rebelling against low expectations

Starting Small, Aiming Big


One of the key principles behind the Rebelution is the balance between “big hard things” and “small hard things.” Big hard things are hard things that are often too big for us to do alone. Small hard things are hard things that don’t pay off immediately — and that are often repetitive and seemingly insignificant.

This principle of “small” and “big” hard things is something we explore in-depth in the book — but after the Dallas conference last year we received a letter from 18-year-old Kristin, who was writing to share her new insight.

“The world’s expectations are seriously rattled when teenagers are self-disciplined, serve others, honor their parents, study well, and behave wisely and rationally,” she wrote. “But there’s a problem if we stop there. We stop growing.”

Kristin shared a beautiful analogy of a carpenter’s apprentice who has learned to distinguish between varieties of lumber and their uses, plane a board perfectly level, sand smooth a surface, drive a screw straight, correctly apply stain and varnish, and has mastered the elements of design. By itself, that’s not enough.

It’s when he combines all these individual skills and puts them to work to create something beautiful or useful — a table, a ship, or a pew for a cathedral — that the world can see and benefit from his labor. It’s the same with us, Kristin said.

“Teens like this are the ones who move from merely being responsible for their own lives to accepting greater responsibilities that affect larger numbers of people,” she continued. “The challenge begins with them, but it expands into reaching others.”

Kristin recognized that we’ll probably end up doing a lot more “small” hard things in life than “big” hard things. There’s a time and a place for everything, she said. Still, that is no excuse for failing to seek ways to bring together our current abilities and turn them into a stronger and more influential whole.

This is especially true for teens. “There is a tremendous amount of opportunity open to us,” she stressed. “If only we have the initiative to match it.”

Answer the following questions, then share your answers and other thoughts with your fellow rebelutionaries in the comments section below:

  • Are you faithfully applying yourself to the “small hard things” that will prepare you to impact the world for Christ?
  • Has God placed a holy ambition (something big) on your heart? Have embraced or resisted this calling?

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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, I don’t think I’ve been one of the first to comment here before. I somehow feel…special, or something.

    But anyways, thank you for this post. God has just very recently spoken to me about doing “bigger” hard things. Right now it is not exactly a hard thing that I can’t do alone, but a hard thing that includes blessing other people. All my life I have been working on the “small hard things,” and I think God is telling me that it is time to begin reaching outside of my comfort zone, into places I am not used to going.

    Get where I’m going here? Volunteering! I feel like that is something I can do, and something I should do. I have been praying about where and such, and I think God is speaking to me.

    I am SO excited. I absolutely cannot wait to start volunteering at wherever I’m going to do so. I’m thrilled, because ever since last summer, when I found your site and started reading all the articles, I have been crying out to God about what he would have me do.

    I think he’s beginning to speak, and I’m thrilled.

    Thank you, Alex and Brett, for putting the resources here to encourage and inspire Rebelutionaries.

  • In response to the first Question I would like to think I have faithfully applied myself to the “small hard things” but I know I haven’t, although I have been doing better, thanks be to God.

    As for the second, well I feel as if God has placed on my heart to start a “no drugs” campaign. But I have no idea where to start. So I have resisted it to a degree. Anybody interested in being my partner(s)? Thank you Brett and Alex, like always your posts are helpful and God honoring. (I think you might have a typo on the last line, “have embraced or resisted this calling.” or is it supposed to be that way?) Well, anyways thanks again for the reminder to do the big and small hard things in life.

    Christ bless,

  • […] A great blessing in the blogosphere has been the last few posts from my good friends Alex and Brett Harris. Their latest post on “Starting Small, Aiming Big” was another great reminder to me. “One of the key principles behind the Rebelution is the balance between “big hard things” and “small hard things.” Big hard things are hard things that are often too big for us to do alone. Small hard things are hard things that don’t pay off immediately — and that are often repetitive and seemingly insignificant.” […]

  • What a great post. This has been something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I tend to overlook the little things, and jump right in to make the “big” impact. Just recently I’ve been convicted on the honoring parents and respecting siblings level. So no, I don’t think I’ve been completely faithful in the small things. It’s so easy to want to overlook the smaller issues.

    But yes, I do think God has given me a Holy Ambition. He’s put reaching my youth group on my heart. We have a great group of kids who haven’t quite embraced the life-changing power that God has. They’re content with the “Jesus loves me” message, and very few have gotten deeper. I’ve been able to partner with my youth pastor to build a stronger youth leadership team, and work among the kids and give them tools to live their life the way God wants it. Some time in the near future, I will be able to present my testimony to the group, and I’m going to be sharing what the Rebelution Blog has done to further my faith, and challenge the kids in my youth group to come to the Portland Conference with me. I feel like God has put these teens on my heart, and I’m very excited to see where He leads us as a group to go.

    Thanks Alex and Brett, you guys are giving me great things to think about!!!

  • Wow! – It’s great to hear a post of what’s totally been on my heart lately! I get so distracted with the fact that I’m not doing any exceptionally big things right now and I need to constantly remind myself that now is the time to be faithful in and do the hard little things. Thanks guys!

  • Great thoughts, guys.

    Right now, doing hard, challenging things is unimaginable and extremely SCARY….I have enough trouble focusing on the smaller stuff, you know, like getting up early enough in the morning to read God’s Word and pray, refraining from eating that extra chocolate cherry or piece of cake, and studying CONSISTENTLY for my college classes. These are my little woes, my tales of remorse, my thorns in the flesh. These are the obstacles that I must hurdle before even thinking about the greater responsibilities God has in store for me.

