rebelling against low expectations

Do Hard Things According To Ruth


Do Hard Things According To Ruth“Demanding toddlers, demanding teenagers — they’re not much different, really.” This was part of an illustration in a sermon I heard recently, and while everyone around me laughed, I just thought, once again, how weird it is that such an illustration can be used in a Christian setting and no one seems to care.

Why, why, why do teenagers just sit back and allow this image of themselves to develop? Worse still, why is there a sense that we actually like it? I think that teenagers like the image of a teenager because, in some way, we feel that it relieves us of any responsibility. If we make a mistake we can put it down to not being experienced enough. If we are grumpy we can put it down to our changing moods — “It’s not our fault we’re like this. You were too when you were my age.

We Expect More of Toddlers Than of Teens

We can get away with awful behaviour simply because we are teenagers. It is really bizarre. If a four year old displayed the same sort of rebellion, they would, in any decent family, be sorted out rather quickly. But teenagers can ‘rebel’ against their parents and it is overlooked by their family.

Parents even end up making excuses for their teenager’s bad behaviour — “Oh sorry she doesn’t talk much — she’s not a people person,” or “He’s just going through THAT stage.” If a young child decided that they weren’t going to learn to tie their shoes their parents wouldn’t say, “Oh sorry, I just have to tie her shoes for her — she not a laces person.” They would teach them to tie their shoes because it’s an important part of their development. How much more important, then, is the ability to speak to people in a polite and engaged way? Or to learn how to talk to your parents with respect?

We Need To Do Hard Things

Instead of just sitting down and letting ourselves drift into the culture of “I’m a teenager, I do nothing,” Christian teenagers really need to set themselves aside from the world. If we never push ourselves then we will never get anywhere.

If I can already run a mile a day but I want to get stronger, just continuing to run a mile a day isn’t going to do much. I need to push myself to do a bit more, then a bit more, and then I will achieve my goal. If I think about getting fit on the sofa while reading a book and eating crisps, it isn’t going to happen. If I want to be a different than the world’s teenagers then I need to start practicing the things that will make me different, even though doing those things is hard.

Honour God. Live for others. Be different from the world. Do Hard Things.

About The Authoress: Ruth is an 18-year-old rebelutionary from across the pond (i.e. the Atlantic Ocean). She makes her home in jolly old England and spells “honor” as “honour,” “behavior” as “behaviour,” and says “crisps” instead of “chips.” We also assume that she has an incredible English accent which doesn’t quite come across in her writing. Too bad.

Go Visit Ruth’s Blog

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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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  • That is so true.

    Teenagers are just one step from adulthood. Why should we [teenagers] act in such a way that would get us compared to toddlers?

    There isn’t any reason we can stand apart and raise the bar.

  • I had never thought to compare toddlers to teenagers like this. It is startling to observe that we simply roll our eyes at teenagers and expect no improvement, while we actually try to train toddlers. Thanks for making us think, Ruth.

  • This is a good reminder, Ruth. Teenage Rebellion isn’t normal, though our world has called it such. We do need to “Do Hard Things” and be different teens. We need to live as Christ, and not as the world thinks we should.

  • Love the post. Thanks for writing this. I’ve found myself wondering the same things, but I am always grateful when I see people striving to rise above for the glory of God!

  • Thank you so much for posting this. It was very encouraging. When I first turned 13, I liked being called a teenager. It reminded me that I was getting older, and was going to be allowed more privileges. About a year or so ago, I started being discontent with being called a teenager. The title seemed to have a tag on attached to it that said, “rebellious, disrespectful, good-for-nothing.” I didn’t want to be that kind of person. I felt like the whole world was looking on as my teenage years went by, just waiting for me to get mad at my parents, get into drugs, and simply waste these years, using them for myself. I wanted desperately to prove the world wrong. I had an “I’ll show ‘um” sort of attitude. Then every time I messed up, I felt like a total failure. I was doing exactly what the world wanted me to do. What kind of daughter of the King would do a thing like that? But now my attitude has changed. I still want to be more than the average teenager, but I don’t carry the bitterness toward the term that I used to. Thank you for keeping this blog up. It’s been a huge encouragement and help to me.

  • Wow! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to hear, and it is exactly where I’m coming from! Wow! I totally agree. If the behaviour of a teenager doesn’t live up to toddler standards, what has this world come to? Totally, totally on track. Thank you again.

    Kaisha Thomas: I know how you felt about being called a ‘teenager’. I don’t carry a bitterness to the term, exactly, but I do see the worlds definition of the word as being 100% correct. Quote: “rebellious, disrespectful, good-for-nothing.” So true. That is why I have requested that those around me do not call me a teenager, for I am not going by what everyone thinks of when they hear that word, and I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. If that is what a teenager is, (“rebellious, disrespectful, good-for-nothing.”) then I am not a teenager. That’s all there is to it.

    God bless you all in your endeavors to Do Hard Things!!!

  • By the way, I am from Canada, and as you might have noticed in the above comment, I too spell things weird! Behaviour, honour, colour, Saviour, centre, all that stuff. I don’t say ‘crisps’, but I do say ‘Pop’ instead of ‘Soda’! 😉 If only I had an ‘incredible English accent’! 😉

    God bless,

  • I think that people tend to rise to the level of expectations, which is why this is so important.

    I’ve been known to say at church that we treat teenagers as young adults, instead of as big kids. However, parents often have to be reminded of such, having bought into the culture’s expectations of teenagers as selfish and immature.

    P.S. I actually found this to be less of a problem when I lived in England than in the US. You’d REALLY be just lovin’ it over here!

    Soli Deo gloria,
    Gunny, The Lone Star State

  • At our church the elders and our pastor refer to us teenagers as young adults, young men, or young ladies. 🙂 I think when you’re called that, you feel a responsibility and feel older almost, as opposed to being called “just a teenager.”

  • When my 13 birthday was past i liked being a teenager but now i see that many teens in our church are like and i don’t realy want to be like them, I am having fun preparing and teaching lessons to 2-3 yearolds with my best friend instead of going to the youth minestrey on wednesday night.sometimes i feel left out but i rember that i am searving in my church. As my mom told one of her friends “we are just skipping the teenage years and maturing quicker.” and i am just fine with that.

  • That is so true Ruth! The teen years of one’s life are incrfedibly important. But sadly, they are wasted by so many people! Sometimes I feel so degraded and judged by the way our culture presents teenagers, and I’m desperatly trying to change it!

  • What a challenging article! The comparison was very well put, Great Job Ruth! 🙂 I agree, how entertaining that toddlers can not escape from the punishments of throwing a fit, yet teens today yell at their parents with no consequence at all. Definately a standard issue… something I can’t wait to work on raising in my own life! Thank you sooo much Ruth for making me think, How cool that you live in England! 😉

    Soli Dea Gloria!!

  • i think that we expect more of teens than toddlers because the teens are older than the toddlers are and the teens are suppose to be more of an example to the toddlers and the younger kids. everybody thinks that we should be more of an example and do everything to teach and set an example for these kids, which is true but adults need to do the same as well. i really don’t think that adults or teens expect more from a toddler than what they do for themselves

  • teens do get yelled at as well as teens. at least most of them do because alot of parents are alot more strict these days with how there teens should act and what they should and should not do. i think that toddlers do get yelled at alot because they are younger and they need to learn but teens get as much yelled at as the toddlers do.

  • Great job Ruth! My name is also Ruth, and I am amazing about how you hit the nail right on the head! Nice job, it is so true… my little 7 year old sister is expected to be in bed by 8:00… and me 10:00, but I go over the limit… why? I need to challenge myself! Thank you for writing this article and bringing awareness for us to stop disobeying, and start taking a stand! Nice job! 🙂

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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 →