rebelling against low expectations

When You Fail At Hard Things


What’s harder than doing hard things? Doing hard things and failing. In response to my article, My First Shower Nearly Killed Me, a reader named Gracie commented, “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.”

Maybe you can relate. Like Gracie you’re not really inept, but it can be really hard for you to get good at something. Maybe you have tried to Do Hard Things, and it hasn’t worked. You have failed too many times. So you have given up. You have lost your enthusiasm for pursuing excellence. This post is for you.

Competence Has An Enemy Called Discouragement

This last Saturday I was standing in line to take my SAT World History Subject Test, when a guy behind me started saying, “Yeah, World History is so easy. I didn’t even study for it and I scored 780.”

I wanted to strangle him. In the past two weeks I had watched 15 hours of world history video lectures, read through three different textbooks, and taken multiple practice tests. While he’s ranting about how easy it is I’m still studying my notes and dreaming about breaking 700!

For many of us the biggest enemy to our competence is discouragment—the idea that we were born into the wrong family, in the wrong school district, with the wrong Intelligence Quotient. We understand that not everyone can be Albert Einstein, but we would have settled for average!

To make matters worse, we look around and see people who, because of their natural abilities, can do well at things without even trying. These are the kinds of people who seem to ace tests without studying and then sit down at the piano and sight read Khatchaturian — and we’ll never be like that.

A Lesson From Our Sixteenth President

I remember reading biographies of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, and thinking that he must have had more failures than successes. He had repeated business set-backs and numerous political defeats. By 1856 Lincoln had lost eight elections. At this point most of us would decide to give up and go home. Lincoln decided to run for President — and he won in 1860.

So here’s the encouragement: most often success is not a matter of giftedness or natural ability. Most often it doesn’t come easily — just ask Abraham Lincoln. But the mindset that says, “Do Hard Things” should encourage us that if we keep exerting ourselves, we will build muscle. And we’ll be able to look back at our lives someday and say, “I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m glad I kept on trying.” Do you think Lincoln was glad he didn’t give up after eight defeats?

Prepared For The Hardest Things

We might think that Lincoln deserved an easy presidency after all that hardship — the reality is that his life of struggles uniquely prepared him for one of the most difficult presidencies in American history: the Civil War presidency. God could have put a fair-weather politician in office during the Civil War, but instead He chose a proven overcomer — and it’s not hard to see why.

In our lives, it might be hard to see why we can’t ace a World History test without dozens of hours of study. Or why we have to work twice as hard to get half the results that other people get.

But you know what? We will have an advantage over all the people who because of their natural abilities can do a lot of things without even trying. Why? Because we will have learned to keep exerting ourselves, keep growing, keep trying — even when it’s really hard.

And the gifted people? They will often get stuck at the level of their gifting. They do what comes easily, but for us everything is a workout — so we will be stronger.

Do Hard Things: Building Faith and Fortitude

So am I saying that we’re all destined to be President? No, that’s not it. Am I letting us all off the hook by saying that it’s OK to be bad at everything? No, that’s not it either. What I am saying is that God’s promise is true when He says that everything works together for good for those who love Him and are called by Him — even repeated failure.

Failure is never wasted if we learn to do the following: (1) turn to God and become more reliant on Him, (2) learn from our mistakes, and (3) get back up and try again. We should pity those who never fail. Their faith and their fortitude must be very weak.

I didn’t share Gracie’s full comment with you at the beginning. She went on to say that what she hadn’t done before was to give things up to God. “Funny how we forget that sometimes,” she wrote, “I guess I’ll just wait until my next math test, study harder, and first and formost, give it to God.”

Gracie’s failure was invaluable because through it she learned to depend on God. Doing hard things has made her faith stronger and birthed in her the mindset of an overcomer, and that’s more important than all the success in the world.

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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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  • Wow. *winces* I’ve been struggling with this for a few weeks now – attempting and failing every time. I was almost to the point of just giving up, till I read this.

    Keep it up and God Bless!

  • This post could not have come at a better time for me. My honors chem class is killing me. The teacher doesn’t help us prepare for the tests AT ALL, so basically the only way to get a good grade would be to memorize the chapter. Even when I study, I’ve been getting test grades like 72, and even a 63! This is absolutely driving me insane-I’m normally an A student! Even when I try, I do horribly on the tests. The teacher also gives us a list of problems to do for each chapter. They normally take me almost an entire day to finish. Thankyou so much for this reminder that the end result is not the only important thing. It is so reassuring to know that all of my hard work didn’t go to waste!