    Truly, if we cannot control ourselves in the small stuff, how can we possibly expect to exceed in big stuff?! May God enable me with strength and will power to exceed in the little things so that one day, Lord willing, I may have control over much.

  • Alex and Brett, You all have an awesome site and an awesome ministry!
    As to the questions, 1) I would love to say yes, but I’m not completely applying myself to the ‘small hard things’ but I do try, and with His help, I’ll get better. 2) Yes, God has given me my calling, to be a missionary, though I’m not completely sure where yet. Right now I’m just working on growing in the Lord and ministering where I am. I love the perspective of being a missionary, so I’m embracing this.
    Thanks for such a challenging site and testamony!
    Your sister in Christ,

  • This is something I’ve been praying about a lot recently. Though, for me, instead of running from bigger things, I was looking for God to show me what the big “hard thing” was in my life. It was only after several days of prayer and wondering where it is that He is taking me that I realized that striving, by His strength, to be completely faithful in the small things is a begin enough task in itself. Once I have learned faithfulness in the small things, He’ll show me were to go next.

  • Caleb S.: For your “no drugs” campaign can I offer a little advice? I think teens usually get on drugs because they are bored, to feel accepted, because they don’t feel loved or if they are down and don’t really have a reason to live (or don’t see a reason, actually). To us, as Christians, the answer is obvious to all of these — go to Jesus. But to someone who doesn’t know God it’s not so obvious. To someone who has met “churched” people who aren’t really Christians it’s even less obvious because they present Jesus in a way that people actually DON’T want Him or want what they have.

    I believe that our purpose on this earth is to seek love and to seek truth in such a way that we come to know THE Love and THE Truth — Jesus. I think that is why most of us are naturally looking to fit in, to feel loved, for a reason to live, and generally for something to satisfy us in a way that we are no longer bored and JUST surviving — so that we are really LIVING, you know. Only God can fill that need. Only Jesus, Himself, can satisfy us.

    The world tries all different kinds of things to stop kids from drinking, smoking, doing drugs, getting pregnant at the wrong time, getting abortions. So-called-Christians try all sorts of stuff, too. Just last month I read an article by a really famous leader of a big ministry who was pleading with people to talk with others about abortions, but when urging them to spread the truth that abortion is wrong he said something like, “People don’t need to hear your religious reasons against abortion; science is now enough to convince them.” This bothered me so much because I was like, A good deal of people know from science that abortion is murder, yet they still do it and still advocate their right to choose to kill over another human being’s right to live. If more peoples’ MINDS are changed just to know the facts what difference will it really make? Look at the movies in Hollywood, the shows on TV, the books on the bestsellers list, the stories in the newspaper, listen about what’s really happening in Iraq; peoples’ HEARTS need to be changed — TRANSFORMED! We have facts from science, but facts don’t make us value life; God does.

    I think the same goes with drugs. The “Truth” campaign was doing cool stuff when I was younger — it IS good to get facts out ALSO. But the facts are out and it’s not enough. We need Jesus.

    My advice is ask God to teach you and enable you to present Him and His Life and Love to the people He has called to you reach in such a way that they will know that He is the answer — all that they need — and in a way that they will get rid of all drugs and everything that is impure in their life and will follow God and seek God with all that they are.

    And also, I highly recommend that you read the book “Run Baby Run” by Nicky Cruz. Nicky was part of a gang and was into drugs and God sent a guy named David Wilkerson (not sure about that last name, but whatever his name was he wrote “The Cross and The Switchblade” about his ministry) to tell him and his friends about God and he became a Christian and started a ministry to help teens who wanted to get off drugs. It’s sometimes around in the Biography section or Christian section at big bookstores or you can special order a copy of it from a Christian bookstore or you can order it online — I don’t know the publisher it’s with now because it kept being switched around.

    We definitely need people out there who will present Jesus to our generation in the correct way — as He is — so that they will say no to drugs and all that doesn’t honor Him and will pursue Him with all that they are and all that they’ve got.

    Actually, we need to be those people — we need to do that.

  • Alex and Brett: I agree that, as the post said, we should never stop growing. I agree that God has great plans for our lives that He shares with us as we seek Him and persevere and that He brings forth in our lives to the degree that we are faithful to Him.

    But regarding the questions, I am faced with a question.

    See, I answered the first one easy enough. Have I been faithfully applying myself to the “small hard things” that will prepare me to impact the world for Christ? Sometimes yes; sometimes no. That’s everybody’s answer on here, more or less, though, I guess.

    But then the second question is tougher. God HAS placed big things on my heart. I started at first to think of what He’s placed on my heart for how I would answer. I thought I could share one thing or could make a list. But I can’t. As I thought over the different things He’s placed on my heart that are big that I need others to help me with, I realized that many of them have not worked out. He put the dream on my heart, I pressed through to do my part to make it happen and trusted Him to provide what I needed, He provided what I needed, but then the people who I needed to help me out never showed or showed up and then resisted and turned away from God and it fell apart. So I guess I have to answer the second with a question:

    What happens when God puts something on your heart and YOU are faithful the best you can be, but the people you need help from resist?

