rebelling against low expectations

John Piper: A Challenge to Young People


In a sermon delivered last Sunday, entitled Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named, John Piper briefly turns his attention to the children in the audience. In a culture of extended adolescence and spiritual immaturity, his words bear particular relevance to us all.

At 7 minutes, 45 seconds, this video is already longer than the attention span of your average, TV-addicted American teenager. But we want you all to watch it. In fact, we would like you to share it with your family (for example, our six-year-old brother James watched the whole thing). Whether you’re young or old, you will be blessed and challenged by its message.

Note: For those who cannot view the video or would like to see the message in its entirety—and we encourage you to do so—the full video, text and audio are available by clicking here.

© 2006 Desiring God. Used with permission.

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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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  • David: Besides our father, John Piper has probably had the biggest influence on Brett\’s and my understanding of the Christian faith. He is one of our modern-day heroes. I encourage you to explore his ministry\’s website ( I trust you\’ll find even more (much more) to appreciate.

  • Wow, you two really bless my heart. I’m now a grandmother at age 50, and pray that my children and grandchildren will find their “Holy Ambition.” God bless you. Keep speaking the truth in love to this generation. We all need to hear it. I would like to bookmark your site and add it to my list of favorites.

  • Desiring God . . . Again

    Desiring God, which is the website for John Piper’s ministry and resources, just re-launched their new website yesterday. Basically they re-organized all his resources (sermon notes, articles, etc.) as well as added more content. A recent article on …

  • A Holy Ambition (7 min. excerpt)

    Check out this excerpt from one of my new favorite sermons. Though this part of the sermon is directed towards children in the congregation, it is important, I believe, for all teens and 20’s to hear. After Amy and I heard this, we found the words to…

  • John Piper: Challenging Young People To Have A Ho

    Over at the Rebulution Blog they have a post regarding a recent sermon John Piper preached entitled “Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named.” They have a 7 minute video clip of Piper’s sermon where he turns his attention to the you…

  • Brett and Alex,
    I am a parent of teens. This part of the message may have been geared toward children, however I have encountered both men and women who in their 40’s have yet to give up their toys and get a holy ambition. This message is for ALL ages.
    Mrs. Mullaney

  • Taking care of babies? Thats all a christian life has in store for me? Taking care of biological or non children?
    I did enjoy how ambiguous he was about the MANS future. All matephors and rhetoric.

  • As a Mom I appreciate what John Piper has to say about little girls. Yes one day we will be nurturers of someone, somewhere. It may not be to our own children. I was once a feminist thinking- that’s all. I desired motherhood but motherhood plus_______. Make no mistake you will grow up to nurture something. It is in our very nature. You can nurture good things: good marriage, good relationships with children, godly friendships, others younger than you. Or you can nurture bad things: bad habits, bad men, or yourself in ways that are vain and fruitless. Everyone serves something and all women nurture something.

    So I hear John Piper making a call to women to nurture good things. Your own children, children elsewhere, a God pleasing ministry. Nuture good things, things pleasing to God.

  • To Pete and Anna: yes, that’s what you were thinking because you’ve never had your mind renewed in the regeneration of God’s Holy Spirit. For “the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit.”

  • If you like John Piper (and Joshua Harris, and Mark Driscoll, and Ravi Zacharias, and Paul Washer, etc.) and want to hear more of their sermons set to *music*, aka sermon jams, check out:

    (Holy Ambition is there too). It’s a cool evangelism resource too! Free downloads!

  • To
    Dear John Piper Dt. 6 April, 2008

    Greetings to you from Rev.George and family ( Manila, Philippines) in the name of our Lord and Jesus Christ. Thank you for you sermon.

    Oh.. John Piper, you really bless my heart. I’m now studying at ISOT-Asia, manila, and I am the father of two kids, so please pray for me my children will find their “Holy Ambition.”

    God bless you richly. Keep speaking the truth in love to this generation. We all need to hear it. Thank you very much indeed.

    If possible please send me your sermon DVD and writing books . I want to see and read them all. Please send me throuhg the following Mailing Address as soon as possible. I will wating for your reply very soon.

    Thank you for your effective sermon on Internet.

    May God bless you and your ministry richly,

    Mailing address :
    Rev. George Lal Nun Tluanga
    International School of Theology-Asia
    ( ISOT-Asia )
    12 Daisy Road, Sauyo
    Quezon City
    QCCPO Box 1495-1154
    Email : [email protected]
    Cell Ph: +639165139026

  • To
    Dear John Piper Dt. 6 April, 2008

    Greetings to you from Rev.George and family ( Manila, Philippines) in the name of our Lord and Jesus Christ. Thank you for you sermon.

    And really I am from Myanmar ( Burma ). Now I am studying at ISOT-Asia in Manila, Philippines. Please pray for me and my family.

    Oh.. John Piper, you really bless my heart. I’m now studying at ISOT-Asia, manila, and I am the father of two kids, so please pray for me my children will find their “Holy Ambition.”

    God bless you richly. Keep speaking the truth in love to this generation. We all need to hear it.

    Thank you very much indeed.

    Yours in Christ,

    Rev. George Lal Nun Tluanga
    International School of Theology-Asia
    ( ISOT-Asia )
    Email : [email protected]

  • I just found out about The Rebelution and I am so encouraged. I am a homeschool mother of three children. My oldest daughter is twelve and my son is eleven and my youngest daughter is six. I plan to purchase the book, “Do Hard Things” and give to my daughter. Also, I’ve read several books by John Piper, including “Don’t Waster Your Life.” That was a life changer. God bless your ministry. I have a refreshed hope for my children and the next generation.