  • I’ve been struggling with this very thing the last few days. I will admit, my worst fear is failure, especially failing God. Sometimes I don’t want to try something new or make that vow I know I should because I say to myself, “It’s better not to vow at all than to vow and break your promise.”

    A friend of mine helped me through much of this fear. She told me that because we are human, and thus finite, failure by ourselves is inevitable. But because God is infinite, failure with Him is impossible. All God wants is for us to give up, to surrender all, including our failures. He will make them successes. And in the meantime, as Alex (or is it Brett?) told us, we will be stronger for our struggle.

  • I’ve really struggled with the fear of failure. I’ve been feeling so discouraged-thinking that I’m not only a failure at being “Rebelutionary,” but at following God. I’m in the middle of working on an essay, and… I’m going to keep up the hard work.

    Thanks for this timely post.

    God bless you, Brett.

  • Excellent post. I have also struggled with the fear of failure, of being frightened that I wouldn’t make it to the end. It wasn’t until I realized that what matters is the road that I was really able to pick up and make some major steps forward. God wants us to keep the end in mind, I believe, but to do so without worrying about it.

    When I decided to forge forward and do what I needed to do, and not worry about failing no matter how hard it was, then I was able to actually get some major things accomplished.

    What you said is so very true. Thanks for sharing what God put on your heart.

  • Wow thanks for the encouragement.
    I have a perfectionist personality and feel the sting of failure time and time again. There are many things that I am blessed with and areas where I have been gifted by God. But I have found that though I may be blessed by being able to do somethings with less effort (and study) than others (i.e. math, it is one of my gifts), I have found that unless I do work hard and study well I do not fill true joy. I find that I feel empty and a failure even though I may have aced the test I feel like I don’t deserve it. Because I know that I didn’t do my best, I didn’t “work at it with all my heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col 3:23 paraphrased). I know that I just did enough to pass and no more, I didn’t give my best for the One how gave His best for me. Thanks for the encourage ment to Do Hard Things and work for things even when you are blessed (gifted).

    Your Brother In Christ,

  • Thanks – this was great timing. I really needed this TODAY. Now I’m gonna go and start doing those ‘hard things’ and not give up like I have for the past week. Thank you SO much for writing about this.

  • Thanks Brett for your timely, yet challenging words. Your post was a source of encouragement and inspiration as I work to overcome the challenges I face, and oftentimes fail at, in life.

  • Wow. I really needed to hear that. I tend to have a self-focus/pity-party that is totally unhealthy, meaning that once I fail so much, especially if it is something I have my heart set on, then I totally go negative about myself in every area. What I have learned is that no matter whether I win or lose, God is still faithful, and what He wants is ME…He doesn’t want trophies or ribbons or medals or award certificates, He wants my life. Awesomeness…thanks guys!

  • Wow, I really needed that encouragement! My family is going through a big transition time(we’re moving to another state in about 6 weeks) It puts me in a bad mood sometimes and I tend to snap at people and be generally mean. I keep trying to be kind and loving , but it’s not workibg very well. I know that I can’t do it on my own, so I’m giving it to God. He’s the only One who can give me a clean slate and a second( more like thousandth) chance to be kind to my family. Thanks, Brett, for the encouragement to keep on!

  • Hi guys, I just wanted to thank you so much for this encouraging article! I’ve been going through a lot of changes lately as far as honoring God and trying to surrender my life to him and I’ve been getting discouragement from the enemy, trying to make me think I haven’t made any progress. It’s hard to press on when you’re getting attacked from every side, this article has given me a huge boost and I really appreciated it. Keep up the good work and keep up the faith!

  • What an encouraging post. It’s so easy to be discouraged, or annoyed, at those people that are so naturally good at something you are not, something you have to work really hard at — and sometimes still come away with only an average result. But this post was a great reminder and motivator for me to not be disheartened. Truly a blessing. Thanks so much.

  • Thank you so much for again allowing the Holy Spirit to use you so beautifully. So many of us needed these inspired words…what a faith-filled post!

    Your Sister in Christ,

  • wow! I so needed to hear that! A friend of mine told me just this afternoon, “Don’t let your past failures get in the way of future blessings!” It’s so true. I’ve been building walls around me because I’m afraid of what could be another failure on my part. I’m so scared of failing. Pretty soon my structure of fear inhibits the work that God wants to do in my life, and makes my very spirit numb. That’s the coward’s way out of failure. Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  • Thanks because I am really struggling with chemistry right now. I know someone else who is too and I am going to tell them to read this, too.!

  • ouch.

    I’ve been failing in some of my school lately… not by the world’s standards, but by God’s. Others think I’m thriving, but I’ve been content to rest with the gifts God has given me, and not push myself to the capacity where God would have me be.

