rebelling against low expectations

TOS Magazine: An Interview with Alex & Brett


The summer issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine features an interview with Brett and me. See the cover and excerpt below.

TOS: I agree. And really, being “above average” doesn’t mean much when the average is so low!

Alex: No, it doesn’t. It reminds me of a study that was done about expectations in public schools, and it concluded by saying that the current ceiling for young people is really much closer to where the floor ought to be! In other words, the highest we’re allowing ourselves to go — in competence and godly character – is really much closer to the lowest we should be allowing ourselves to go. Unfortunately, many home school students tend to compare themselves to that low standard. They say, “Look at me! I’m articulate, I’m respectful, I’m mature for my age!” And if they don’t, other people will say it for them! The problem is that we live in a society where even mediocrity is considered exceptional. We don’t even have to exert ourselves, and we’re still showered with praise. Again, we’ve lost sight of the biblical standard.

TOS: So how do you see young people returning to that biblical standard? How do teens bust the myth of adolescence once and for all?

Brett: The battle cry of the Rebelution is just three words, but it’s an explosive concept: Do Hard Things. That’s it. And “do hard things” is a mentality. It’s a mentality that flies right in the face of our culture’s low expectations. The world says, “You’re young, have fun!” It tells us to “obey your thirst” and “just do it.” Or it tells us, “You’re great! You don’t need to exert yourself.” But those kinds of mindsets sabotage biblical character and competence. “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.

TOS: First, wow! That sounds great! Makes me want to be a rebelutionary, too. Second, could you explain how the “do hard things” mentality fits into the bigger picture of the Rebelution?

Alex: The Rebelution is made up of three fundamental parts. We’ve talked about two of them: character and competence. The third one is collaboration. It’s not enough for us to be individual exceptions. It’s not enough for us to try to ignore the culture. We have to create a counter-culture. The way we do that is by networking, exhorting, and encouraging one another in the fight. By God’s grace, that’s what the Rebelution has become. And when you have a community of young people mutually committed to doing hard things in their teen years for the glory of God, that’s an incredibly powerful thing.

Be sure to check out the summer issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for the entire interview and a sidebar on the Rebelution by Tim “Agent Tim” Sweetman.

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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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  • John: It’s great to hear from you! We had the pleasure of meeting some good friends of yours (which I’m sure they told you) a few weeks back and hear some great stories about you. Made us miss you. I must say, you have to get an RSS feed for your blog.

    Kristin: Thanks, Kristin. Actually, what really excited us about the interview was that we felt we were able to communicate the message more clearly than we have on the blog. It’s matured a lot since we started last year. That’s an exciting thing.

  • Awesome article guys! Even though the answers were familar (from reading your blog), it was still great to read them and be reminded once again of your mission.

  • Hey guys! Miracle of miracles, every once in a while my connection lets me through so I can comment!

    Just wanted to say, got the magazine, read the article. GREAT interview. Inspired me to get in motion again and gear up, because We have a rebelution on our hands.

    In Christ, John.

  • Our family is looking forward to receiving this copy of TOS in the mail. May God bless you as you continue in challenging people to impact their culture for Christ.

    Mrs. Felmey

  • It was great to come home from DC and see TOS with your interview in it. Having spent a week with the future non-Christian leaders of our country (who are far from mediocre and whose values are severely twisted), I needed the encouragement and hope that the Rebelution’s vision offers. Thanks!

  • Great article! I love the battle cry “Do Hard Things”! It serves as an inspiration and as a constant reminder that I need to strive beyond my abilities and go beyond everyone else’s expectations. 🙂

  • You recognize thus significantly in terms of this topic, made me personally believe it from a lot of various angles. Its like women and men are not involved except it is something to do with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. At all times care for it up!

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 →