church and positive life outcomes — not religious affiliation, mind you, but religious commitment.

  • That’s reassuring – rest assured I won’t abuse the freedom!

    I would say, though, that, while I’ve not gone into detail to assert my suggestion, neither does the original premise. What does it mean to be tethered to real life? Is there an assumption that engagement in religious/faith-based practice removes one from the realities of life? You state that:

    “It is ironic that many teenagers, while fluent in multiple computer languages, are not expected to carry on an intelligent conversation with an adult. It is heartbreaking that so many young girls, while constantly pressed to become more and more sexually alluring, are not expected to attain any notable level of character beneath the surface.

    Our world cannot last another generation of Christian young people who fit in.”

    I’d argue that those young people you describe as being unable to engage in conversation are often the same young people who struggle to fit in – Christian or non-Christian alike. The passage seems to suggest that an inabiltiy to interact is a non-Christian trait – it is not, and neither is it a new thing.

    I’m not trying to argue that everything available to young people in secular society is a good thing – that would be patently untrue – but I wold assert that it is perfectly possible (indeed, I would argue, probable) that a young person can grow up exclusive of direct religious input and remain a decent, positive influence on the world around them.

  • It’s also worth noting that in the era when you describe teenagers heading off to war and wotnot, average life expectancies didn’t range far past the 40 mark.

    These days, in a developed world where life expectancy approaches 80, one can see that, proportionately, there really is a bit of time in life when it’s nice to be able to faff about and be a bit silly.

  • Wow. Another Good one Alex. So this makes me feel like that when we are young we are “shackled” to being like everyone else, so it is almost impossible to break the chain. And then the chain gets smaller. And us, us rebelutionaries are the teens to break the twine, to show that we are different and refuse to be judged like the others.

  • Very true. The fact is, we don’t have to give in to the culture’s expectations as Christians. The only standard that we have to submit to is God’s. We’re in the world but it no longer owns us, so why should we try to “fit in”? Even more crazy is when, wishing we could join the “fun,” we ask the question “How close can I get without actually sinning?” God doesn’t want us to just be a group of people hanging around the borders of sin: He wants us running the other direction, towards Him.

  • Our culture promotes laziness. Once you have been restrained for several years (during so called adolesence and longer) it is difficult to break free but it is very possible. I myself am having to retrain myself as I train my own children. With the knowledge of what is possible you can then pass on that knowledge to the younger generation. Laws can be changed. It takes time and effort, but again it can be done. Keep up the good work guys! The possiblities are spread through minds like yours’.

  • The elephant analogy I think was perfect for characterize the generation that we were born into. With more and more people sinking into the depths of pop culture its our job as Christians to “be fishers of men” in an attempt to loosen the shackles that most teens and young adults have around their hart. Now with most people (including myself) to walk out the door get on the bus and get the tunes rolling along. Those precious moments are wasted in total solitude alone from others God and yourself. This results in a disconnection and a lack of communication with others. This in turn causes our society to fall head and shoulders below a playing field that is becoming flat with competition from around the world.

  • The church youth group that I attended during my teen years was and continues to be plagued by the complacency and laziness that seems to have taken hold of so many youth. It is heartbreaking to see the young people of my church just exploding with gifts, talents, and potential for God, but going to a complete waste. God has taken a back seat to dating, entertainment, clothes and keeping up an “image.” Outreach and witnessing is basically non-exisitent. Its sad to see that the “christian” youth of the church are actually not much different from the non-christian students in the high school. Oh, how I pray that a change would take place in the hearts of our youth.

  • You guys really have a handle on this and I’m impressed! Here’s something to consider: While we are called as Christians to shine for God and live in His ways, we need to find balance between that and our culture. By no means am I saying compromise His commandments, but we can’t isolate ourselves claiming that we live for God either. There has to be a way to reach today’s culture while still upholding pure and righteous values. Any thoughts?

  • I still have much to read about the rebelution but so far I am excited by what I read. As a youth pastor one of the sayings and mindsets I have tried to abolish in each Church God has called me to is… “Our teens are the church of tommorrow”. NO!!! Christian Students are the church of TODAY!!!
    Jr High, High School and College students are in a unique position at that point in their life to be a HUGE impact on their communities and campuses! Why wait?!