    I don’t “like” this post.. but it was good. Very good.

    Thank you very much for your encouragment.. and admonishment.

  • Wonderful post, my friends! Thank you! I’m usually the person who gives up before even trying, sadly. Everything seems hard to me, even things others might think I can do well always seem like Mt. Everest from my perspective. And yet, I appreciate your encouragement with regards to becoming stronger and growing through the process. Wise and wonderful words to remember! Yes, God is always faithful to give us grace and power to do His will! How very encouraging!

    I did want to say one other thing. Hopefully, I will say this in the right way and if I say it in the wrong way, please forgive me.

    I think it’s wise to realize that often people we consider “gifted,” who don’t seem to have to work at things, really indeed struggle in this area too. My wonderful brother is this way—gifted in many areas. And yet, he has to work very hard—harder than most, to achieve certain things. Some things come easily, but others are an intense struggle. I believe this is true for all of us—even the ones who are gifted. Perhaps it’s best to consider this? Maybe even the person you met at the SAT test has something in his life that’s very hard for him to attain. I would imagine he does, just in a different area.

    To be perfectly honest, I always have considered you both incredibly gifted in countless areas, but I know that you also work diligently to attain the things you do. At first glance, someone might think these things come easily for you, but you and those who know you well would likely testify differently. Maybe it’s good to realize that we all struggle and should encourage one another, even the gifted ones or those who appear gifted to continue persevering? They likely need encouragement too.

  • Thank you so much for writing and posting this. It’s very encouraging to realize that everyone goes through struggles with feeling like a failiure or thinking of giving up. However, like you said, we need to strive even harder, with God’s help.

  • Great job, Brett- this was an enjoyable and thought-provoking post. I would also mention (don’t know if this has been brought up) that the hardest thing to do is live a sinless life. Although we should always feel conviction and the need to change after we sin, we can never give into self-pity or despair- luckily for all of us, God’s grace has covered everything we have and will ever do. Sanctification is the thing we all have to try the hardest on, but we know that God is right by our side 🙂

  • I definitely have been struggling with Kakorrhaphiophobia!
    Praise God for His amazing love / grace to know whats the ABSOLUTE BEST for us in strengthening us in everything :] and thank you! 😀

  • Very true. Failure can be so hard, but it’s only through failure that you truly grow and learn. I’ve been learning that lately. It’s so easy to just give up. But God is not giving up on me. He’s still working and will keep working. My dad preached on that two weeks ago, how we don’t need to be discouraged about failure, we need to keep going and try again. God wants progress, not perfection. Thanks for that post. It was excellent!

  • this is such a struggle point for a lot of teenagers… I think then it becomes, no one even wants to try for fear of failure and that can be destructive a lot of times… I know because I’ve done it too… I have tried out for the youth worship team at my church 5 times and never got on… now my junior year in high school – I didn’t even audition and our worship pastor comes up to me and asked me to play my violin on a Sunday morning… with the band… to the song Majesty… in front of over a thousand people! I was so scared – until Pastor Ryan reminded me that the only fear I should have is for GOD… and it’s for Him, not the people on church… he told me I had a gift that I could use to glorify God… it was way cool and I was really nervous until I said to God quietly, “This is for you..” and played my heart out! I felt such joy and peace and I know that if I get that opportunity again, I will do it, because I know who it’s for! 🙂 Thanks alex and brett – you guys are such an inspiration to me!

  • Good points! I’m a perfectionist, and i fear failure. This semester God has been showing me that’s because my worth and value was in my academics and achievements, instead of in HIM. Outside of Him we are totally worthless, and a lot of my success just brings glory to ME, instead of to Him. but in my failures He is glorfied, and I get to see Him doing all sorts of things that I wouldn’t see if I was perfect.

  • Thanks, Detective J. We’re aware that those blogs have been discontinued, but we’ve intentionally left them on our blogroll because of the many excellent posts that remain, even without updates.

    In the future, feel free to let us know about things like that by emailing us. That way we can keep the comments sections on topic. =) Thanks again!