  • I have been following the Rebelution for awhile in various publications etc. Being a homeschool mom for ten years now I am very familiar with the Harris name. However, I got a chance to sit down and read Do Hard Things yesterday before giving it to my girls (15, 14). Guys – you are really making a difference! I work with kids (I have two boys also – 10 and 6) and youth at our church, AWANA, choir etc. and my thought is always, “if this is how the church kids act…? WHO is going to be in charge?” There is no push to help them into adulthood – even in the church. “They are just kids”…but they can do so much. I praise you for pushing them to be all that God is calling them to. I have given the book to my girls to read and then ordered two more. I told them after they read it to ask God to lay on their hearts the names of two friends. We’ll go from there. What you are doing is awesome!

  • This was very, very good. I was begining to get distracted when he said, “Heads up girls!”. He got my attention :).
    Am I just a dunce? Who is John Piper? Is he Alex and Brett’s pastor? I love the way he preaches.


    I know your post is from over a year ago and you may never read this, but I just want to clear somthing up for you. When he was talking of girls taking care of babies he did not mean that this was all we as girls can do with our life. We can be whatever we want just as long as we give glory to our Lord and savior as we do it. I hope you understand.

    God bless!

    Sarah 🙂

  • Great message! John Piper is such a fantastic preacher. Oh, and Sarah Pena, John Piper is a pastor and author, I highly recommend all of his books. You can check all that out at

  • Never mind Grace! I typed in “John Piper” on the internet, which I should have done in the begining (duh! Maybe I am a dunce as I said before! 🙂 ), and I found out everything I needed. Thanks again!

    God bless!

    Sarah. 🙂

  • Anna presents a valid point. And John Piper is not God, Mr. “Esposito.” If a person disagrees with what Piper says it does not mean that the person is not a christian or lacking the Holy Spirit. Don’t be so quick to throw out judgments like that.
    You have to admit that taking care of babies and fighting injustice in the world aren’t exactly equal undertakings. I think he should phrase it better, why does he have to separate God’s callings according to gender in this sermon? It leaves girls like me, who tackled her fair share of siblings in the front yard and built more towns in the dirt than decorated dollhouses when she was a kid, feeling like we aren’t feminine enough to be properly used by God .
    I know Piper doesn’t intend this, but the feelings are there nonetheless.

  • I loved the example of the dolls but how God could use playing with dolls by being called into an outreach ministry.
    Great in sight!

  • I would just like to know how one knows that they have a holy ambition. And how does one know that it is a holy ambition, and not just a selfish wanting to do something big. I have been reading Do Hard Things and the Rebelution blog, and am having a hard time figuring out something hard to do, or if I even need to figure something out, and wait for God (run-on sentence there:-).

  • Kat,

    I think that John Piper is just trying to say that girls have a different job to do than boys do. That’s what it seemed like to me, anyway. Hope this helps a little bit!

  • John Piper does a sermon on 1 Timothy 4:12 and he reads the first paragraph of Do Hard Things. That’s how I heard about the book and found myself here at the website. I encourage everyone to take a listen to this sermon. It’s almost an hour long but it’s enthralling. Although John Piper is very difficult to understand sometimes (my youth minister can’t understand a lot of what he says) this sermon is geared towards young people wishing for a chance to do hard things. You can listen and download the sermon for free at Just click on resource library, sermons, by scripture and look up 1 Timothy 4:12. It’s called Let No One Despise You for Your Youth: A Vision for the Next Generation.

  • Sweet Stuff! May our joy be so great in Christ that all other joys pale in comparison.

    “This my solitary vision, ’til I only dwell in Thee, that I only dwell in Thee.” – Brooke Fraser

  • John Piper is a example of a man who is after God’s heart for his life. He is someone i deeply admire, and it is good to listen and not just read his sermons. Fellow sisters, do not forget that God established the man as the head of the home. We have a very important job of caring for God’s children …ALL CHIlDREN. The ones starving in the streets in India , or by the roadside in Africa, or the ones in the United States. Fight against child abuse or spend time helping in shelters the list is endless. Kat, just because you were not into dolls doesn’t make you less feminine,(I live on a farm myself and was not into dolls as wellas being third oldest of eight kids,). God can still use you and He still has a beautiful plan for you dear i am praying that you feel Him using you to reflect Him.

  • That’s what I’m talking about. This man has introduced me to more of my heroes than practically anyone. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, William Carey – all men of a holy ambition. I love John Piper!

  • I enjoy watching heroes, it started from boring into a very good tv show now. The first few episodes, Thought, its another xmen clone. But now its thrilling, I hope the new season will be released sooner.

  • I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. appreciate it

  • Lately I’ve been wondering what I should do with my life right now because I just graduated from college.,I’ve been asking God for so many days to lead me to His path, the life that that He wanted me to do…so I wonder now I do not want to get a job that will only please myself or men I want to please God and until now I’ve been praying that God will let me serve Him all the more. Please pray for me. I want to know His calling.thanks =)

  • besides the fact that this is very convicting and i love john piper. 5:30 is so Funny …”we were men… stupid men…” he has a good sense of humor but his message still needs to be heeded.

  • Wow! This was very good. My first time ever listening to John Pipper.
    I found this very eye opening in a rather comedic way;)

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  • I am baffled by the data in this article I found it to be not only very interesting but it also made me reflect. It is tough now a days to get related information to ones search, so I am happy that I found this blog

  • I just showed my 10 and 12 year old boys this message, they loved it and said he is a good preacher! Thank you!

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  • Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! I recall where I was as a child, and I rejoice for where I am as a grown up! Thanks be to God for the “Holy Ambition.”

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 →