rebelling against low expectations

Don’t Waste Your Kids


Years ago I had the privilege of preaching at Covenant Life Church where my son, Joshua Harris, serves as senior pastor. The message was entitled Don’t Waste Your Kids, based on Psalm 127 (my wife and my “life verse”.

Like everything I do now, it is intended to be listened to by teens and their parents at the same time. The reason for my insistence is simple. Kids are better kids when adults are around and adults are better adults when kids are around. The household is intended to function as an age-integrated team, not as a cluster of age-segregated individuals.

While it is true that many parents, and especially fathers, live at an emotional distance, as if they had no children, at the same time, far too many teens live like guests in their own homes, or worse, as orphans who have to parents at all. The challenge on both sides is to wake up to the wonderful advantages of being a family.

In many ways, this message is a continuation of the message of, the conferences, and the book, Do Hard Things. How do we raise up a generation that lives for the glory God? In this message, I try to give my answer.

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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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  • Hi Brett and Alex,
    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this blog. I’ve been reading some of your past articles and they are very good. I have a link to your Modesty Survey on my blog…that was also something I loved. 🙂 Keep up the great work, guys!

  • Yeah! I am excited! I love your father’s wise and humble teaching. Hopefully my whole family can listen to this together soon. 🙂 Thanks for making this available for us.

  • Outstanding message! One of the many powerful things I got out of that message yesterday was that Scripture was not intended to be stared into like one stares into a flashlight – that just blinds you. The Word of God is a lamp to our feet, so we need to look at what it is meant to illuminate: the status of our hearts and reality about God’s character.
    Thank you, Mr. Harris!

  • Wow I definitely agree, Sunday’s message was wonderful! My parents (who were not able to attend the Rebelution) seemed to also really be challenged and convicted by it, as was I, and I am not even a parent! I am looking forward to sharing the Do Hard Things DVD with them and letting them see a little picture of how amazing this conference was. What an amazing God we have!!

  • I’m downloading it now…I’m definitely listening to it with my parents:)
    I also bought the Do Hard Things DVD and we’re going to do it with a little group of teens at my church 🙂 I cant wait to do it 🙂

  • Alex and Brett,

    God has greatly blessed your family. Your older brother Josh, is an outstanding pastor. He’s very humble and preaches God’s word in a very understandable way; I have greatly benefited from his teaching and we’re bessed to have him as our senior pastor.

    Your dad’s message was great! I was in tears at the end of it. My family doesn’t have the best relationship with each other and that message really touched me. Right after, I went to a woman at our church and talked to her about what I was feeling. I then went to speak with my caregroup leader. I think God is using this message in powerful ways. It cause me to confess a burden I’d had on my heart for years, and I believe the Lord will be helping my family as a result. I can’t wait to see what He does!

    Thank you so much for coming to our church. Although I didn’t get to hear all of the sessions because I was serving, I benefited from what I did hear of it. After you called down the people who wanted to re-dedicate their lives to Christ, one of my friends standign next to me began crying pretty hard. She wanted to re-dedicate her life and I went down to the front with her. She couldn’t stop smiling! She was crying, and smiling, and laughing all at once. She said she’d never been so happy. Afterward, one of my other friends and I went to pray for her. I heard that 30 people were saved that day! How amazing!

    Thank you so much.

    -Monica Tanzey

  • I was blessed by the powerful messege you dad gave on sunday. It just opened my eyes so much and I am thankful. Your family is being used by the power of God and it’s amazing. Thanks for all the hard work you guys do.

  • Alex and Brett,

    God really blessed your family. Your oldest brother is my fave author since I red “I kissed dating goodbye” and “boy meets girl”..those are my fave books!
    I always come to his church every summer,and what a surprised I could attend to Rebulation conference few days ago.. and on sunday I saw Josh introduced his whole family b4 ur dad preaching.. The message was really nice.. I was very blessed!!

    God bless U and your family…!

  • Amazing, another Christ-centered message for the family… I am just so blessed with the encouragement that your family is to me. From reading about your parents and Josh through I Kissed Dating Goodbye, to learning about the rest of the family through Do Hard Things, along with the convicting blog posts of you both and the wise godly counsel of your dad, my joy in love for Christ and your family is beyond my expression.