  • WOW – I guess when I left that comment I didn’t realize how many people related to me. I just wanted to add one thing. God demands that we strive for perfection. And sometimes, me above all other people, don’t like that. The reason it’s so hard is because we’ll never be perfect, at least not until we get to Heaven. But I think we should remember one crucial thing. God WILL reward our efforts in Heaven. I recently made a commitment to God that I wanted my whole life to be His, and His alone. It was hard, especially because I’m such a control freak, but giving Him everything, all my hopes, dreams, disappointments, fears, heartbreaks, wants, EVERYTHING, was like taking this GIANT suitcase that had been tied to my back and just giving it to Him. I wish I could better describe how great that feels, but I can’t. I can say this, You are still going to struggle. You are still going to fall. But what matters is how you pick yourself up, and who you give the glory to when you succeed; because you can’t do anything on your own.

    by the way – I passed my math test

  • Thanks! I know exactly what its like to fail. In 2004 I purchased my Brittany “Chloe”. After a year or so she aquired a ear infection. I tried every thing from minor ear washes to sterioids. Nothing worked! A few months ago I was praying over it when it dawned on me that all though I had trusted God when purchasing her I had never “Given” her to God. I did it right then. The next day when I looked in her ear the infection was gone.I think about it now as the best lesson I’ve ever learned.
    Thanks agian!

  • Do you guys have any advice for the competent people?
    I’ve felt intimidated by people before because they’re really gifted at things; I’ve even had to avoid friends and family, people I love very much, because they’re so much better at things that being around them depresses me. Even I have problems: the one thing I’m good at, I’ve intimidated other people.
    I don’t like doing that. I don’t think many competent people try to discourage others. Just–it’s hard–what do you do to avoid it?

  • I think, that as a competent person, you just have to be considerate. Encourage the dicouraged, give them advice, and don’t neccessarily be as good at something as you possibly can be. An example of this is for an extrodinarily talented athelete. When he’s playing with a bunch of Kindergartners, we could not play up to his ability in order to make things fun for everyone.

  • Wow… so encouraging! The idea and theme of integrity is one that has held my attention for the past several months, and this is a huge part of it… the truth of ‘do hard things’, and striving to do the best with what God has set before me in the moment, no matter what else is going on around me… what my family and friends think of what I am and, rather, am not doing right now, and how in some ways I can’t measure up to what they expect, though it’s good. It really used to get me down and sometimes it still does, comparing myself to them and what they are accomplishing. But learning all this isn’t so much from the motive of just being content with wehre I am in life and learning to do things well, but moreso the idea of mastering this one part of a life that will please God and reflect Him well to others. Thanks for all you write on here… your articles have brought turning points in my perspective on life and my faith. Don’t let up!

  • On a small, but not too far off topic, tangent that parallels with Charlie. There have been times, too, that I have sat down for a test and someone starts going on about how easy this is going to be. They are being completely oblivious and hurtful to those around them that are going to struggle through this test despite their studying for it. There is a distinction between sharing that you did excellent on something (Praise God!) and gloating at your accomplishments. Unfortunately, this attitude seems to be prevalent in Home Schooling circles (I was homeschooled through High School graduation) who typically measure themselves as better educated and therefore smarter than those who weren’t Homeschooled. There may be a time for sharing accomplishments in light of God’s grace, but I think that we should really remember to not regard ourselves more highly than we ought and to look out for the needs of others! It’s an area we all must work at.

  • Wow. Thank you for posting that. I really needed to hear that. I have been discouraged because I can’t seem to find a way to do hard things…your post reminded me to keep trying…and that sometimes hard things are things we do every day. I needed to hear that failure builds character. thanks again so much. I…will read this post again..and again 😉
    Keep up the good work! you are blessing so many people through this site!

  • And another note, I just read one of the comments, that that person was worried about failing God, and I realized, hey , that’s me, and hey, what you wrote makes sense. I am just realizing that even though you fail at being a kind, compassionate person, God won’t give up on you and falure is good. wow. a double-whammy this one is!

  • Thanks guys, this really hit home. I mean I knew in my head. But sometimes someone else has to say it for it to make sense in your heart.

    Thank you so much for this blog! I’m so encouraged every time I come on here. It refreshes me and I’m ready to go out and face my dark courner of the world! (San Francisco, CA 🙂

    God bless you brothers!!!

  • well, this article indeed helped me a lot. i mean, i’m not the risk-taker type. i always play things safely and most likely to give up when facing hard times. what can i say, man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to leave the shore. oh and i love Lincoln so much. i respect him because he proved to me that there’s no harm in trying, that we learn from our failures…try and try until you succeed!!! cliche but true indeed.

  • Wow! That’s probably the best posts I’ve read on your blog so far.

    A lot of times I can fool myself into thinking I’m working really hard, but I’m really not. So I end up getting all discouraged, and giving up before I’ve really tried.

    Anyway, that was very encouraging…thanks!

  • Last week, I didn’t get into the internship I wanted to get into, a scholarship summer program and I didn’t pass my “practice” AP Calculus exam or my practice AP Physics C exam…I felt sooo discouraged, that I was thinking of not majoring in Biophysics anymore, but in floor cleaning. The reason why I was so discouraged, was because I studied hard for those tests and I wanted to get the internship ever since from last year (I didn’t get in last year either) and I put my all into the scholarship summer program’s application. I was just about to give up, but God really brought me here. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement!