  • Way to go..keep on going. The church today has let our youth down and need a wake up call. Many churches have allowed our youth to be deceived into thinking that they are supposed to function in neutral, the youth leaders are more concerned about entertaining the youth then challanging them with the Word of God. What is the church ashamed of or afraid of…please continue to raise the standard we need our youth to grow strong and stand firm

  • Wow, you guys are awesome!! You’re awesome writers, and totally inspiring. Now that I’ve read the article, I totally agree…I look around at school, and see people so caught up in the latest fashions, what’s cool to watch, and caring more about how they look and act then about their actual school work. I see kids who are upset when the only punishment they get for a D on a report card is just a one-week grounding, where as if I got a D, i wouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere or do anything except for schoolwork and studying until i brought completely back up to a high A. When I hear all the complaints, I used to roll my eyes, but now I want to do something more…

  • Society today has such low expectations of teenagers its heartbreaking. Just the other day I was watching a talk show with the topic of sex. And in the middle of the show they surveyed the audience to see just how many people thought it was possible for teens in today’s society to stay sexually pure until marriage. I was shocked at the response, although the majority said yes they thought it was possible, a good number of people raised their hand saying they didn’t think that was possible. One lady actually said something along the lines of how she felt that sexual purity was too much to ask for from teenagers and we shouldn’t expect because they are most likely to make a mistake and have sex. I found this statement so sad, but it is so true. When I tell people that I plan on staying pure until I get married they laugh at me or say good luck with that it’s going to be hard. And I’m not saying it’s going to be easy but i do think it is a reasonable expectation. Another example I have found of low expectations comes from my friend and her incident with a cop. My friend recently was pulled over by a cop for speeding. Which she admits was wrong, but this is a young woman who has never been pulled over before and has never been in any trouble with the law before this incident. The officer proceeded to yell at her and treat her like she was this horrible individual, and my friend’s response to that was, “he acted like I was a criminal just because I was a teenager”. This is so true of many peoples impressions of teenagers not just this cop. I think that sometimes people stereotype teenagers as such lazy self-centered people and therefore have low expectations for us.

  • I applaud both of you for your zeal and your decision to live for God TODAY and not in the “future of adulthood”. I have been a youth pastor for almost a decade, and with that has come some measure of life wisdom. Although I agree that our society has created an awkward child-adult space called teenager, I do not agree it is all negative. Within this time frame, you are allowed a unique opportunity. You may live passionately for God, read extraordinary books, become a student of the Bible and other great pursuits; you may challenge your culture and your mind. At the same time, you may sleep in your bedroom provided by your parents, eat the food from their refridgerator, enjoy the clothing they have provided for you, usually at little to no cost to you. Would you have become a Rebelutionary had you not been afforded that summer to read such great ideas at age 16? Perhaps instead of viewing the teen years as a “mental twine” holding back this generation, we can see it as a unique blessing and opportunity to begin a foundation for God while still afforded the securities of home, shelter, and nourishment. Teen years, in my very simple opinion, can be a fantastic blessing to those willing to use them properly. Again, I applaud and support your work. I am, however, interested in what you will be writing when you have a rebelutionary of your own. God bless.

  • I grew up with and Atheist father and an Agnostic mother, and while not the traditional ‘God’ people they always had high morals and standards when it came to my behavior, and still do. I was expected to have an opinion and thoughts, my mother was always putting more emphasis on my education and intellect then on my looks even as young as the age of two (no I’m not kidding). My father always wanted a son, but when he got me, a girl, he didn’t change his plans just altered it a little. Yes they took me to ballet lessons on Saturday, but my week nights were spent with the local co-ed kid soccer team, my mother bought me a few barbies to play with, but my dad taught me how to hit a homerun. Long story short they never once told me to fit into the ‘societal mold’ I didn’t even know there WAS one until I got to middle school. That’s when things got tough, because I had all these classmates boys and girls who were raised to fit into society’s standards and were using everything from the Bible to the Quran to support what they did and said, while I was left empty handed and very confused. They had old religious and historical text backing them up (or so I thought at the time) I just had my parents word. So privately I began reading and researching every religion I could think of, boy did I get a surprise. My classmates had been lied to, God didn’t say that girls should only wear pink dresses or that boys were always right or that playing the dumb pretty girl would get me everything or any other number of things they’d all told me. I was amazed and intrigued and by seventh grade I knew more about world religions then the Theology teacher (and had corrected him, in private of course, a number of times). In eighth grade I decided on my religion (I’m not gonna tell you what it was) and felt good now that I had religious and historical truths in my corner, my parents weren’t the least upset when I told them, they were proud that I’d come to these conclusions on my own. I’m going to make a long story short. Religion I’ve found is a powerful and dangerous tool, it can form a generation to be it’s best, or it can allow and encourage them to be their worst. And in our times where media idolizes the sex and drug driven pop culture idols, it can be hard for kids to know what God is really saying. Parents need to get away from going main stream and allowing media opinions to teach children and get back to raising children on good home grown values and morals.

