rebelling against low expectations

Finding Truth On A Coffee Cup


Brett. Me. And Coffee.
Brett and I don’t drink coffee. This is not because we dislike it or because we don’t think other people should drink it. Not at all. Other people have more self-control. As for us, we’re wary of the money we’d spend if we made coffee a daily (or even weekly) habit.

TRIVIA: Alex and Brett went through three months of campaign work in Alabama without drinking any caffeine.

But despite our lack of coffee-drinking, Brett and I still like to frequent cafés for important meetings, brainstorming sessions, and coffeehouse evangelism. And every so often, when we feel the need for a change up in our ordinary work routine, we’ll pack up our satchels (complete with Bible, laptop, current book and yellow highlighter, pen and notebook) and drive to a nearby Starbucks, find a table, order an Odwalla, and settle in for an hour or two of reading, writing and conversation.

With Coffee Comes Truth (Sometimes)
Our readers who frequent Starbucks for the coffee should be familiar with its “The Way I See It” coffee cup series. Each cup comes complete with an often philosophically-flawed quotation from a particular writer, actor, musician, businessman or other “notable person.”

Once and a while, however, you will find relevant truth on a coffee cup. This quote by Brian Scudamore is one such example:

The Way I See It #70

“It’s difficult for people to get rid of junk.
They get attached to things and let them define who they are.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this business,
it’s that you are what you can’t let go of.”

– Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Of course, Mr. Scudamore is talking about physical junk, “stuff” that people accumulate in their closets, attics, and garages that they just can’t get themselves to throw away. But his observation applies to more than broken karoake machines and Star Trek memorabilia. It also applies to the many little “things” we allow to take up space in our own lives that demand our time and attention, our energy, our money, or all three. They may seem small and inconsequential at first, but if we’re not careful, they begin to build up and crowd out more important things. They begin to define us.

What Can’t You Let Go Of?
What things are you allowing to define the way you live your life? Is it seeing all the hottest movies? Owning all the latest clothes and accessories? Watching television? Playing video games? A look at our generation shows that for many young people, it’s things just like that. For others it could be things like doing your hair, aimlessly surfing the web, listening to music, or daydreaming about a certain someone.

Maybe those examples don’t fit you. That’s a good thing. But let’s ask the question another way: How easily do you let go of things that should define you? You know, asking that question of myself brings deep conviction. How many times have I let an opportunity to share the gospel slip away? How often do I skip prayer and devotions and then spend my time on trivial things?

I Am A Christian
I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1 where it says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Notice that not everything that hinders us is sinful. As rebelutionaries we have to be willing to throw off even the non-sinful “stuff” that slows us down. We don’t do it in order to be saved, we do it because we are saved. That’s what obedience means for Christians.

That is how we’re truly defined.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Abby: You bring up a valid point about the homosexual quote that Starbucks included in their “The Way I See It” cup series. Here are some of my thoughts on the issue:

    First, understand that I present these “thoughts” with humility. I welcome input and correction from my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Second, I’d like to look at several passages of Scripture I’ve read lately that I think apply to this discussion:

    In John 17:14-15, Jesus talks about how we as Christians are to relate to the world.

    “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

    And the Apostle Paul echoes Christ’s words in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10, saying:

    “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people� not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.”

    With those passages in mind, I think that, as Christians, we need to exercise wisdom in our choice of when to boycott companies or products. The truth is that we live in a fallen world made up of sinful human beings. If we’re not careful we could start trying to take ourselves out of the world, which is the opposite of our calling.

    This is not to say that boycotts are never justified. However, in the case of Starbucks, I don’t think I would say that it is. I know several pastors who make Starbucks a type of office. They know the employees and the people who frequent the store. They share the gospel and use it as a place for the church to intersect and impact the culture. I think that’s awesome.

    Finally, in case you didn’t see it, here’s another quotation that Starbucks included on their cups a while back… It’s by Rick Warren, but regardless of what you think of him and his ministry, the quote is piercing truth:

    The Way I See It #92

    “You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your real purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance and our destiny.”

    Rick Warren
    Author of The Purpose Driven Life

  • Dear Alex and Brett,
    Now that you mention it, what do you think of the Starbuck’s logo even as seen on your website?
    It looks rather “goddesslike” and even suggestive to me.
    Appreciate your thoughts.
    Anna’s Mom

  • Claire and Veronika: You’re more than welcome. We appreciate the work you both are doing to advance the kingdom of God. More importantly, we appreciate your dedication to increase in Christ-like character and competence.

    Brit: That’s not “psycho” at all. Actually, I’m glad you shared that practical example. Sometimes we can forget that being a Christian effects everything, big and small. Often it’s the seemingly smaller things, like chewing gum, that can become addicting and/or distracting.

