rebelling against low expectations

As For Me And My House


Two questions we’ve been asked ever since Alex & Brett wrote Do Hard Things are, What role does the family play in doing hard things? and How do families do hard things together?

As Alex & Brett’s father, I had opportunity to answer these questions in a message I presented to Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN where Dr. John Piper has served as pastor. The message is still available on the church site to listen to online and to download for an MP3 player.

I presented this on a Saturday evening which was video taped for replay in the Sunday morning services at all three church campuses. It is entitled “As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord,” and it was the final message of a five-part series called A Vision for the Next Generation. The opening message by John Piper himself was posted on The Rebelution website in April of 2008.

Having just re-listened to what I said then, I am pleased at how it has stood the test of time. All of the key themes of my current workshop on Raising Kids to Do Hard Things are presented here in one concise message. My goal was to paint the big picture of what God is doing in this world through the authentic, soul-saving faith of the individual believing householder and how that works itself out in the lifestyle of his or her household members.

I encourage you to share this message with your parents, grandparents and pastors if you can. Listen to it with them whenever possible and then talk about what you have heard. Catch the vision together for what it would look like for your family to be devoted for service to others as a team, making your own home an embassy of the kingdom of God and the launching pad of life for young people. Then, if anything comes of it, come back here and discuss what you have heard with others. Your feedback is really appreciated.

If you like what you hear and you want to know more, please visit, subscribe to my ministry updates and join me for one of my workshops when I come to your part of the world.

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About the author

Gregg Harris

is the father of Alex and Brett Harris (authors of Do Hard Things) and instructor for the online parenting course, Raising Kids to Do Hard Things. His dear wife, Sono, passed away in 2010 and he and his youngest son now run a popular terrarium shop in Portland, Oregon, called Roosevelt's Terrariums.


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  • Wooooooooooow! There is the biblical picture of the family or household. Alex and Brett I want to congratulate you for what you’re doing here but I also want to congratulate your father for being faithful to teach and train you up. He is acting out what he is preaching.

    How I wish that I had heard this before. I’ve never really had the family spelled out for me. I was so emotionally moved that I couldn’t even cry. My role and my family’s role was so put into perspective for me. Oh, where do I start? I have never truly viewed my parents as really the trainers in my life. Unfortunately, as a child, I resisted so fiercely my mother’s guidance that I doubt I’ll ever recover the gems of wisdom that I lost. Even though I became a Christian five years ago it took me until two years ago to really strive to live my life for God. So my parents were the last people in the world that I would consider letting influence me. And to have Mr. Harris so stress the point that they are to be the primary source of influence and have the God-given command to train us in the Truth really floored me. Even though my parents both came from disfunctional families they have so much to teach me and God has been so evident in their lives.

    The other thing that stood out to me is that the children are to work hard. Of course that is what this whole website is about, doing hard things, but especially in the format of the home and the family. I never liked work and although God’s been working on that I still struggle with doing simple things like cleaning the house. I was impressed with what Mr. Harris said about the children being like slaves until they reached the required age. Although some people can get offended by this picture since being a slave was not considered a nice thing to be I think I understand. At least to a slight extent. The home is the training ground and working hard is the key to being trained. That is something that I will need to keep in front of me constantly. I know I’m rambling but I just want to thank Mr. Harris for his incredible message. It has sure clarified many things and convicted me. I can go forward with a better goal to strive towards.

    He reigns,

  • Andi, I am glad to hear that my message has helped you, but I want to clarify that the work that children are to do in their own household is a training ground for their future because they are the heirs of the entire estate. Like the heirs of a family-owned business must learn how to do every aspect of the family business in order to eventually manage others in those positions of employment, so children in every household should learn how to do hard things by working with their own parents in the building up of the household for their own future. The slavery of the New testament era was eventually discarded as the truth of God’s love for all levels of society became more clear. I am not advocating the breaking of child labor laws. But the importance of doing hard things for the glory of God ad the good of others as the training ground and launching pad of life will never change. It is good for a young man (or young woman) to bear the yoke of responsibility in his or her youth. But it is a yoke that always has the best interests of the young person in view. God bless.

  • This is going to be very encouraging! In humility, I hope I can learn much from it, coming from a nominally Christian (“Christian by birth”) family. Although there ought to be no such thing. But praise be to God who has saved me from living this delusion, and gave me a regenerated soul! I humbly request for prayer, so that if it is God’s will, to save my family from nominal Christianity and the legalism that comes with it – so they can see and savor Jesus Christ personally.

    Thanks for this Alex, Brett and Mr. Gregg Harris! 🙂

    God bless your family, I am encouraged by all of you!

