rebelling against low expectations

My First Shower Nearly Killed Me


I’m Just Not A Shower Person

I still remember my first shower. It was a horrible experience. I was eight years old and all I had ever known was baths. Baths were neat and tidy ordeals where the water flowed in from below my head and – provided I didn’t splash too much – stayed below my head.

I found showers to be an entirely different beast. The water, rather than flowing as a solid stream that was easily visible and avoidable, sprayed out as nearly invisible and unavoidable droplets that seemed to have a magnetic attraction to my eyes.

I did not ask to be promoted from Junior Bath Taker to Junior Shower Taker, but my parents had set the date for my graduation and protesting made little difference. It didn’t help that my twin brother Alex loved showers and had taken one earlier that week.

Before I could draft my formal petition, let alone get anyone to sign it, I found myself staring up at the dreadful shower head just as a brave soul stares down the barrel of his executioner’s gun.

However, once the trigger was pulled and the shower head began rumbling and hissing, my courage melted away, and I was screaming before the first drop hit me.

You see, in my mind there was no moral difference between making your child take a shower and stripping that same child naked and locking him out of the house during a thunderstorm. It was abandonment. I wasn’t a Water Nymph. I wasn’t a shower person. I was a bath person and I was happy that way.

The funny thing is that this morning, nearly ten years later, I took a shower and didn’t think twice about it. I even purposefully let the water spray on my face! It is incredible that what then seemed to be an impossible hurdle is now part of my everyday routines.

We’ve All Had “First Shower” Experiences

You probably can remember something in your own life that at the time seemed entirely beyond you. Maybe it was something as simple as tying your shoes or riding a bike without trainings wheels. Maybe it was learning to read or solving basic math problems in 2nd grade. These are things that are easy for you now, but were enormous challenges at the time.

My question for you is: What has changed? What is the difference between the enormous challenges of a child and the enormous challenges of a young adult?

What’s the difference between a difficult 2nd grade math problem for a seven-year-old and a difficult Algebra problem for a 15-year-old? Though an algebraic equation operates on a higher plateau than a double-digit multiplication problem that is compensated for by the fact that a teenager operates on a higher plateau than a child.

What’s the difference between my 12-year-old brother curling 15 pounds and me (at 17 years old) curling 35 pounds? Is it not likely that we would be equally challenged by our respective weights due to our different levels of strength?

Compare learning to dance with learning to walk. When you contrast the motor skills of baby with those of a young child you should conclude that though dancing is more complex, it is not necessarily more difficult.

As a musician I can attest to the fact that my difficult piano pieces in Level 9 were no more arduous than my difficult pieces in Level 3. The only variance was my level of skill and tolerance for practice. It is just as difficult for a seven-year-old beginner to practice “Chopsticks” for 30-minutes as it is for a music major in college to practice Lizst’s “Hungarian Rhapsody” for three hours.

If A Baby Can Do It, Why Can’t We?

With those examples in mind, I return to my question: What has changed? What is the difference between the enormous challenges of your childhood and the enormous challenges of your young adulthood?

And perhaps a more important question: What is the difference between the way you responded to those challenges as a child and how you respond to them now?

I constantly hear fellow young adults say things like, “You know, I did Algebra 1/2, but I’m just not a math person,” or “I’m a terrible speller, my brain just doesn’t work that way.” I’ve had other teens tell me, “I’m just a quiet person. I don’t like communicating much,” and “I’m such a compulsive shopper. If I see something I like I can’t help but buy it.” Or what about, “I’m just such a blonde!”

While I don’t doubt that many teens find math, spelling, communication, self-control and intelligence incredibly difficult, I find it very hard to accept that these difficulties should begin to define their personhood.

We would think it was crazy if a toddler said, “You know, I tried to get potty-trained, but I’m just not a toilet person.” But we sympathize with a fellow teenager who says that he’s “just not a people person.”

If a young child said, “I tried tying my own shoes, but my brain just doesn’t work that way,” we wouldn’t say, “That’s alright Johnny, we’ll just have someone else do it for you for the rest of your life.” But if we have trouble spelling we say, “It’s alright, I’ll just make sure I always use the spell checker.”

Low Expectations Strike Again

The fact is that as we get older we begin defining our limitations as what comes easily to us – and our rate of growth in competence and character slows and falters.

When we were children our limitations were not defined by difficulty. Our limitations were not defined by failure – even repeated failure. So what has changed? Why do babies, with inferior motor skills, reasoning ability, and general physical and mental strength, why do they have a nearly 100% success rate in overcoming their big challenges, while teenagers often falter and fail before theirs?

We Expect More of Babies Than We Do of Teens

The truth is that we are incredibly susceptible to cultural expectations and once we have satisfied our culture’s meager requirements we stop pushing ourselves.

Why does every healthy baby learn to walk while very few teenagers are sophisticated enough to have mastered the Waltz? One is expected, the other is not.

Why does every normal baby overcome communication barriers by learning to talk while very few teenagers overcome barriers between themselves and their parents by learning to communicate? One is expected, the other is not.

And why do we sympathize with the poor “non-math” teenager while we admonish the “non-toilet” six-year-old? Because using the toilet is a basic skill that is necessary for life, but unless they plan on becoming an engineer, most people never use Algebra.

We live in a culture that expects the basics, but nothing more. We live in a culture that expects for you to get by (i.e. be potty-trained), but not to thrive.

The Rebelution’s challenge to you is this: Have you really found your limits or have you merely reached a point where our culture’s expectations no longer demand that you succeed?

We Are Capable of Much More Than Is Expected

If you were abandoned in a foreign country with citizens who spoke no English, you would pick up the native dialect. And if your high school required everyone to complete Advanced Calculus in order to graduate you would find a way to do it.

Both necessity and expectations have incredible power to require much of us and make us strong, or to require little of us and make us weak. We live in a culture where few people do more than is required, yet that is the secret of effectiveness in the Lord’s service.

The application of this post goes far beyond math and language, dancing and speaking; those are simply a few helpful examples. The important question we must ask ourselves is: “Am I unable to do certain things, or am I simply unwilling to invest the time and effort necessary to succeed?”

This Is A Serious Issue

Classifying yourself as “this-kind-of-person” or “that-kind-of-person” is one of the quickest ways to greatly increase or majorly hamper your potential. Adults who at one time decided they “just weren’t computer people” are missing out on all the convenience and power of technology.

A person who decides early in life that he is “just not a public speaker,” and then stops striving for excellence in the area of public communication, has no doubt lost dozens of opportunities to impact the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people.

History is jammed full of examples of “extremely shy people” who not only overcame their fear of people, but also became famous leaders and communicators. Calvin Coolidge, the United States’ 30th President, is just one such example.

One of the most devastating classifications that can be made is when a person classifies themselves spiritually as “not really one of those extreme Christians.”

Millions of young people, even Christian young people, live through years of spiritual weakness and build up loads of regret simply because they found their identity in being a rebel.

Closing Thoughts

I wasn’t a “shower person” when I was eight, and I’m not sure if I’m a “campaign person” at 17, but by God’s grace and through His strength I can do anything. And so can you.

Nearly a decade after my first shower, one of the great challenges of my childhood, I find myself working long hours on four statewide races for the Alabama Supreme Court. When I find myself thinking that this current challenge is going to kill me, I just remember that I thought the same thing about my first shower. Then I smile, and keep on pushing.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Are there areas in your life that have been labeled as “just not me”?
  • If so, have you stop striving for excellence in those areas as a result of that label?
  • What would the impact be on your future if you chose to overcome your difficulties in those areas and mastered them?

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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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  • Brett,

    Thanks for the post! It was very encouraging and challenging! I also loved the story from when you were little. =) Truly, you have a wonderful way of making anything funny and using it to highlight your point and bring glory to God. He has given you so many marvelous, simple stories to use toward this end! =)

    Anyway, your words have encouraged me with regards to learning Spanish. In my mind, I have made assumptions that a language is too difficult for me to learn and I will never become completely fluent. However, in the Lord’s strength and with persistent diligence it can happen! =) In fact, Bryce was just telling me today about a man who visited his campus that learned 30 languages! Amazing, isn’t it?! But in God’s strength, as we work diligently for His glory and His kingdom, incredible things can be accomplished! =)

    God bless you, Brett! Both you and Alex are dearly missed here at home.

  • I think I label myself that way a lot. Especially with spelling, but if you mispelled “they” when you were in a spelling bee in 7th grade I don’t think you would think you were a spelling person either!! I’ve been working on improving it thought. That’s a very encouraging post, and humerous too!!

  • Great post Brett! It gave me lots to think about. Loved the examples.

    A year and a half ago, to the day, I labelled myself as someone who was too stubborn to change and learn to live in another country, and accept cultural differences. I was hurt and upset. Because of that label, I began getting angry, very angry. I was hard-hearted and really miserable to be around. I was sinking very quickly.

    But the Lord used all that misery to show me His ever-present love. His grace. He began to soften me. He taught me to be content and happy with where I am. And now, 1 1/2 years later, I have never been more thankful that that label is gone but without that label, I never would have learned what I have and overcome the mountain that I have. God used that label to mold me. I can’t imagine what my future would look like if I were still miserable today. I don’t want to! And now, I’d better stop writing this comment because I’m about to start crying. 😉

  • great post, Brett.
    Labels are so dangerous! I’ve seen so much of this–people stuck in a rut and not wanting to get out because they were a “rut person.”
    A year and a half ago, my family started taking martial arts, but I didn’t. I was a dancer–not a martial artist! Heavens to Betsey! But I did try it, and now I’m more than halfway to my blackbelt–and loving it.
    Another label the Lord has helped me to rid is being a chatty-cathy. I was always saying things that got me into trouble, but by His grace, I’m much better at controlling my tongue. Not excellent yet, but better. 🙂 He’s so good!

  • Great post, Brett. It’s an excellent demonstration of how we shouldn’t give up on something God calls us to do, even if the culture tells us we don’t “have to”.

    This whole rebelutionary movement has me really excited! It’s such a blessing to see how the Lord is working through you guys.

    Keep pressing on in His Name!

  • I loved this post. Labeling myself as a certain kind of person is something I really struggle with (especially about the math thing!). Thanks so much for the reminder to press on and be willing to change.


    P.S. I heard a rumor that you guys dance… and I’m really curious to know what kind you do…

  • Excellent post as usual! You even inspired me to write a post of my own, since I have trouble especially in the area of communication. Great job!

    Oh, and I too, like Jen, am interested in what types of dancing you do…

  • Hey Brett,

    I can�t tell you how perfect God�s timing is! Thanks for another inspiring post! God bless!

  • Great Post! It has really made me think! Enough to make sure that I write this comment correctly as a part of that striving for excellence :). I’ve labeled myself so many times so many ways, and amazingly enough, God has really been turning those labels upside down. I wanted to be a wife, mother, and homemaker, and I still want those things, but God has shown me He wants me to go to college for PreMed, then on to Medical school. The point?? To work with girls at the Pregnancy center here where I live. Maybe in another country as well. I am not a science person, or so I thought, but apparently, God has different plans. 🙂 After all, He does not call the qualified, but rather qualifies the called. Praise Him for it too! To God be the Glory.

  • Fantastic article, Brett! I so appreciate your blog. As a young “activist”…er “rebelutionary” 😉 myself (specifically, a speaker on and promoter of beautiful modesty and authentic femininity), I am continually inspired by you two. You have such a gift for forming and expressing thoughts with charity, yet hit-home clarity. Thank you again for using this gift to change our generation. Know that I pray for you daily, and please keep me in your prayers also.

