When Alex and I were invited to speak to a church youth group while we were in Alabama. We were excited to have an opportunity to share some of the ideas we’d been developing here on the blog, including “The Myth of Adolescence” and “Ruining Our Lives With Fun.”
The day of the “event,” Alex and I worked a long day at the Supreme Court, hopped in the Davie’s car (i.e. Colton Davie’s family) and arrived at the youth group still wearing our court attire (i.e. suits and ties).
We proceeded to tell these public school teens (ages 12-17) that the whole idea of the “teen years” is a recently developed concept and that our culture is robbing them by telling them to “just have fun.” We told jokes, we told stories, we even had some audience participation — but we could tell that most of these young people had never heard anything like this before.
This became even more apparent during the Q&A time afterwards. Questions like, “Do you guys always dress this nice?” and “What do you do for fun?” and “Do you guys ever play video games?” etc. gave us the impression that some of them thought we were aliens from the planet of Boringwork located in the galaxy of Nofun.
Once we realized the impression we were making Alex and I quickly explained that we weren’t “freaks of nature” with a genetic disposition for work. We are a lot like “normal” teenagers. We like sports (we’re short, but we try really hard), we love music, we watch movies, we style our hair, and we even play video games from time to time. But, we have a different way of looking at fun. Here are two principles we try to follow:
1) First Things First
Being a “rebelutionary” does not mean you have erased “fun” from your life. It means that you have relegated it to its proper place. “Do Hard Things” does not eliminate fun, but it elevates, honors, and recognizes the superiority of the activities and pursuits that strengthen, stretch, and grow our character and competence for the glory of God.
We explained to the youth group that night that Alex and I view fun as a break from the “hard things” that we spend the majority of our time doing. Did you catch that? We view fun as a break from hard things. We have fun after we feel that we have accomplished something significant.
Our culture, on the other hand, tells us that we should have fun first and do hard things only “when we have to.” Do you see the difference? It’s all about priorities. We will always prioritize that which is most important to us. A rebelutionary will place “fun” in its proper place, understanding that responsibility to God and others comes first. Our culture spreads the lie that our pleasure, our enjoyment, and our fun is first priority.
Our culture acts like it’s giving us something by allowing and encouraging us to just have fun — but the truth is that when all we care about is “having fun” we’re being robbed. Robbed of contentment in the future, robbed of effectiveness for God, robbed of competence, robbed of character, maybe even robbed of the spouse we’ve always wanted, because we weren’t prepared for them and didn’t deserve them.
A rebelutionary recognizes that what is most valuable isn’t always the most fun. A rebelutionary puts first things first, and second things (like fun) second.
2) Hard Things Can Be Fun
You might (accurately) conclude that Alex and I do fewer “fun things” than the average teen, but you couldn’t say we have less fun. We might spend less time playing video games, going to parties, and just “hangin’ out,” but we also enjoy much of the work we do.
In other words, it is possible to enjoy doing the hard things that develop your character and your competence for the glory of God. Alex and I love delving into the biography of a great man or woman, we love writing, and we love speaking. Which is good because that is what we spend the majority of our time doing!
The topic of how we develop a liking for hard things will be the subject of a future post. For now, the point I want to leave you with is that hard things can be fun — not the way snowboarding is fun — but still in a fulfilling, exciting, and positive way.
“Do Hard Things” doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. It means that you put first things first and that you learn to have fun learning, growing, and developing yourself into the person God calls you to be.