  • Thanks for posting this! I really enjoyed listening to it while working on an embroidery project. It gives good tips for us to use one day as parents, and challenges us to work hard in our youth and use the home as a training ground for the future!

  • I would like to know where I can hear all of the messages from this series. I will definetiley be listening to this one and have already heard the one by John Piper. I would just like to hear them all!
    Thanks and God Bless.


  • Wes:

    You can find the other sermons on the Bethlehem Baptist website: Click on the Worship tab, and then on Sermon Downloads. The other messages are from Pastors David Michael, Kempton Turner, and Sam Crabtree.


  • This message was very encouraging to me in many ways as it really confirmed some things God has been teaching me lately. I wish I could comment more (I took two pages of notes last night!), but for sake of time, I’ll constrain myself to just commenting on the point that stood out to me the most — as I have a question regarding it that I’ve been struggling with.

    Over the past several weeks, God has been placing on my heart the understanding of the practicality of complete surrender — the concept explained in this message that: If He truly has us, then He has the rest of us, and if He has our hearts, then our resources will follow — that if we are truly His as individuals, then we and all that we own will be fully His to be used for His Purposes. As Hudson Taylor puts it, “… our Master claims much more than a part of our property, of our time, of our affections. If we are saved at all, we are not our own in any sense, we are bought with a price: our bodies we must present to Him; our whole life must be for God.” In other words, the practicality of surrender is that it extends from our hearts to our entire selves, from our selves to our all — our possessions, our loved ones, our time, our affections, etc.

    Since I became a Christian when I was 13, I’ve always had the sense — I’ve always deeply known — that I am not my own. To accept His claims on me and on my life, it was necessary that I deny self — that I lay all on the altar. There’s no way to be partially saved; I either am His, or I am not. But so rarely do I find others who believe this way — although they claim to be Christians. They claim to be Christians, yet they are still their own.

    In 1 John 3 it says:

    “Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.”

    We see that in God’s Eyes, there are only two kinds of people — children of His and children of the devil. But what I can’t quite understand is how does that connect with the church in Corinth and what Paul wrote regarding them — they definitely don’t sound righteous or like children of God. I guess I’m confused as to whether a person can be a “babe” in Christ and be that way or if they just basically were never saved in the first place — for example, if someone professes faith in God and then turns to sin, are they neglecting to mature beyond the infant stage in their faith or has their “faith” just been tested and proven to not be faith after all? Furthermore, how does one deal with hard-hearted people such as this within a household — are they to be exhorted to return to their faith or to be convicted that what they have is not faith?

    I ask this question because confusion over it seems to be a problem in households that are meant to serve the Lord. I have known several nominally Christian families, and there are several relatives of my own as well, who I have treated as Christians and thus encouraged to walk in His Ways, yet they remain unresponsive and choose to be stuck in their sin — they refuse to surrender and fully realize God’s Claims on their lives. I can’t understand how they could be Christians if their hearts are still hard, yet it’s also unbelievable to me, if they aren’t Christians, how few Christians there really are in this country — and not only within the churches and ministries, but leading and pastoring them.

    May I respectfully ask your thoughts and answers regarding this, if time permits?

  • To the Rebelution:
    I would recommend reading, “Making brothers and Sisters Best Friends” by the Mally Family. They contributed articles to the rebelution blog. I’ve just finished reading it for the second time, and the chapters on family ministry were very encouraging to me. After reading and meditating on the subject I asked myself this question:
    “How can I serve the church ,believers, unbelievers or ANYONE if I don’t have a God glorifying relationship with my family members?”

    They will know we are Christians by our love. Love needs to start in the home or our family will not prosper or function as God planned it to.

  • Hi,

    I wanted to say that I was extremely inspired, encouraged and strengthened by your last conference, and that I believe many, many others were also. Thank you so much for your effort and your devotion.

    God be with you – always!

  • Our family and those we were with immensely enjoyed the conference in Dallas. Thank you and to God alone be all the glory for what He is accomplishing through your family. Your presentation of the Gospel at the conference was truly a sweet aroma in the nostrils of our Heavenly Father.

    I look forward to listening to the message you have provided in this post.

    Press on in HIS truth and HIS love for HIS glory

  • Hi, ok at the dallas conferance, you said to take advantage of the rebelution. So, I have a question. Is there anyone on here that has/ knows someone who has raised money for an ultrasound machine, for crisis pregnancy centers (or the equivalent in your/their area)? I feel called to do that but I NEED HELP! Thank you. : )

  • I have finally have had a chance to listen to this and I was praising God for it! God has brought a lot of things to light for me through this message and has humbled me greatly.