    I’ve just been waiting, myself, for maybe others to step up later on to work with on the projects. But the same thing keeps happening and I’m tired of it. All I end up doing are projects with 2 people or less. And I’ve ended up most of the time only wanting to work on my own with God because no one seems to want to make any sacrifices to be faithful to God — they’d rather do their own agenda and call it pleasing to Him even though it’s not.

    How to you find others who are inspired to join you or inspire others to join you? I pray for the people but they still have free will, of course, and seem to always end up deciding that it’s too hard to keep growing and that the best “christian” life for them is lived like a potato (spiritually), you know, as in not pressing forward or doing anything but what’s easy. And I don’t want to be “stuck” because I am surrounded by people who choose to be stuck.

    What’s your advice? The projects and things that God has put on my heart are important — really important — and I don’t want to just drop them. I want to push through all the way. He’s proven to me that they are needed, I see so often that they are needed, but still they remain in the “only a dream” stage of production. What do I do? What do you do? HOW do I push through moreso than I am with prayer and preparation? Is there a “Do Hard Things” shot you can give to people to immunize them to cowardice and apathy and to cause them to have a heart for God unlike the generations before us? (just kidding about the last question — or rather, I doubt it, but thought it was worth a try to ask)

  • Good post guys!!
    i am in central Asia and i really enjoy reading your posts they give me strength to go on.
    Nicole and Caleb: i also heard about a preacher that wanted people to wear bracelets to tell them not to gossip he said the people should rely on their on strength.—-Not Gods
    people really need help these days and we need to be helping them

  • God has “pushed” me into doing “BIG” things way before I have felt ready and because of it, I have learned that the big and the small are all the same — they must be done in God’s Strength, not our own. God had me bicycle a 26 mile ultra-hilly route once to teach me about my lack of strength. I actually believe that I walked most of it, except for the downhills. On the way down my 1st hill, my front tire came completely off and I flipped over the handlebars. I assumed that I was done and could just grab my tire and walk up the hill, but God let me know, that even as things are hard, He is there to help me finish and finish well. I finished 5 hours later and collapsed on the couch and said, “I’m glad I never have to do that again.” To which God replied, “There will come a time, when you will do it every day.” He meant it and I did. Big things or small things, they all come down to obedience. If we’re obedient in the small things, He moves us on to greater things, but our strength of character and our dependence on Him is learned in the small — or sometimes, as He throws us into the big things for a fast lesson.
    We need Him to do both the big and the small through us so as to fully please Him. All that we do on our own is not really a gift unto Him, but a form of pride. May we do all that we do, big or small, with His Strength and to please Him, presenting to this world, His Banner of Faithfulness.

  • Alex and Brett, this is one of the topics that I love the most about your blog. primarily because it is one of the skills that I am worst at and I constantly need the reminder.

    * Are you faithfully applying yourself to the “small hard things” that will prepare you to impact the world for Christ?–Unfortunately I’m usually only faithful to complete the small things with deadlines. (like homework) I keep telling myself that this is ok, God has put me in collage and to serve Him effectively now and in the future means doing my homework with “all my might.” Which in and of itself is not bad, except that I do not apply the same reasoning to participation in family work. Rather I tend to use it as an excuse for my lack of help with housework, ironic as He put me in the family before He put me in collage.
    * Has God placed a holy ambition (something big) on your heart? Have embraced or resisted this calling?–Currently the big ambition I have is to work for my church as a Graphic Designer, designing brochures, fliers, signs, or even doing the worship music. Maybe even becoming a church secretary/graphic designer. I don’t know the scope yet, but I know I want to serve God and His Church with the skills God gave me and trained me in.

  • Reading more of the comments on here and rereading this blog entry I’m beginning to wonder. How does our view of what is “big” and what is “small” compare to God’s View of what is “big” and what is “small”?

    I kept thinking about what you guys wrote and what people are writing in here in relation to these verses:

    Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.”
    Luke 9:48

    “When the Son of Man comes in His Glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His Throne in Heavenly Glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
    Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’
    Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’
    “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the Truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.’
    Matthew 25:31-40

    It seems that the things typically thought of by us as “big” are things that involve a lot of people or important people or things that make a very apparent impact or things that we get a lot of attention for. And it seems the things we think of as “small” are the things we don’t get noticed for, that don’t affect a lot of people or very important of people, things that aren’t very visible or things we don’t get rewards for that we think we might like — like being seen or appreciated or recognized for doing something “good” in the world’s, or church’s, eyes.

    Don’t you think that maybe this is all backwards?

    How is it really measured in God’s Kingdom? What does He see as great and “big”?

    Is it the community service and service to our church and the stuff that everybody sees and says, “Wow, now that teenager totally blew away my expectations!” or “Great job!”?

    Or is it the waiting up with a younger sibling who is sick, the time spent alone in prayer for a friend, the time spent worshipping God and serving Him in ways that no one sees, the little note of encouragement that you pass to a friend during lunch?

    Do we see the loud, noticed, appreciated, church/community, people-crowded things as big? If so, I think we need a jar to our perspectives.

    I think God sees things differently.

    I think He delights in the quiet things that we do only for Him — the things no one will ever know about or thank us for. I think those things are bigger than our measure of greatness when put in the light of the Kingdom of Heaven.

  • Alex and Brett: first let me say that I really enjoy reading ya’ll’s blog. It has really got me thinking about some things. You guys have been a blessing and I really appreciate the way ya’ll are allowing God to use you.

