rebelling against low expectations

Your Life Story


I am convinced our lives will be no better than our view of death. In Luke 9:23-25 Jesus spoke the following: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Jesus makes it clear that depending on how we think about death we will either save our lives, or we will waste them. We can waste our lives trying to save them, or we can find our lives striving to spend them for Christ.

Drawing primarily from the life and death of Jim Elliot, as well as Michael Billings, we will spend the remainder of this series examining three marks of a tragically wasted life, and then three marks of gloriously spent life. Here’s a quick preview:

    3 Marks of a Tragically Wasted Life

  • A lukewarm attitude of complacency.
  • A lazy habit of procrastination.
  • A paralyzed lifestyle of timidity.
  • 3 Marks of a Gloriously Spent Life

  • A hot-hearted desire to be useful.
  • A relentless passion for the good use of time.
  • A constant readiness to risk for the Gospel.

Some questions for discussion:

  • Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life?
  • Does your life contain any marks of a spent life?
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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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  • I’m looking forward to reading this whole series! My life fits the description of a wasted life more closely than that of a well-spent life, unfortunately. This is something to think and pray about.

  • This has been a very thought provoking series, Alex and Brett. I think it’s a great reminder for all us young people.

    This is something I’ve been working on for the past couple months, actually.

    -Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life?
    I used to (and I still struggle with) be very complacent and timid. I felt that I was no good anyway, because I have missed so many opportunities and made so many mistakes. And I was scared of the responcibility of doing hard things. But God is patient and faithful and He never let me rest until I had surrendered those two areas to Him and used the strength He’s given me to conquer those wrong ideas.

    -Does your life contain any marks of a spent life?
    Praise the Lord, it does now! I have been taking a class on evangelism, which has challenged me greatly, and I am now trying to catch every minute and make it useful. So many great men became great through wisely using their time. As for being useful, I have always had a heart for service, but God has been showing me new areas to serve in that stretch me.

    And it’s been worth the struggle! Even though I have to constantly be on the look out lest I go back, I feel so fulfilled, and I have a lot grown spiritually. And it’s exciting! I am learning how to grab opportunities, and turn dreams He’s given me into reality through prayer and planning. I want to fulfill His purpose for my life so that when He calls me home, I will not be ashamed of how I lived.


  • Wow! Ten parts to this series! Looking forward to it!
    I would my own life sort of fits half and half at this point, I need to work on that…..

  • Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life?
    Oh Yes, unfortunately. Complacency, procrastination, and timidity are my tendency. Which I frequently neglect to fight. However, God has shown grace to me and given me the desire to fight for Him. But my enemies are still present.

    Does your life contain any marks of a spent life?
    By God’s grace, yes. God has begun a work in my heart to grow in usefulness to Him, so I can see ways that I’m growing in using the time, desire to be useful, and willingness to risk for the Gospel are growing.

  • I think my life leans more towards a wasted life. I have a big struggle with procrastination, I leave things to the last minute instead of doing them ahead of time. But God is always with us in our struggles and if we look to him he will gives us strength.

    “Our bad days are never so bad that they are beyond the reach of God’s grace, and our good days are never so good that they are beyond the need for God’s grace.” ~ Jerry Bridges, The Disclepline of Grace

    In Christ Alone,
    Rebecca Whitpan

  • I can’t wait to read the rest of this series! I sometimes procrastinate, but more often, I try to do whatever I need to do on time. Now, for that science test I’ve been putting off!

  • GREAT series, I can’t wait for more! I second to what Sarah S. said! I want to live a spent life, although I sometimes do have procrastination problems. I’ve been praying a lot about it lately. Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” 🙂
    Thanks so much for starting this series!

    In Christ Alone,

  • Unfortunately, a lot of times I do exhibit bad behavior, but I’m working on it with God’s help. 🙂
    Can’t wait for the rest of the series!

  • Wow; I would have to say that I do sometimes procrastinate. I need to work on that with God’s help just like what Jessica M said. Thank you for starting this series. God bless!

  • Thank you for refering to Jim Elliot.
    I think your points on a gloriously spent life hit the nail on the head. You might have added, “striving towards holiness” but i suppose that’s just blanded in.

  • Sometimes I think im wasting my Life!
    people tell me I need to do more with myself then Help out my parents with three small children all my teen years
    But God says this is were he is using me right now and I’ll need this training
    But it is really hard to be content when your the first one to leave the sleep over because you have to babysit for your Mom or you can’t go any were with friends because Mom needs your help But I try to live for God and Teach the word to my Little siblings as much as I can
    And Gods really calling me to childrens minestry so Im here for a purpose I strongly recoment finding what God is training you for in your Situation~~Elisabeth (Lissie)

  • This is going to be an awesome series…but I’m already feeling very convicted. And you know, if we remember that our lives are not our own, we will feel much worse about wasting them.

  • I think that this series will help me… especially since procrastination seems to be my middle name. 🙁 It is something I am fighting to overcome though, one small step at a time. Thank you for this series, I look forward to reading the rest!
    A sister in Christ…

  • Lissie, don’t be discouraged because God has you in a different place than your peers!
    If God has made clear to you that you are where He wants you, then you are NOT wasting your life!
    I know it can be very easy to despair, because what we’re given to do seems so trivial sometimes. But God determines the value of our labor by whether it was in His name and for His glory. So if you are helping your mother care for your siblings because you love the Lord and want to display His love to your mother and siblings, then I would encourage you. You are not wasting the time given to you.
    Luke 9:23-26, is one of my favorite passages because it does remind me that for “His sake” is the measuring stick of God. (which is something I frequently forget)

  • I really appreciate that you are doing this series. This is a subject matter that no teen really thinks about until it is too late. My best friend died almost two years ago. She was a very godly young lady and her testimony continues to sffect those who hear it. But it really got me to start thinking about life and what I was doing with mine.

