rebelling against low expectations

Meet the Enemy Within


When we sign on to God’s plan for our growth, we’re declaring war on our sin nature and it fights the idea of do hard things with everything its got. The reason it’s so hard to do hard things is because our sinful flesh wants us to do easy things.

Jonathan Edwards, a great American theologian, once wrote: “The way to Heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh.”

Doing hard things is a fight with our own sin nature, our own natural tendency to take it easy and just get by, our inherent disposition to go with the flow and to take the path of least resistance. That’s why it’s hard.

In the Romans 7:21-25 the Apostle Paul talks about this nature that wages war against his desire to obey God:

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

The Bible alone gives us the real explanation about our tendency to take the path of least resistance, even though doing hard things is in our best interest.

Good Creator, Fallen Creatures

Imagine for a moment a country where the laws are designed to reward hard work and where almost anyone can advance in society or career if they only care to apply themselves. You could only conclude that there must be a wise and good ruler. Now, if the inhabitants of that country refused to apply themselves, would you say the problem was with the ruler? Of course not. In the same way, the fact that we are so eager to avoid doing hard things — even when effort is the way God designed us to grow — means that there is a good Creator and fallen creatures.

God’s design is good, but it has been corrupted by our sin. We were made to grow through effort. The corruption of our nature is laziness. What better way to undermine God’s plan for us than to make us avoid His means for growth?

Platinum or Bronze?

Of course, it might sound more appealing to sign-up for a less “extreme” version of the Christian life. Instead of the Platinum “Do Hard Things” Membership, our sin nature offers us something more along the lines of the Bronze “Go to Church Every Week” Membership. Lesser benefits for lesser effort. Sounds good, right? But Scripture doesn’t leave that option open to us.

Writes C.S. Lewis: “It is hard; but the sort of compromise we’re hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible… We are like eggs at present. And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

In other words, we can’t just go on being ordinary, decent Christians, giving God part of our lives while holding back the rest. Either we are hatched and learn to fly or we are a dud that will soon start to stink. The ironic thing here is that although the hardest thing — the almost impossible thing — is to hand over our whole selves to Christ, it is far easier than what we are trying to do instead.

Hard Things or Harder Things?

What happens when we follow our sinful tendency to avoid hard things? The answer is that hard things come to us. It’s like the guy who won’t go in to the gas station to put some air in slightly deflated tire, only to have it blow out on him on the freeway when he’s late for an important meeting. Maybe it’s even happened before, and he’s already used his spare. Tough luck.

We can’t really avoid doing hard things. We can only decide when to do them and how prepared we will be to handle the hard things life brings our way. You either do the hard thing of getting prepared, or you deal with the harder thing of being unprepared. We either “do it” now, or we end up having to “deal with it” later.

This about a lot more than flat tires and missed meetings. Resisting temptation is a hard thing, but not as hard as dealing with an addiction. Finding and keeping a job is a hard thing, but not as hard as dealing with unemployment and struggling to make ends meet.

Time to Persevere

Of course, our sin nature doesn’t want us to understand this. It wants us to keep on believing the lie that our lives will be easier when we avoid doing hard things. It knows that it’s in trouble once we realize that we’ll always be better off when we choose to say no to sin and choose to do hard things for God.

But like Paul says, our sin nature doesn’t sleep. It’s not a matter of some one-time victory. It’s a constant battle. You see, our sin nature knows what’s ultimately at stake. It’s not your test for school or the tires on your car, it’s your whole life.

Starting in Part Three, we’ll take a look at the glorious life God wants you to live.

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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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  • This is so true. Often people believe that if they just put their faith in Christ, life will be easy. But, as you said, just the opposite is true. If we wish to grow we must be willing, like a plant, to fight our way through the hard dirt and rocks to bloom in the sun.
    Thank you so much for this series; I really need it. Keep up the good work.


  • Wow. This series is amazing and it’s not even finished! The message is so convicting. I have the tendency to go to bed and think that I’ve done pretty well today and sleep thinking that I’m not so bad. How wrong I am! There have been many a day when I could have pushed myself farther, but I didn’t. I now realize that it is not mere laziness,; it is also a sin. I am so incapable of good without God and I must remember this everyday. Only through God can the hard things I want to accomplish come to pass. Thanks so much!

  • Isn’t it funny how sometimes we lead people to believe that once you become a Christian roadblocks are suddenly cleared from life and you begin living the easy life. The life we lead is hard, guaranteed. But like you said, will we choose to face the obstacles and the trials head on, ready to meet them, or will we turn our backs and take the “easy road”, letting the devil hit us from behind?