  • Wow what a great lesson. I came across your site via (being a fan of natural health, I’ve been following his story), and as a fellow christian I very much appreciate your insightful and uplifting message. As a good friend of mine says, we must always make an IMPACT (I Must Personally Advance Christ Today)… and getting rid of distractions sure helps. Keep teaching the Word (in season and out of season)! 🙂

  • It’s so true…this may sound unusual, but I quit chewing gum to grow closer to God. I know, I sound psycho. But the truth is, I was addicted. And I don’t want to be addicted to anything but God. And I sincerely felt like quitting chewing gum benefited my relationship with God. It’s all an individual thing- it’s all between you and God.

  • Wow…. That’s all I can say. 😉

    Very convicting,guys. Well done.

    P.S. Oh yeah, and thanks for adding me to your blogroll too!! I am thrilled that you guys think my writing “good enough”, if you know what I mean. (The glory goes to God, of course. 😉 )

  • Dear Alex and Brett,

    Thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll! I am honored. I noticed (on mybloglog) that I already received a visitor today through you!
    May God continue to richly bless your work.

    Yours in Him,
    Claire (Lily Maiden)

  • Sorry to be so formal Alex, but my parents have taught me to address young men properly until they (my parents) have give permission to be addressed young men otherwise. My mom said it was fine to address you and your brother by your first name.

  • Wow, this was really good! I’m really into writing (as you know) and last week I felt like God was telling me to give that up for a month to spend time with Him. Like I was letting my writing define me, not who I am in Christ. This was a real encouragement, thanks for posting it!
    God bless,
    Amber C.

  • Mrs. Felmey: Exactly. Of course, I am all for Christians reducing their dependency on the world, I just want to make sure we aren’t crippling our witness by removing ourselves from the major cultural meeting places of our day.

  • Excellent point, Alex.

    If Christian consumers looked at all the business practices/beliefs of all the corporations and places we did business with and compared them to Starbucks in particular, we would probably find they hold similar beliefs. We would all be raising all of our own food (not a bad idea anyway), growing our own trees for paper products, and building our own computers, etc., etc.

    Regarding the main point of your post: our family has been de-cluttering our lives, as well as our minds, of junk. The gospel should be seen clearly and uncluttered in our lives, as well as our words. Thanks, guys, for your ongoing inspiration to challenge our thinking.

  • Wow, I didn’t know any of this about Starbucks. I suppose I should do a little research on the subject. But I don’t know if I agree with a boycott. You see my dad always says…Money talks! Hey, if we Christians pour money into a place like Starbucks, maybe they will do what we want instead of catering to the pagans. Just a thought.

  • Ummm! I thought the Starbucks logo was the Queen of Coffee, I never thought it as a goddess of Coffee. I suppose we can make anything out of anything. Did that make sense?

  • I have never before thoughtfully considered Starbucks’ logo or support of homosexuality before. I’m glad that Abby and Mrs. Lofgren commented because it has caused me to consider what I’d be supporting, even indirectly, by getting my next frappe at Starbucks. It’s something I’ll have to pray about. Thank you, Abby and Mrs. Lofgren!
    However, I think the Starbucks issue can detract from the original intent of the post, which was a good one: That we should leave behind anything that hinders us from pursuing Christ. (Ouch.) I’ve read that verse before, but I didn’t allow it to sink in. Thanks for the convicting reminder, Alex.

  • Hey,

    Great post. I must say though, the only probelm I have is that, do you mind supporting a place like Starbucks who supports everything we are against, as Christians? I was there, I guess around Christmastime with my brother, and I got a cup that had a very blatant homosexual statement on it that really offended me, so I stopped going there. Even though they aren’t writing it on the cup anymore they still support bad things. I would be interested in your opinion.

    in Him,

  • Hey Alex!
    Wonderful post! While I was in Oregon, the pastor of the church that I attend there had a excellent sermon on what you were talking about. In his opening statements he used the comercial of “Whats in your wallet” (Capital One)
    He said we should really be asking “Whats in our heart.” He went on to ask us what do we spend most of our time with, kinda like what you are asking. He used the example of Proverbs 7 and how the man was so easily swayed by the harlet…comparing it to what makes us easily vere off the road that God has marked out for us. It was a wonderful sermon…a very convicting one at that! Hope you are doing well!
    God bless!

  • Mrs. Lofgren: I’ve never thought of the Starbucks logo as inappropriate, but that might just be because I’m so used to it. Does anyone else have any thoughts?

    Lorianne: Thanks for pointing out the incorrect date. I had this “post idea” saved as a draft under a future date and forgot to change it back. You’re right, the summer is going quickly all by itself.

  • Very thought provoking and convicting at the same time! Thanks for the excellent post!

    By the way, how do you guys manage to post from the future? In case you didn�t realize it says you posted this on August 12, 2006. 🙂 Lets not make the summer go by faster then it is, okay?

