rebelling against low expectations

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

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The Importance of CompetencePicture in your minds a four-year-old boy. Curious, slightly mischievous, and with his limited four-year-old abilities, easily impressed by the strength and talent of adults. So when a repair man comes to fix his family’s furnace, the four-year-old is standing right outside the furnace closet, watching and admiring.

While he is watching and admiring he notices something he has never noticed before. There is a small hole in the side panel of the furnace, which the repairman is using to gain access to the furnace’s inner workings. An idea sneaks into the little boy’s head. This is his chance to do adult work! This is his chance to emulate the repairman who he admires! And so, when the repairman finishes the job and drives away — only after switching on the breaker that powered the furnace — the four-year-old boy finds a screwdriver, shuts himself in the dark closet, and plunges the screwdriver into the hole, where 240 volts of electricity wait for him.

[Now, for any of you who are getting nervous, don’t worry. We can say with special authority that this little boy doesn’t die. You see, this little boy was Brett.]

So there he was in the dark, darkness of the closet, and as he plunged his little screwdriver into the darkness of the hole, suddenly there was brilliant light. There was a flash and a poof, a szzzz! sound, and the smell of burnt plastic filled the air.

In a daze he walked out into the living area of our house, where his entire family, who had heard the sound, was frozen in mid-motion. His face was black, his eyes were bursting out of his head, and his hair was going Poof! But he was alive.

And he was alive because his screwdriver was dead. The little screwdriver was bent, blackened, and the peculiar smell of melting plastic came from the plastic handle — now melted and charred.

What is the point? The point is that Brett’s good intentions did not prevent him from nearly killing himself, while simultaneously making a complete fool of himself. His motives were good, but he lacked competence.

This point is especially relevant to rebelutionaries facing the exciting challenges God is calling our generation to tackle. We share this story, not to discourage or scare you (except from plunging screwdrivers into furnaces), but in order to make the point that good intentions do not guarantee success.

Brett’s good intentions didn’t keep him from nearly frying himself. And there are scores of Christian filmmakers, Christian authors, Christian politicians, and Christian businessmen who fail miserably, despite good intentions. As rebelutionaries, we must have character. Motives matter. But good intentions are not enough.

Think about these ideas, then join us in the comments section. Use the following exercise as a place to start the conversation:

Come up with a scenario where you have (or someone else has) good intentions in a particular endeavor, but lack competence.

  • What are some specific ways a lack of competence could undermine your efforts?
  • What are some specific steps you could have taken that could have given you the necessary level of competence?
  • What are some specific steps you can take now that will increase your level of competence in the future?

About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of TheRebelution.com 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.

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 →

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