  • This post has been so very helpful! My flesh absolutely hates doing hard things and reading this has brought clarity and encouragement to me in my battle against sin.

  • Your site is phenomenal. Your message is deceptively simple, that youth should TRY for hard things rather than drift comfortably in the sea of consumerism, or at best a merely academic achievement we (and we are a part of this culture) have set for them.

    Hey, guys? Your message is FAR more than to just youth. This posting right here could be the study of a group of adults young and old (I myself am 26) and if they listened and obeyed, they would profit much. The Spirit must be whispering through you, at least occasionally.

    I need to re-read the wisdom of this particular posting. I particularly like the allegory about the wise ruler, and the application of the C.S. Lewis quote.

    “We can’t really avoid doing hard things. We can only decide when to do them and how prepared we will be to handle the hard things life brings our way. You either do the hard thing of getting prepared, or you deal with the harder thing of being unprepared.”

    How true that is. Hard things will come at you fast and furious, when you least expect them. It would be best not to reach that point as a spiritually and emotionally coddled person with no RESOURCES to deal with hard times, and with no practice and habit of RECOURSE to God.

  • My 12 yr old daughter & I are reading your book together. It’s message is as much for me as for her.
    I so desire for her to choose to do hard things for herself. Any advise on how to make this decision and how to motivate her to not just do enough to “get by”.

  • Hey guys,
    I bought your book for my oldest girls and thought I would just glance at it myself first. I have been not put it down! It has me thinking over my life: By the time I was 19 I was full time care giver to a mom on life support at home and would be for the next 6 years, attended nursing school and running my dad’s business. I did do hard things! Recently, I began to home school our five children and returned to work one night a week as a nurse for a very tough patient…sigh.
    I began to mourn my losses. I was suppose to have a season when I got to be home ALL alone, kids in school, husband at work. JUST ME—-my season of Donna Reed!
    All our dreams have changed. And yet, maybe, just maybe, it’s because His plans are so much better then mine. I can do all things through HIM. I use to know that.
    It is not that I walked away from God, I just had plans to be lazy. How awesome that He has better for me and our family. I am not sure if this all can make sense to anyone here. I am one of those fourtysomethingers you speak about…but suddenly I find myself hungry for meat, not milk again for the first time in a very long time. I pray I can share this book with my girls and they will drink it in.
    Thanks, you blessed me.

  • Wow. I am struggling on two subjects with God: following His plan and turning away from sin and I thought that those two were seperate things that had no relations to each other. But now I realize that those two things are actually one and the same. Now I think that I will do both at the same time. Thank you for helping me realize this.

  • When we do Hard things we are building character and we grow a strong relationship with God
    It also helps with life’s daily struggles.

  • I love this! I find it hard to keep going, and not become lazy or disintrested…this definatly encouraged me:) Keep it up:)

  • Satan tries to distract us. Just when we go on one of those famed “spiritual highs”, the devil comes around and kicks off our high horse. He wants to see us fail.
    The question is this, will we sit in our sin, shame, and misery, or will we reaccept God’s mercy, grace, and love, and then try our hardest to resist temptation?
    Everyone has heard the label, “Christians are hypocrites”… my first reply to those people is, “yup, you’re right”. I don’t claim to be perfect, because, quite frankly, i mess it up all the time. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The difference is that we have the blood of Jesus to pick us up and put us back on track.
    I have been told that, in your spiritual, if you’re not moving fowards, then you’re moving backwards. No one can just sit out their walk with Christ. You must push foward. I pray everyday that God would make my calling all the more certain so that I can do hard things on the path God has set out for me.

  • Hey you guys. Can you do an article about helping teen girls get through the tough things the world sets upon us. I’m going through some things and I want to know the right way to deal with them. I also want to see other teens to not only survive this world, but to help change it and shape it for the generations to come.
    I have three younger sisters and I DON’T want to see them going through ANY of the things me or my older sister went through.
    Thank you for everything. I hope that your website, books and shows will bring many more to Christ.

    God Bless and Good Luck!!!

  • Very true. A wise man once said: “We are all our own worst enemies.” It’s our nature to want to bypass the opportunity to do hard things. Luckily, God gives us the ability to take on tough challenges. Jesus is always going to be there to encourage us to do hard things in our lives, but we have to be willing. It’s sort of a “help me help you” dynamic.

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 →