    Gregg, if there is anyway I can get a transcript to write notes off of I would greatly appreciate it. There was so much good expostiting that to listen to it even 3 times I know I would miss something.

    Thanks for putting this up!

  • For Nicole: Regarding — “We see that in God’s Eyes, there are only two kinds of people — children of His and children of the devil. But what I can’t quite understand is how does that connect with the church in Corinth and what Paul wrote regarding them — they definitely don’t sound righteous or like children of God. I guess I’m confused as to whether a person can be a “babe” in Christ and be that way or if they just basically were never saved in the first place…”

    Nicole you are putting your finger on the great need of the church of our day. As I share in the Do Hard Things Conference, the Evangelical churches today are shot through with “nominal Christians” or CINOs “Christians in name only.” It was the same in the 1740s back in the days of George Whitefield and Jonathon Edwards. Whenever people are willing to go along with their Christian family members in order to get along with them there will be an abundance of CINOs in the church. Such people have an appearance of godliness but they deny the power from which all true godliness springs— an authentic from the heart faith in Jesus Christ. When people don’t believe in God enough to actually obey Him they are going through the motions of Christianity, but their hearts are not in it. For example, they never pray when they are alone because God is not real enough to them to want to talk to Him. They do not read their Bibles when they are alone just because they want to know what God says about something. They only read their Bibles to satisfy some requirement in school or church. They only read and pray when others are around who expect them to do these thing. They go along to get along. A nominal Christian may give God a tip in church, but iIt would never occur to them to invest in eternal treasure. They don’t really believe in eternal treasure. God is not real enough. Heaven is not real enough. None of this is real enough because in their hearts they don’t really believe the Gospel. They do not trust God enough to actually obey Him.

    James wrote, “Faith without works is dead.” But we must always be careful not to bring works in as a requirement for salvation. As born again Christians we do good works, not in order to be saved, but because we are saved — by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

    My counsel to you is to be an example of an authentic believer who walks in the obedience of faith in God. As you do so, gently confront others with the possibility that their lack of concern for pleasing God may be due to their having never really believed the Gospel in the way that one who is truly born again does believe. Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. It should come as no surprise that those who have not yet been born again do not have a desire to please God. Apart from God’s gracious help, they can’t. So, if there is no evidence of a desire to please God in their heart, they need to repent, believe the Gospel and be born again. God will not reject anyone who comes to Him asking for the New Birth that He promises to all who trust in Jesus.

    Some reading this may live in a Christian family with Christian siblings and friends and yet have not been born again. You may be bearing the fruit of supportive circumstances instead of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. You may be a leader in your church’s youth group and yet, you have never been born again. You are going through the motions but it is always for some other reason than to please God. If you see little or no evidence of any real desire in your heart to know and please God, don’t panic! God is drawing you to the real thing. Admit the truth to God. Pray for His mercy. Ask Him to give you all that He has promised to those who come to Him by faith in Jesus. Then, identify something that you know would be pleasing to Him and go do it boldly, just because you believe God is there and that He will be pleased. Not to earn anything or to pay God back. Just do it because it is God’s will. Tell someone what God has done for you. Be baptized as a new believer as soon as possible. (Explain that God has rescued you from being a CINO. That may shake things up in your circle of friends. Some may be angry. But others may follow your good example and be saved as well.) Study your Bible like the handbook that it really is. Give something valuable away to someone else who needs it more than you do. Make God smile as He sees you trying to be like Him. This “obedience of faith” is actually the only sane way to live. This is where the joy is found.

    It is the desire to please God that leads us to the actual obedience itself. This is because God “works in us” first to will and then to do what pleases Him. We have been created in Christ for good works that God has prepared for us to do for His glory and the good of others. If our “wanter” (i.e. our heart) does not even want to please God, we just don’t know Him yet. There is only one solution. We need a new heart. We need a new spirit. We must be born again. Then we will begin to at least practice righteousness, even if we are not very good at it. We will be able to tell what we are practicing. Over time we will grow to maturity as a true Christian. I hope this helps. God bless you and all of the other Rebelutionaries out there who are pursuing God.

  • I’ve listened to it twice so far and thought it was great. I will definately be listening to it many more times. You just can’t posibly get everything at once.

  • You really make it seem really easy together with your presentation however I in finding this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely wide for me. I am looking forward to your next post, I will try to get the dangle of it!

  • I’m curious to find out what blog system you’re using? I’m having some small security issues with my latest website and I’d like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any solutions?

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 →