    Are you faithfully applying yourself to the “small hard things” that will prepare you to impact the world for Christ? yes, I believe I am. I try to really work at serving my family right now while I am at home and be kind and patient with my five younger siblings. There is a lot to learn while you are still at home and with your family and right now I am just working on serving my family to the best of my ability with joy while putting their needs before my own.
    Has God placed a holy ambition (something big) on your heart? yes, He has called me to the mission field. I’m not 100% sure where yet but God working through this with me.

  • I am trying to be faithful with the small hard things! I’m trying to serve more and better, love more like Jesus, strive for excellence in everything…
    And yes, they are hard things… that’s why they’re under that list!

    The holy ambition God has placed on my heart? Reaching an unreached people group, and somewhere in the Middle East. I’ve grown up around Arabs, am learning their language… God may change the plans I have for myself between now and the time I really go, but until then I’ve got to prepare myself for this and also be prepared to stay if that’s what He says.

  • Great post, once again. I love reading these articles – so encouraging!

    I feel pulled to several “big” ambitions, however, as to how, when, which one, etc. God has yet to reveal. It keeps coming back to, be faithful in the small areas and you will be rewarded with more responsibility. A bigger task, so to speak. So right now, I’m working on the basics. Simple and boring, but ever so foundational and important. It can be hard doing something that lacks any glamour, like honoring my parents not just in words, but in my heart, tone of voice, and affections. Or learning to embrace my role as a sister with complete joy. It can seem like not a big deal. It even gathers more negative comments then positive from “concerned” relatives and friends. However, it’s these small things that God keeps showing me to be consistent with and embrace, reminding me that as I do so, He will keep rewarding me with more responsibility and the fulfilment of these “bigger” visions inside.

    And I might as well mention some of those “big” visions just for the fun of it. Obviously, I am a girl and want to have my own home. I’m ever so excited about home-schooling and supporting my husband in his mission for life. I’ve also felt a desire to walk besides younger girls and encourage them in the Lord. I LOVE to plan and organize events. A couple years ago, when I was 16, I put together a conference for girls. I have been feeling a tug towards doing it again, but we’ll see where the Lord leads. I have a couple other “tugs”, but those are best left up to God to see what He’ll do with them all in His time.

    Anyways, it was so encouraging to read this article and all of the comments. Keep striving for whatever it is God has placed in front of you. He will give you the strength to accomplish it. All for His glory.

  • Starting Small, Aiming Big…

    God has been speaking to me and I felt lead to right to the editor of ‘The Times’ Newspaper (England) sharing the message I felt God has been leading to share.

    To summarise my letter, I basically detailed that young people can have big ambitions, we do not have to be louts and thugs, we can change the world and we can resist the current trends of teenage pregnancy, disorderly behaviour and general disrespect for morality and godliness.

    To start small is often harder said than done as I know I often lose my focus when starting a project for God, but God has be en teaching me, that He honours small beginnings and He loves it when we are faithful, and He will and wants to help us in the ambitions He has given us.

    In England, I can say, youth culture has been in the media a lot, but often for the wrong reasons, I would be grateful if you can continue praying for the Rebelutionaries here and around the world, as we do for you!

    Amen! and thank you Alex and Brett for sharing this thought.

  • Jeff, I nevre knew you were in Asia.Are you from there?

    Alex and Brett, thank you for posting that.If you don’t mind, i would like to share a quick something.

    When I was in kindergarden and I first started learning my vowels and
    stuff like that,I was excited at first.I m blessed with a mom that
    that homeschools me.But,as weeks went by I started getting bored of
    school.I thought it was to hard and that I should not have to be doing
    it if I did not want to.I rebeled against my parents athoritie,not wanting
    to practice reading.I asked my mom,”Why do I have to do it?Who is it
    really going to help?”and my said”Hannah,God gave you reading to help
    prepare you to one day put it to use to glorifie Him.If you don’t use the abilties
    He has given you ,you will be held acountable for that sin.”So God really used
    that to open my eyes.Then when I got a little bit older God really put my mind
    to want to laern about slavery.So read lots about slavery.everything I could
    get my hands on about Harriet Tubman,Rosa Parks,and stories of slaves.I
    now am an abolishtionist geting to use the knowledge God prepared me with.
    i heard heard about what Zach Hunter is doing and he has been a huge
    influence on me.and well that is my story. Your Sister in Christ, Hannah

  • * Are you faithfully applying yourself to the “small hard things” that will prepare you to impact the world for Christ? I am trying to with all of my heart. Of course, I am still human, and too many times I have been lazy or forgetful. But I am so thankful that God ha been faithful to teach and grow me through these times. Sometimes I think it can seem like the “small hard things” are the hardest, because often there is more of them. But among my small hard things there would be: serving my church in different ways – especially the Book-Table ministry, serving my family consistently and with joy, and reaching out to the church body.
    * Has God placed a holy ambition (something big) on your heart? Have embraced or resisted this calling? I believe so. A couple, actually – but one must go before the other. My main ambition is to be a godly wife and mother someday. To raise up another generation of world-changers, and to be an example of God’s love for us in the way I love and serve my husband. But before that happens, whenever that may be, I believe God has given me the inspiration and call to write a book that will touch people’s lives, and give them a different look at the Christian walk. It was hard at first for me to reconcile not going to college to prepare better to be a homemaker…but once I accepted it, and embraced it, God gave me even more ways to serve him that I would not have been able to do had I gone to college – including writing the book.