    Yours in Christ,

  • You had me laughing over the shower ordeal. Thank you for this post. I love looking back at all the areas in my life where I have overcome the challenges I previously thought to be insurmountable.

  • Thanks for this post. I really enjoyed the example about how what’s hard at one stage of your life won’t be hard at another stage. I notice the tendency in myself to think I’m working hard compared to other people, but compared to my potential, I’m not trying at all.

  • *Conviction strikes.* So many times I have done this exact thing! Not only does this kind of thinking keep us from doing hard things, but it is also a slap in the face of our gracious God.

    When we say “I’m not a _____ person,” we are essentially saying, “God, I know that You said I could do all things through Christ, but I don’t believe You, and I don’t trust You.”

    Honoring Christ means doing the not-so-easy tasks well, because in His grace is made perfect in weakness. Thanks for your article!

    For His Glory,

  • Excellent, Brett. Thank you.

    I didn’t realize quite how much I’ve accepted the use of labels in my own life (you got me on the math one!). How easily the cultural “non-expectations” creep in – what a cop-out! Many times I am tempted to label myself as not having the stuff to be “that’ kind of person, whatever the area may be, but I know the truth in my heart. I love the thought that these hard things now aren’t any harder than the hard things we faced when we were little…it really helps put it all into perspective.

    Press on!

    Hannah Michelle

  • Thought provoking, indeed.

    It’s interesting to introspectively come to terms with how much you bash yourself.

  • Ouch. You really got me on this one. There are an awful lot of things that I don’t do, partly because I claim it’s “not my thing,” and partly because pride hinders me from starting at the bottom. But I wonder sometimes if some of those things are worth my time. If I did everything that comes to mind, I’d be like those high-schoolers who get five hours of sleep a night, just so they can get their school done. No thank you. I think before we run out to do all those things we at which we stink, we should count the cost; no sense in starting if you won’t have time to finish.

    I am going to add my voice to those who are curious about your dancing. 🙂 I box step, but that’s about it.

  • In answer to the dancing question . . . Alex and I enjoy many different styles of dance, including: ballroom, line, square, swing, English Country, and even a tiny bit of ballet (our mother is an incredible ballet dancer).

    A Fellow Soldier: You are absolutely right that we don’t need to do everything. My concern is that we can decide not to do something that would better equip us to serve God, just because it’s not expected or because we’re too lazy.

  • Now, my dear brother-in-laws, you weren’t thinking of me with all those comments about spelling and math, were you? ; ) I don’t think it was very nice to talk about all my weak areas. j/k While it is true that I am not good at spelling or math, I appreciate you bringing up the fact that just because it’s “hard” doesn’t mean we shouldn’t overcome our weak areas. Labeling ourselves does not help us overcome. I may never be as good in math as Joel is (guess who is going to teach the highschoolers math in our homeschool!), it wouldn’t be a good excuse to give up learning math or striving to become better in it.
    Miss you guys! Come home soon. : )

  • That is a GREAT post, and it really got me thinking. How many times are we content to remain at the status quo? I linked to your post in my most recent post on the blog my mom, sister and I run, I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

  • I guess I say that about cross-stich. It is so time consuming and requires so much patience! My sister Jo loves it though.
    Of course, there are some things we are not good at. And sometimes it is humility to say “I can’t do this!” I mean, if you really can’t and you’re not just being lazy.

    By the way, my five year old sister is all excited because she just took a shower all by herself. 🙂

  • Wow! That’s really cool how you two enjoy dancing! I thought I’d heard that your mom was a ballerina, anyways that’s really neat! I do ballet, and have done square dancing and English country dancing and enjoy it immensely!

  • Wow…good post, Brett. I had never thought of things in those terms before.

    I think there is some truth to the fact that we all have different talents, and rightly so. We shouldn’t ALL have to be skilled at math, and we shouldn’t feel bad if we are NOT skilled at something. But you are definitely right that we often make excuses for ourselves in areas where we really should buck up and develop skill. Thanks for that reminder.

  • Wonderful post (as usual).

    It’s interesting to consider how many things we just give up on…*Poof* without a thought…never thinking what doors we are closing for our future Rebelutionary potential. (I now have new motivation to conquer spelling once and for all =P).

    We’re keeping your campaigning in our prayers. Good providence to you in the coming months….Or…as your brother was want to remind me…it’s all good. So – Providence.

    (P.S. I hope you’ll be coming with your father to the Colorado Homeschool Conference. Colorado kids could use a little dose of Rebelution. 😀 )

  • Excellent. Devastating.

    I’ve been on a rant about low expectations for a while. I recently interviewed some college students in my church about what their church and their parents expect from them. Here’s the list:

    1. Go to church.
    2. Don’t sin big.

    That’s it. It’s pathetic. If only their church and their parents knew that their low expectations are nothing less than hatred toward their kids.

    I’ve been keeping an eye on your blog for awhile, and continue to be impressed.
    I put a link to this post on my blog…hope you don’t mind.

    Carry on!

  • Brett: Ah, I see. Somehow I missed that in your article. I guess I need to read more closely….
    That dancing thing is so funny. Is there anything you guys CAN’T do?

  • Lol…I bet they don’t knit! My brother and all his friends (all of whom try to wear camo 24/7) are making scarves at an alarming rate. Usually pink or purple–for their sisters and moms.
    Unfortanately, they’re too short to dance yet. 😉
    Kimi: Most folks I know would say (if they haven’t read this already) that they aren’t math or spelling people, so I think it must have been a generalization (at least we can hope it was!)
    BTW–are y’all still intending to do Rebelution DC? I know I’ve asked this before, but I was wondering if you’d consider changing that to Richmond, VA. If you do, I can find a horde of folks willing to host, organize, etc. Oh, and maybe I’ll bribe with some good cookies for break time in the conference. We have some mean bakers…;-)

  • Wow, what an awesome analogy (and I totally sympathize with the shower ordeal – I hated them at first)! It’s so easy to just say “I’m not good at that,” or as you said, “I’m not a ____ person.” But we cheat God and ourselves by taking the easy way out. Thanks for reminding us!


  • Great post!

    I laughed a great deal when I read Brett’s shower experience.

    There are areas in my life where I label myself as “just not me.” I haven’t strived to overcome those difficulties or work around them…yet. I’ve grown quite used to accepting myself as “just me.”

    Thanks for the wonderful insight. I’ll keep that in mind.

  • Okay – so I put off reading this post for quite some time, but I’m really glad I read it. Thank you for the reminder to go beyond mediocre. I wish all of my friends would read this!
    Through Him,

  • Hey guys. I just started reading your blog, and immediately came across this entry. I’m 30 now, but it was about a year ago I became aware of this same mental barrier in my own mind. I say aware, but what I really mean is that I realized it was not acceptable. Ever since I was young I can remember thinking, “oh, that’s not me… I’m not that kind of a person.” I did this about so many things.
    When I was a teenager, God began to challenge me with this thought: “Why can’t you have the same kind of relationship with me that David did in the Bible?”
    I remember walking away from the table in my heart thinking, “But, God! David was special – he was a hero, a spiritual giant! That’s just not me.” But God pursued me and that was one of the thing He used to turn me toward Himself. What I didn’t realize at the time was how prevalent this thought was in my mind. It was like a cancer that had spread everywhere.
    Two years ago I began attending a church filled with leadership that dreamed big, but then just did what they dreamed. The church itself was started in this way (do the letters HOFCC sound familiar?). I’ve been in churches where things, such as church planting, are discussed for years, but nothing ever happens because of the huge mental barriers in place. I watched these men taking bold steps for God, but then I myself was challenged by men in the church. Challenged to do things that I just don’t do, like public speaking. That’s when I ran right into this mindset. Everything within me resisted, “that’s just not me! I can’t do that!” It was like someone turned on the light and I suddenly saw this mindset everywhere and realized it was not acceptable.
    Yes, it is very hard to overcome. I get to speak publicly soon and every inch of my body trembles in fear. It is very hard. But I have all I need in Christ, and I trust Him in this leading.

  • Brett,

    You simply must post more often with that much humor. I must confess that lack of pressure is the problem I have found with unschooling (which we do wether we want to or not- we are to disorganized to do anything else)- to hearken back to your allegory, a shower with no water pressure is rather useless (not to mention annoying).


    P.S. I do swing- a little, there are very few people my age who do here. (long play Denver and the Mile High Orchestra) But I never liked classical music for dancing.

  • Thank you, Brett, for that post! I have been watching ya’ll’s blog for a very long time, and I just recently saw the couple of paragraphs in the WORLD magazine, and thought I’d comment here. I love the shower story. That cracked me up, and you have wonderful points. Do ya’ll know about The Christian Debate Forum? You really should join. It’s wonderful.

    Thanks again for helping me have another great day! -Allie

  • Thanks for your article, Brett. I just got your blog out of World Magazine and now I guarantee I’m going to show it to all my friends at school.
    I was interested in this article specifically because I just heard a sermon on labeling yourself and other people. The pastor made the point that such false labeling is like prophesy; projecting a false image influences people to fulfill that image. If you have low expectations of yourself or others, in all likelihood they will only fulfill your expectations and you will be proven correct. How disappointing.
    For example, Gideon thought of himself as the weakest member of the the weakest family of the weakest tribe of Isreal, a land conquered by the enemy. However, God told him to “Go forth in this your strength.” Our weaknesses become our strengths when we allow God to work through us.
    I thought that I wasn’t a computor person. I’ve never done any blogging, or even written any responses before. Even email seems hard, but by God’s strength (and patience) maybe sometime I’ll be writing one of your articles. I really have a lot to say.

  • I find myself struggling a lot in this. I have high goals and try to seek them diligently. But whenever I voice any of my dreams or things I want to do or become, there’s always someone around to tell me that it’s stupid, useless, or just impossible. Sometimes it gets really hard to believe I could possibly be more than what people expect of me. Even though I really want to become better than that!
    Thanks for taking time to do something like this. You’re helping a lot of people! God bless!

  • Thank You! This is so inspiring! How often do I do this myself, doing the very minimum and nothing more. I guess this is one of the first steps to becomming an outgoing teen!

  • Awsome post.

    I agree with you that most people, especilay teens, focus way to much on what the world thinks of them. Even in some church Youth Groups, including mine, I have seen this example way to much. When I came across your article in ‘World’ I was inspired to do something about it. Unfortunetly, I let the fear of what this might lead to, and the prospect of having to speak up, stop me from doing something, I know, God has made clear for me to do.
    It was not until last night, when I was at YG, God spoke to me through the story of Esther.I have heard, read, and practicly know the story by heart but it was the first night I really understood what God was saying. Boy, when God moves He moves.
    I admit I was afraid to come to your website before the other night. But I am so glad that I finaly did. You guys are doing an awsome job through God. Keep up the good work.
    In Christ.

  • I think I stumbled upon this blog by accident, but I’ve been coming back ever since to check out the latest posts. Excellent work, guys! It is definitely inspiring to see fellow young Christians really burning with the intense fire to serve the Lord. I hope more doors open for all you rebelutionaries out there to carry out the work the Lord has called you to do.

    Oh, and regarding this post…well, let me just say that it was an eye-opener. Yes, we definitely limit ourselves and our capabilities the moment we put walls around ourselves, refusing to believe that God has blessed us beyond what we know. I know I’m guilty of doing this. However, I really got a good insight after reading this post. There’s no denying that some people can do things better than we can. But if the Lord has already blessed us with ability to do it, even if it’s only to a certain degree, then shouldn’t we jump at the opportunity and maximize it to good use?

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading more interesting stuff. I really liked the “shower” intro. Really captured interest. God bless guys!