    Continue doing this, you really made my day.

    May God Bless you all 🙂

  • Hi!! Yeah i know about failure. My family & I have been building a house fo five years it has taken a long time to get where we are today,But I thank GOD every day for it to get here.

    Your brother in christ. Andrew Sparks.

  • “And the gifted people? They will often get stuck at the level of their gifting. They do what comes easily, but for us everything is a workout — so we will be stronger.”
    They will not be stuck at their level of gifting if they try to invent challenges for themselves.
    An example might be a girl who can crochet really well who challenges herself by learning to crochet with her other hand as well.

  • Great article! The whole “Do Hard Things” is really encouraging, but I have a question. How do you develop an attitude that relects that? I’ve been struggling with school, I have the ability and I know that, but I just can’t seem to be able to push myself. Consequently I’ve been getting pretty lousy grades. Basiclly I seriously need a wake up call. I know what I need to do but, school can seriously get overwhelming… This is my last year, for which I’m grateful, but I relly need to get things together… which I can’t do without Jesus. My attitude towards my education needs an overhaul…

  • Hmm, very encouraging! Esp. as I face some huge changes and challenges. Praise Jesus for His strength!

    Thank you for sharing!

  • What’s Khatchaturian?

    Crochet with the other hand??? You mean crochet left-handed? Interesting idea- but what purpose would it serve? You would still be using both hands. Why not learn something else, like the book of Proverbs or the Russian language or how to build a computer?

  • Wow. I’m relatively new to therebelution and this article was awesome. I wish I could have had this earlier in my life when I was really struggling. But I had to learn this the hard way and had some of the same problems in my spanish class as the example of history class in the article. This article really helped confirm in me what God has been saying to me about my own life. Thanks for this article and for the entire site. It’s truly a blessing!

  • I printed this article and the one before it for this girl I hang out with. We both were struggling with the fact that we work hard in school, and it doesn’t show. Whereas, other kids who do half as much ace the tests and boast about their grades, making the rest of us super discouraged. It wasn’t fair…it’s like that encounter with the kid who scored 780 on the World History SAT and didn’t even study. I’m still awaiting her comments on it, but it has been very encouraging for me. Thanks =)

  • Well as Jocelyn said before me, I’ve had frustrating encounters with those I know who don’t have to work hard to do well in school. And I hope I don’t sound arrogant here but I’m going to say that in one instance, I’m the one who doesn’t have to try hard.

    To be perfectly honest with you all, I don’t even really like Biology that much, but for some reason (no lie) I don’t even have to read the text to completely ace test after test. I was surprised at first cause I felt I’d bomb test after test for not studying but it was the opposite!

    As a result of this, I’ve found myself delinquent in my school work as it relates to Bio and seem to be doing the bare minimum (for me) which is below the bare minimum reqirements… like do the Homework!

    So my question for you all is, for things that come easy to us, how to we NOT get stuck at our skill level, but learn to do even better, and more importantly, for God’s glory?

  • This was a good post. My Pastor/Principal/Teacher (he’s all the same guy – haha) was giving us these steps to being a leader – wether you were born with the gift he says all Christians have the ability to lead others. He also told us that an important part of being a leader is being willing to fail and then step up and try again. So just think about that – be willing to fail and then learn from them! Have a God-centered day!!!

  • This really helped me because I can really relate to failure. I hate failing! But this has helped me to feel better when I do do hard things and end up failing,(which is often, at least i feel). Thanks for the encouragement!!! It’s nice to know that there are people like you guys who really care and understand who we can turn to when we need some encouragement and advice. Thanks again! Keep up the awesome work!

    Your sister in Christ,

    P.S. When I put a reply down, can other people read it like I can read there’s? I know it sounds really stupid and i know your probably thinking “well duh”, but i would like to know because i don’t want to say anything that really is stupid. Thanks!

  • Try

    Set your sights above your head
    And always keep them high.
    And don’t allow it to be said
    You ever failed to try.

    For trying is the all of life
    And if you struggle so
    That you are always in a strife
    You’ll high and higher go.

    And as you face life’s rugged hill,
    Keep climbing for the top.
    And if you never reach it still,
    You can’t be called a flop.

    Yes,always try to do your best
    And don’t sit down crying.
    No one can say he’s no success
    Who goes through life,trying.
    Wesley Yonts

    I t may not be biblical, but I think it holds truth and fits here still.