    Thank you for taking up a hard topic, but one that teens need to be reminded of frequently.

    God Bless you two!

  • i think i kinda have signs of both:

    i do procrastinate and am complacent at times but…..

    i also do work hard most of the time

  • Yesterday I (along with many fellow Christian teen musicians) was asked by one of our church elders if I had the courage, desire, and talent to take my music and the gospel to the streets. I said I would take everything I had. My sister and two of my girlfriends said they had both the desire and the courage- if not the talent (they’re so modest- but in actuallity, amazing!). As for the boys- THEY had the talent, and the courage- but not the desire. That is, all but one. He was ready to go, and spoke up! It made me so happy that he was enthusiastic, when normally he is rather shy. I think that THAT is the kind of courage our elder was looking for.

    Getting of your bum and actually doing something is hard. I never struggle with the original desire to ACT, but getting around to it and not putting it off is the hard thing. I guess I go into the procrastination catagory, then. But my life is so busy! How can I stop, and do what is actually important?

  • Heavens! A ten part series! how exciting.

    I think that all of us will tend towards thinking our lives are OK until we are hit with the relization that life is short. A friend of mine was in an accident this weekend, and although he’s fine, I spent a long time thinking about the shortness of life and how it may end at any moment. If I were to die today, would I be told “well done, good and faithful servant?”

    Probably not.

    Fixing that is a really hard thing.

    P.S. was it Alex or Brett who stuck his screwdriver in the socket? I’ve got my money on Brett.

  • Willingness to risk for the Gospel is something God has really been working into me lately. I am so fearful and untrusting, but the Shepherd is patient with me and is helping me conquer that.

    I have a question about the use of time.
    Often when I go practice my violin, read a book, work on creating a language, or writing fiction (things that I really enjoy) I have a feeling of restraint, as though the only things I should do with my time are pray, and read the Bible and theological books (all of which I do frequently– the first two daily and the third nearly daily). I feel like, in a world where people are dying every day without Christ, why should we devote our time to anything other than evangelism and the study of Scripture? Especially when we will be able to play music and write and paint and run on the New Earth for all of eternity? I know, at least I think I know, this is wrong, but I don’t have something solid to stand on. I want to be effective for the Kingdom, which I know… I think… includes the arts, but why do I have this feeling? It’s as if because I love doing these things, I shouldn’t do them, especially playing the violin, because it is time consuming, I love it so much, and it seems like the least “religious” of the things I listed. (What I mean is, I can see how I can point people to God through a story, and how creating a language could equip me for Bible translation, but playing classical pieces on the violin? And reading novels?) Can anyone help me?

  • Hey Amanda, I’m with you I have a real problem with procrastinating, and I feel like a lot of times my shyness hinders me from doing what God wants.

    I definitly have a desire to do something for God though….I’m just not sure what He wants me to do… Yet.
    I’m looking foward to the rest of this series!!

  • um, wow. Procrastination you say? yeah, there’s one mark for me. I have a tenacious ability to put things off……. and timidity? well, i was quite the shy one when i was younger, but that is going away, marked clearly by me auditioning for the play and acting in front of practiacally the whole school.
    now for the other marks, the good ones ya’know?
    let’s see….. i dont like being bored…… but i would hardly say that i use my bored time wisley. and being useful only goes as far as somethings. and risking for the gospel….um……..
    needless to say i think i have some way to go. thanks for this series, i think it’ll come in handy! oh, and thank’s for this one so i can see my downfalls! working hard to turn those around^_^

    ~Amber Lynn

  • I, like probably everyone, have some marks of a wasted life. I can be totally complacent at times, figuring that I’ve gotten along well so far, so why shouldn’t it work out if I just stay where I am? “My week hasn’t collapsed because I missed two Quiet Times in a row… a third can’t hurt that badly, right?” “I have this Gospel thing down… I’ve heard it since I was four, for crying out loud, if not before that.”
    Things that mark a spent life… wow. There’s a lot of it, but no credit to me. Indwelling sin would have it’s way, if Christ hadn’t hopped in and grabbed me from my head-long race to Hell. The traits are no credit to me, but to His glory. I think the big one is a desire to serve. Or, as y’all put it, “a hot-hearted desire to be useful.”

  • Wow! what a good topic guys! I will definitely pray on this subject. I’m also super excited to follow along in this series! Ok, here are my answers for you:

    Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life?

    mm hmm! definitely hit me there. I can’t tell you how bad I feel about all the years I’ve lived for myself. When you find Christ, you begin to realize that living selfishly is all a waste of time. God deserves our whole lives commited with a fiery passion to live for Him.

    Does your life contain any marks of a spent life?

    I was saved at a young age, but I didn’t start to fully live for Him until a couple years ago. I believe that Christ and His Word should overflow into our lives, so that everyone can see! I believe that my life as a believer and follower of Christ I should spend my life fully committed to Him. In Revelation 3:16, it says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (NIV) I take these verses to heart. I’m done with living “lukewarm” for God. I’ve come to see my purpose in life and my heart’s desire is to pursue it.

  • 1) Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life?
    I would say yes. I have the tendancy to become rather shy. I have the mark of being timid. I’m working on it.

    2)Does your life contain any marks of a spent life?
    I’m glad to say, yes. I’m willing to serve and God’s helped me overcome my past-habit of procrastination. 🙂 It’s time to work on living fearlessly for the Gospel.

  • Ouch! That one sure hit home!
    Thanks for doing this series, so far it’s unpleasantly convicting.
    Yes, my life definitely contains marks of wasted time. It’s so easy to slip into that lazy way of thinking “oh I’ll do it later” or “I’ll have time later one”. But I keep reminding myself, HOW BOGUS!! I mean who can honestly say that they KNOW what they’re doing later! I don’t even know if I’ll be alive later. In other words, I’m working on it. 🙂
    I do believe that I have a deep desire to be useful. I’m afraid I don’t meet the standard of being passionate about making good use of my time. I am ready to take risks for the gospel.
    Emily Scheerer: Yeah, I want to know who stuck the screwdriver in the socket too. 🙂
    Thanks for a great article guys!

  • How amazing this is!!! I just found the Do Hard things Book and just found this website, yet amazingly it SCREAMS so clearly what my life has been and still is in more ways than one. This is just what God has been telling me, yet I was too afraid. I have to confess I have been consumed by fear. A rear and timidity of everything possible to the point that it has begun controlling my life. Though I know Christ is my savior I have allowed Satan a hold on my life. And it has now gotten to the point that all of my time and thoughts have been controlled by fear; fear of death, fear of being judged by others, fear of not being understood, and fear of constantly worrying that God is going to strike me with an illness at any moment. I know it sounds rediculous, yet I have no been able to rise above. Finally instead of waiting for the fear to leave before I take action, i am beginning to take action through it. God be praised, tommorrow is day 2! I am tired of wasting my life and being caged in by my procrastination and conformity. Tommorrow is another day. The day of destiny!!!

  • I am really enjoying this series! It is so important for teenagers to see their life as something that could end in moments.
    * Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life? Yes, I know it does. I know that I am far from perfect and that I need God’s grace to sustain me every day. I praise Him for his abundant grace!

    * Does your life contain any marks of a spent life? Yes, I believe it does. Some people might look at my life and say, “No, she is not doing anything important; all she does is stay home with her family and go to Church.” But I believe that this is what God has called me to, a life of service. If I am not willing to do the job that no one sees and serve my family and my Church family, then how can I accomplish the big things that are seen?

  • In reply to Madeline’s question:
    Have you ever read C.S. Lewis’s “Learning in Wartime”? It offers great insight into the question of how we should spend our time with eternity at stake. I highly recommend it.
    Practice violin to the glory of God; Read and make up languages to the glory of God. If all we ever do is study scripture and evangelize, we won’t understand the world God has placed us in enough to even relate to the people we try to reach out to. Besides, if we as Christians don’t cultivate our God-given talents and pursue excellence the glory of God, the artistic and academic fields will be dominated by people who only work to the glory of themselves.

  • Yes I don’t think my life is being wasted, but I think their are still some areas of my life I can do better and be more god glorifying in. But I think mostly I have come a long way with not wasting my life and I am striving to make it more Christ like and pleasing to Him and not the world. Its hard but like I have heard do hard things!

    In Christ,

  • This series is going to be convicting…but I really need that. I have a huge tendency to stay within the places and circumstances where I need take no risks…”constant readiness to risk for the gospel”. Now THAT stung all right.
    You really are a great example of how God can use teens…Might I somehow be allowing complacency to take over my life? I think it has, in some areas. I find myself saying things like: “That would be so embarassing” or “I don’t need to take such a leap into the unknown”.
    Young people really need to be reminded that we have only one life–and it could end any minute. The Bible tells us to spend our lives in a glorious way–living for Him.
    Thanks a million for the thought-provoking post. Eagerly waiting for the next.

  • […] Your Gloriously Well-Spent Life Now November 18, 2008 Or something like that … the Harris brothers have just begun a new series on the difference between a life wasted and one lived well. “Jesus makes it clear that depending on how we think about death we will either save our lives, or we will waste them. We can waste our lives trying to save them, or we can find our lives striving to spend them for Christ.” Related posts:“How we became debt free” Amy Scott has begun a series of posts explaining how…Review: Jesus Wants to Save Christians, by Rob Bell and Don Golden Posted by Nick Norelli at Rightly Divinding the Word of…Remembering (a different) Jim Jones Last month, I shared a link to a podcast in…Being needy can be a good thing Suzanne Hadley writes on the merits of depending on others…It’s the final countdown Nearly everyone has got something to say this election eve:… […]

  • I have marks of both a wasted and well-spent life. I am a slacker and i think I’m complacent, but I really have a desire to be useful and to spend my time well. However, it is impossibly hard to really tell what I am and am not supposed to be doing, to find the motivation and discipline to do it, and to discern whether my motives are good or not. Lately, I have been praying more and reading the Bible more, the Psalms and Luke especially (my bible quiz team is studying Luke this season :D). Hopefully, God will speak to me and/or show me the place where I should be and help me get there. If someone who reads this would pray for me, I would be infinitely grateful. 😀

  • Dear Miss Madeline,

    First of all, the arts influence culture. The arts affect how people think. And God can use the arts to change lives. Just look at the movie Fireproof. God is using that movie to save marriages and to save people’s souls!

    I believe that learning/practicing the violin is definitely not a waste of time! There are so many ways you can use that God-given ability for good/for God’s glory! You can use it to worship God, play at nursing homes, teach children, etc. Music is a wonderful thing which God created. God said many times to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. He said to play music to Him. So I say: Go for it!

    I also believe that writing is definitely not a waste of time! There’s a lot of bad writing out there that has influenced our culture for evil. We need novels, short stories, etc. that will glorify and honor God. I, myself, write fiction. I also write non-fiction sometimes (i.e. articles for Growing in Grace Magazine). I want all my writing to glorify and honor God and I try to incorporate good messages into what I write. But I also write because I enjoy it. It isn’t wrong to enjoy something as long as enjoyment/entertaiment does not consume us or get placed above God in our life. Oh, and I read novels. Especially since we write fiction, we should read novels so we get a “feel” for what sounds right. As long as the novels are God-honoring, I don’t think it’s wrong/a waste of time to read them…just not all the time :).

    If you love to/have a desire to play the violin, write, etc., it could most certainly be a God-given desire to use your God-given gifts. It sounds like you have a wonderful heart for the Lord and it’s great that you pray, read the Bible, and read theological books because that is very important (esp. the first two). But God also gives us certain skills to use for His glory and the spreading of the Gospel. You don’t want to waste the special gifts God has given to you. I encourage you to pray for God’s will in this area and then, do your best for God’s glory!!!

    Your sister in Christ,

    P.S. I took a peek at your blog. Great photos! (Another gift!)

  • I read John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” a few years back and have read it several more times since then! It is a very good book that helps you understand the whole point of being here, thus giving you a way to judge a wasted life from a well-invested life.

    I am looking forward to the rest of this series!


    Ps: I was just thinking the other day … how would it be like to read your own obituary? What would you want to see on it? I read a story about two twins and one of them died but was accidentially identified as the other man. So, he got to read his own obituary and realized what a waste of a life he was living … something to think about

  • Wow. Those questions really force me to look at the person I am.
    I’m homeschooled, and am really shy. I get frustrated with myself when I start worrying about what other people think. I try to tell myself that I don’t care – but I do. My mom asks me to do this simple thing – but I feel so incapable. So useless. Tied up in a knot because I’m scared. I have alot of passion for Jesus, but my timidity stops me from doing things for Him. What can I do?

  • Wow. This is actually making me think. This is the first time I’ve ever been to the main page and for some reason I clicked on the link for this series. I see that I’ve really been wasting my life. I’m gonna try to change that but it will be hard cause I’m not really very motivated.

  • I am absolutely loving these articles! Keep them coming guys! 🙂

    Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life?

    I am afraid so. I have always stuggled with procrastination, but I believe the Lord is slowly breaking me out of it.

    Does your life contain any marks of a spent life?

    Thankfully, yes. I have a “hot-hearted desire to be useful”. I also have a readiness to risk for the gospel, but it is not always constant. I’m working on that too! 🙂

    God bless!

    Sarah. 🙂

  • does anyone know any cures for shyness and not being able to public speak!! it would really help im starting to really ennoy myself and evryone arounf me by clamming up when I need to talk~~Elisabeth

  • Lissie,
    As someone who was once painfully shy, I know what you’re going through. Speech and debate really helped me (if you’re a homeschooler, go to to find out more) as well as just realizing that shyness can be an unwillingness to go the extra mile. Keep pushing yourself, and think about those around you rather than your fear of speaking.

  • Brett and Alex,

    Thanks for the great reminder that we continually waste our lives. We spend our time on things of man, not things of God.

    ~Does my life contain any marks of a wasted life?~
    I am afriad I procrastinate alot. It is hard not to. To put it simple, I am lazy. I don’t ever get things done, especially when it is with school. At 13, I am just getting into “Middle School” and the whole homework thing. My teachers are very different than my teachers last year, and I tend to procrastinate. I believe God will work this out of me so I don’t procrastinate any longer.

    ~Does my life contain any marks of a spent life?~
    Yes, I wouldn’t say my desire to be useful is “hotheaded” but I would say that God has put me where I am to be useful and to do what I can for Him.

    Thanks again, Brett and Alex, for this mind-boggling, heart-warming explanation. I like it. I’m looking forward to the next one!

    In Christ,

  • Oh, thank you so much, Holly M. and LifeofFaith! How encouraging. Yes, I have read “Learning in Wartime” and it has encouraged me, but your comments have helped flesh it out, and answer questions I still had after reading it. Thank you so much! May God be near to you! 🙂

    In Christ’s Love,

  • This post hit right on. I believe I bear marks of both. I desire to be useful and have a passion for the use of good time but at times, procrastination just really attacks. It’s hard but I’m determined to fight procrastination. After all, Do Hard Things!

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    Thanks for this great post.

  • In relation to the first article:

    This is a really cool article for me.. i have been thinking about this kind of stuff quite a bit lately. I’ve had some dangerous / near-death experiences myself . . . 60 pounds isn’t exactly a healthy weight for an 11 – 12 year old; and being suicidal is often hazardous to your health. propane and fire mix a little too well and winter jackets happen to be rather flammable. Chimney fires also can be a cause for concern; especcially to a really groggy two-year-old in the wee hours of the morning. Also, when you’re home alone and a man tries to murder your neighbour, then runs into your backyard, it generally results in
    I’ve had my share of close calls, all of which happened before coming to Christ. I praise him for His Divine Intervention in all of these instances . . . He has saved me not only in the physical form, but he has also rescued my soul.
    My father suddenly died when I was nine, and naturally, I think about him every day. I was a dadd’ys girl growing up, and the loss was very hard on me. Naturally, I still remember him every day. I also try to take a moment every day to remember how blessed I am; and that every day I have on earth is a day borrowed; I did not pay for it nor did I do anything to make it come about. I almost caused it to end. Every day for me is a day that I shouldn’t have; after my experiences. they are more than a gift; and I treat my time as such. I figure, God really seems to want me to stick around here for a while, so my work can’t be done here. Sice He’s done so much to keep me here, I try to use each of the moments that Jesus has paid for for His Glory, to the best of my abilities; never stagnant, always striving to see what I can do better; focusing on where I can improve, and all of my blessings.

    Death is such an unnatural thing. it was caused by Adam and Eve’s sins in the garden; because they were no longer Pure, God could not exist with them in the physical sense. Evil and Perfect are contradictions, they cannot occupy the same space. The only way we can re-attain this communion with the Lord is through the Lord, death on the cross. Jesus was the only perfect man, therefore the only perfect sacrifice that was capable of paying the price for Man’s sins. It is the only way that our souls can be sanctified and we can then, at death, live once again in the perfect communion that we were designed for.
    That’s the beauty of Grace. Jesus paid for what we couldn’t afford, if we put all of mankind’s ‘spiritual wealth’ together. NOTHING that we do can causes us to deserve it. yet it is offered as a gift, free to anyone who reaches out for it. Jesus is reaching out his hands to mankind; we are hanging off of the edge of the cliff; all we have to do to come over the edge of that cliff onto safety is accept his outstreached arm that is being offered to us. It’s not our act that is saving us, it’s our acceptance of a Hero and a Saviour. And once he has us over that ledge, we are in an eternal embrace of Jesus’ Love and protection and wisdom. Our souls have been reconciled and we have an Eternity of communion with our Saviour and Designer to look foreward to. Once we are in Heaven, we will once again be in the place that our souls were designed to exist in.

    We weren’t designed for this world, we were designed for Eden. perfect communion with nature, with each other, but mostly, with our designer. Now we are stuck in a world that contradicts our human nature. A very wise theologist once said that if you ever feel like you weren’t made for this world; that you weren’t made for all of the things that you see around you – It’s because you aren’t. Your purpose was much higher than the purposes (or lack of purpose) that the world tells you that you have. THIS ISN’T how it’s supposed to be! I can’t remember the specific reference, but it says in the New Testament somewhere that anyone who takes up his cross and accepts that Jesus is the Christ has their citizenship in Heaven; Earth is merely a detour.

    It is this detour that we can use for His Glory or not: we can chose to be living out our Purpose anyways. Just because you’re not where you were designed to be doesn’t mean that you can make huge strides attempting to live out your purpose here on Earth. If a docter is on a plane ride to a remote country to heal people of a disease, but is sent to a diffferent country that has a similar disease, and is told that he is stuck there for a year, does that mean that he shouldn’t use his knowledge and skills to heal those where he is? He’s not whre he’s supposed to be! This isn’t where he signed up for! Of course not, that’s silly. Of course he can live out his purpose in a temporary different location!
    So then why can’t we do what we can on Earth in order to live out our purpose? It may not be ideal, but a lot of good can be done!

    So, we should be living out our purpose, even though its may not be ideal at times, and while doing so, looking foreward to the Wonderous Perfection that God is giving to us as a gift, once our lives are over.

    Thank you so much for blessing so many teens with this blog. It is really thought-provoking for me and it is one of the few websites that I like to visit!

    God Bless,


  • I’m here to be the best I can be and I can honestly say that I have, maybe not the marks, but maybe mere smudges of a gloriously spent life, but they are grossly over powered by the marks of a tragically spent life, and that scares me to say the least. Reading the first list I literally shrank into myself, cringing from the self conviction. And then as I read the latter list, realised that each was apart of me, but their marks had been indeed smothered and smudged under the tragedies, definantly something to work on.
    Thanks for the wake up call, its time for me to go back to praying, searching, learning and loving till I go home. I’m excited!=)

  • Well, unfortunately, I definitely fit the wasted life more than the well spent life. I wish it were not so, but it is. Recently, though God has been upseting my complacent, procrastinating, lifestyle by taking away activities and social opportunities that I rely on to much. It has been tough, but slowly and surely I’m realizing that I need to be searching out more oppurtunities to serve God outside of my comfort-zone. I need to be willing to live more for Him, instead of just thinking about Him on Sundays at church.
    Thank you Alex and Brett for this thought-provoking series. God bless!

  • I am very thankful for this series on death. It definitly made me think about how I’m living. “So teach us to number our daysthat we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) Your list of the qualities of a wasted life only include things like laziness and complacency. I think that there are many people who have relentless passion for high grades and work very hard at their schoolwork. They certainly take initiative. They are inspirational in terms of their work ethic, but I think some are still wasting their lives. There are people who are zealously advocating for wicked things. While these people are not lukewarm, they are not living the glorious life.

  • Hmmm…I see signs of each in my life; I’m gonna go with “a bit of both” like some others have posted in their comments. It seems that the whole “procrastination” part has been getting better. This has mostly occurred through school assignments – I guess we would say that that’s what God is using to train me out of the habit of procrastinating. I guess He’s still working to remove the “timidity.”

  • For those who struggle with “timidity” I would reccomend, along with Sarah, to look into public speaking. Especially the NCFCA website. Though I don’t think I would ever describe myself as timid, the thought of speaking in front of people frightened me so much, I could hardly stand just thinking about it. However, two years of speech helped me very much and I ended up loving it! I’m not saying that I still don’t get nervous from time to time, but I am no longer frightened to stand up in front of people to speak. God has really done wonders for me in this area. That He helped me overcome my fear is truly amazing. I thank Him constantly for it.
    All that to say, I am still working on other faults that are preventing me from serving and living like I should and desire.
    A sister in Christ…

  • This blog post was challenging; but I think some of the questions/comments it has raised are even more so!

    I wanted to tell Madeline how excited I was to see your (first) comment. I’m a bookworm and a classical pianist, and I’ve been asking your question about time for several years now! The verse in Ephesians about “redeeming the time” is so beautiful and challenging, and I truly want to redeem all my moments; but it is hard, especially when I’m trying to judge what is the most worthwhile thing to do in each moment. Sometimes I’ve considered whether I should give up reading non-theological literature, since it doesn’t seem to be the best possible thing to do with so many precious moments! I thought Holly’s and ALifeofFaith’s answers were great. I wanted to add a few more thoughts that I’ve been forming recently.

    The first is this: the doctrine of vocation. Martin Luther resurrected this doctrine along with that of justification during the Reformation. The point is that (as he put it) the milkmaid and the pastor are equally glorifying God. The Christian sanctifies whatever work he is doing by committing it to God and really working at it with all his strength according to Biblical virtues. So, for example, when we’re young and in school, being a student is our vocation. It is the best possible way we can glorify God at this time in our lives. I think of Bach writing “Soli Deo Gloria” at the end of each of his compositions.

    The second is this: My pastor recently preached a sermon on “redeeming the time”, and I asked him the questions we’re discussing. His answer (which helped me a lot) was that, as fallen humans, we are not able to always be doing “the best”. For instance, taking care of our physical bodies is as necessary and important as studying Scripture; so even though Scripture is more important than exercise, we must do both. He also said that “the good” (like music, literature, exercise, etc.) can sometimes become “the best” when we are doing it for God’s glory–as our vocation.

    And the last thing is this: I was reading in Daniel just this Sunday when I came across this verse: “As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17). We all know how God used Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and God did that by giving them “knowledge and skill” (and presumably a love for) literature. And this is Babylonian, pagan literature! Yet they were able to study it for the glory of God.

    So, that’s kind of my “philosophy of the arts to the glory of God.”

    I had a question for you or Holly as well: after reading your posts, I tried to look up Lewis’s “Learning in Wartime”, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Is it part of another book? Or where can I find it?


    For His Glory,

  • Thanks for doing this series,guys! It has challenged me to re-evaluate my view of death. In the back of my mind, I knew that when I died, I would go to Heaven, but up front, I’ve always feared death. So far, this series has shown me that I am a timid person, so at the moment, I would consider my present life worthless. With God’s help, I am going to change that!

  • WOW!
    I knew I was going to heaven, but always in the back of mind, I feared death, but I never really showed it out to people. I have been shown how timid I really am, even though I don’t be quiet. I really do hope that I could change the inside timidness of my soul.
    Thanks again,
    Ben Crawford

  • To Madeline, in case she is still checking for replies to her question:

    It is certainly true that playing the violin, reading, writing, and so on can be edifying activities that glorify God! But… if you are getting a feeling of restraint while doing them, that feeling may be from the Spirit. Maybe He is calling you to a season of more intense communion. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

    Your question reminded me of my own situation. I play the piano and guitar, and love to read. And read. And read. (You understand.) Unfortunately, that didn’t go hand-in-hand with getting my schoolwork done. It was very easy to play music and read all day. Good pursuits, but for me, they marked a “lazy habit of procrastination”, not a “relentless passion to make good use of time”. This year I’ve realized that my undiligence was hurting my testimony and cheating my character-growing. I made a hard decision to not play music or read for pleasure except on Sunday (I don’t work on school on Sunday). I’m still struggling to stay caught up in school, but having that choice in place helps. Hopefully it is only for a season. But my talents are from the Lord, and if not using them is what brings Him glory, that’s what I’ll do.

    Blessings on your daily walk!

  • Wow. I’m definitely a combination of the two… leaning towards the wasted life, unfortunately.
    I know that for myself, I’m always thinking of what I’m going to do in the future to keep from wasting my life. I need to focus on doing hard things now. Thanks for the reminder!

  • “Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life?”

    Sadly yes. When I read your criteria for “Marks of a Tragically Wasted Life” I cringed inwardly. Procrastination can be a big problem for me. Thankfully God led me to the rebelution. I have learned so much about what it means to take advantage of every moment in life from your book and website.

    “Does your life contain any marks of a spent life?”

    Yes, but in my case I wouldn’t even call them marks…more like little bitty specks. I am praying for God do keep the fire inside of me kindled. Your phrase “A hot headed desire to be useful” describes exactly how I feel at times. It is very easy and comfortable to fall back into a complacent lifestyle. My prayer lately has been for Him to shake every ounce of complacency out of me.

    Thanks so much for this message.


  • Good stuff guys. I’m excited for the rest of the series. 🙂

    Does your life contain any marks of a wasted life?
    Yeah. like Leandrie – I have a problem with procrastination. Sadly I have known it for awhile and am still struggling against it in a few areas. reading your book has really helped!!

    Does your life contain any marks of a spent life?
    again, I agree with Leandrie. Little specks here and there. I am learning to give the glory to the Lord in everything I do and it has changed so much that I do in my life and helped with the procrastination.

  • ok i have to ask: who writes the blog posts, alex or brett? or do you guys write them together? if so, how? cuz when my twin sister and i try to write stuff together, it doesn’t work very well and takes a really long time, lol.

    and how did you do the book? it said “we” the whole time, but who was actually coming up with what you said?

  • I must say, this is a very, VERY good series! Great job, guys.

    My life does tend to lean toward the wasted life. I didn’t realize it until I read the post! I used to be very timid, although the past few years I’ve been consciously forcing myself to snap out of it. And I just realized this past week how complacent I have been. But then again, I do have the hot-hearted desire to be useful. It’s ridiculous.

  • Madeline, in response to your first comment:

    Not everyone is called to be a third-world missionary. Sometimes you can be an ambassador in a “profession” by letting you light shine by your excellence. Music can be an expression of your inner self, and if God is in you this can also be an expression of how He works in your life. Novels, depending on what kind, can actually lead you to think about God. I don’t just mean Christian novels; some secular novels pose situations which can definitely lead to inner discussion! (How does this particular incident make me feel? WHy do I feel this way? WHat would God say about this? etc.) I have had feelings similar to yours, but I feel as if God is calling me to a certain (non-missions) field, and I need to do all in my power to be excellence for him within that! I went to a church that was very missions-oriented, but if you don’t feel called to a foreign country, this can leave you feeling confused. There are people in the American art fields that need Jesus just as much as kids in Africa! Reading the Bible and theological books are great, but if you don’t actually have an outlet through which to voice your opinions, then reading them is not saving anymore souls (assuming you are saved!). Although, of course, you have your blog, and I assume other things. Speaking of theological material, I recommend Words of Delight by Leland Ryken. It explains a literary approach to the Bible, and would probably interest you, due to your love of literature. I love reading and writing (yes, especially fiction), and this book has been very interesting. (He doesn’t mean that the Bible is fiction by saying it is literature; it is just a different interpretation of it. He believes the Bible is completely true.)


  • In response to the original question:

    Yes, my life has the marks of a wasted life, but they have considerable dwindled as I grew older. I am a natural (somewhat) type A person, and have an extremely hard time not working. Yes, not working! If I am dragging my feet on something I need to be doing, I usually get stressed out and hop to it immediately. Strange, I know. I kick at complacency, procrastination, and timidity! Maybe a little too much. I have a hard time just being in the moment and relaxing. I really want to be useful and use my time well! I also want to ready to share the gospel, but my particular situation makes it very difficult. So that’s my little confession.

  • Madeline:

    There are basically two types of music you could play on your violin–secular and Christian. Why not play Christian music and “let your light shine” that way? The Bible says to *praise* God as well as pray and read the Bible. Yes, you can praise Him through prayer, but you can also praise Him through your songs. “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy” (Ps. 33:3). You mentioned classical songs–you could play classical pieces written by Christian composers, or something of the sort. I don’t know–it’s just an idea. 🙂

  • I do not think my life has been wasted. Granted, I’ve only been around for 16 years so I haven’t had too much of a chance to do a lot of things, but I don’t think that I really regret the things I’ve done.

    Now about a life that truly was not wasted… this link will take you to a story about a young man who should be an inspiration to us all. I encourage all of you to read Marc Girards story, and I ask Alex and Brett to consider including his story in their series at some point. Many people need to know about Marc’s life.. and death.

  • Unfortunately, I find myself lapsing often back into a wasted life–timidity in the cause of the truth, putting off things I should be doing and watching opportunities pass by with a spirit of complacency. Right now I’m sitting out for a day or two with a badly sprained ankle (Alex, I think I’m sympathizing with you on having done something stupid *grimmace*), thinking over what I’m doing right now and reevaluating…and this post really hit home! Thanks for the excellent reminder of the heart of usefulness!


    Abigail @ Pearls and Diamonds

  • Hm…Is timidity itself a bad thing? Some people, like myself, tend to be very introverted. I would rather listen to someone speak and think about it than talk for an hour, by far, and I don’t hand out my opinions unless I feel really strongly about something. I really don’t like arguing.
    When I was in high school, I thought being quiet was like a disease and took on a personal crusade to change the very center of my personality, and almost drove myself insane as a result. I’ve come to accept it now. So I don’t think that timidity necessarily means a wasted life. But then you say PARALYZED timidity so… Hm….

  • I would say the only mark of a tragically wasted life that I have is procrastination…but luckily I’ve been able to cure that. I think that some people are timid naturally, but they can still be an example of Christ to other people.

    As for signs of a gloriously spent life, I definetly have the second one. I am like constantly concerned about if what I am doing will be able to help others. Actually, the only mark of a gloriously spent life that I am not so sure that I have is willingness to risk. I tend to get nervous about talking to others for fear of completely turning them from Christianity

  • its funny you should say that Hannah, i mean the part about getting nervous about turning others away from Christianity, thats been a discussion topic for my youth group. Its a tough one too. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now.
    People have told me about how great Chritian evangelists that I admire, turned them away from God. I quote “that guy turned me into an atheist.” But then I look to examples like Paul who wasn’t afraid to debate all the religious rulers of the day, and took every opportunity to share the gosple. So I lean toward the side of be loving and accepting but be bold as well. (although thats really hard for me sometimes, I lean toward the timid side). An encouraging verse is 2 Tim 1:7 which says “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

  • Just a thought:
    Jim Elliot, a missionary to Ecuador who gave his life trying to reach the Auca indians whith the gospel, said this:
    “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose”
    Jim Elliot was a great man who gave what he could not keep (his life) to God in the extention of his kingdom we could all learn something from him on this issue I think.
    P.S. If you want to read about him and the other young men who died whith him I reccomend ‘Through the Gates of Splendor’ by Elizabeth, his wife.
    an inspirational read

  • I have a qwestion:
    Do you (anyone) think it’s more inportent to act like an adault around teens or adaults
    because when im around teens I tent to not so much act but talk like a worldly teen but when im around adaults they guess im college age 🙂
    (Im 13)
    im not sure if I sould try to swich or try to act eqaul to both ages HELP!!