    That clip of John Piper was really good – I don’t know why I didn’t see that before.
    Thank-you for this post.

    ~Lady Tai

  • Nicole: Excellent points about not losing perspective in regards to “big” and “small” hard things! However, I think the difference is explained in the post:

    Teens like this are the ones who move from merely being responsible for their own lives to accepting greater responsibilities that affect larger numbers of people,” she continued. “The challenge begins with them, but it expands into reaching others.”

    Also, I think we all agree (and Alex and I have repeatedly said) that the small things are just as important (if not more important) than the big things. The verses you share confirm this. However, there are other verses in Scripture that speak to the danger of limiting ourselves to merely pursuing our own personal/private holiness.

    Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

    There are other verses (such as the Parable of the Talents) that speaks to God’s willingness to bring bigger things (i.e. greater responsibility) to those who are faithful in the quiet small things (think David as a shepherd boy becoming King of Israel).

    The other issue that we must remember (this is in our book) is that whatever we do, our only motivation should be to glorify God—even if we’re just a streetsweeper. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If a man is called a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”

  • Alex and Brett,I made a comment ealier today on this post,if ya’ll could read it that would be great.Another thing I would like to bring up is we tend to say “You guys really get me to think.”.But is it unuff just to think?Is it unuff just to talk about it?For me I think actions speak louder than words.We spend a lot of time talking and not doing.I was wandering if ya’ll could post a page where people could comment Ideas that we could use.Then we could do a “Strike Week”.Where for a whole week we spend our time doing those hard things we posted. Please give a reply.Your sister in Christ, Hannah

  • I find it’s often easier to strive for the “big” hard things as opposed to the “small”, because you know that’s what the people outside of your home are going to see.

  • Brett: I agree that when we are faithful to God in our One on one walk with Him, then as reward for our faithfulness He gives us more responsability and more opportunity and more, in general, to be faithful with. But I also think that if we really get to know God — seek Him wholeheartedly — and really pursue holiness personally and privately with Him then there is really no danger of hiding what we have or limiting ourselves because in my experience it has been that if someone really experiences God imtimately in their life then they have no way of containing themselves about it or hiding it from the world — even though they sometimes wish to because “shining” the Light God has given us in our personal walk for all to see more often than not brings a lot of hatred (kind of like if you have the brights on by accident on your car when you are driving — it annoys people to witness a lot of light when their eyes are used to the dark).

    But I also think that sometimes we may be surprised with the big things God gives us to be responsible for after we have been faithful with “small” things. Sometimes they aren’t things that we would choose and they aren’t things that other people appreciate or acknowledge or see as anything worthwhile for God’s Kingdom. But nonetheless, they are a blessing, a reward for our faithfulness and very “big” — important — in His Eyes, and not to be considered “small” by us.

    In the book “Green Leaf in Drought” Arthur and Wilda, a young couple, have been called to be missionaries in China. They hope to be welcomed in the new place that God has sent them to work and, obviously — being missionaries — to accomplish a lot for God’s Kingdom. However, they get there, and nothing is as was expected. The communists take over the area, the church they were supposed to work with doesn’t want them to attend because the presence of foreigners threatens their safety, they are forbidden from talking to people outside the family, they can’t access mission funds, and Arthur’s life is in peril because he accidently signed a communist contract because they said it had to do with “world peace.” They don’t feel like they are accomplishing anything or reaching anybody, so they apply for permits to go home. They keep waiting, but they aren’t allowed to leave, are very poor and, still, aren’t allowed to talk to anybody or associate with anyone outside of family (much less preach the Gospel). They were learning a lot of important lessons privately, but couldn’t tell anybody. They couldn’t understand the point of God sending them there and keeping them there for no good reason that they could yet see. They kept waiting for God to set them free and send them someplace else so that they could do something bigger than what they were doing — or in their eyes, just something. By the time they were released after about 2 years, they saw God’s plan through all of it, though. God had kept from speaking about Christianity to the people of China who they were sent to reach thus enabling them to tell the people about God in a much more powerful way — by living it day to day through the little things. Arthur and Wilda had to go through everything the people of China had to, or would have to, go through for God. Everything down to the poverty, the molding balls of manure with water from snow that made ones hands crack and bleed to make “poor man’s coal” to keep the family warm, the isolation, and the threats of death (for a while, every day Arthur had to bid farewell to his wife and little girl knowing he might never see them again and report to the communist’s local headquarters to find out what they had decided about his fate, walking through town on the way there seeing lists tacked up of the people who had been executed — some of them for being Christians). All the things that seemed small and private, though incredibly hard, to Arthur and Wilda were very big, “shining” things in God’s Kingdom and to the people of China because through each of them God proved painstakingly that He is Faithful in every detail and that He truly is all that we need. And thus, a part of the underground church of China was born. What they did turned out to be bigger than what they had planned or hoped to do by doing more apparently big things.

    Which, I guess, brings me back to what you said, that “whatever we do, our only motivation should be to glorify God — even if we’re just a streetsweeper.” You’re right and I agree. And if we are that way, then there is no danger or problem and our perspective will be right.