    Jessica R.

  • My cousin just went on a retreat to this church thing, and apparently, it was mostly about this book. I just want to thank Alex and Brett for putting all their ideas into a book and making it availabe to us. She was so moved by it, she got me “Do Hard Things” for my birthday! Anyways, thanks again!

  • Thank you guys for posting this! All we have to do to break free of this shackle of low expectations is simply take a step forward. So, Rebelutionaries, let’s shake a leg!

  • First – kudos to Alex and Brett for courageously stepping out on this one. I am always encouraged when I see men or women of any age taking a stand for Christ in their generation. Too often we slide down the slippery slope of complacency and compromise. And low expectations! Yet throughout scripture we see young men and women faced with big challenges who embraced those challenges and changed their world. I can think of Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Jeremiah, David, John, Timothy and others.

    I have been working in youth ministry only for a few years (and that as a volunteer). I’ve seen some who’ve heard the call of God on their lives. I expect great things from them. I’ve seen many more who have been indifferent and apathetic. I am also the father of a Junior High and a Senior High student. I have high expectations for them. I know they can do what ever they set out to do. My wife and I are encouraging them to walk closely with the Lord and to passionately pursue him.

    I’ve read through the two posts on the Myth of Adolescence as well as some of the comments. I also recently read an article talking about how adolescence is stretching out to the mid to late twenties. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the myth of adolescence that youth, because of their age, are not really capable of much? That this is a carefree time with few responsibilities and few real consequences. Isn’t the myth that, because they are developing physically, mentally and spiritually, they need a protected space in which to grow? Are youth immature because we tell them they are? Even church life is rarely more than a little bit of milk for them to sip on rather than solid meat to chew on. I don’t get the impression that anyone is saying that youth should grow up faster than they are. In many ways they are growing up much faster than when I was young. Nor do I hear that everyone will become great by this worlds standards. What I hear is young people saying that they are not going to allow the low expectations of society to hold them back. I also hear young people asking those of us who are older to walk with them, invite them into the grand adventure of God’s glorious kingdom, teach them what we know and then release them into great things.

  • wow. thank you so much for all of these great posts. they have been helping me a lot. all the things that are said in these articles are SO TRUE!! thank you!

  • I just read part 1 as well, and man they both spoke so clearly to me. I hope all of us on TheRebelution break out of the mould and be on fire for the Lord and be leaders for the future generation(s)

  • This is true. This is all true. For most quite a while now I have noticed the wrongs in our society, and noticed no one is doing ANYTHING about it. Then I began to read your book. I’m not very far along in it and I can already tell that your work can and will change America as we know it. I have found the two brothers who can change PEOPLE, not just a person at a time. You can change us. I myself am a new just turning 14 teen, and I believe that your work will break my shackles. It will uproot my twig and cut my twine. As well as all the teenagers of our generation.

  • I’m mostly pleased that the country that invented the teenage is taking attitute in front of this problem. Teenaging does not exist. It’s pure invention. In the Old Testament, the child aged 12 was considered to be grown up, mature. And he was. Sadly, today we have 35 or maybe 40 years old teenagers. Hope you get my point. As someone said, at Freedom and Life Boot Camp Promo> “All men die, few men ever really live. ” Boys lose their masculinity and girls lose their feminity if their minds are fully commited to this teenaging lie. God does not teach us how to be teenagers, He teaches us to be men and women.

  • If ever you get the chance, watch a video of Paul David Washner preaching on fitting in. It gives a warning to every age group about conforming to the world and loving what God hates that you will never forget.
    Also, whenever I read of the need for teens to step out I think of that verse in Timothy that says
    “Do not let others look down on you because you are young…”

  • i’m totally absorbing everything that i’m reading here. its such a revolutionary concept (and yet, not) and i’m praying like CRAZY for this ministry and others like it to grow and revive. i have three daughters who are 4,7, and 8 and beg all you teens out there to pave a new path for them. Pick the standards up off the dirt where they’ve been and set them back on the Bible where they belong!