  • Wow, what a great article. Thankyou so much for reminding me once again of our awful “I’m a _____ person” society. It helps me to remember that I don’t have to be someone else, that I should just be me, but the me God called me to be, not someone who can’t do something because they’re ‘just not that kind of person’. Thankyou. 😀

  • Hey! Thanks for the great article! You really helped me to understand how to be a better person. You showed me that I need to step out of my comfort zone, show Christ more through to me, and don’t accept myself using everyone else’s standards. Thank you!

  • I agree with you mostly. We can do anything through Christ who strengthens us. I believe if something is God’s will He will give you the necessary tools for you to accomplish it, but if it’s not His will then you will have a really hard time fighting against His will. I also believe people are each created for a different purpose. When Christ comes into us we each recieve a spiritual gift that God wants us to do, it would be pretty boring if He gave us all the same gift. Some things come harder for some people, like writing comes a lot easier for me than it does my brother, but math comes a lot easier for him than it does me. However, I think teenagers give up so easily, just becomes something doesn’t come easy for you doesn’t mean you should give up. I am definitely not trying to say we should be sympathetic towards teenagers who give up easily, and I do think teenagers have pretty low expectations. I think the key is to work hard at everything we do and follow God’s direction as to what He wants us to do.

  • Very good insight. I don’t think the emphasis should be so much on not saying “I’m just not a ___” but on realizing that you don’t need to be confined to what you do best. I do think, though, that God gives everyone specific talent(s) and areas where they will succeed. Some people are really just better at foreign languages than others. That doesn’t mean the “others” shouldn’t work at foreign languages it just means they’ll have to work harder if they want to succeed. some people who have troubles just mastering pig latin might be phenomenal public speakers in their own language. My point is that people should put most of their efforts in what they can serve God better at.

    Here’s an example from my life:
    I love to learn and want to be able to do everything well. I would love to play hockey, volleyball, and track. I also would love to play several different instruments including cello, guitar, piano, and violin. Along with that I would love to delve deeper into sciences and history. Also…you get the idea. I did play volleyball for three years and completely loved it. At the same time I tried to do piano and violin. I ended up doing well in volleyball from hard work and a little bit of talent and okay in music with a considerable amount of talent and not much work. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I had to give up something or else I wouldn’t succeed in anything. I decided to give up volleyball since music would serve me longer and I would probably have more opportunity in music for serving God. It was probably the hardest decision so far in my 15 years of life. I don’t regret it because now I am studying violin, piano and voice, have more time to think about what I”m studying in physical sciences. Not to mention a blessing I hadn’t counted on when I made the decision: learning how to cook, clean, etc from my mom which I’m actually enjoying (go figure).

  • Thank you for writing on this topic. I continually find myself struggling in this area. I tend to label myself as quiet and shy. I feel such strong convictions, yet I have such a hard time communitcating thm with people because I’m too scared to do it. Like you hinted – it’s not that I can’t it’s just that I’m lazy and act like it’s too hard, or will ruin my repuatation, or will open myself up to ridicule. It’s so discouraging what is expected of us teenagers. We’re expected to rebellious, be obsessed with our ipods, tune out our parents, be lazy, and countless other things…it is really very sad and such a waste. If we’re expected to be so bad it’s hard to raise the standard and be different.

    Since I’m shy, I had the misconception for years that if I simply lived a godly life people would see the love I have for God through my actions. But God has now come to show me how arrogant that is. That people would know I’m a Christian just because of how I live? It is a huge factor, but there are a lot of nice people in the world who don’t care for anything Jesus did on the cross. I’ve come to realize that God is asking more of me. I must speak out about my faith – I just pray that He gives me the courage to do so.

  • Ah, now you’ve got me disagreeing with you gents on something:

    We do often try to excuse ourselves for not being “able” to do many things which we can. But one thing of note is that some things are designed such that not everyone will be able to do them.

    Calculus II demonstrated to me that I was not meant to be an engineer. At that level, the math becomes less obvious and more intuitive; you move from three dimensions into four. If you don’t think that way, you’re not going to get it. More men than women get it; it simply has to do with how you think. And trust me; changing how you think is much harder than simply practicing. (Sorry if I’m repeating the obvious to you.)

    Not to say I’m not a linear/logical person. Law demands logic. In fact, I drive people crazy by demolishing their opinions by logic. But there’s something more when you advance beyond a certain point…some things just call for talent.

  • Hey thanks guys sooo much it really inspired me to go beyond the low expectations of todays society.
    P.S. I really enjoy your blog!!

  • thanx so much for your encouraging and inspiring post, they always make me think so much. this post especially made me think because i am this way far too often and my mother has been telling me i am for years, i just haven’t wanted to see it.

  • Seeing as I just spent a good part of last night crying at my lack of worth, fights with my brother, math, and the end of my theater show (I’m a theater freak, I’ll admit it…) I understand what you mean. The hardest part is when you keep pushing yourself harder and harder, and you still fail. I put so much of myself into this one thing and I still failed. What I didn’t do was give it to God. Funny how we forget that sometimes. I guess I’ll just wait until my next math test, study harder, and first and formost, give it to God.

  • Brilliant! You eloquently put into words what thousands – perhaps millions of adults and young people are afraid or ashamed to admit. This article made my week – and I needed that, let me tell you. Thanks, Brett!

  • Amen to Kyle’s reply! Thank you so much, Brett. I can’t believe I neglected to read this article until now, and I can’t tell you how it has inspired me. To be honest, the past few weeks part of me has been thinking, “I’m just not an up-to-the-Harris boys-level-person”, but considering that we both have the same God inside us, I’ve decided to reject that position and strive for God’s highest, not mine. May He continue to bless and strengthen you as you serve Him in the easy and hard things of life.

  • I just found your site and I love it! For a while I have been feeling like I can’t succeed in a certain area, and your post has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and do it. God has given me a talent and I can’t let my fear stand in the way of His will. thank you so much for the encouragement you have just given me.

  • I thought the shower analogy was cute and definitely agree about limiting oneself through labels, but I think that people do in fact push themselves to fairly extreme limits, just not in constructive areas. For instance, so many teenage girls are obsessed about being thin and go to great measures to lose weight, which is obviously unhealthy. In any event, I don’t think it is productive just to push yourself for the sake of doing so. People should strive to improve their character, etc., but to strive to do something just for the sake of striving, such as learning calculus for someone who will never use it, is a waste of time and energy that could be spent doing something more fruitful.

  • I think the point of this is not to label yourself. Not that you can overcome anything, or should overcome anything. Somethings, like eating, are important! Some of us will never be engineers, nor is it our life goal or what God is calling us to do. On the other hand, Gideon didn’t think he was the type to lead an army, Elijah labeled himself the last one serving God, Moses said “I can’t speak” – even though God had called him too!
    I think that labels can be excuses. Oh, wow am I ever guilty of that!
    May God make me the wife and mom He wants me to be, and help me to stop labeling myself as anything but a Child of God!
    Blessings, Ya’ll!

  • Thank you so much for this post! I’ve heard the same kind of stuff you were talking about from Christian people about spiritual things. I do believe some of us are naturally gifted by the Holy Spirit to do things better than most people, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about the things that are harder for us. One person told me, “Mercy is definitely NOT my gift!” But Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful” and of course, He Himself was and is the most merciful of all, and if we want to be like Him, we must keep working toward it and not accept defeat from the devil so easily!

    Thanks again! God bless!

  • The overall principle of your post is great! However, coming from a family of professional public, private, and home educators, I must correct a few examples you gave.

    There are learning difficulties in the realm of education that truly can be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. (You made a refrence to spelling and math) Although many people do give false excuses, for a variety of reasons, some people are actually unable to learn certain concepts in the way that you are. Don’t judge them.

  • Sorry for the double post, but I’ll provide a specific example.

    I have a friend who has her master’s degree in education. She is an incredible teacher and homeschools her children. Her daughter, “Anne,” who has learning differences, hit an mental road block in middle school math. “Anne” and her mother struggled for years to raise her mathematical skills. In the end, she graduated high school up to grade level in all subjects except math- which remains at a 7th grade level proficiency.

  • Those are really stout thoughts. I was skimming through that a second time and thinking “Wow, I don’t think I could write like that” but that is just what you are talking about. I was giving myself a label or limit even just seconds after reading that. *eyeroll* Very good post.

  • Well, to say the least…I’m impressed! I knew there were other Christians in the world (been in S.A, Dubai and now in Mauritius) but it makes things seem to much more real when you’re viewing through another Christians eyes and seeing what they feel. I am so happy to hear that other people know about Christ and see His miracles. All at the touch of a button!!!
    It’s great to know that the same Spirit working in me is working all across the globe! I wouldn’t ever doubt that!
    I will definately check your blog out all the time since it helps me so much, it’s really amazing!
    P.S, please PLEASE everyone pray for Mauritius (we all know Christ is coming soon) so that ittle be changed by God and His Spirit and that many will be saved.

    Thank you so much,
    Your sister in Christ
    Babette x0x

  • Wow. sure wish I had friends like you guys when I was your age. Way To Go! Keep Jesus strong in your hearts.

  • Great post! The math example really hit home – it’s not that I’m not capable of understanding advanced algebra, I’m just not motivated, and I’ve been telling myself since 3rd grade that I’m “not a math person”. You’ve inspired me to work harder in this and other areas of my life. Thank you!

  • While getting the “big picture” and agreeing with the idea not to label and limit ourselves, am I the only one cringing at the shower analogy?

    My God does not leave me alone to face “the executioner’s gun” or “abandonment.” It takes more than the conscious choice to look hard things in the eye, it takes the Holy Spirit beside me, empowering me. God does constantly prod me outside my comfort zone, but He is also holding my hand. Not sniping at your parents, but my goodness–the emotional equivalent of, in your words, “stripping that same child naked and locking him out of the house during a thunderstorm. It was abandonment.” The years of walking with the Lord have brought times I thought I could not bear, but with the Comforter beside me and encouraging me, I never felt stripped naked and abandoned.

  • I understand the points the article is trying to make. But I think the consistent use of some of the analogies leaves out the fact that we are all different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and God can use our strengths as well as our weaknesses. A person with *dyslexia* may very well be completely unable to spell. But that same person may have great math skills – it’s better for that person to concentrate on doing what he can do *well* instead of hammering his head against that which is, actually, impossible.

  • Brett,
    Thank you! You hit a tender area in my life with that article. I had recently decided that “I’m not an Algebraic person” and convinced my parents of the same. Resulting in; my parents saying that I could be done with Algebra because I convinced them that I was “not a person who will ever be able to understand it”. Am I a brat or what? I didn’t like to learn Algebra, and because of that I didn’t learn it. I will now! I am always looking for challenges, but of course, I couldn’t think of an everday mundane goal such as Algebra as a challenge. I am studying music at the local college and it is just as hard as Algebra. The only difference? I want to learn Music and I did not want to learn Algebra. If I cannot learn to overcome what I do not like, then I have a very sad and simple life in front of me. If I cannot trust God that He will help me understand Algebra, I am in a very sad spiritual state. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) Isn’t it a very scary thought that we are a culture that follows our whims? Labeling ourselves is only another outlet of our self-centeredness. It is the attitude that “I don’t have to do it if I don’t want to.” Ugh, sounds like two year old syndrome to me. So, what I find is that deep down I am a brat, but I do have a hope for myself because I have a Father in heaven who loves me, and He will help me tackle this giant known as Algebra! Thank you once again for your article!