  • that’s a great article. i do, however, have a question: this past semester, i’ve realized how much i depend on my natural ability to get through college fairly well–in fact, this semester, my talent failed me. my grades, surprisingly, turned out well, but i realized how much time i wasted trying to get by instead of pursuing excellence in all things. now all i have left is my fourth year of college…i fear it’s too late to make a difference. so now i’m left empty, and even more frightened, in a sense, of my future. what can i do? does God still accept me? does the gospel still apply to me, though i’ve fallen short of His glory, and have even discarded it to some extent, in exchange for fun, for ease? how do you minister to the competent who have realized the futility of “just getting by”, and perhaps, their incompetence?

  • Lindsey: If you’re truly repentant and willing to go along with God’s way, no matter what, then YES He definitely still accepts you. Jesus saw your failure and took the punishment for it because He wants you and He’s unwilling to let you just go away. And yes the Gospel still applies to you (see Matthew 12:31).
    Though I’m not sure how “you minister to the competent who have realized the futility of “just getting by”, accepting 1 John 1:7-2:1 has helped me ( I shared a similar experience with you). Taking the time to stop and choose to do what I know is right, however small and/or hard it is helps me to change and honor God by obeying His Word. I’m not perfect at it (I mess up 8 out of 10 times), but He’s your strength and my strength too. Through Him, I’m getting better and so can you.

    Don’t give up.
    Will be prayingfor you

  • Here I am, hearing my heartbeat.
    I hear You. All You.

    Here You are, smiling at me,
    You hear me, yes, me.

    I’m poor, I’m needy.
    My heart’s wounded within me.

    Here I am, feeling my heart bleed.
    But it’s all good, all good.

    Here you are, comforting me,
    it’s Your throne, all yours.

    I forget and forget,
    the throne is taken,
    and i’ve been delivered.

    *Something i wrote inspired by Psalm 109:22. My friend actually helped me to make a song with this. I’ve been truly blessed by it, and i think the greater blessing comes from giving and sharing. Our God is good. =) Please keep writing. I’ll keep reading.

  • …nice and very timely..this had inspired me a lot…i had been given chances to do good in my NCM subject(my major subject for this semester)…and tomorrow will be the last…i had failed to grab almost all the chances that was given to me because of some circumstances that i missed to anticipate…I am really praying and studying hard to make it by tomorrow…
    thank you for the inspiration…it had really helped me a lot to overcome the frustration i am feeling right now…
    thank you very much…
    God bless..

  • This is so beautiful! The way it speaks to me, encourages me, is amazing. There are those times when you do the hard things, but somehow you mess up, and God’s feeling of joy and grace that’s supposed to hold you through everything has disappeared.

    One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
    he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
    Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
    For each scene he noticed two sets of
    footprints in the sand: one belonging
    to him, and the other to the LORD.

    When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
    he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

    He noticed that many times along the path of
    his life there was only one set of footprints.

    He also noticed that it happened at the very
    lowest and saddest times in his life.

    This really bothered him and he
    questioned the LORD about it:

    “LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
    you, you’d walk with me all the way.
    But I have noticed that during the most
    troublesome times in my life,
    there is only one set of footprints.
    I don’t understand why when
    I needed you most you would leave me.”

    The LORD replied:

    “My son, my precious child,
    I love you and I would never leave you.
    During your times of trial and suffering,
    when you see only one set of footprints,
    it was then that I carried you.”

    ( written by Mary Stevenson)

    I think this is a really encouraging poem, that even when we fail miserably God is still there. He still cares, and He won’t abandon us to the man-eating sharks.


  • Melissa Peterson,

    I don’t know if anyone gave you a reply or not (I haven’t read all the comments) but yes, when you post a comment everyone can read it. And I know what you mean about saying something stupid though. I have written things on sites before and then gone back and said “Oh man! Why on earth did I say that? It was so dumb!” 🙂

    Hope that helps!

    God bless!

    Sarah. 🙂

  • when I first read the book “Do Hard Things”, I thought I would succeed to do them.Well,I failed, not only once, but continually.For instance, just now, when the phone rang.I HATE answering the phone, but I thought I should “do a hard thing” and go ahead.To put it in a nutshell,I failed to get what the person on the end of the line was saying and ended up handing the phone to mom,red faced, and embarrassed.I failed. AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    when I read this article,I knew it was just what I needed. Thank you so much!!!

  • I have a huge problem with humiliation. I never want to be outgoing or try new things because i’m afraid if i fail people will think i am a failure and therefore giving me a sense of being less than everyone else. I’ve been reading the book “Do Hard Things” and it’s really inspiring me to break out and live for God. When i look back at my life i don’t want to have any regret, i don’t want to be the usual mold of ‘teenager’ condemned by what society thinks. Each day is another step closer to that. THANKS!!!