  • Have you noticed how few exceptional men and women we have had in the last century or so? Since mass, run-of-the-mill education has been introduced, we have gotten run-of-the-mill young people. Everyone gets the same education with emphasis on the same subjects, regardless of where their talents lie. As you have said in some other posts, we need to be more responsib;e for our education and not leave it to people who don’t have anything to lose if we do badly. We need to begin developing our gifts and talents now, without leaving it till we are expected to.

    I know you’ve probably said a lot of this in not so many words, btu I just wanted to write this for myself and others.

    Thankyou guys for all that you are doing. I have only recebtly dicovered the Rebelution, and it’s given me a lot to think about and a lot of ideas for doing things. Many of my relatives and teachers consider me ‘extraordinary’ already, but I realize now that I’ve started to be proud of that and do things for my glory rather then the Lords. Although I do more with my life than most of my friends and cousins, it’s still a lot less than what I could be doing and I am definately not living up to my potential. Thank-you for helping me realise this.

    I will be praying for you and your work.

  • That was an awesome post. You are right, society has told us we can’t do certain things. But we can, and we should. We can do anything God has called us to, no matter what the world tells us. We can rise above low expectations and surprise everyone around us. We are the next generation, and if we don’t stand up for our beliefs, who will? We need to be an example to the people around us, and prove we aren’t bound by today’s society.

    Thank you so much for this website. I just recently found it, but it’s already an awesome experience.

  • Christians are like the elephant we are trapped by the things of this world and we despratley try and break free,but we fail. God our master breaks the brick wall inside our head, keeping us from him. Also the the mother elephant reminds me of or sinful acts and life when we leave it(her) And the twine reminds me of that small part of satan we have kept in our heart.

    Thank you for reading my thoughts
    Remi John 3:16

  • I am a senior at a public high school and I have contemplated the issues in our school system not touching the average student well and not creating good people who want to make a difference. As Christians, we can’t hide a way. I see that teenagers don’t value education. In America, I don’t think we have raised to value discipline- and that’s what the education system in America needs, discipline and also initiative in all schools and all students. New laws won’t necessary change things. Kids have to WANT an education, we can’t be doing what we are currently doing now, and forcing it on teens. I don’t know much yet, but I do know I want to lead a movement in education and social change. I only started thinking this in the past year. I feel I am late to it, and there is so much I have to learn before I can teach, which is what I want to do- I feel we can make the most change in our world changing the way we interact with young teenagers, getting them to see things perhaps.

  • Wow, this is remarkable, yet unbelievably humbling and sorrowful.
    kids are truyl unappreciated, aa t of the time we complain about teachers who ask to much o us, while in reality it is modern society that is asking to little.
    we are so blessed in my ways yet so many timesour potential is ld back by germent boundaries, adults beliefs, and our peers opinons.
    shackles have truly been lain upon our generation, but we hav the key to unlock them.
    you guys are truly helping us to free our generation from a prison of false beliefs and unreasonable restrictions, thank you so much!

  • What a revolutionary idea! I can’t believe how low society’s standards have fallen from only about 100 years ago! Teens today are only expected to complete their education, do a few mandatory chores around the house, and stay out of trouble. I totally agree that we as teens have a much greater potential, and we need to start using our God given capabilities for His glory NOW. We have the power to break the shackles society has placed on us, and although it’s hard, it’s entirely doable. Thank you, Alex, for sharing your insight.

  • Before I say anything, you and your idea have my respect, and I read all of the myth of adolescence; but I’d like to challenge your idea. You say that society has low expectations for today’s teenagers, when in fact they’re being raised much higher than they were before. At least in my area, it’s become about how many college-level classes you can possibly start taking before college, how many extra-curriculurs you can jam into your week, the minimum number of hours of sleep you can get in a night as you stay up far past midnight in an effort to finish your homework. It’s the reason that teenage depression is so high nowadays. It is so hard for teenagers NOT to be stressed out. I honestly don’t know where you’re coming from.

  • You see your all right again. Brett and Alex have hit the mark right in the middle of the bullseye. I’ve seen many girls turn to wanting to be more sexually alluring many my friends. I nearly cry pleading God for a way to get back in the heart of those girls that used to be my friends. I think I found the answer. DO HARD THINGS. I could witness to those girls and guys who do this stuff. And everything Natalie above me said is just plain FALSE.