  • Great encouragement that we all need help remembering once in awhile.

    “We don’t do it in order to be saved, we do it because we are saved. That’s what obedience means for Christians.”

    Exactly right; we do it because we are saved!

    Thanks for this great post.

  • Well said. I have been thinking along these very lines of late. A man of God once told me that anything that does not help, hinders. That means that anything that does not build you up, all the fluff you take in, is not just useless, it’s taking up valuable time and brain space that should be used for the Kingdom. I don’t claim to have achieved such a high standard, but it’s something to think about.

  • Throw off everything that hinders.

    “Did you have a GOOD time?”
    “Yes, it was FUN.”

    Somehow, goodness and fun are equated by everyone, from youth pastors to party animals. Many people live to have fun, which is essentially selfish since nothing is fun to me if it doesn’t please me.

    To me, fun is like a cup of water on a sultry Saturday. But things like genuine love and God’s word, are like a bottle of ice cold Gatorade Rain on a ninety degree work day.

    Life is too short to spend chasing fun. Love God. Love people. It is more satisfying, more eternal, and does involve appropriate amounts of fun.

  • wow. i truly admire how you’ve seen that truth in just a cup of coffee. for a time, i was so into coffeeshops and coffee until the Lord began to check my motives. thanks for the thoughts! keep ’em coming!

  • Ha. I read this while aimlessly surfing the web.
    I’m going to spend some time with God now.
    Thanks for the reminder… I’ll check back with y’all later!
    God Bless your tour!!!!
    rock on

  • As a person who formerly operated in witchcraft I thought it strange that Christians ever gave their $ to Starbucks. The star represents much to a witch and the very name
    Star Bucks means “wicca money”. On much of their packaging they have a siren who was a very sexual witch/being who used to sing a song to entice sailors while casting a spell on them. Much of their packaging shows the siren with a cup of coffee and steam flowing out of it but it very much represents a witch with a cauldron casting a spell. It is so obvious to anyone who is part of the “new age” or wiccan movement. As of 7 years ago I am saved and doing my best to become all that God created me to be. I am still stagered by the ignorance of the “church” as well as by their lack of power. I found more power in witches then I have found in Christians. It’s a shame! As someone who operated in witchcraft I knew then that Christians had enormous power available to them yet THEY never seemed to know it. Any witch will tell you that you should never ever try to cast a spell on a Christian who is walking right with God. It will come back on them 1,000 fold. However…….. if that “Christian” is only following Christ with words, they are actually an easier target then an unbeliever. Scary huh?

  • Alex, great post. It really convicted me of the fact that i’m holding onto some junk that is realy hindering me. In response to Linda’s comment: I would totally agree. Even though I have never dabbled in witchcraft, I am quite familiar with the new age movement. I cannot understand why so many christians are so ignorant of it, because some of the different types of meditation associated with the new age movement are now being promated by christians as ancient prayer practices. This sort of thing is clearly contrary to the scriptures, and it is really disturbing to me.

  • Alex and Brett,
    I loved that. It kind of reminds me of my bedroom. All the useless junk i’ve got lying around. Whenever I want to move my room or clean, it just makes it slower and takes up space that could be used for better, more important things…Thanks guys.

  • Hey guys! This is a pleasant coincidence… its the first time Im reading your blog posts and I made a similar entry about starbucks in my blog yesterday.. God actually lead me to live a fasted lifestyle and just recently, He compelled me to abstain from Starbucks too, on the same reason, its a waste of money.

    I bought my sister your book but i never got to really read it. But i love your heart! Keep pursuing the Lord… May He brand more and more young people for His purposes, like how He did with you.

    P.S. I love that “35 reasons not to sin”. i pasted it on my page.. 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing this, your post made me realize that there are many things in my life that I have a hard time letting go of or cutting back on. Ironically, one of those things if coffee. We have an espresso machine in our kitchen and I usually drink coffee daily -especially during the school year- and that coffee and other things that I either spend too much time doing or probably should stop doing completely at least for a while have been taking too much of my time and I spend more time dwelling on it than I should, especially because as a Christian I have been called to be a witness and if I am doing some of the same things as the world is, how will they know? Thank you for pointing this fact out and for helping me to realize that in myself.

  • Wow. When ever I read one of these articles on this blog, I always think wow. You guys really make me think. Thank you!

  • Wow. I never thought about it like that before. Thanks for posting it! The only thing is, i really haven’t been doing so well in my spiritual life, and maybe i need to clean up all the clutter. I mean, i’m ALWAYS listening to music (christian music. My parents won’t let me listen to anything else… For a good reason!), and i know i’d never be able to give it up. If anyone remembers, i wouldn’t mind being included in prayer. I pray for this ministry, and for the founders every time i log on.

    May God bless you!


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 →