    I was only worried about the emphasis here — that people would ASSUME that big things look big or involve a lot of people or seem important (at the time). True — some do, like with David becoming king. But I don’t think that was the biggest thing David did. I think the quiet time spent with God, the writing of the Psalms while in close, private communion with God, the lessons learned and triumphing over inner trials that caused him to write the Psalms and to be a good, godly king were much, much bigger. As a king, God gave him a platform to help people and to do great things — that was obvious and probably seemed HUGE to him. It would to me and you. But do you think spending time alone writing the Psalms seemed as big or seemed to afford as much of a platform to “shine”? He could have done that as a shepherd. He didn’t need to be king to write Psalms. People might have even told him to spend less time writing stuff no one reads and to spend more time focusing on his kingly duties — people might have tried to give him the impression that what he was doing writing the Psalms was secondary to other things in his life. That he should focus his insight on more “outward” endevours that would benefit people besides himself. I don’t know if that’s how people treated him about his writing, but that’s how people treat me about my poetry. But now, years and years and years later, what impacts us, our walk with God and the way we live our lives, more — reading that David became king and was a good king or reading a Psalm that God uses to speak to us in our hour of need — a Psalm that David received from God when he was alone unto God?

    The Psalm impacts me more.

    I think David was enabled to be a good king through the time spent alone writing the Psalms. I think he had the personal time with God and then he couldn’t help the Light shining publically. Like you and Alex say, the quiet things do lead to big things like being king. But I think that our perspective can be wrong sometimes when presently we are given a big job like Arthur and Wilda were given and we see it as less than being given the responsiblity of being king. I think we should see both things as just as big in impacting God’s Kingdom and glorifying Him and as tasks we should hope to “grow into” God blessing our faithfulness with — though one isn’t as glamorous or seemingly productive as the other.

    Personally, I know it would be a bigger challenge for me and more of a miracle for God to enable me to do what Arthur and Wilda did than it would be to rule (as a king or whatnot) over a lot of people. And I think to appreciate, be thankful for, and do best the big things in the future that God has planned for us and is preparing us for now, we probably need to ask Him to change our perspectives on what is the biggest and best way to shine the Light He put inside us for His Kingdom.

    (I thought this would be a short response, but it kept getting longer.)

  • I think that I’m the only person to comment that doesn’t really have much of an idea of a ‘big’ thing God wants me to do.
    Maybe I’m not ready???
    I think that thing about the streetsweeper is awesome, Brett. It is good to remember, especially since we can’t hear those in heaven saying, “Wow, what a great streetsweeper.” Ususally we just think that nobody sees that stuff. That story helped remind me that there are others watching- I often forget that the spiritual world is there and could be watching what I do.
    So next time I’m scrubbing a pot and would rather be watching TV, I’ll just imagine some angel going, ‘Wow, what a clean pot,” and I’ll scrub harder.
    That probably sounds stupid, but it makes the work easier. It probably makes God happy too.

  • This is a bit off the subject, but I’ve been thinking a little lately about unity and about talking with others (Christian friends, I mean) about what’s going on in our Chritian lives.
    I just read the verse,
    ‘make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, and being one in spirit and in purpose.’
    Philippians 2:2

    Now I don’t feel that unified or ‘one-purposed’ with my Christian friends. I go to a Christian school that only has 15 kids in the high school, and I am the second oldest. I have a few close friends that I go to Bible study with or talk about God often with, (probably 3, including my sister and a cousin) but with the vast majority, we don’t really talk about God unless it is in devotions or our prayer meeting. It would be sorta weird.
    The only reason I write so openly about my feelings and God on this website is because the whole point of the website is God, and I can’t see the other people’s faces.
    What I wanted to ask, was how many others out there are feeling a similar way? Does anyone else want some more unity? Am I alone in this? (Surely there is someone else out there who wonders about all this!)

    If this rings a bell with you, please please please leave a comment about it! It would be great to know what someone else thinks about all this.

  • Thank you for another thought provoking post!!!
    To answer the questions, #1- Am I faithfully applying myself to the “small hard things”? … Well, I’d like to say,”Yes, yes, yes!”… but that would be a lie:P… God is teaching me day by day how to live in Him and let His Spirit work through me. Especially by showing love towards my siblings, and studying for the SAT… something that I’m trying to faithfully study for. 😛 … I agree with what some people said about the “small hard things” sometimes seeming to be the most difficult, or the ones that don’t seem all that together important and yet are, they’re the ones building us and getting us prepared for the harder and bigger ones ahead. As for the 2nd question… God hasn’t really placed anything big on my heart yet. I’m just striving to follow Him day by day.
    Thanks again for the post!! God is glorifying Himself through you two in an amazing way!

  • Jess: I definitely know what you’re talking about when it comes to having lots of Christian friends but then only a few that you talk seriously with about things of the Lord. About a year and a half ago my family uprooted from the place I had lived my whole life and moved to another state – it was, needless to say, very hard. I was really connected back at home and I knew I would miss all my friends and activities, but I decided to be content in God’s will, and it was amazing to see how God turned my contenment into joy! All that to say, as I look back I see that most of the relationships I had before were not helping build me up spiritually at all, I was being pulled down into just being happy with where I was spiritually at that point and not striving for more. My friends where I live now are much stronger more convicted Christians and it makes all the difference in the world. But I don’t see my friends everyday, so that’s why I love places like the Rebelution where you can connect with other like-minded individuals. You’re not alone, Jess!

  • Jess, I can completely relate. I am also the oldest among the youth I know and it’s not often when the discussion is of a more serious, Christ related topic. Which is why, like E.A.H., I enjoy the Rebelution so much. It is here that I can be involved in or read about the more indepth issues and find like-minded people. So yes, I am another that understands what you mean.