  • wowsers! great insight! i definately put myself in that catagory of “well, that’s just not my thing.” i think that as Christians we have a responsibility to do what we know is right w/ Christ as our standard, not the girl who sits next to us in Health class. sometimes i find myself and friends saying “at least i’m not as bad as they are.” Just remember that “they” are not our standard. even if they’re the “best” Christian we know. Christ is our standard and as far as i’m concered, i still have a long way to go!

  • Amazing post Brett! I read it out loud to my brother and we were both very inspired. Thank you so much for the encouragment!

  • That is very true! I have caught myself thinking those same things lately. Am I really striving toward a goal? Am I challanging myself in any way? Thank you for challenging me to reach for more!

  • This article really motivated me. I keep telling myself “I’m not a math person” or “chemistry is not my thing” so I’ve tended to slack in these subjects, telling myself it’s fine as I’m not that type of individual. I’ve been content and just “barely getting by” when I can be doing so much better with just a little more effort. This is dead wrong. And I might have never realized it until this article totally ruined my little fantasy.

    Thank you so much for inspiring me to go and tackle Algebra and Chemistry–with God’s help! And be a Rebelutionary aiming for higher standards!

  • This article was so encouraging. I have labeled myself before, but have been getting better on overcoming it. With me, one of my major ones was math. I told myself that I just wasn’t good at it and it wasn’t my thing. I didn’t want to take any form of Algebra, espcially since I’m planning on not attending college. I’m in my Junior year and my parents allowed me to take Accounting, something I enjoy:) But then we were talking about what I should do for my Senior year and I decided that I should probably take Algebra. I stongly dislike math and I’ve never thought myself a genius at it. But because of this article I can face it in a positive way.
    Same thing with speaking, but that’s something I’ve overcome as well, though I don’t know of as of yet if I’m any good at it.

    Anyway, I loved the article. This series has really hit home for me. I believe that “Do Hard Things” should be my motto as well, but I need to remind myself that ”Hard Things” can be things we run to in everyday life.

    Alex and Brett,
    I found it extremely interesting that you guys dance:)
    It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was little. I almost went to a Civil War re-enactment ball, just to observe, but before I went I was asked by someone I had met that day if I would be there and if he could have a dance. I told my mom and she thought it best I shouldn’t go.
    I still would like to try it, but my mom believes that it stirs certain emotions before their time. I would like to know what your opinion or your family’s opinion is on that subject, just out of curiousity.

    Thank you so much for all that you two do. Keep up the good work and never lose sight of HIM.

    A sister in Christ

  • Amanda: Thank you for the question. Actually, more recently, with a few exceptions, we have chosen to only dance with our sister. Part of the reason is the one your mother gave, which I think is wise.

  • Alex,

    Thanks for your response to my question. It’s encouraging to know that my family is not the only one with that opinion and that we don’t stand alone in that area.
    I’m pretty sure I could never get my teenage brothers to try dancing with me(though my 2yr.old brother probably would). 🙂 So I suppose that I probably won’t ever learn how. Anyway, thanks again for your response.

    Keep up the good work!
    A sister in Christ

  • Thanks for the article- I just hit some serious problems with proofs in Geometry. I don’t want to learn them but I have to. I want to be a lawyer-(go figure) so I need to get them sooner or later. This was the ‘inspiration’ I needed to refocus on them and decide I can do it. I’ve never been a ‘math or science person’ which has been my wonderful excuse!! This gave me the urge to go and be a math and science person.

    God has definitely been working in my life right now. I need this kind of incentive to get up early and have my quiet time with the Lord.

    Thanks for the Modesty Survey and all your work for the Lord-

    BTW don’t even ask about the screen name!!…!

  • […] Low Expectations I just read this post at the Rebelution site, and I think I have definitely fallen victim to my own laziness, apathy, and complacency.  I take the easy way out for almost everything, and I am crippled by fear and mistrust and the belief that I will always fail.  I liked what the Rebelution site’s about page said: Do hard things.  I have completely given up on rising to the challenge and have completely indulged in letting the challenge cause me to wipe out.  Jayna told me a few weeks ago, “It’s always dangerous to define yourself by your limitations.”  I think she’s right.  And it’s time for me to do something about it. […]

  • Dear Brett,

    What an exceptional post! I sincerely thank you for writing this as it is an eye-opener to consider how often youth deal with these labels in their various forms. Labels sometimes sadly divert us from our highest potential and cast us down to a level where we might place even more self-imposed barriers that keep us from excellence–which is why we as rebelutionaries must fight the good fight!

    Growing up, labels were everywhere around me because they were simply the “best way” of classifying and categorizing things so that people knew how to deal with things based on expectation levels. Not just the ones that went on my school notebooks to identify them from the others and such, but also the ones that were placed on clothing…people…abilities.

    As a high schooler (now a university student), I came from a wealthy suburban area where people shamelessly assigned others labels by the following criteria: physical appearance, clothing, net worth, and what they had achieved in the worldly sense.

    Especially as a Christian, I can reasonably say that I stuck out like a sore thumb in a world of designer clothing, pop culture, luxury cars and immoral practices. I liked comfortable modest clothing. My actions and words had to be carefully considered with humility to bring glory to God. I eagerly shared the books of the Bible (especially the book in question: Revelation) with my friends after we passed a woman witnessing to passersby just outside the shopping centre. I observed the Sabbath day of rest instead of attending social events with classmates. When asked about my lack of a boyfriend (and perhaps the expected long string of ex-boyfriends as well), I was happy to simply saying, “I’m waiting on God’s perfect timing”. I appreciated the significance of the gift of eternal life in Christ. And thus, I was labeled as “weird”…even by some of my friends.

    At first, I wanted to shrink away from my life as a Christian and a label that was meant to stick to me like the oh-so-taboo toilet paper on a shoe. Perhaps attend the homecoming football game instead of observing the day of worship? Or maybe I could keep quiet about the wonderful God I serve? What about dressing immodestly to fit in? Certainly not! In fact, I faced the label and honored God’s Will for my life, coming out on top in various aspects of my life–He had blessed me immensely (and still continues to do so) and I was able to use my developing talents and gifts to further His Work.

    From my perspective, we honor God in being diligent and perseverant, offering only the best of all that we are. No matter the task at hand, we must bring Him the greatest honor and delight when we are able to produce good fruit more abundantly and continuously strive for higher ground. And not just in our relationship with God but also in ministry and character…how we interact with the world around us. God never intended us to be the unmotivated, ambition-lacking underachievers–we are the salt of the earth, light of the world…children of the Most High!

     “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:13-16

     “You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’” –Numbers 18:29

     “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” –2 Timothy 2:15

     “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” –1 Corinthians 9:24-27

    If we (as a generation) were to throw in the towel and wave our white flags of surrender from life’s bunker, what would be the image that the world gets in their perception of the followers of Christ? Certainly not very favourable. In fact, those outside of the faith might look in and think, “Surely, I don’t want what they have. Look at this sorry lot!”–and yet we have something absolutely wonderful: Jesus as our personal Saviour and friend and the gift of eternal life in Him =D

    But by asking Him for strength and courage in overcoming such labels, and by giving it our all and running the good race, we come closer to that magnificent day where we will hear:

    “…’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” –Matthew 25:21

    So without further ado: Fight the good fight, rebelutionaries!

    God Bless!

  • Questions for Discussion:

    Are there areas in your life that have been labeled as “just not me”?

    Playing guitar, i own a acoustic guitar but have recently given up on it because it’s extremely difficult to try and get the chords right .But i’ll pick up that guitar again and see what i can do. Also schoolwork but that’s a very long story!

    If so, have you stop striving for excellence in those areas as a result of that label?
    Unfortunately i have! and I won’t try to make any excuses for them.

    What would the impact be on your future if you chose to overcome your difficulties in those areas and mastered them? For the guitar i think i would be able to put a tune to the song that i write and also have a ground base for them(if i were ever be able to pursue a career in music)

    For my schoolwork, i’d be able to apply all the things that i learn in school for the rest of my life. Also i’d be able to apply to the college of my choice if i have outstanding grades.

    Brett thank you for the article (Really needed it) and once again May God bless you and Alex too!

  • Brett,
    Thank you for addressing that! Yah, I definitely know what you mean. As a piano player I first started out not knowing anything about it obviously. I have taken piano lessons for 6 years now and have progressed alot. But not just by taking lessons. I had to practice every single day, and then it payed off. Baby steps lead to big ones.
    Thanks and God Bless you!

  • Of all my school subjects, writing is the most difficult for me. Informal writing, such as this, is the easiest because I can think without pressure about a topic that interests me. But formal writing that I must do – school papers – are arduous. Because I tend to desire perfection when I write my papers, and because my ideas become complicated (with long sentences of many clauses and phrases), my brain fogs up and quits on me. “I’m not a writing person,” I have implied on numerous occasions.

    And it is true that writing is slow and painful for me. But, apparently even the greates authors found it slow and painful. Maybe it was because they took great pains that they produced masterpieces.

    It is also true that the difficult assignment in fifth grade was much simpler than the difficult assignment in eleventh. Some kinds of writing are now bearable, even enjoyable. For example, some time around fifth grade I had to write a poem. With trepidation before this looming project, I chose to write about President Lincoln’s assasination. At first it was new and interesting. Then it grew more and more difficult. Rhyming was an inconvienent nuisance and meter was a pain. These added to the ever present strain of merely transferring thought to paper.

    I eventually finished that poem, and now I can read it with sorrow at the pathos of Lincoln’s death and with amusement at my former struggles. Currently I can write a poem for recreation. Rhyming is still a nuisance, but since it is not actually the escence of poetry, I dispense of it unless it is convenient.

    This example of one kind of writing that I have grown to like gives me hope that I will attain proficiency in other kinds like, – ahem – research papers.

  • wow. i think i was thinking about this the other day, that i will never be good at math. it was really bothering me because i was thinking about how that might affect my childrens’ education and stuff, and i was just thinking that i would have my husband teach them math or something. but God has definelty spoken to me about this subject, praise be to God. The verse in which it says that we can do all things through Christ, didnt even pop into my head about this subject until now. Ahh, so glad. =]

    God Bless.

  • Sorry for the double post.
    I have fallen into this trap so many times. There were times whaen I thought that I would never be able to escape certain sins because “I didn’t know how to escape”. At other times, the cry was “I’m not a cooking person” or, “I’m not a math person”. I am capable of doing these things– I was just being lazy and wasn’t very motivated.

    Oh yes, and in reference to my first comment– I come from a very shy family, so the fact that God would take me into a situation where I need to speak in front of people amuses me.

  • Another thing to keep in in mind is that you may not be a this-person or a that-person but when you overcome that challenge it will be all the more God glorifying than if you were highly skilled in that specific area, because your weakness will show Gods strength. To take an example that John Piper gave at New Attitude 2007 the story of David and Goliath showed how strong God was by Him using a weak little boy to slay a giant that that full grown men wouldn’t. I would encourage you to keep this in mind as you see the giants showing up in your life, even if others who seem better equipped for the job,say it is to hard or not worth the trouble try it anyway and pray that God will give you the strength. One last example, this one from my life, throughout my life I have hated to write and was never particularly good at it (my creative writing consisted of “this grass was green”) but God had other plans, He wanted me to be a songwriter, and just as Brett had said in the post I actually enjoyed it and now songwriting is probably my favorite and most fulfilling activity. So Pray for the strength, Do it despite the odds, and let God be glorified in your weakness.