  • I have felt exactly what this article explained…like you are working twice as hard but get half the results. I think we all experience our fair share of failure, but it does improve us, thus, I am thankful for it (sometimes…).
    I know that we can all do hard things, and with the strength of the Lord, we can do ALL things! We can be a-typical teenagers in that we don’t give up when we taste failure, but work harder and overcome. Ahhh!! I love this website! It is like a view from the mountain!


  • Thanks for this great article!
    Some people who are extremely good at many things decide they do not to work on those few things that are hard for them.
    Many of my friends think that I am naturally really smart, but they have not seen the many frustrating moments when I do not understand my algebra! =)
    I may not be gifted with a brilliant mind, but God has gifted me with a determination that makes up for what I lack.

  • Oh, this is so encouraging! I started Algebra 2 awhile back and was swamped with having to put all these concepts that I’d learned separately together. But through persevering (even though it was tough!!) I can now do the problems a lot easier than when I first started out. Persevering and “doing hard things” REALLY DOES pay off in the end. Thanks so much for this post!

  • Wow, this is a great post! I needed to see this! I’ve struggled with failure for so long it’s hard to have any other mindset. I was homeschooled my whole life, but really struggled through high school. Because I was basically teaching myself, I allowed the first failure to set the pace for the rest. I was so depressed during my high school years, and I think now that it was mostly because I felt like I simply couldn’t rise above my failures, so I stopped trying. Now, two years later, I’m still allowing that mindset to control areas of my life. I’m afraid to finish this draft of the novel I’m writing because I promised this was the draft I’d send to a publisher. I know every good writer has gotten a million rejection slips before they’ve been published, and the key is just to keep sending out the manuscript, but I’m so afraid of rejection, I’ve not even let myself finish my story. That’s just fear of man, which is not trusting God, which is sin! I have faced my fear of failure and conquered in a couple areas, but I have so far to go still! But I know that I can overcome by the grace of God! Thank you for this post.

  • Even for those who are blessed to be gifted in things, they can (and should) push themselves even beyond their comfort zone.

    A close friend of mine who I really admire has always been clever and knew when they went to university that they would probably graduate with a 1st (the highest class you can achieve in the U.K.) but instead decided not to compare to others or even simply sail through but pushed themselves to the limit with God’s grace throught their time there. They have just received their final mark and they suceeded in getting not only getting the 1st they were expecting but the highest 1st ever achieved at our University. Now, when people ask what he got and then raise their eyebrows in question as to why he bothered working so hard, he can reply that he believes in working as if serving God directly and so working to each person’s full potential not those around him.

    If you are blessed enough to have natural giftings fight stronger and build yourselves too so that each can do all things for His glory.

  • 🙂 I could truly relate with this and thank you!
    I do sometimes feel,well, not so good for other people.But I do keep trying, doing things for the greater glory of the Lord!

  • This article helped me realize why I really dont do many hard things, it is because I AM afraid of failure. Especially failures that might be noticed by those I love around me.

  • Thank you very much. I’ve been doing a lot of failing lately, so this was such an encouragement. God bless you guys!

  • Thanks so much! This brought me to tears. I’ve really been beating myself up when I fail at things. (which is alot 🙂 )
    I’ve been thinking about trying to learn guitar, but have been too afraid of failing. Now I’ve decided to try and leave the results up to God. And if I get it I’ll praise Him, and if I keep failing I’ll praise Him!

  • Failing is one of my biggest fears. I’ve always been scared to attempt new things because i don’t want to let myself or my family down. I received your book “Do Hard Things” today for Christmas and am already 150 pages in. reading has opened my eyes to many things I need to try and that trusting God will ensure i don’t fail. Thank you for your book and Merry Christmas

  • I fear failing and tonight I will be reading fron Do Hard Things at my church where I am not really excepted. I am also so shy that I have trouble checking out library books. This article has given me the courage. Thank you!

  • “We should pity those who never fail. Their faith and their fortitude must be very weak.”

    that’s not always true. You might want to rethink that 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this article. Exactly what I needed to hear. This week I’m writing my final exams for my first year of university and I’ve been so worried about doing well on them. It’s good to know that the end result is not the only thing that matters, but we can learn from our failures and become stronger through our hard work.

  • Oh i love that! i used to cheat on my school work all the time. and then i gave up because my mother found out. i always denied that i cheated which made it worse. five months ago i started to study for my learners. i was determind to not cheat on it. no matter how many times i fail. well thats what i thought.
    i’ve fail two times so far. i was nearly crying as i left each time. i’m trying again today and this time no matter if i fail i’m coming out a winner in every way!