    God Bless!

  • Hey everyone,pleas pray for my sister.She is in the hospital.She stoped breathing.
    Your sister in Christ, Hannah

  • Nicole: Absolutely! =) I completely agree that (1) the small faithfulnesses are the most important and are what make the big faithfulnesses possible and (2) if we ever had to choose between only doing small hard things and only doing big hard things we should always choose the small ones. I think the point being made here, though, is that we should pursue both. =)

    I also agree that the bigger things that God brings us do not always involve more people and more attention. In fact, the bigger thing He might call you to is to persevere in being faithful in the small thing you were already doing. I should really post about this, because I wrote something out about it when we were working on our book.

    In conclusion, I’d really like to encourage you in your writing. God has really gifted you with an ability to write out and share your thoughts! Have you ever considered starting a blog? I think God would really bless it as you seek to share what He’s put on your heart. =)

  • Thank you all for praying for my sister.She is home now.A nurse came to the house and set up a heart and breathing moniter.Thank you all for your prayers.When I know something more i will let you know. Your Sister in Christ, Hannah

  • Hannah Williams: I’ll be praying for you and sister and your family, too. I’m so glad she’s back home. I’ll tell my mom so she’ll be praying, too. Thanks so much for letting us know.

  • […] Our recent post on the balance between what we call “big” hard things and “small” hard things reminded us that we haven’t really spent much time explaining the distinction between these two categories — a distinction we ourselves wrestled with while writing our book. This post (which will probably turn into a series of posts) will try to address some common misunderstandings and bring more clarity to this oft-misunderstood aspect of Do Hard Things. What “Bigger” Things Are We Talking About? […]

  • Brett: I just read the new post and then your response here and I totally agree with what you’ve said. I like the analogy about persevering with whatever God calls us to — however big or small, obscure or noticed. And to not seek the recognition of men or obscurity, but rather to seek to glorify God.

    Many people think that only the showy things — the things we see as “big,” because they are “great” and appreciated on earth — are what glorifies God. So they get bitter about the small things or refuse to do them, which in effect handicaps them from doing anything that is in reality big for the Kingdom because they don’t end up really knowing God — like knowing Him by fellowshipping with Him in suffering, getting to know how He feels about things or seeing His Perspective. They miss out on His Heart and so don’t truly learn what would please Him and glorify Him. They end up giving Him “gifts” of their own making that are ostentatious and are kind of like if an Aunt who doesn’t know you real well gives you a gift certificate for a store you never shop at or knits a sweater with your name on the front and a dinosaur on the back.
    Many times we (myself included) think that God would be most glorified if we would do something that would really boost His reputation — make Him look “good,” you know. But we forget that He was PERFECTLY glorified through Jesus who was crucified, beaten, hated, called crazy, and mocked.

    A while ago I watched a movie with Brad Pitt in it (don’t laugh). In it, his character is a CIA agent (I think it’s CIA) and he meets this lady and falls in love with her. I forget why, but she ends up in prison. The way his job is, he was trained to never go back for someone, but rather to forget about the person, keep moving and keep getting the job done. But he really cares for this girl, so he does his own thing, goes into prison, and attempts to rescue her. He’s caught while escaping, though, and put into prison and tortured. A rescue has to be staged then to rescue him and the girl. When they’re finally rescued, his face has been beaten and he’s barely recognizable, but he sees the girl — that she’s safe now, too — and he looks at her like he still totally loves her. When I saw this scene, something within me cried out, “I want to be loved like that! To be loved so much by someone that they would go through that for me and come out of it still loving me…” but then I felt ashamed because I realized that Jesus did, He does Love me that way, and yet I wasn’t struck by it like that until I saw that movie. It made me realize the kind of Love and Devotion that He has for us, and the kind that truly reaches the heart — the kind His Bride should have for Him. The love that isn’t just words and kindness and gifts that we enjoy giving, but that is also willing to endure whatever it takes to love, to give, to stand up for, to protect (to uphold and protect from compromise, as we should, His Truth, His Name, His own).

    Thanks for sharing what God taught you — what you wrote while writing the book. It is good — really good. And I really like the questions. I look forward to reading what people will write in to answer them.

    I haven’t considered writing my own blog. Thanks for the encouragement about my writing and to start one, though. God hasn’t led me to believe that it’s His Plan for me to, so far. Sometimes I write on my mom’s website — poetry and short stories — and I am working on several books right now. Some novels, some collections of poetry, one non-fiction about my family and what God has taught me so far, and a series of children’s books that my mom wrote most of, but that God gave me a poem for each and that I’m supposed to illustrate sometime soon. None of it’s published yet and my mom and I use different names than people usually know us by. It’s a lot of work and sometimes I’m up all night working. And the funny thing is, I never took a writing class (you can tell by some of the grammar and punctuation I use) and my mom never taught me to write, but when I was 13 and started seeking God I started getting these lines for a poem over and over again in my head, and when I wrote them down I got more lines, then more, for a several months, I think, I got lines to two poems. When I was 12 I had stopped believing that God exists or that He Loved me and I had asked Him to prove both within a month (then I threatened Him if He didn’t — not real smart). I waited that month and nothing happened — nothing was proven, nothing I wanted happened. I realized that I could go through with my threat or I could continue seeking Him and wait for Him to prove Himself and His Love to me — if He existed — in His timing, the way He wanted to. And I realized that it was actually encouraging that He hadn’t done what I wanted — if He was there — because if He had done what I wanted, when I wanted, then I would be controlling Him and He wouldn’t be God — I would be. So I waited. Not too long after, I got the poems. That wasn’t the proof I wanted, but it was better. I became a Christian and surrendered all — I had promised that all I was was His and to do whatever He asked, go wherever He called, if He did prove those two things. And I’ve never doubted His existence or His Love since. And if we believe those to things, really, everything else falls into place after that, if you know what I mean.