    Matthew Beatty
    A fellow sinner saved by Grace

  • I think it’s interesting how many times our biggest obstical is our selves! I mean we think we can’t do something because we tell ourselves we can’t. We build a mental block to it then we really can’t, because ourmind tells us we can’t. It’s amazing though what we can do when we put our minds to it. As Mr Tweedy frm “Chicken Run” says “It’s all in me head” 🙂
    When I was growing up, any time we said “I can’t do it; it’s too hard” our mom would say “you can do hard things”. As you can imagine, this was not very well recieved by my sisters and I, but the funny thing now is that I tell that to little ones I babysit. I guess it all goes around.

  • I can relate to your story Brett. I have to milk a cow every day, but when I started I was scared to death. My dad wanted me to be next to a 1200 pound animal, and I nearly freaked. I now can milk her and treat her like my dog. I really know how you feel about doing things you don’t want to do.

  • Glenn Baum…

    I am trying to gain weight and tone up. I have been going to the gym for about 6 months now (3-4 times a week). I don\’t want to look really muscular, just toned. But I haven\’t been able to gain any weight no matter what I do. I have increased my …

  • […] “Do Hard Things” is just the opposite. It’s how we build character and competence. It won’t drop to meet the low expectations, it won’t just do what comes easily, and it won’t become complacent. It applies no matter who you are or what level you’re on, because there’s always something harder to do, something that will take you outside your comfort zone and cause you to grow. […]

  • I come from a family with a not-very-good-at-sports-and-could-reeeeaaly-use-some-improvment-in-the-hand-eye-cordination-factor history. After church we play alot of sports: volleyball, badminton, touch football, foursquares, and, especially, soccer. It has been so easy for me to say “I am really bad at sports, I’ll just mess up my team, and make a fool of myself out there, since I don’t even know the basic rules of baseball!” I’m a person who if I see something that looks like fun, I have to jump on in. So, I now grit my teeth, walk into a throng of kids w/ a football, and say “So, how do you play?” Most of the time I make a total fool of myself, but I manage to get by with a “can Kei and I be on your team? I know there will be one extra player, but, us girls like to stay close, and, as you all know, 2 girls = about 1/2 a teenage boy!” I get grins and “sure”s and continue to humiliate myself vastly! But this is a GREAT encourager for me, since “I’m not a sports person” 🙂

  • This is a great article!!! Everything you said is true. Our culture expects so little of us, and we blindly follow their lead. I struggle with doing more than is asked, and with doing hard things. I am really going to try to do hard things, and with God’s love and strength, and His grace, I know I will suceed. May God bless you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thankyou! This was the first Rebelution post I read, and it opened my eyes to something I had never thought about – I had kind of always ‘believed by default’ that if I God wanted me to do something hard, He would make it ‘not-hard’ for me. Which He does, but He often waits on us to take the first step (I thank Him for His grace!). And rereading it today was definitely a reminder I needed.

    Another example – Smith Wigglesworth (a great preacher in the early 1900s). He didn’t learn to read until he was an adult, and was unable to preach due to a terrible stammer. Eventually, after a long journey, he turned out to be one of England’s greatest evangelists. Some quotes of his:

    “Great faith is the product of great fights”
    “Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests”
    “Great triumphs can only come out of great trials”.

  • This message truly encouraged me. Our culture needs to hear a message like this one. My dad and I often like to mull over the idea the people aren’t becoming more sophisticated as the world tells us, but we are becoming more and more basic. Think about it. People like Michaelangelo and daVinici to name only two. They lived in a time where there were no computers or calculators or machinery. And yet they excelled in many areas. They challenged themselves to always learn more and do more. What about us today? Many of us don’t ever learn a second language. Think of how many we could impact for Christ if we would buckle down and push ourselves to learn. I always hear people say that they are not readers and so they remain on a surface level in their faith because they don’t want to read. I kow that I can’t solve a simple math problem without the help of my calculator. We have been given thee mind of Christ. We need to use it! I want to strive to do my best in my school work and in my church. So often I only do what is required when I know God is calling me to do so much more. I basically am choosing to not accept God’s blessings because its “hard!” That’s like staying dirty because you don’t like showers. That smells. I don’t want to stink. I want to be the pleasing aroma of Christ!

  • Great stuff, as per usual. good laughs, too, but the points hit home. Some expressed concern that we are gifted differently…true enough. For some, certain sorts of things come almost as easily as breathing. For others, those same things are, well, near to impossible. It is true, as a generality, that we are often better off to stick with the things we can do well rather than pour huge amounts of energy into mastering things at which we stink. BUT—there can come a situation where it is time for us to throw off the excuses, labels (that’s not me), buck up and “get it”. Usually those will be situations where there is a particular need, no one else to meet it, and here I go, in faith…..I know a man who learned piano one Lord’s Day morning—no other musicians showed up for the singing. The leader asked “if anyone would come and play the piano”. (note: not is annyone ABLE). He went down, sat down, and played it..first time in his ilfe. I heard him a few years later–amazing pianist. I believe the main thrust of this post is that we, all of us, far too frequently settle for some identity or set of limits others, or ourselves, place upon us..and simply devolve to the lowest common denominator. I know the present public school system tends to inculcate this…having bought off on the lie that competition, excellence, challenges, are all wrong things and will “wound their little psyches” if allowed as part of normal life. Besides, with all the lawyerly “safety concerns”, kids are far too coddled and protected, forbidden to explore and learn…and so we don’t. Brett is saying (rightly, and good on yer for doin it) we need to refuse to accept those limitations placed upon us. Sure, Suzie may never “get” maths, and “Johnny” may never “get” proper spelling. So what? Each of them, all of us, CAN learn what is necessary…and most often the first and most critical step is simply shattering the egg shell round about us and getting on with it.

    I particularly was amused by Tiffany Barclay’s comment, posted a year and a half ago, about learning spanish. I happen to know that she very recently returned from a couple of weeks in Peru on mission there……and I’d wager at long odds she used at least some of that skill she never thought she’d “get”, and learned a whole lot more whilst there. Now I’ve a question for you, Tiffany: when will you be starting into French? (just kidding—keep up with spanish..far more useful in your area).

    Just noticed the link button immediatly beneath this text box….”choosing ouur battles wisely”. Yes, rather than choosing some “hard thing” holus bolus and wildly chasing after mastery of it, part of the wisdom of this prinicple should be discerning WHICH things we ought apply ourselves to in spite of our erstwhile determination “that’s not me”. For me to master crochet, given what is in front of me, would be a needless and unprofitable diversion. Web site design, video editing, another matter perhaps. For another, leave off the video editing and get out those needles.

  • lewsta, good point. Economically, it’s inadvisable to try to do everything well, or to work to excell in something with too little benefit. We don’t have enough time for the first, and the opportunity cost of the second is enormous. That said, we have to be really careful deciding what does give enough benefit for us to work at it. What’s worth it in terms of time and effort varies by person to some extent (I’d recommend social skills to everyone). When I started taking algebra, I had no clue how it could be useful, and found much of it boring. Turns out that stuff comes in really handy in unexpected places. Knowing how to knot a tzitzit, on the other hand, isn’t likely to help me much, so I can spend my time doing something else; some practicing Jews might look at that differently.

    Brett, I find it interesting that you classify swing outside of ballroom.

  • I just found your website, and this is the first blog post I read- the title just captured my attention.
    I just wanted to say thank you for this post- it really spoke to me where I am right now. It is so easy to fall into the laziness of just working to get by in classes, instead of actually striving to learn the material. This post really convicted me because this semester especially I am taking some required classes in which I have a hard time motivating myself. This post just encouraged me to really try to learn the material- even if I don’t think I’ll ever use it again, because this is where God has placed me, and this is what He is calling me to.

  • […] As I was typing the first paragraph, I almost wrote something like, “My brain just doesn’t work that way!” But, God uses many things to humble. My minds quickly averted to this article written by one of the brothers. The following was the part which was the most convicting for me: I constantly hear fellow young adults say things like, “You know, I did Algebra 1/2, but I’m just not a math person,” or “I’m a terrible speller, my brain just doesn’t work that way.” I’ve had other teens tell me, “I’m just a quiet person. I don’t like communicating much,” and “I’m such a compulsive shopper. If I see something I like I can’t help but buy it.” Or what about, “I’m just such a blonde!” […]

  • This was a very interesting post. Not being a “math or science person” , I have a lot of difficulty not just giving up. Thanks for the encouragement to keep trying and doing hard things. I thought it was funny, however, the part about doing Calculus as your last year math in High School. It’s very true that you will find a way, because I am.

  • “Am I unable to do certain things, or am I simply unwilling to invest the time and effort necessary to succeed?”

    Wow. Talk about impeccable timing. =) I have a particular assignment ahead of me right now. But all these excuses come to mind and I keep putting it off. It’s the same with my life in general and dealing with certain situations, especially since I go to a public school. I finally am beginning to understand what you guys are talking about in doing hard things. It’s not that I’m unable because “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” It’s because of the latter part of that phrase. I’m not willing to put forth the effort. It hit home. Thanks for posting this article. The examples helped a lot =)

  • Reality check!!!
    Those examples reminded me that I do not need to justify my shortcomings or my stong point by defining myself as “this-type-of-person”. I’ve been doing that a lot lately…
    Talk about a time for everything and I’d say this was perfect timing for me to read this article. Not only was your article a reality check for me, but it was an encouragement because I know I am not alone as a teenager struggling to overcome low expectations.

  • Brett + Alex: wow this site is pretty darn amazing. definitly putting it into favorites. a guy you might remember Bryce Hambleton? introed me to it. He said he met you two last year. anyways, can’t wait to check out all the stuff you guys have on here when I got the time. later

  • I tend to label myself as not a people person(and don’t even get me started on Math) I have a real problem talking to people of most ages, But it seems God has other plans for me as i feel he has called me to be a missionary in China,Mongolia,India and maybe the middle east and I have no idea of what to do and I hate seeming to be unable to talk to people. I try but it totaly does NOT come naturaly. Now that I think of it the only time I entroduced myself to some one it was at a Organic Church meating and she turned out to be an english teacher in western China and talking to her turned out being realy cool. I guess what i’m trying to say is thank y’all for the post it made me think and realise that i’m just being fearful, stuborn and lazy when it comes to my weaknesses.

  • Hey, Thank you so much for this post. I have been in a choir for 5 years now, and one of the things that is required of us at concerts is to give our testimony (if the director asks us). This year on tour we are singing at my uncles church in Washington DC. That usually means that the girl/boy related to the person at the church gives the testimony. It would be a great honer to give mine, but I have a huge problem with talking in front of people. Your post has encouraged me to go out there and try my best.

  • Thanks for sharing this post, Brett. I found it bemusing, but very relevant indeed. I realize that I often put limitations on myself, forgetting that, “With man, it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible”. May I learn to keep my eyes on Jesus! God bless, Kedesh

  • wow! that has an amazing point brett! I think this story I have relates to yours- when I was maybe 4 or 5 me and my brother jes would always play in our hallway with Jes’ toy cars, well, one day me and jes were playing with them and i liked to keep them ALL on the grouund where they can stay safely away from my face ( just like you Brett) and Jes this one time just had to pretend that his favorite car was flying!! so he threw it in the air and it somehow landed right in my face!! I was scared of those cars for atleast 2 years! But now I would help my brother usethose cars for movies he makes, But that was two years ago, a year ago my mom dad seperated and me, my mom, and Jes lived in an apartment without my dad. Through that year I have become closer to Christ that year than ever before, now, we have moved and my family is together again! (accept for my older sister Demi who is in college. Me and my youth group just went to a Do Hard Things conference and i became even closer to the Father. Thank you so much for doing these conferences Alex and Brett!! -Eavan

  • Wow. I had no idea that the Rebelution was this big! Alex and Brett: You two are doing an awesome thing for God. Could you come and Rebelutionize my Youth Group? My church is chock full of low expectation teenagers. For me personally, this shower blog is…big. When you said that thing about spell check I realized just how much we try to “compensate” for our “can’t do”s. It’s crazy! Instead of seriously trying to do something we settle for a handicap and hope there’s something out there to fix it for us.
    Right now I am seriously struggling with my own expectations of myself and not really trying to reach those goals, then I become miserable with my “failure”. In reality I’ve labeled myself as an “I can’t” falsely and have fallen head first into low expectations.