  • Thank you for your insight, Mr. Harris and Mr. Harris.
    It is very true that shackles are placed around our minds, and what saddens me is where this propoganda for idleness comes from. Family, friends, even pastors have told me that I shouldn’t worry about what is going on in the world. “Enjoy your childhood!” They say.
    However, no matter how small your voice, never fear to speak the truth; a mere spark can start a roaring fire. Any one of us, if brave enough to stand for what is right, can open the eyes of others.

  • Hi, it’s me again. Sorry about the long comment in part one. I really do appreciate your message and what you’re doing for teens around you.

    I’m not sure why people seem to leave this out, but young men are also pressured to reach sexual maturity at an early age, and I fear the church does little to combat this. Many young Christian women attend purity conferences, but there are no such things for men. I hope two good role models like Brett and Alex can influence the young men around them to remain sexually pure as they have.

    In my experience, it’s the men who pressure women to have sex, not the other way around.

  • Reading this article really got me thinking and opened up my eyes
    about what teens are capable of but think they aren’t because of the
    labels and restrictions given by society. It is nonexistent to see a teenager in these days doing the things that George Washington or David Farragut did when they were in their teens all because of the belief that we aren’t old enough or don’t have the capacity.
    I’ve always wanted to do great things that make a difference
    but I thought it impossible or hard to do because of the fact that
    I am 14 years old. If things were the way they were 100 years ago
    in terms of what teens could do, we’d have young leaders, scientists, researchers
    and great achievers changing the world. I want to make a difference in the world,especially now when it needs help the most.

    Not only do teens these days have “shackles” on their ankles, but so do parents. Parents have the firm thought that teens are irresponible, don’t have adult capacity, only watch T.V,only play video games, rebel against them and so on. People have to realize the potential their children have and they have to break them free from the social clichés. Most people dont’s realize all of this because society has raised us this way and we see it as the norm. Teens have to start making a difference, I know I’m going to be one of them.

  • Although there are many “adolescent teenagers” who believe that adolescence is a stage in life were they slowly mature and mold into adults, there are others who choose to only believe that adolescence is just a label that does not represent them. These teens are also known as achievers; they complete their responsibilities and surpass their goals. Unfortunately, I am not one of those students and I am trying to break through the imaginary wall that holds me back. I hope that other young adults like me read this article and hopefully release themselves from the chains of adolescence.

  • i think kids are held back when young. they are told thats not for them and as they grow up they find themselves incompetent

  • this has to do with how society has come to acceppt this. and also encourage parents. the more freedom you give and oppurtinity the more you want to go and do something big

    trying is the biggest part, if you dont try you wont succed. kids are taught not to try and be lazy and that becomes who they are. i will definitly try to extrovert more and break the shackles of society.

  • Most of the part in this blog has oppened my eyes, and I realized that it’s true. We teenagers are being held back by an invisible shackle. Though that still doesn’t stop us for realizing who we are. We could break them, but only if we desire them or discover them. I find myself still trying to find my own purpose. It’s also the lack of people not being able to ask for help when they need them. Most of the teenagers seek help by watching shows or reading magazines which laters creates a void of lies and never bother to ask there own parents for help. We just need a little guidance or a push to be able break them. Everyone has there own point of views in this problems, but eventually if they don’t give up in themselves they can do it.

  • It’s good idea, but I think it’s include only a few people. That a few people who are the achievers, they are early graduate from shcool then they could do similar thing as adults do. If teenager can do what adult can do, many teenager lost their mind…(It’s only what I think…)There are many teenager who is being deserter who can’t controll themselves. They are also one who wants to be an adult faster, they want copy adults, that’s why some teenager does smok, drug, drink alcohole and sexuall activity. I think that fence which is around the teenagers, it’s unavoidable…. We can’t break that.

  • It’s hard some times to admit that society has dictated throughout the years how we should act, dress, and think. The truth is that we are the only ones responsible for this. There is almost no limitation to the way one wants to live their lives, but at the same time we are held back by our own yerning to fit in and one up our fellow man. I personaly think that it would take a miracle for humanity to see past there own ego and imaturerity so that we can together as a society move foward in a positive way.

  • I agree with this because kids are forced into a mold and the kids will not mature as fast but it takes time because we are still in our childhood which takes time to ware off until we dont pass our child hood there is no reason that they should become normal adult being.I think that children in the modern era are not capible of becoming young adults if they dont let them have there child hood times and not just take it away from them

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  • It is appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!

  • Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Great blog and excellent design and style.

  • Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  • As the YouTube videos are posted at this place same like I also embed YouTube video code at my own web site, since it is straightforward to get embedded code.

  • I am a teenager in a society of low expectations and before I read “DO HARD THINGS” I did just enough to get by… when I read that book and saw how all these so called kids wer working in politics it showed me that i have more potenial than i though. this has inspired me to work harder and to quit trying to just barely get by.

  • Howdy! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!

  • You produced some decent points there. I looked online to the issue and discovered most people is going in addition to employing your internet site.

  • I read your first book, Do Hard Things, about a month ago. Need I say any more? Anyone in their right mind would do a 180 after reading what you’ve written! Your ideas (or, at least, the ones you’re promoting) are expressed in such a powerful way! God has used you, and I pray every day He will use me! After reading your book, I constructed a website, . Please feel free to check it out! It presents a clear (and logical) gospel message, as well as an intense character-development plan. After all, if God’s going to use us like we keep asking Him to, we should probably be working to utilize our lives to their maximum potential! Please comment, post, share. God Bless!

  • This is a good article but i find it interesting that it comes from someone with a religious background. Religion is yet another piece of twine to cut oneself from.

    • Religion is a belief system that dictates the way we live and everyone has one, even you. Some religions hold us bound others set us free. Jesus Christ gave us guard rails to abide by. Some people view them as a “piece of twine to cut oneself from”, but those who have experienced a relationship with Him have found that He was the one cutting the twine that kept us bound to sin and selfishness.

      • I don’t have a belief system that dictates the way i live. i’m 100 percent trial and error. I don’t recommend long distance relationships I suggest you tell jesus to suck it if he can’t seem to find time to visit

        • Living “100 percent trial and error” is a way of life that dictates the way you live. It’s just not the type of life-style I would recommend though. The purpose of trial and error is to learn what works and what doesn’t work. Think about what you are saying. If you truly claim to live “100 percent trial and error” that would mean you haven’t learned a thing in all your life time. I’m sure you’re an intelligent person who has learned from mistakes. If you take an honest look at your life, you will find that you do have some type of belief system and that it does dictate your response.

          • I am sorry that you feel like God is distant. Most people who feel that way because of something bad they’ve experienced or a question they have about suffering. I heard it said that “suffering has created more atheists than logic”. A lot of people have a hard time believing in a loving God when there is so much evil, suffering, and tyranny on earth. “If God is so loving, why does he let bad things happen?” They question. I struggle with the question sometimes myself, but I realize that in order to remove evil entirely (100%) from the planet, he would need to do one of three things. 1) He would need to make us all robots who he programs to do everything good and perfect. No one would have a free will and everyone would have to love and obey God without any choice in the matter. 2) He would have to pronounce judgement on the earth, wiping away every person who has ever done something wrong. He would have to wipe out everyone who isn’t 100% faultless or perfect…pretty much every human being on the planet! OR 3) Provide a way for imperfect people to escape judgment by choosing to come to him, love him, and obey him. He did that by sending Jesus to take our place of judgment on the cross. Some day, God will judge the earth and he will wipe away evil, but the Bible says this, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:9) What would you rather have…A God who creates robots? A God who is impatient and wants to wipe away every evil person (including you and me)? Or would you rather have a God who loves us so much that He left the comforts of heaven to come to earth, be killed on cross, and suffer judgment so that we wouldn’t have to?

          • I know that was a lot to read and process and I appreciate that you took the time to read it. I know it is hard to believe sometimes, but God really does love you and He is closer than you think. I’m praying that God helps you see that. Have a good day.

          • learning from mistakes is trial and error. no i absolutely refuse to officially crown anything as true that i cannot demonstrate for my self. to believe is to assume and I’m sure you’re familiar the cute little saying that goes with that.

  • The article states that the present generation are like the elephants and the twig. It states that society is conforming us to a specific mold, and its true but isn’t it the same situation with religion. Some religions tell us that to believe in that being you must uphold certain characteristics. For us to be completely free from society standards, we have to break from all type of societies standards, including religion.

  • Biggest lesson of all is to treat your teenagers as room mates, not as “children”. However you’d treat a room mate living in your home is EXACTLY how you should treat your teenagers. Dr. Robert Epstein has talked about this. He even wrote a book on this very topic: Teen 2.0.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →