rebelling against low expectations

Known For What We Do


Bre Engel is a high school senior from Indiana. Along with other young people from her church Bre participated in some community service projects and gave a report to her local church. Afterwards she heard a man saying, “Aren’t you glad these kids aren’t out smoking pot or drinking, but are instead doing service for our community?”

“That comment just broke my heart,” writes Bre, “because there truly is a level of mediocrity that has infiltrated not just our culture, but our churches as well.” Being considered a “good teen” only requires that we don’t do “bad stuff” like taking drugs, drinking, and wild partying. But is it enough to be known for what we don’t do, or should we be known for what we do?

What Does The Bible Say?

Psalm 1 tells us that “blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord on His law he meditates day and night.”

Charles Spurgeon comments, “Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you–Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God’s Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand–your best companion and hourly guide?” If not, he concludes, the blessing of Psalm 1 doesn’t belong to you.

God’s Word is clear that just “not sinning” is no standard. We’re not only called to “flee youthful lusts” but to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (2 Timothy 2:22). We’re not only called to “put to death what is earthly in us” but to “put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3).

In order to reach God’s standard for young people and to enjoy the blessing that He promises, we must get beyond simply avoiding bad stuff. The Apostle Paul makes this calling clear when he writes, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

We’re Fighting Low Expectations

Once we understand God’s expectations we can see how dangerous it is to live in a culture that tells us we’re “good kids” just because of what we don’t do. The obvious question becomes: “What are we doing instead?” Are we doing hard things? Are we growing? My dog doesn’t go to wild parties, that doesn’t make him a good kid.

An education expert recently observed that the current ceiling for students is much closer to where the floor ought to be. The very most our culture expects of us is that we don’t take drugs, drink, or sleep around — but that’s the very least God expects from us. We are told to let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and give glory to God (Matthew 5:16) and that by our love all men will know that we follow Christ (John 13:35).

We must be known for what we do. Not in order to be saved, but because we are saved; not in order to earn God’s favor, but with the favor of His help.

As always, our goal is not just to provide information but also to encourage thoughtful discussion. Here’s a few questions to get us started:

  • Have you ever found yourself getting complacent because of what you don’t do? If so, how have you dealt with it?
  • Have you had an experience similar to Bre’s?
  • What would be a biblical response to someone telling you that you are exceptional just because you’re not involved in certain activities?
  • What kind of activities should teens be known for?

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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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  • Thankyou very much, over the last few day I had been wondering about the importance of good works alongside faith. Isn’t it awesome how when God starts you on a journey He provides absolutely everything you need!

    Yes, I have at times found myself getting complacent because of what I don’t do. It usually starts because I compare myself with those around me, so to deal with it, I have to look to Christ, and see that there is still so far to go before I can sit back and relax!

    I pray this article will impact all who reads it, and inspire them to look to Christ for their standard.



  • That was a very thought provoking post. You are right. I hadn’t really considered the Church’s low expectations as well as the world’s. It is something we need to consider.

    In regards to the questions you ask:

    No, this is the first time I have considered it.

    Unfortunately, most of us actually are exceptional. You should be careful not to say “I’m normal, they’re just pathetic.” 🙂 Really, the response should be humble, and encourage others.

    If not doing things is all we are known for, then we are not really doing anything. We should be known for helping the church, teaching, learning, and faith. However, we should also be known for modesty. Do not go bragging to everyone about all the great things that you have done. Your service should be seen, but quiet.

  • Because of the extremely low expectations in both our culture and the Church, over the last two years, since graduating from high school, I’ve found people, even Christian adults, actually discouraging me from doing “hard things” that I’d originally imagined they’d be supportive of.

    For example, I’ve been considering going to seminary after completing college. If it were to work out, it’d be a great opportunity to be able to dedicate a couple years to study. I’d thought Christian adults would be supportive, but instead almost everyone I’ve mentioned it to has tried to talk me out. Even the college and career pastor at a friend’s church told me I should just audit a couple of classes, or maybe attend a Bible study at church and call it good.

    I could be wrong, but it seems like part of it comes down to the fact that their definition of what a good, Christian young adult looks like mostly consists of a list of things not to do (drugs, wild parties, sleeping around, etc.). They’d be happy if young adults just stayed away from the don’ts, which makes someone who just takes the time to crack open their Bible once in awhile and show up at church sometimes way above average. The fact that I’m even entertaining the possibility of going beyond what’s already considered to be above average seems strange and unnecessary to them. They think it’s overkill, so they try to convince me to not bother spending so much time and energy — to not try as hard. It’s really very sad people expect so little — almost nothing — of young adults today.


  • Wow! Wonderful post! Very encouraging! As young men and women, we need to be living lives that will each leave a lasting legacy of the Lord’s love! Every individual will leave some type of impact on our world and on those around us whether we like it or not. Good or bad. Our lives are songs, their melodies…do they bring glory to the Father? It makes me ask myself…what is my life’s song proclaiming to those surrounding me?!

  • Wow! That was a wonderful post! Often when I am tempted to become complacent about what I don’t do, I’m reminded of this text, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) If we truly have Christ as our example, we will realize that God expects much more of us than just not doing what the world does. I think that teenagers today should be known for their devotion to God, and their willingness to stand for Him even though it is unpopular. We should be willing to obey His voice the moment we hear it. And we should be humble. I know sometimes I find myself becoming proud because I am comparing myself to others, and I seem to be doing better than they are. But then I remember that pride goes before destruction, and when I look at Jesus’ beautiful character, I see that my righteousness is like filthy rags. As teenagers I think we should look to Jesus and be ever striving for the mark He has set for us. I want others to notice me not because I don’t do this or I don’t do that, but because I love the Lord, and did what I could to serve Him.

  • One of the fatal tendencie of my heart is to be complacent because I’m not as bad as this person or that person. But really the question is “Are you the image of Christ? Are You the light of Christ?” To which the only answer is “no, not yet.” This side of eternity I am a work in progress, meaning that there is still work to do. Thankfully, God provides the grace for growth so that He may recieve all the glory for the growth.
    Encouraging and thouht provoking post. I love the way God brings the Word to my heart right when I need it the most.

  • I have struggled so much with getting complacent just because I’m “better” than the majority of teens. That’s where I was before I found the Rebelution, and your message really helped me strive to do better, and not set my sights low.

    Two verses that help me in the times I begin to get complacent and proud are 2 Corinthians 10:12 – “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” and 2 Corinthians 3:5 – “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” Talk about convicting!

    I have had many experiences where people think I’m “amazing!” just for things I don’t do, or things I do that aren’t normal for those my age. I try to deflect the praise to God, but it’s hard to always know what to say. I suppose a Biblical answer could be to say, “Praise God for His wonderful grace!”

    It’s my prayer that teens today be known for their character and passion for “raising the bar”, serving others for the glory of God.

  • You’re not just talking to teens. There are many college students and the young singles in churches who have this mindset. Good thoughts.

  • Fantastic article, such an encouragement! To answer the questions…
    As someone “born in the church” I’ve struggled many times over the fact that my life of innocence and “not doing” what the world does allows me at times to sit in a comfortable spot. To deal with it I remind myself that this type of attitude is wrong because just because I may not be drinking and partying on friday nights, taking up an ungodly attitude towards my parents is just as wrong. Rather than point out to myself “shocking” sins that I don’t commit, I have to remind myself that I need God’s grace just as much as anyone else.
    I have had times when people have come up to me and praised me for being different and not doing what everyone else around me does. While I’m ashamed to say sometimes I smiled and just let it sink in, I am also thankful that God gave me the courage to speak out other times. I’ve told them that it is simply my duty in response to Christ’s faithfulness to me.
    I should go further though. Rather than priding myself in making it through a year at a secular college (quite a feat for my homeschooling self) without losing my faith I should be looking to what I am actually doing. I might not be getting mixed up in the college scene, but what am I doing to present the gospel to everyone I see?

    What a convicting article!

    Jacob: I think I see what you are getting at… through our diligence in every area of our lives, as Christians it could often be easy to see ourselves as “better” than the world. Don’t let that fool you though! We are all equally sinners in need of Christ’s mercy in our lives.

  • I think the danger isn’t just becoming complacent because of what we don’t do, but being content with doing too little. When I was younger, I remember thinking that I was really smart because, due to my mother’s wonderful instruction, I knew the answers to all the questions in Sunday school (which were actually very basic questions) and no one else did (not because they weren’t smart…they just didn’t have the same training). So, since I was already “smarter” than everyone else my age, why did I need to study more? Unfortunately, this attitude has caused me to waste a lot of time. Thankfully, the Lord brought people into my life who have inspired me to work much harder and stop contenting myself with mediocrity.

    I’ve actually been trying to figure out recently what the best Biblical response would be…I mean, there are a lot of things that can be said that would communicate the message, but I have no idea how to respond without sounding preachy. Responding to compliments isn’t exactly my strong suit…”Thank you” is usually the best I can come up with, so I’m interesting in seeing other’s thoughts on the subject. 🙂

  • This article is very good. Thanks for taking the time to write about this. I might even link to this one from my blog. So many great truths in such a clear and concise manner.

    My thoughts on the questions are as follows: I find myself having the same mindset and I try to simply be “safe”. I find when I focus on the negative, I become more judgmental of others, too. In these scenarios, as long as I’m doing okay, I’m good. But, then the Lord convicts me and when I focus on Him, there is so much more joy in Christ – and it’s truly He who enables me to do great things for Him!

    One question, though – didn’t the older gentleman who talked to Bre actually do the same as Psalm 1? He said, “They’re not doing this (blessed is the man who does not…), but instead, they’re doing this (but his delight is in…).” Isn’t that what Psalm 1 and Charles Spurgeon were emphasizing, too?

  • Good post… Ever thought of coming down to Malaysia and do this conference?

    The biggest problem we would all have is to dare the church as a whole to bring up our act by a knotch. We get complaiscent in the daily routine of going to church and service. Even though i believe that service is crucial, the Spirit in us whilst in service is as important. We need to be hopeful, prayerful, expecting God to use us to do great things. With that comes enthusiasm, desperation… all essential to get closer to God.

    Just a thought from someone in Malaysia. God Bless you and your ministry.
    Mark Tan

  • Very terrific post. I can always use this reminder. Actually in Sunday School just this past week we were divided into groups to answer/discuss questions like… “What is your main goal in school this year?” “What would you like to see God do in your life this year?” Most had “no idea” or tried to make a joke out of the questions. It made my heart ache just to listen to them. They are so careless about life and complacent about where they are. They have no passion and no purpose in life but to “get through high school.” What a tragedy! I am reminded of John Piper saying something to the effect that we are meant to pray, think, dream, plan, and work to magnify Christ and show His supreme excellence in all of life. This is a tall order, but this is what I want to be known for! This is where our passion should lie. In the teen years there is (or should be) a lot of planning and preparing going on. We should be known for taking every opportunity that presents itself to display God’s goodness now and prepare ourselves for the ministry He will have for us later.

    It is easy for me to become prideful though if I begin comparing myself to the kids around me. They have set the bar so low for themselves that it’s no effort for me to step over it. In times like these it’s good for me to go back and read passages like Eph. 2:1-8. It reminds me what I was, and what I would still be if it wasn’t God’s grace. There is no difference between me and them — God saw nothing in me that made Him feel obligated to show me His grace. He simply did it for His glory and to show His goodness. These thoughts truly humble me.

    And…. Michelle echoed my thoughts nearly exactly. What is the Biblical response…. that takes careful thought. I will be interested to see others’ thoughts and ideas.

  • Very good post. it reminds me of Luke 18:10-11, ““Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’”
    Which attitude do we have? Are we trying to do good works by our own strength? Romans says “there is no one who does good, no, not one…”
    I am often tempted to have the attitude of this Pharisee. “I’m not doing this or this, so I’m way better than this or that person.”
    But Jesus says in verse 14 of that passage, “…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    This is a reminder to me to have a humble heart, and remember that I can do nothing in my own strength. Thank you.

  • It seems today that most adults go for the lowest common dominator when it comes to teens and their actions. One of low denominators that bothers us the most is the boyfriend/girlfriend one.

    It is very disappointing when a grandparent, aunt or uncle ask the boyfriend/girlfriend question. It shows that our society is not expecting much from us teens in regards to relationships. Not only are we expected to be rebellious, party animals, we are also expected to be in a relationship.

    When answering our relatives question and trying to explain to them that we don’t want to be in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, they look at us like we have horns coming out our heads. The next question that arises is born out of a fear that something is wrong. Don’t you like boys/girls?

  • Pastor Timothy: You are right that the man in the story did reference what Bre was doing along with what she wasn’t doing. To be honest I thought of removing the second line of his comment to make the article work better, but I knew it wasn’t right and I left it in. However, this man was painting Bre as exceptional because she wasn’t doing drugs and was instead serving in the community. In other words, his idea of a normal teen is one who takes drugs and his idea of an exceptional teen is one who serves. It ties into the whole point about the most our culture expects of us being the least God expects of us.

  • Great post! Very thought provoking and convicting.

    I’m very blessed to have friends who are much farther along in their christian walks than I am. When I start thinking I’m doing pretty well, I see them using their time wisely and doing hard things, and it convicts me of my laziness and prideful thinking. Accountability is also a great tool, especially with my dad.

    I think one thing you can do when someone tells you you’re exceptional is to acknowledge that it’s by God’s grace alone that you’re not doing any of those things. But I’m not sure what it would look like to humbly point them to the fact that simply not doing “bad” things makes you a good kid.

  • That is an excellent post! Defiantly a good reminder. And to add to what others have been saying, God doesn’t only count sins of commission, he also counts sins of omission or, something left undone.
    Jesus told about the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46. to the righteous he said, “Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me”. Then in verse 40.
    “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
    The Christian life is one of serving, not being served. And that is what is so out of whack with the worlds generation. They say serve me.
    Jesus said, “If you Love me, you will obey me.” And Jesus is the servant of all. Go the extra mile. Do hard things, not as a single, but together in the body of Christ.

  • Alex and Brett,

    I have been reading your blog for nearly two years now, but have never commented to express my appreciation for your efforts and the work you’ve accomplished. I’m neither a Christian nor a theist, but I am a teenager who wants to push herself beyond the complacency of our culture. Your message is refreshing and enlightening, and I admire your attitudes, accomplishments, and commitment to your cause. Thank you for your example.



  • It’s interesting how this suddenly applies to me. At work I’m daily faced with the reality that “normal” in this world is not G-rated or even attempting to be.

    One of the girls there at work, commenting on something I had said about having had a bit of wine in France, said sarcastically: “Ooh! I thought you were one of those good kids who never did anything bad!”
    She was annoyed that I was choosing not to do the things that she and her friends were doing, and tried to make a joke out of it. Yet I was being marked for what I don’t do, rather than what I do. If I choose not to get drunk, or have a boyfriend, or get involved in gossip, I’m considered a “really good kid.”

    And that breaks my heart ’cause it’s just so little. It’s the heart that counts, and the world’s standards ignore that fact.

  • *note: when I said “suddenly applies to me” I didn’t mean that it never applied before, but only that it was suddenly tangible.

  • Brett, thanks for responding. Since reading this post, I’ve been able to more clearly discern this type of complacent attitude. Thank you for posting it! Again, it’s clear, concise and very helpful.

  • Some of my peers base their opinion of me chiefly on what I don’t do. But I never want them to focus on what I don’t do but on why I don’t do it. I don’t avoid activities like partying so people will say, “She’s a good person,” I avoid them because I want to honor and glorify God.
    One of my friends and I were talking the other day about how we don’t just want to be known as girls who don’t mess around with guys but as girls who strive for true purity. We don’t want others to focus on how we don’t cuss but on how we seek to build others up with our words. We don’t want to be known as nice girls, we want to be known as real Christians. It is not enough just to avoid certain things; we must purposefully do other things!
    As 1 Timothy 4:12 tells us : “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example to the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Don’t just avoid certain things, but pursue the things that really matter.

  • It is so hard to not get caught up in the “complacent” attitude. Just because I am not like typical teens in certain aspects doesn’t mean I am any less of a sinner. I am saved by God’s grace, and anyone can experience that as well, regardless of how “crazy” they seem.

    I want to be more than just a person not into the wrong things. I so desire for people to see Christ in action in who I am and what I do

  • Thank you for the ever-poignant reminder! I’ve often reflected on the fact that the minute we feel we’re at a “plateau” in our spiritual life, as though it’s now just a matter of “coasting”, we’ve already lost ground… we must always be reaching higher! The question is not so much how “good” I am now, but if I’m responding the call to continue reaching for harder and higher things with no less fervor. Such is the mark of true faithfulness… what we all must be striving for!


  • Its true, in our culture being ‘good’ has degenerated into not doing bad things. I’ve often observed after being branded as ‘good’ I very easily forget that I am called to live an excellent life. It is so easy to be an outwardly good kid for outward recognition, but its much more difficult to strive to be an inwardly good kid when no one is looking.

  • I thought this was a really good post. It is so true that even the church has (not always, but quite often) very low standards. We often allow ourselves to be pulled into being like the world. We need to be set apart from them, and not become more like them (which is a very easy thing to do). Thank you so much for posting this. It is a good reminder. 🙂

  • I didnt know that the “world” expected less of us teens!!!!!!! i always thought they expected more!!!!!!! until i went to one of the confrences that i knew that im so glad alez and brett are doing theses confrensces!!!!!!!!

  • I just reread this post, and saw that Brett had asked me a question about my first comment (6 months ago!).

    >I’m curious, though. What did you mean when you said that most of us actually are exceptional?

    I was saying that most of the youth are only not “out smoking pot or drinking”. Those that do more, are the exception. Not exceptional perhaps, but the exception.

  • To respond to the comment above:
    Maybe, as I think Brett was saying, what’s become “exceptional” and incredible by this world’s standards is only the beginning — what should be the norm for Christians — of what God expects.

    I think that if we say we are exceptional, it implies that we are at the top of our game; but I think that if we instead imply that we are just normal — just average — in respects to how God intends for and designed us to live and serve Him, then we are on the right track as far as humility is concerned.

    Also, just as a note to take this point a little further; I believe that the closer we get to God, the less we have to be concerned about “humility” and pride. Many have implied just the opposite of this to me, and otherwise, and many Christians are concerned with this, but I believe that if we stop focusing on ourselves and others and whether we are proud or humble and instead focus on God and worshipping Him, bringing Him glory, then we will not find much need to worry anymore because the splender of His Presence and a Relationship with Him is, indeed, very, very humbling. And the deeper we go in getting to know Him the more we will realize that we are unworthy and unqualified to even serve Him — much less, know Him — but that He is abundantly merciful and the only way to be redeemed (survive) and will provide all that we need and will empower us to serve Him, not just as servants, but as His Bride (to lead us and fill us full of Himself so as to guide us beyond service, that is out of duty, and into service that is wholely and purely out of love) and that He, despite our lowliness when we encounter Him, intensely desires to know us — and in fact, knows us through and through — and desires that we know Him deeply and intimately.

  • Wow, this really opened my eyes.

    In high school I was one of the kids who didn’t do the bad things, partying, drinking, drugs, sex. I know through comments made to me and my parents that I was seen as a good kid, because I didn’t do bad things. I thought that was nice but never put much thought into it after that. Now looking back I regret not giving people many other reasons to recognize that I’m a good kid. I challenge everyone to give people a reason to admire you and your efforts.

  • I agree that we should do more than what society has made sin to be.

    The problem that I see, however, is not only do we “not sin” by what society has made it to be, we’ve lost hold of sin’s true definition. Sin, according to James 4:17, is knowing to do GOOD and NOT DOING IT! That puts another perspective entirely on sin, because it means that you can sin as much or more by NOT doing things as by doing something wrong!

  • I live in Bush Alaska in a predominantly Christian community of about 100 people. Most of the teens (and many adults) in the surrounding villages are constantly drunk or high and finding a virgin above the age of 14 is difficult. Where I live is completely different but too many people think of my community as good simply because we don’t party, and we don’t have any substance abuse problems or alcoholism. This can spawn complacency for me and my friends, on the other hand we can use it to inspire us to show them what we are really all about. My friend Joel is a great example of that. He got beat horribly in a wrestling match and then tried to talk to his opponent afterwards. This is a great challenge to me to go beyond “not sinning” to “Doing Hard Things”.

  • It’s not even a challenge to point out one or a few of the times when I allowed myself to be complacent because of what i don’t do. Being “different” in this sense cultivates pride rather quickly and sneakily. Whenever i wasn’t careful enough, i’d find myself sitting in the judge’s seat pointing my finger at those who do the things i don’t do. It’s funny, just this morning i read Romans 4:1-12, and the passages talk about righteousness, and how it has nothing to do with what we do or don’t do. The point is, whenever i find myself falling back into my comfort zone getting all saddled up to point my fingers at others, i have to put a huge mirror right in front of me to remind myself about who i am, and who God is. Who i am today is 100% a product of God’s grace. Not just for the fact that He created me the way I am, but also that He turned my life around through His great love for me that’s demonstrated on the cross. And if i have truly accepted the revelation of Jesus Christ to be the truth, there’s no other way to live than putting myself to work like He’s commanded all His children to do over and over and over again. And His grace and faithfulness that are proven true in my life through His answering of prayers and keeping of promises should be what will compel me to want to live a PRACTICALLY and radically different life than the rest of the world. Yes, radical. When the world says be selfish, love yourself and do whatever you can to get all the your flesh wants, we ought to be selfless in loving the people God has sovereignly put around me and put my flesh to death by yielding to God’s plan for us; die to our own desires and preferences and put others above ourselves; so that the world might know that we’re His disciples. It’s hard, but we all know it’s worth it. We just have to stop counting the cost and look at the ultimate cost that’s already been paid for us on the cross over 2000 years ago.

    Proverbs 19:2 says “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” I think we definitely have to zealous for the Lord without wasting any time counting the cost, but God wants us to be genuine and reasonable ambassadors for Him. Sometimes, depending on the situation, or the need of the moment, silence may be the best response to a foolish comment. But for other times, we must be sensible and wise in giving a biblical response without being reckless in the wordings and the way we say it. I think letting the Spirit lead (especially) in this kind of situation is crucial, because i believe whenever we try to fix things on our own, it always generates disastrous outcomes; instead of being zealous for God to bring Him glory, we may end up being ensnared by our own words that just slipped out of our mouth with the worst timing which will leave us feeling stupid or shameful for the things we said. When dealing with non-believers, we have to be especially careful, because our actions and words have direct effect on their impression of a “Christian”. I always try to make sure that i don’t make any judgmental comments with any Bible verses about something i disagree with because it’s obviously unbiblical, even though it’s very tempting to just blurt out the verses i know that explain the situation perfectly. I just have to be patient and give grace while making sure that i don’t participate in the discussion any further. What happens every time i do this is that someone would come up to me afterwards to ask me why i reacted the way i did, and then i’d ask God to use the time for beneficial conversations about Christ with that person. When dealing with a believer regarding a comment like that, i think it’s immensely important for us to hold our tongue in that very moment, so that we don’t make the response sound or look like a public rebuke, which would put that brother or sister in a very difficult situation where they’ll feel humiliated and bitter towards your comment/you. If you have a close relationship with that person, pray about it, and then find an opportunity to pull them aside to talk to them about it. If there really isn’t any form of friendship established between you and them, then pray pray pray that God would provide opportunities for people who are close to them to talk to them about it.

    Always give grace, forgive, and love. For we’ve been given grace, forgiveness, and love ourselves despite our iniquities. I still have so much to learn about this, and everything else of course. =) I’m really thankful for this Web site and i appreciate your zeal for the Lord. Keep serving, brothers!

  • I read your book and went to your conference in Portland. I was on the touch team. This week I decided to make my do hard things list. I have tried to find where my passion is in life, but I haven’t found it yet, and am praying and asking God what that might be for me. All the stories have been inspirational.

    Our family has been attending HOFCC off and on for several months. Our plan is to transfer over, but my parents are taking care of their obligations in our other church first.

    My brothers and I look forward to your next conference.

  • WOW!!!
    This is a very challenging post! It’s so easy to be content in your spiritual life with just “not doing all the wrong stuff” in an attempt to be a “good” Christian girl/boy, and then totally miss what we’re actually supposed to use our time DOING!!! I love the point you made that “not sinning is no standard (according to God).” There may be things that we need to run away from (like temptations and all that), but there are also things that we need to be PURSUING!!! What a challenge! :] I want to use my time BECOMING what God wants me to be and not just AVOIDING what He doesn’t…Thanks for the challenge! 🙂

  • This article is exactly right. Nowadays people are just “not doing” bad things and doing nothing. But sin isn’t just doing bad stuff, sin is also not doing anything to please the Lord.

  • the standers for teens is set to low the main problem with it is that teens doo not have to try very hard to succeed. and if we dont do very well then we have an excuse for why we did not succeed it s not a very good excuse but we dont have to try our hardest because of the generaltions made by adults teens can fail themselfs but pass in everone elses eyes

  • in our church they sometimes have the teens searve meals but they are never very curtious to the older generations. I think in our church that is why no one ever thinks teens are that great. My whole family my 3 brothers included think ALL teens are dumb and never think of others, they dont even think of me as a teen! i’m glad.

  • I think it’s great that this website is encouraging young people to do excellent things for the Lord, but I’d like to point out that sometimes Christian people get so caught up in “doing” that they forget to “be”. One time I had a lady at my church become aggravated with me because I wanted to do a Bible study to rejuvenate my spirit over the summer instead of working in the summer children’s program. I decided to pray and ask God what He wanted me to do. That very next day, He took me to the story in the Bible about Mary and Martha. Martha was overly concerned about service while Mary had chosen to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn of Him. There is a time for service, and there is a time to sit at His feet and soak Him in. You can probably guess what I chose to do!

    In Phillip Yancy’s book, “Prayer – does it make a difference?”, Mr. Yancy says, “For most of us prayer serves as a resource to help in a time of testing or conflict. For Jesus, it was the battle itself.” If you go out and do hard things for God but haven’t spent time in prayer, then you haven’t fought the real battle.

    One other thing I’d like to mention is that burnout can be a real issue for people who are driven to do great things in this life. One has to be on guard of over committing oneself. I believe it’s very important to ask God what HE wants us to be involved in, and not to just go involving ourselves in things that may not be a part of HIS plan. He gets to decide and direct. Everyone should be doing something, but we need to make sure we know where our Master is sending us!

  • I was the ‘good kid’ during a summer program this year, and I didn’t really think that they thought I was the ‘good kid’ because of what I was doing, but because of what I wasn’t. That was discouraging. Of course I wasn’t doing what the other teens were doing there! Why do people think that you’re good because your not doing something? It should be what we are doing instead of what we’re not. It is so sad that people think that all of us will do something like drinking, smoking, etc. So even when we’re doing things that are normal to us, people are amazed because we’re not doing something else. I hope that we can somehow change peoples perspectives. Though we can only do that with God’s help. Perspective changin’ time!!

  • Very True. Sometimes I hear people say,” well, at least I’m not doing that or AT LEAST i’m not like that.” We excuse our actions by comparing them to the world.

    ps I love this website. It’s encouraged me so much, thanks!!

  • By reading these posts it made me think. My mom has pasted on pleasing compliments that she has gotten from other Lady’s in the church about how good of a young lady I am, and a good Christan witness, and how mothers point their daughters to me to follow my example. Which made me think, I haven’t done anything that is above average or worth any praise for. I’m a normal good kid. If other girls are looking to me then I need to do something more than just be a good kid.
    I don’t want people to look up to me if all I do is be a good kid who is obedient, and I sit at home and don’t do anything. I’m pray that God would give me opportunities to do more for him. And give me ways to actually help these other girls and point them to Christ.

  • I read this in your book today and after reading i realized i always defined myself as a good christian because I didn’t do the things other kids do much like Lindsey you mention in your book. I didn’t party, drink, do drugs or get in trouble. But i didn’t have that deep and meaningful relationship that God wants to have with me. your book has opened my eyes in so many ways I don’t know where to start thank you for your help.

  • Bre makes such an excellent point… We may not be doing any of the “bad stuff” but if were not moving in Christ what are we doing? This truly makes me look at my own life and see where i’m I moving and what i’m I moving from and if i’m moving at all? Sure I go to church, youth-group, I have Christian friends, and read my Bible. But is that all i’m doing??? Remember faith w/ out works is dead! ( I think of the reference for that verse..)
    God Bless.. 🙂

  • this is such an enlightening article, god wants us to be diamonds in a pigs pen, not just mud. who will walk on the beach and stop to look aata single grain of sand?
    yet a single shell gets the attention of all who see it in its beauty and perfection of gods creation let us stand out as cristians, not blend in. let us be light on a starless night, a shooting star aong the heavens. thanks for showing us the true meaning of the christian walk

  • I think ya’ll hit the nail on the head, that Christianity is much more than just avoiding the bad, its going a whole step further, taking action that will have a good impact on the ones around us. It’s easy to get into the rut of “I’m okay, because I’m not like so and so”. Good perspective on this issue

  • I just discovered the Rebelution site (I’d heard of the books) and this topic hits close to home. I’m a Christian, involved in church, go to a Christian school, don’t get into trouble, don’t mess around with “the wrong crowd”, so I’m labeled by the world and Christians as “a good kid.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, except for I’m known for what I don’t do. I recently decided that I was sick of thinking I was better than that girl because I don’t sleep around or better than that guy because I don’t get drunk. I wanted to be better because of GOD. Because, honestly, He’s the only One truly stopping me from being like those people on the inside or the outside.

    Thanks for ya’ll’s great insight 🙂

  • I just found this sight and I’m loving it! Thank yall so much!

    Not too long ago, I went on my church’s women’s retreat with my mom. One of the older ladies was talking about how next year we’d have to get some of my friends to come along so that I wouldn’t have to sit around and talk with them all weekend. (I was the only teen there from my church) I was a little shocked cause I’ve been raised to realize that adults are humans too and worth talking to. I said that I didn’t mind talking to them at all (it’s nice to spend time with adults instead of crazy teenagers every once in a while). She then said something about how that was nice of me to say, even if I was lying through my teeth. I was really shocked now, and I told her that I wasn’t, but I’m still not sure if she really believed me…
    It’s kinda scary how low the exspectations our elders have for us are, even in the church…

  • I was always one of the “good teens.” I didn’t (and still don’t) go to parties, drink or do drugs. I got good grades and Honour Roll. I was known as the kid who always did what she was told. But the Rebelution has changed that. I’ve made a decision to be known for what I do, not what I don’t do. I’m tired of the low expectations put on my generation. I have decided not to let my age define what I can/can’t do. And I’m continually thankful that I found this movement of teens when I did (the summer before grade 10).

  • You guys must be the chief example of young adults living for Christ. Amazing! I have read lots of your posts and have started reading your book, Do Hard Things, and love all of it. I came across this post by recommendation, actually it was a writing assignment!:) Anyways, i enjoy all of your truth-filled content (and humor), and am trying to apply it to my own walk. Constantly i am pressed to follow the world in style, lifestyle, expectations (or lack of), and attitude. It is a constant challenge. It helps my parents chose to pull me from the common course and instead homeschooled my siblings and i, bringing us up in the way of the Lord. I am SOOO thankful they did! Your website and blog and CAUSE is only encouraging this- i am so happy. I also read Hannah Farver’s book, Uncompromising, and was uplifted by it. So helpful! Thank her for me!:)
    Thank you too for realizing this passion God has placed in your hearts. Blessings!

  • This is the proper weblog for anyone who needs to search out out about this topic. You notice a lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would needHaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, just nice!

  • That is a very thought provoking post. I am a pastor’s daughter and have been hiding behind the “good girl” label most of my life. But, I am not called to be a “good girl”, I am called to be a Christ follower. I need to follow Christ’s footsteps even unto His death. Well, it may not be a physical death, but dying to myself and living for Him.

    Love In Christ,

  • Yes, there have been times that I have been labeled by other people as a good person. By my familly even, but I know deep down inside that I have a lot of sin in my life.

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 →