    I can do hard things, thank you for the reminder.

  • This is really amusing and challenging. I know I will be pushing myself forward out of my comfort zone more often in the future. Thanks for all you guys do-you influence kids a lot more than you think.

  • I really agree with most of what you’re saying, but the sad truth is that there are some people who will never change. Take president bush, for example, who is so degenerate that he is unworthy of a capitalized name. He will never understand the peace activists. There are some politicians who will never understand the people, and, moreover, shall never care about the people. But they are all older people. We, the young generation, have not been self-branded by our bad habits or the stereotypes of others, neither have we been tainted by greed and the lust for power. We must live according to the law of the free, which asks only that we treat others as we would wish ourselves to be treated. It’s one tenet is that we are tolerant to those around us and the way they choose to exist. I live by this as much as I can, but their are still some people who tick me off. See? I’m not perfect, I’m human. To be human to others is really all there is to world peace.

    Well, keep on rockin’ my friends in the rebellion. Find me on the perimeter where there are no stars, where we are stone.

  • Great post. At 32 I’ve become very stuck in a rut. I’ve finally decided to move on and go back to school. I’m very comfortably with my environment so this change will be very hard. I know that with the Lord’s guidance and confidence in myself I will make it through. Thanks for giving me something extra to think about.

  • that was cool the way you just put it out like that i’m going to push my self harder after this. you really open my eyes to how lazy i am. thanks



  • I did not no how to add that well entell I was in 4th grade.I wished I had shower experence instead of not knowing how to add

  • […] Do Hard Things is just the opposite. It’s how we build character and competence. It won’t drop to meet the low expectations, it won’t just do what comes easily, and it won’t become complacent. It applies no matter who you are or what level you’re on, because there’s always something harder to do, something that will take you outside your comfort zone and cause you to grow. […]

  • Im a dancer and when I first read this in the book I thought of the the time when I first stepped out onto stage. I was so scared and nervous. I thought I was going to have a heart attack at age 6. That was ten years ago, but I still remember it as plain as day. Now though whenever I go out on that stage its like breathing. Comes as naturally and as fluent. I don’t get nervous hardly ever and I am so comfortable. Now that I did it the first time, I love it. It really helped me to take the shower situation and turn into something I could understand. 🙂 So Ive started taking more leaps into things that scare me and it feels amazing.

  • Haha, fears are such fickle things, aren’t they? It feels like you’re freeing yourself when you face your fears. If only we could all be fearless…maybe more for God could be done, without us feeling timid! Unfortunately, that would also mean more crime. 😛

  • Wow! Brett, this article is SO SO SO convicting and inspiring. Now I am more on fire than ever to do the hard thing instead of excusing it by saying “I’m just not that kind of person.”

  • Thanks! Our God is faithful to give us whatever we need to accomplish His it witnessing of His goodness to others, taking a difficult course in school, or taking a shower.

  • […] Do Hard Things is just the opposite. It’s how we build character and competence. It won’t drop to meet the low expectations, it won’t just do what comes easily, and it won’t become complacent. It applies no matter who you are or what level you’re on, because there’s always something harder to do, something that will take you outside your comfort zone and cause you to grow. […]

  • HAHA! 😀 That story about your first shower is really funny!
    You play piano? (I have been playing for two years.)

  • […] Do Hard Things is just the opposite. It’s how we build character and competence. It won’t drop to meet the low expectations, it won’t just do what comes easily, and it won’t become complacent. It applies no matter who you are or what level you’re on, because there’s always something harder to do, something that will take you outside your comfort zone and cause you to grow. […]

  • Okay, first of all, I think the shower story is the funniest story I’ve ever heard! Now that I have said that I’ll move on to the serious stuff. All my life I have been struggling with laziness and lack of self- control. It has been put before my attention many times that if I were in public school, I would be diagnosed with ADD or something along those lines and the already low expectations for teens would be even lower for me because I was “special.” My mother and I have been striving all my life to prove their expectations wrong and I am still fighting against laziness and craziness. Plus flirting with boys and getting in my mom’s face when she corrects me and fighting with my sister, and the list goes on and on. It’s also hard to talk about godly things with my friends even AT CHURCH! This article has served me immensely because with this kind of coaching I can’t hide behind “I’m just nots” anymore and that is what I needed. KEEP DOING HARD THINGS PEOPLE!

  • Ha Ha Haaaa that is my favorite story ever!!! This really made me realize to step out of my comfort zone, listen to Gods voice and go where and when he calls me. It’s like when I was younger I was absolutly terrified by the “buzz lightyear” ride in disney world, along with all of the other rides with the exception of dumbo, the teacups, and it’s a small world. I didn’t even know how my family made it out of those other rides alive. Then finally when I was 10, I tried the buzz ride and… absolutly fell in love with it. I think we went on it 11 times that day. Ever since i have craved rollocoasters, and disney world is my favorite place on earth!! God really has a calling for each of us, and we need to follow it, even if it is out of our comfort zones.

  • In the middle of reading this, something transpired. I can’t explain it in full detail, so I wrote this blog entry. It may sound crazy, but God doesn’t call us to be comfortable Christians. We should be RADICAL!

    God, what am I doing?!

  • this is my favorite story ever!! it was soooo funny, but it also is much related to life, my life. i took my first big step when i started leading worship for the women’s bible study at out shul, (synagogue). not i get up there every week and sing into the mic and play my heart out without getting sick to my stomach! and i’m only 13

    you guys have been so encouraging!

    G-d bless!

  • In case you did not know, I used to be in the same position as Brett was at the age of eleven. This story is inspiring me to push myself to do hard things, such as working harder at swimming.:]

  • Thanks so much for this post guys,It has really inspired and helped me.
    since reading and discovering about the ‘thought’ of Do Hard Things, God really put on my heart to spend time at a certain Retiremnt home in my town. Honestly, that was the last place i would ever want to spend my time. not to mention how akward it would be for me, a rather” intraverted person” (putting myself in that box again), to be put in a situation like that! But I kept thinking about this post and thought if maybe i could get through one it wouldn’t be so bad.
    so finally after much procrastination and alot of pleading prayers, i went and though the first couple times were hard, I have come to really enjoy my time there. What was at first akward and that took a considerable amount of self-convincing to get there has become a place that has created unique relationships and opportunies. not only that but i am able to rest asure that what i am doing is on the path God wanted for me and i know i could take on a another challenge because i overcame this one!
    SO…for anyone who read this and happens to read this comment-please know that it’s truth. 🙂

  • “The truth is that we are incredibly susceptible to cultural expectations and once we have satisfied our culture’s meager requirements we stop pushing ourselves.”

    This is soo true because I often think well I’m doing more than most people care about so I just give up,but thats just liminting myself to society’s expectations. Amazing perspective

  • My friend’s dad sent me the link to this website saying how awesome it was. I looked around and found this article: AMAZING!

    I especially like this: “Have you really found your limits or have you merely reached a point where our culture’s expectations no longer demand that you succeed?”

    This article made me rethink my life and my perspective of things. Thank you!

  • I love this story… for me I have overcome alot of obsticals like you were talking about… My family is (well as of right now) moving to Honduras after christmas sometime to work in an orphanage. And i have just been stuggling with all the “what if”s of moving away… I am 15, just your average teenager… what if this isnt what God has for me? What if it is just staying and ministering in my school? and this post really encouraged me… i dont know exactly how to explain it.. but it did.

  • I did Algebra 1/2, but I’ve never really ‘enjoyed’ math. I’ve always been great at it though… It’s like you guys say: “Do Hard Things.” And yes, I totally agree that the culture expects too little of us.

    Alex, Brett: I sense the Lord’s work in your lives. Everything you post here is uplifting to our spirits. Thanks!


  • I guess the point of the post is that no one is a (fill inthe blank with somthing hard) person, you can’t become a (fill in the blank person) unless you work at it when your not. All the types of things you are you once were not. We consider it socially wrong to stereotype others but what about ourselves?

  • Wow that’s really convicting. I find myself doing that all the time. Mostly I’m thinking, “there are so many people who are better at this than me and everything I do I’m always the beginner and the amateur and the person learning”. So then I get all discouraged and look for something else to do because I don’t want to just learn and work towards that goal of actually being able to do something good. I want to be able to do it now. So I guess that’s something I’ll have to work on…

  • An excellent point well made Brett!! I myself am not a “new people person”. My family just switched churches 10 months ago and I still don’t have any close friends. I know several people, but they have other friends to keep up with every sunday. I wish I knew better ways to make friends, but the only way that really works for me is if we have lunch or dinner with the family. Then they don’t have their friends as an excuse to walk away. I want a friend that will include me in their little group and try to keep each other from feeling awkward. I feel kind of left out, but then I feel at ease and peaceful knowing that I do have a friend who will always be there for me!!
    It still hurts to think about my best friend who moved to Port Orchard, WA. We were like sisters. Being the only, and oldest, girls in our family (with one younger brother) we bonded pretty quickly. I don’t think I’ll ever find a friend like her again. (Sigh. Smacks self. To self:) Get a grip megan!! Jesus is your best friend!!! You don’t need anyone else!!! Hallejuah Amen!!! Thank you God!!!

  • I think this is a great point of “Do Hard Things”. This should tell people that when they step out of their comfort zone, there will soon be a difference. I absolutely thought during my whole life that olives were disgusting! But then I remembered someone saying that you will never know if you try it. So a couple days ago I ate one, now I can see why some people don’t like olives; but I actually thought they were good for someone who likes a spicy after-taste. During my 678 Camp this year, (before I ate an olive) on the first day there was this game (everyone was assigned to a color group) where you had to find a verse in the Bible ASAP; so when you found that verse you would have to read it. After everyone has growned and gotten annoyed of not getting the verse before anyone, you have to tell the other players to eat something out of a bowl that is now in front of them. This bowl had Anchovies, Olives, Spam, and everything else 10, 11, 12, and 13 year old kids probably dont like; it even had all the juices from all these disgusting foods mixed together. Well, I was amazed by this one girl just eating away at the spam, olives, and the juice. I was shocked at how much these kids were wanting to win that game! Well, also during that week during a time when everyone was having lunch… someone would walk around with a bag; this bag would be full of half eaten and rotten food from the beginning of camp. While this person was walking around with this we knew that whatever we threw in that bag that we didn’t want, the losing colored team would actually have to eat some of that soup. Long story short… we lost last place- but our leaders sacraficed to eat it. As our camp was called HEROES this year, we called them Heroes.
    Well, since I was blown away by how it feels to have people do things for me, I thought about how we have been given a Savior that will always keep us safe no matter what. I love the verse Psalm 23:4. For it says “Evev when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff will protect me.”

  • Wow, this post really got me thinking about what I’ve told myself I “can” and “cannot” do. I’ve never really thought about success and limitations this way. This is really good writing. This is incredible writing and some really God-powered insights, thanks!

  • Wow. I remember getting in the shower was the hardest thing I learned to do when I was little. I would always whine and complain and procrastinate until bedtime, when I HAD to take my shower and go to bed with wet hair. I thought I was going to DIE!! It just goes to show that you will survive another day if you do something about the day. Sieze the day. Live the day. Live like there’s no tomorrow. If you don’t do it today, you might not ever.

  • Amazing post. Labeling ourselves is one of the hardest things we can go through, expecially if one of us starts to follow the crowd and conform with the rest of the world. The best thing we can do if we start doing this is to stop what you’re doing, and try to talk to someone you now who is a strong fellow believer, and try to just get your head in God.
    Again, Amazing post.
    Miles Paskel

  • Never fear excellence. My twin six-year-old brothers do not fear anything; they play piano, read books far beyond their grade level, wrestle, build Leggo skyscrapers, attempt acid/base reactions, and draw everything from Roman centurions to entire zoos. This is not because my parents push them to excellence; it is because no one has told them trying is stupid. They have found joy in learning to do things well. Yet why, oh why,did I spend much of my middle school years thinking I was stupid to love learning? You will never achieve what you never attempt. Never fear excellence; rather, pursue it with all your heart.

  • I read this article in your book (which is awesome!) and that is SO funny! It is true that we all have “first showers”. But I don’t think my first shower almost killed me.

  • Thank you so much for that article! (And the book) I am homeschooled and in a co-op and as one of our classes, we are doing a Bible study sort of thing with your book! I am excited to start it, and I definitely think that teens need to hear it! Thank you so much for being positive role models for many teens around the world! 🙂

  • You guys are awesome! I love your book, but I’m a liitle confused on what I should be shooting for? Help please?

  • Wow this is totally what I needed to hear. I do this to myself a lot. I just say oh I can’t do this because… Thanks for posting this!

  • We have a “Do Hard Things” class at our homeschool co-op. and we thought the shower thing was so funny! Ha! I love your book! We are on chapters 9 and 10. This book is truly touching and has changed the way I view things and now I want to do hard things for Christ instead of going the easy way out!

  • This is a great post. I remember reading about your shower story in “Do Hard Things.” That was a funny story. Great examples of a little kid saying, “I’m just not a tying my shoe type of person” or “I’m just not a toilet person.” Very funny! But I do label myself like that a lot. I’m not a people person or I’m not a public speaker or whatever. My parents have pushed me some, having me try new things or trying to make me step out of my comfort zone. I can’t believe how much weight expectations have and how low they are. You guys wrote a great book and I’m definitely going to reread and recommend it to friends. Teens all over the world need to read this book! Especially teens in America though. Thanks again.

  • I for one have labeled myself as not much of a writer but when it comes to me then it just flows. you raise a very good point that this society limits us and so do we listening to them.

  • I have the book, that story was totaly my Favortie out of them all!! I love your book! You guys Rock! I was the same way, only with baths!

    God Bless!



  • Brett, I just wanted to first say a big ‘thank you’ to you and Alex for creating this web site, it is such an encouragement to know that other chrstian teens are concerned about the same things that I am (even though I’m only 13, I try very hard to live up to 1 Tim. 4:12)!
    So THANK YOU!!!!!
    I just foud this site today and I am TOTALLY engulfed with everything in it inluding the book lists. (I’m always lookig for a good book!)
    So, thank you for everything you are doing and please never stop! I wish there were more young christian men in the world like you. It would be such a better place!
    With Prayers,
    Casey Dust

  • Hey, Brett and Alex Im reading your book for church and so far I love it. I dont have one of those amazing stories like other christians but when I tell my story of how I was adopted from Russia they they say wow thats awesome. Oh also the book is the best way to understand the teenage life and prepare for it, but thats only my opinion. You see other teens as oh he is the chick magnet or shes the one who date so and so for three months. but christians see others christians as he loves God more than any thing.

    God bless you

  • I used that as an excuse for my entire life. I only believed that I can do all things through Christ for things that I wanted to do or have to do. I don’t expect a lot out of myself. I feel like for the decisions I have made I must suffer the consequences by admitting that I was wrong and allowing myself to fail as a result I live with regret everyday. This helped me to not take negativity as an answer. You’re right. A baby can learn anything in time. A child can master anything in time. We encourage the attitude of giving up because it is not require for everyone to succeed, just those “special” people. I can be one of those special people and overcome my obstacles and really care about people and choose to love my neighbor as myself. I can choose to overcome hating my life. I wanted to become a composer, but I am a mother of three and I find it difficult to do both without forsaking the other. But if I work on it as a child works on anything it will become a natural thing. I will be able to be more than a conqueror.
    Sorry if this seems like rambling, but as a type I am getting revelation. i really needed to read this article. at first I just sped through it and then I saw key phrases such as , What’s the difference between a baby… and I teenager… and I put myself into the equation. I can do this .I am literally holding myself back. i know that God gives the increase but I have to strive to be better. To do more than what is required. It is my reasonable service.

  • Thats pretty amazing. I have a lot of problems similar to that. it’s just so hard to do things out of your comfort zones. it can be so hard to move on and get out of the bubble that we get so used to just sitting in. I’m not gonna let myself rot in a bubble. I’m gonna claw my way out no matter what it takes. God gave me talents and weaknesses all for His glory and its time for me to use them

  • First of all, thanks for writing this story, Brett. I read it in the “Do Hard Things” book, (which I LOVE!) and it was really funny! Most importantly, it had a moral to it: Things may seem frightening, but if you do them anyway, then, someday, you’ll be able to laugh about them, because they really wern’t all that terrible.
    I say it to my little brothers all the time: “That wasn’t all that bad, was it?”
    It reminds me to be on the lookout for hard things I can do; things out of my comfort zone…things that scare me. I have blown so many opprotunities, because it wasnt’ required of me, and because I was afraid. I’m not going to do that anymore!

  • Wow. You knocked some sense into me right after reading your entry.
    I’ve noticed that habit (the tendency to classify yourself as “this/that-kind-of-person”) amongst many people I know, myself included. What I never realized was that it was actually a dangerous thing to continue doing. Now that I’m aware, I’ll pray about it and through God’s help, make it disappear forever.

    Thanks a lot. Continue shining God’s light into our dark world.

  • “my first shower experience” was when my mom brought me to school for the first time. I had never been away from my mom…EVER… and when she told me to grab my teachers hand i kicked my teacher and screamed your not my mommy, me and my mother and possibly my teacher cried that day…..

  • This really compelled me to get out face my fears, share the gospel, and do what is hardest to me. I’m supposed to preach a sermon on November 1st and I’m only 12. It will be very hard but I know I can do it because the Lord is on my side.

  • My first shower experiance was probably playing the piano/organ for the first time before church. Afterwards, I was glad I did it. Experiances like this keep compelling you to do harder things. Right now, I am going to try to get a small youth group band together (with the help of God) and possibly have the band play in a mass.

  • Well Brett,
    I’m not a teen. I’m 56. And though I’ve seen this kind of thing repeatedly happen to me (overcoming many self-imposed limitations), I just didn’t get it.
    And I lost a whole lot because of that. Wish I’d had someone to tell me that then, the way you just did now. I’m sure my life would have been completely different, for the better.
    For those of you readers who are not elders yet, who have a whole life ahead: Listen to Brett’s words. They are true, blessed words.
    Thank you.

  • I think I was one of the lucky ones, I don’t ever remember getting labeled or someone labeling me like that.
    BTW, this blogis the BOMB!!!!!!!! 🙂

  • I never thought about it that way, but it’s very true. I’m reading “Do Hard Things” right now, and it’s really great so far! 🙂

  • I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read….

  • Alex and Brett,

    I really liked the first shower experience part in the book. It really hit home with me. I have had many things in my life i got used to and did something like it or the first time and hated it!!!! I always wanted the easy way, but when i read your book i knew i needed to change. So i have been trying my hardest to change. Your book touched my heart!!!

    Hannah Lundeen

    P.S: I am new to your website.

  • I like this post. It is so true, i hear those things all the time, and now it is starting to bug me! Especially the blonde one…you could TRY harder to NOT be so blonde. This is so encouraging. I have just started your book that my friend gave me for a early birthday present, and I am loving it!

  • That was a great post! It’s awesome to see that there r many other teens who really do love the Lord and obey Him in love. God Bless u!

  • that was an amazing post! the examples were great too:) my “first shower experience” was kind”ve a collaboration of experiences. i take after my dad in this area, i HATE standing up in front of anybody and saying anything. especially those speeches you have to do in school. i used to think that everybody was thinking about every mess-up i made and that caused me to be really self-conscious all the time, not just in front of a group of people. i labeled myself as “shy”. but my pastor’s wife really helped me out and gave me a head start. and praise God, im soooo different than i was before!-another great lesson-get close to your pastor’s wife girls!

  • I hated this post! Would you like to know why? Well, it’s because it was true. This is exactly what I do. I HATE to admit this, but that’s me. I give up on things before I even try, just assuming that I wont be able to do them. Well, once again Brett, you’ve opened my eyes and made me see the faults in me. Now I have no excuses! I have to get off my bum and off facebook, and get on my homework, and start reading my Bible. Thanks for the rude awakening. It was a great encouragement. Keep posting boys! I’ll be praying for you!
    -Sarah R. R.

  • Showers are nothing to me now, but when I was 5,6 and 7 [almost 3 years ago] I did not like showers. Mom said “shower time” and I ran for it, [also because I did not like getting hair cuts] but mom found me and I took the shower. Now that I am ten years old a shower is nothing. That shows that every year as you get older you mature more. Like driving a car or [from personal experence] riding a bike. The more you do it the less afraid you become.

  • Wow, I can’t remember my first shower, but I’m pretty sure it went something like yours. I actually just took a shower and thought nothing of it until now! In consideration, I think most teens run from things we can’t conquer because we fear disappointment from our friends and family. That’s probably the main reason I gave up on so many things that I might have been good at.

  • I remember my first shower. It wasn’t to bad, but even now i don’t like taking them at all. I always grumble, yet i reluctantly do it. I am stillnot a shower person, but i take them for the sake of being clean. You actually taught me some things about facing my fears and doing things that i don’t like doing. This has encouraged me a lot! Thanks a ton!

  • This article was seriously a blessing. I find that many times in my life, I tend to settle for mediocrity. For example in my school work, I find that i am very content with a simple “pass”, when God has given me the ability to get an A. This has indeed reminded me that God wants us to be the best that we can be in every aspect of our lives. As of this moment I will make a concerted effort to strive to be the best i can be. I am REBELutionary, adhering to God standards and not that of the world…and I’m now willing to do the HARD THINGS!!!

  • This really hit me today that I do fall into doing just what has to be done and not pushing on to what I can do! Thanks so much it was very encouraging!
    P.S. I always loved showers because they were a ‘big kid’ thing to do!

  • i really liked this examle and challenge! the hardest thing for me is just taking the first step. on everything from a zipline to sharing the gospel at the fair. i just had to make myself do it. but like at the fair, i was sooooo nervous that i completely missed telling the green page and the little kids didnt seem interested so i just gave up. but then i tried again, and my next group(tough looking teens and a grandma) they all got saved! i was ooo excited, then i realized that was all we had to do. just tell them the story, paint their face and then let them go. so i tried to contact them after that to see how they were doing but i couldnt find them again. but i realized that i should do more than was expected. thanx for the funny story about the shower, i was the last one of my firends to take a shower (and i needed my twin sister in there for support = – )

  • I think thats kinda funny. It reminds me of the first time I got close to an alligator in a lake behind my house. It wasn’t even that big and I was looking out a window but I freaked out thinking it would eat me.