    I thought this would be short, too. What do I know, really? Thanks for your time, Brett. I pray daily that God will Bless you and Alex as you honor Him.

    “May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His Glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit..”
    EPHESIANS 3:16


  • Jess: As E.A.H. and Amanda said, you are not the only one thinking about this! =) Although I am blessed with several strong Christian friends who discuss their faith regularly, few of them are from my church. I understand the feeling of associating with those who are shy, disinterested, or never really thought about sharing their spiritual growth with others. Sometimes, those friends may be under the impression that since everyone agrees on the Bible and God, there’s nothing really to talk about. (Which isn’t true!! :D)

    God has gradually taught me that I can be the one to initiate worthwhile spiritual conversations with friends – it doesn’t have to be someone else who starts talking. =) Sometimes it can be “weird”, but it’s worth a try.

    Nicole: I really appreciate the thoughts you’ve shared. I think God is weaving together an incredible testimony in your life that can really minister to others.

  • Hannah Williams, I just read the thing about your sister. I’ll pray for yous.

    Thanks to everyone who wrote about my comment! It is a huge encouragement to know that others are feeling the same way.

    Nicole, I think you’re great at writing. I am also an aspiring author, but I don’t write half as much as what it sounds like you do! You’ve got great talent.

    And since Hannah put a prayer point up, I will too.
    A family my brother knows lost their dad in a motorbike accident the other day- obviously a very sudden death. They have two primary-school aged kids. They could really use some prayer.

    Thanks again to everyone that responded to my comment. You don’t know how excited that makes me!

  • KP: Thanks!

    Jess: I will definitely pray for the two kids you mentioned, especially.

    Thanks for your encouragement. I wish I could say I have talent, but truth be told, if I sit down and try to write a poem or come up with a story for a book my mind is just [ ] (blank). But when God wants me to write, I have no choice — it’s like a fire inside me. Kind of like when you feel drawn to read the Psalms or to spend time alone with God and worship. It’s like a tugging on my heart and He lays out the story and sometimes I even feel like I am the last one to understand, to an extent, where the story is going or what He is teaching. But then at the end I go, “Oh! It all ties together. I get it. I didn’t plan it that way at all, but He led me and He had a great plan.”

    My dream when I was younger was actually to do artwork and I sometimes enjoyed music. Writing has been a surprise — something I didn’t have talent with so fortunately had to rely all on God’s Strength to do. I hope to get back into music someday with the mindset of not doing that on my own or in my strength, either, because writing has been so much more enjoyable to do and has gone better than the stuff I really used to think I had some talent for.

    Ask God to purify you and empower you to write — or to do whatever He has planned for you to do — and ask Him to teach you how to rely on His Strength and His Power in all that He would have you do, whether you are talented at it or not. You may be surprised at what He has you do. And you will definitely be amazed.

    Oh, and I was going to tell you this before, but my computer was running slow and I was out of time at the moment: Something I’ve learned over the past year is to give each relationship in my life to God and to ask Him to make it honoring to Him and to help me to accomplish His Will in it, and also, before you meet with a friend or friends or talk with them, put them, yourself, the conversation, and your time spent with them under God’s Authority in Jesus Name and ask Him to be in control. I’ve noticed a HUGE difference when this is done and have also noticed that when I forgot to do it then the person I was with would go off on really weird things that didn’t at all honor God or that I would start to say something (that I hadn’t prayed about) and God would cut me off some other way by allowing the phone to become disconnected so the person I was talking to missed every word I said that I shouldn’t have said in the first place.

  • Jeff,what do your parents do?If you don’t mind me asking.And I will pray for you while you and your family are there.

    Jess,I will pray for your friend.I have a friend who just lost his grandpa.A tree fell on his car.A verse I find very comforting is Psalms 30:5, “Weeping may tarry for the night but joy comes in the morning,God’s anger last only a moment but His love last for a life time.”

    Josiah,How do you do that bold print thing that you were telling Victoria about?

    Alex and Brett,Did you like my idea?Please let me know?

    Victoria,It was the baby.

    Elizabeth Gruber, I love your blog.How do you post a comment on it though?

    JoAnna,Happy birthday to your dad!

    Zach Hunter,I know your out there.I really need to get in contact with you.

    Nicole,I like your comments.

    Amy,I am praying for your sister.

    Everyone,My sister is much better.She is still on the moniter though.She hates it.Thank you for your prayers.

    If there is anyone I forgot,I’m sorry.
    Your Sister in Christ, Hannah

  • Hey Hannah!

    Posting comments on our blog is pretty much the same as it is on here; at the bottom of the posts where it says “# comments”, if you click on it, it will take you to the comment section. Hope that helps!


  • This was a definitely extremely beneficial post. In theory I’d wish to write like this also – getting time and actual effort to make a terrific piece of writing… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to obtain one thing done.

rebelling against low expectations

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