    Coupled with this joy however, is a subtle sorrow for my family does not share an active relationship with Christ (like I’ve mentioned before on another post, they’re nominal). Oh, what a joy it could be if we could sit together and listen to this message for the glory of God! I long for that… I can only hope unto God and believe He will deliver the ones I love according to His will! My family is my Rebelution. My every hard thing done through Christ is for them.

    Maybe I can get mom to sit with me and listen when she’s in a good mood and not tired… My mom is awesome like that – I can see her desire for something more than mere religion and mere life. I just pray that soon the Father will lead her to see it in His son Christ, and lead her to be born again of the Spirit. 🙂

    Guys, you should know, no matter how far – you are all family to me. I praise God with tears of joy for all the encouragement you are to me: whether like brothers, sisters, mothers or fathers. If only you were here to sense my appreciation…

    In love for Christ, and no fear of man or sin or death,

  • I can only echo what everyone else has said already: the conference was amazing and this message was also amazing. This is Alex and Casey’s sister, from CovLife. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I was SO excited when I heard you were coming to G-burg! The conference exceeded my expectations. What a wonderful, encouraging, God-glorifying time! Thank you, Joel, for leading worship. I was so blessed by all the songs we sang. Thank you, Alex and Brett, for giving this very important message. I was refreshed and encouraged by all the sessions (it was totally worth sitting in the aisles!), and by being able to serve with a lot of other teens from our youth ministry. God was working powerfully on Saturday! And thank you, Mr. Harris, for giving this message on Sunday. My whole family was able to talk about it at dinner that evening and it was neat to see how each of us got something different out of it. Monica is right; God is doing great things through your family. Thanks for following where he leads.

    God bless!


  • HEy! I just heard about your blog!So this is my first time vistiting it. I have just started reading your book Do Hard Things. I am enjoying it! I am looking forward to keeping up with this blog.


  • Hey Brett and Alex !! I would like to thank you for the time and effort that you put into this cause !! You are an amazing example for teens of this generation !! My family and I came down from Boston to your conference in Maryland and were greatly blessed by the message you brought !!! I pray that God will keep using you two in mighty ways !!

    Carley M.

  • This message was so inspirational. My parents are going to listen to it, but I already know that they’ll love it, just because I happen to know them very well. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Hey!
    My family and I traveled down to DC for the conference on Saturday and attended church at Convenant Life on Sunday, so we heard your father preach this sermon. It was absolutely amazing. My dad, mom, and I took notes (almost constantly :)), and on the way home, I compared my notes to my parents…well, long story short, I’m still re-writing my notes and listening to the sermon over and over and over and over to at least to *attempt* to grasp everything he preached. Thank you very much for sharing, and thank you for your time towards the conference.
    Leigh-Ann (and the Eshleman family who is still very, very exicted about the conference and church)
    (Hope you guys found the 12 missing keypads!!)

  • I’m probably going to download it later…the link doesn’t seem to be working right now.

    So, the day after the Gaithersburg conference I saw an article in The Washington Times reviewing “Do Hard Things” and God impressed upon me that I should write a letter to the editor confirming the positive review. I didn’t want to, and I didn’t think it would get published, so I didn’t write a really long one. But it did! Now I’m kicking myself for not obeying with my whole heart >_

  • Hey Alex and Brett: Psalms 127 has always been one of my family’s core passages as well. I remember us often singing that psalm during family devotions when I was little. 🙂

  • Excellent sermon; thank you for posting it. I really liked the quote “Train them till you like them.” It’s come in handy the past couple of days 😀 (And I’m not even a parent either!!)

  • Erica, Thank you for writing to the Washington Times! I have just finished reading your letter and want to let you know that I appreciate what you did. As you said, the book has also changed my life and drawn me closer to my Savior. May the Lord bless you!

  • I just listened to your father’s message and enjoyed it, esp. the analogies of the arrow to children. Thank you for sharing it!

  • Hi – It’s good to read such interesting writing on the Internet as I have been able to discover here. I agree with most of what is written here and I’ll be returning to this website again. Thanks again for publishing such great reading material!!

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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 →