  • That is me through and through. I always say ” I’m not a _____ person.”
    Or, “I’m not the type of person that happens too.”
    Or, lately its been, “Yeah, but I won’t happen to me.”

  • I tend to label myself as “Just not a people person” or “I’m just not made to do math”, but I never noticed that when I said those things it was just another form of low expectations. I would usually give up on something after awhile of it not working out or coming naturally to me and I really shouldn’t I need to learn to push myself so that I don’t mold to low expectations. Thanks for this awsome post 🙂

  • Its really hard for me to come out of my comfert zone. I’m homeschooled and I love it, but that means less opertunity’s to share my faith with peers. I have a hard time just coming out and whitnessing. I took summer misions trainging with CEF (Child Evangalizim fellowship) and that has helped me to “do hard things” It still makes me nervous to teach a 5-day club, or share the gospel at the fair, but it has helped me over- come my title as a non-people person.
    As far as showers, I’m totally a bath person! 🙂

  • Wow what a awesome post! I’m going through a stage of trying to overcome being “The quiet kid” and this is really encouraging 🙂

  • This is fuumy because I just got done reading this in ur book but on ur blog u go alittle deeper. And I can totaley relate to that. This is going to sound dumb. But when u find out that ur parents have names that makes u feel alittle scared I no it scared me because I remeber running to my room and under my bed. But anywhy that was a great post keep it up

  • My first shower was at age 8 too. The tub was broken so i had no choice. I really don’t like taking them even now. I just finished reading do hard things. I got it as a gift from my church after an operation. I will always remember that book and my first shower, it was hard for me with that endless pain as i was in that bed. Coming out of my zone was hard, but now i am trying to be more of myself as a new school year comes along.

  • I read this in your book. When I started your book it was because my Dad wanted me to read it hoping my attitude would change and I would start looking at life differently. I became a christian over the summer and your book has been amazing! It is definately an eyeopener. Thank you for everything you do!

  • Riding a zip line is a great deal of excitement! Throw in the attractiveness of Maui and also riding a zip line in Maui is surely an experience you will definitely remember the rest of your life. You’ll find ziplines found in Maui and many of them are usually booked days/weeks before you get there. Arriving in Maui and marching down to any nearby activities center could possibly be discouraging – virtually all zip lines usually are reserved for the following week or so. Vacation Maui during January to March, prime time in Maui, and zip lines tend to be reserved when you arrive on island.As a result purchase any zipline rides nearly one month in advance of your family vacation in Maui. It is possible to reduced cost rates on-line by means of a variety of websites – should you book direct with the zipline company you certainly will pay the full price. There are numerous zip line rides on Maui – it is possible to zip through spectacular forests, alongside waterfalls, over valleys, through gorges, views of a volcano, the pacific ocean, combined with seaside shoreline; take your pick and there is a zip line that will place a smile onto your face. Maui Zipline You’ll want to be in good physical shape, no pregnant ladies please, not less than 10 years-old, weigh at least 80 pounds and not over 260 lbs.

  • I do have many areas in y life where I have labeled myself or someone else has told that is just not you, public speaking is one of them, going on my own and getting things that I need, making my dinner, studying alone and many others. I have stop striving to continue to do many of those things others I have had my parents around to tell me to do them, and some I have pick back up because I had too. If I had chosen to overcome those difficulties in the past I wold most likely be living n my own by now and would have a well paying job, I would have graduated from college this past summer, and I most likely would have accomplish great things in my community. but knowing what I must do now is easy cause I have known for a long time, it is HARD to do it, but I don’t want to give up. the things that have become hard for me to do I want to do them, even though they might be nearly impossible but they are not completely impossible. I got the book “DO HARD THINGS” from a friend about a year ago and I have just sat down to read it yesterday, I could not believe myself that such a great book has been sitting in my closet collecting dust for the past year. Do to some my lack of organization and responsibility and also because I had nothing else to do I began to read the book and found out many things that I knew about myself but had no definition for them. And now I know what I must do, but now I have been encouraged to begin to do those things that I know that I must do, so I just wanted to thank you both. I know God has been behind the scenes directing the many things you guys have made, yet I still felt in my heart that I would let you know how I feel, because I know GOD knows how I feel, but I also wanted you guys to know, how much the book has given me courage to do hard things for God.
    P.S sorry for my run-ons

  • I think it was easier as a kid because we were able to throw a fit and cry because it was hard, but we still got though it and accomplished it because it was expected of us. As adults we need to understand it’s ok to be frustrated, bit it doesn’t mean it’s ok to give up.

  • this is awesome! i read it in the book and couldn’t stop laughing! i remember my first shower was ALOT like that 🙂 it’s amzing how we can get scared about the smallest things and soon they become a part of your everyday life. One time as child i was playing the main role in a christmas play at my church and when i got out there my lines got all mixed up and nearly floped! but now acting is such an easy part in my life and it’s all i want to be. Don’t let your mistakes take you away from what you want to do. And don’t be afraid of your first shower! 🙂 thanks Alex and Brett! you’ve tought me and my family sooo much! -Kia

  • It’s 10:45 p.m. and i was reading the book you guys had written “Do Hard Things.” I knew that i wouldnt be able to sleep until i actually saw the website. I know this book will change me, though i’m only on the 3rd chapter, i feel that God will change me in many ways. I will try to visit this site often, and look back to your posts/words to motivate me further in everything required and to push harder. Life just seems to hard sometimes, and very difficult. Though, i really want to contribute to it. So many people need to see what God is doing before our eyes. Evangelism and Creativity.

  • This year im in high school, and i started out the year playing volleyball, but then i quit, thinking I was just not a volleyball person. As the year has gone on I kept telling myself this about other things i was trying (or not trying) to do in my life. Just recently i started reading “Do Hard Things” and then i read this post and want to read others as well. Thank you for this post. It has really helped me to reflect on some of the things in my life and think about the questions mentioned. Thank you for this blog and presenting the idea of a rebelution!! 🙂

  • Dude! I’ve been waiting for something like this all my life! i shouldn’t have been waiting though! Im a Pastors daughter and was home schooled till this year, my junior year. both of these things lead me not to care about status quo, and to be a firm believer in Chris all during my childhood years. But wen i hit 13 or so and moved for the 1000000000000 time i lost my drive to be an example of Christ. Either i was rebelling against God not understanding his will, or i just got lost in being a teenager i dont know. But i wish i could have heard this way earlier! this is wat ive been trying to tell myself and friends! juss knowing im not the only one who will do anything to find Christ is an inspiration! im praying for YOU ALL( very long prayer XD )

    we cant stand alone,

  • this is such a great post! i REALLY love my confort zones and predictability and its been hard for me branch out and do what God tells me to do when it isnt in my plan. i love the “first shower” example because even though it is hard to take that first step, the end result is sooooo worth it. thats been a big thing for me as i dont like to step out of my plans and take the first step for Him. but a friend recently pointed out to me that while it is hard to take a first step when we dont know the whole plan, it is even scarier to think of judgment day when we will have to stand there and give account for everything we did and DIDNT do. and who knows? once we start we may discover it comes as natural as breathing but you wont know until you try!!! so take a deep breath, and step out (me too 😀 )

    with love,


  • Wow, this post made so much sense! I now realize the use of labels in our lives.I do that a lot, especially with public speaking.I hated doing that, until a year or two ago. I’ve been on 2 mission trips since then, and have gotten used to sharing my experiences with others. While I don’t completely enjoy now, it’s certainly not as hard as it was. Thanks for the great (and amazingly accurate) article!

  • I just found this blog yesterday and love it! This post really stood out to me because I am terrible at sports and I have gym every Friday with some of my good friends. Its really embarrassing because everyone there is really good. And really into it. So long story short, its not my favorite thing to do. This post explains exactly how I feel (about gym, duh.)! Thanks for the awesome blog.


  • hi guys I’ve been thinking with all thats happening in Japan I think we should do something not just ssit on our couches watching the news I just don’t know what to do maybe send care packages or something

  • Thanks, Brett.
    That was very inspiring. Now I’ll think before I say that I’m not a … person.


  • cam, I agree with you. I believe the Samaritin’s purse (I don’t know if I spelled that right) just went into Japan, and I would only give to a Christian organization.

  • This is great! 🙂 I think everyone (including myself) needs to build up their tolerance to hard work.

  • i think these are great articles. i know some are taken right out of the book too! (Awsome book too!) they challenge are thinking in both tolerance and stepping out side our comfort zones. these articles are what turned my lazy butt into a workinjg macine for God!!!

  • I found your website mainly by accident while reading an article on a pro-life website, and clicked on this article (after a few others) because it rang true for me. I had a near identical shower experience, at approximately the same age. Worse, my brother who enjoyed taking showers is almost a year and a half younger than I am.
    This point aside, I am so thankful that I found this. After taking a little time to read some of what you have to say, I’ve been forced to reexamine my life and choices since I started high school, especially. I’m the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, and have gone to Christian schools for my entire life, and I always hear my parents and teachers discussing the effects of modern culture on my generation. I have always agreed with them on the surface, too, but now I feel that maybe I have been talking the talk but managing to avoid walking the walk. Finding your articles has helped me to open my eyes to my own shortcomings in a way that I think can only be the work of God. I think I’ll be coming back to this website often, if only to remind myself not to settle for what a sinful world expects of me. Thank you!

  • Oh my gosh so lest see i’ve really been struggling in my relationship latley but today i looked at yalls book do hard things and i thought to myself why not? so i picked it up and i turned it to the chapter Generation Rising and i just felt that pasion. i decided to come and check out yalls website and you have no idea how much this has helped me. I have been lableing myself for so long now. One of the labels i put on myself is im just not a school or acedemic person! and im really going to start working on that. You guys r so right i should not label myself. and actually after i started labeling my self that i actually started to do worse in school! but now i hope to get up to all a’s again! thanks so much!

  • Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely great. I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it wise. I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is actually a terrific web site.

  • Great post,I absolutely loved it! I told my youth leader about your revolution against low expectations this morning. She said that y’all had such a good message and that she also believes that our modern world expects too little from it’s teens. I plan to follow y’all in the beat way I can. People like you guys are very important to our generation!!! Keep up the amazing work!!!

  • What i don’t understood is in fact how you’re no longer actually a lot more well-appreciated than you might be now. You’re very intelligent. You understand thus considerably in relation to this matter, produced me in my opinion believe it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t interested unless it?s one thing to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your individual stuffs great. All the time deal with it up!

  • Generally I don’t learn post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

  • Whether it is for grandma’s case, Disney recommendations with the kids, or possibly shed secrets that will just about any truck among them Transponder car keys, we have now most people dealt with. We’ve been even a full support locksmith who has got all the equipement and also supply to build any crucial. Together with specialty machines.

  • A lot of times i say ”im just not a math person.” But after reading this post I think ill work on my math this summer. 🙂

  • Hello there, You have done an excellent job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this website.

  • That was a super inspiring post. Ha iv actually labeled myself as someone who stinks at math and a very shy person, and I never really realized the effect that could have on me until reading this. I just started reading your book and after only 3 chapters, you guys have inspired me so much. I’m so excited to renew my journey with God and to really start doing hard things! Thank you so much for opening my eyes 🙂

  • Wow, i just started reading your book, Do Hard Things, and I decided to check out your blog. This whole thing is making me re-think my life, and what I can do. This article, this website, is what I think can lead me back on the path toward christ, because I’ve been drifting for a while. You guys are inspirational.

  • Wow, this past year I learned the lesson of “Am I unable to do certain things, or am I simply unwilling to invest the time and effort necessary to succeed?” displayed here. The way you put it was perfect.

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 →