  • Thanks for that article. I really needed to be reminded that if I fail at something, it doesn’t mean I can’t get up and try again. Despite growing up “Christian”, I’ve only recently decided to put God first in my life, and it’s been a lot harder than I thought to resist certain temptations. I know that with God’s help I can beat them; but every once in a while I find myself slipping up, and then I feel like I failed. But now I realize that i can still get back up, turn back to God and become even more reliant on Him.

  • Thank you. I certainly needed that. I keep looking at other people who are so gifted and when I look at myself I feel so inadequate. I guess that’s why I fail at things sometimes. I didn’t believe in myself or give the matter over to God. Thanks for making me realize that!

  • “Is is not better to be feard than loved?” so maney ppl use this as an exuse not to try.
    They all think that if they love then that love will be lost they will have failed. So they make everyone fear them and not love them. 🙁 “I don’t care what you’ve heard ‘impssible’ is NOT a word, it’s just a reason for someone not to try.”

    I deffeneitly needed to hear these words. I always feel like i’m failing. Like i’ll never get anyting right. But this really helps me see that no matter what you didn’t fail for nothing. everything is ment for a reason. Thank you sooooo much for posting this! Never have I heard such wisdom from young teens like you two (Alex and Brett)! May God Bless you for your faithfulness in Him! – your sister in Christ Kiana

  • I’ve recieved a talent from God, a natural ability to play an instrument. But it was only recently that I realized I can use this to glorify Him. I don’t have a passion for my instrument, and I never wanted to be in the spotlight, so I stayed low, and didn’t try to better myself. I think I was afraid of failing, I tend to have a perfectionist attitude. I’m gonna try to give it my all now!
    God bless! Thanks so much for the post.

  • I fasted yesterday for the first time to pray for a pro-life victory on the Mississippi Personhood Initiative. I just found out that we lost. I wasn’t sure what to feel or think… so I came here and searched for posts on failure. This is the reminder I needed – the reminder to trust that everything that happens is part of God’s divine plan, and we simply must trust Him to work things out. The reminder that we can’t let failure get us down – we must get back up and try again – try even harder, always letting God take care of the outcome. Right now, I admit, I’m still mad at God. How could He let this happen? How many more innocent lives will be lost to abortion before even one state ends the murder and bloodthirst? All it would take to get the nation’s attention, and possibly put an end to abortion in other states, would be one state speaking up for those who will never have a voice.
    I don’t know why we lost yesterday. I don’t know what God’s plan is – for me, for those children, or for the millions of pro-lifers across the country and around the world. All I know is, I can’t give up – on those kids or on God.

  • Thank you so much for this! You see, I have also been struggling from failures and discouragements, but thank you guys for sharing this encouragement.

  • I was extremely pleased to find this web-site.I desired to thanks for the time for this great study!! I definitely enjoying just about every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to examine out new stuff you site quickly garmin nuvi 1300 post.

  • Fantastic goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely excellent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it smart. I cant wait to read much more from you. This is really a great website.

  • This one is especially hard for me beacause I don’t have a specific “talent”. I’ve been described as a jack of all trades but a master of none. I can do everything but I am not very good at anything, I always have to work very hard to make it work. I need to remember to give everything back to God.

  • Wow. I really,really needed this. Last night I was a complete mess and I couldn’t stand myself. I feel like my priority shift mid high school ( ballet/theater to academic excellence) happened a bit late. My little sister is doing so much better than me at 14, and as the first born I feel that I should of been that,the leader. Although I am not a wretchedly educated student, I feel like I was given so many amazing scholastic opportunities that I only took medium advantage of. It’s hard not to kick myself and give up. Thanks for letting me not self degress into a further state of apathy.

    • Hey Alexandria! I’m so glad this post was an encouragement to you.

      Are you familiar with the story of William Wilberforce? He wasted his teen and college years and felt a lot of regret. But he started applying himself with double effort in his twenties and went on to make an incredible impact in the world for God’s glory. You should read more about him if you get a chance. We share that part of his story in our book, Do Hard Things.

      God bless you!

  • I’m already 21 and I realized that I’ve wasted my teenage years, especially the late teenage years. Four years of my college life wasted on just getting by, not exerting much effort on basically everything! I had been lukewarm in my faith and spiritual walk with Jesus. I’m a mess!

    I’m still in college, graduating in one and a half year. But God has reminded me that it is not too late for me. Ecclesiastes 9:4 says, “Anyone who is among the living has hope –even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” I can still learn to be mature, responsible, self-controlled and disciplined. One verse that really struck me to the core is I Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

    Thank you very much for this post. It has encouraged and convicted me.

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 →