  • Lissie,
    I often struggle between acting mature and matching the conversation and ways of those I am with. I am naturally a mimic, so I tend to sway with the crowds a bit. I find I cannot stand my ground as well if I let myself “blend in”, even a little bit. Stand firm, founded on the Rock of your salvation.

    It is most important to act like a servant and soldier of Christ, and that does include maturity. And that goes for all times, though it is hard.
    I’ll be praying for you, Sister.
    In Christ,

  • I have such a fire for wanting to do something…anything to add to God’s kingdom. I have a feeling he’s going to do something big in my life…I just don’t know when.

    It seems like my life was wasted from all that early teenage stuff with.. well, you girls know about having guys fill your mind a lot. Aha! Looking back, that was absolutely hilarious:P Anyway, thank the Lord Almighty that He kept me away from anything that I would have regreted.

    Now if you guys want God to use your life…TELL HIM!:)

    Last year, I remember asking God to use me and let me introduce Him to people at my school.

    A few months later almost every day someone was asking about God, what I thought about Him or even making fun of Him. There was so much oportunity for sharing Christ with others. Do you know what I did? I got so discouraged because so many people were putting my faith down. Aha! I totally forgot about what I prayed about. Once I remembered what I prayed, I must have been laughing for days. God had answered my prayer!

    So…He WILL use you. In fact, He is right now. He’s preparing you for battle. So just talk to HIM. Tell Him you want to be used for His eternal purpose:)

  • I have been struggling with all of the wasted life descriptions for the last year or so. I would sum them up as apathy. I have wasted several years in daydreaming and serving my self. But God has shown me how empty and disgusting that life is (with a little bit of nudging from this site and inspirational people I know. 🙂 ). I now have that list in my journal to remind me to “redeem the time, for the days are evil.”

    Thanks for laying it out so painfully plain!

  • I JUST started reading your book (my Dad said I should read it) and I have to say, you both have done an excellent job! I’m rethinking a LOT of things and beginning to actually do hard things.

    But to answer the questions: I have had a good amount of wasted life, unfortunately. It’s only recently (maybe a month or two ago) that I’ve begun to actually use my life as a vessel for Christ. And it makes me sad that I had to wait so long (I’m 16) but I’m glad I started instead of waiting even longer!

    I’m going to be following the website and blog a LOT! I can’t wait for the next post! Keep up the awesome work for God!

  • I almost drowned once in a swimming pool. But the really interesting story is when I was 2. Mom had gone grocery shopping and I was near the window in the two-story apartment where we lived. Now one thing to keep in mind, there are about only 2 ways to fall from a two-story building,(I know because my dad is a doctor). So anyways mom is at the the store and she had this sudden impulse that she needed to go home and she did. While this was happening the window was open and I pushed on the screen and I fell! Dad saw me so do it and he ran down the stairs, but before he did he sow me falling and he recognized that I was in the right position. According to him it looked like I was in the hands of an angel
    he ran down the stairs and he saw me the grass crying and I had hardly any injuries It was definitely a miracle. When you think about it you could die anytime anywhere. Thanks for the great post.

  • Hey, this is just my second time posting and i thought i’d just say how much I apreciate this website. I only wish my website was a tenth as successful as yours.

  • wow! this is such a cool series. its very thought provoking. my life mostly fits is the wasted category, thanks for pointing out taht i need a change!

  • wow,
    I’ve never thought about it this way,
    when i make plans fr the weekend i think they will happen with out a doubt,
    but no one even knows if the next second we will even still be here.
    thanks for the blog guys, its really inspiering me(:

  • It really makes you trust God more, He Is in ultimate control of everything, but we think we are. We aren’t, and we need to accept that.

  • I am very excited about reading the rest of this series. I have been working on procrastonating less, and doing the Hard thing. I have the opportunity to go to Sierra Leone, Africa on a missions trip this spring. I would be able to share my gift of singing, and God’s love with the children in the schools EduNations ( has built.
    My fear and lazyness might take this opportunity away from me. I have been praying, and this series has been a good reminder that I should not be afraid, and I should give my life to God so that I may find it.
    Thank You.

  • Oh gosh, I could go on and on about how my life is wasted. Happily, I think I also have at least one of the ‘gloriously spent’ examples. I hope. Can’t wait to read the rest of this series! 🙂

  • I have definitely struggled with timidity. A lot of times I have let the devil tell me that I’m not good enough to tell people about Christ. Whether it’s because I make to many mistakes, I am not a good public speaker, or something as simple as inconvenient setting, I have held back too many times. However, something I’m seeing more and more is that if I go with the strength I have, God will meet me the rest of the way. He truely is my strength, and He has blessed me with so many ways to spread the gospel.

    This is a great series! I’m excited to hear more.

  • I’ve struggled a lot with timidity in every area of my life. I was always afraid to speak up or to ask for what I wanted, but God is working with me and what seemed very hard to me at first (like talking to an authority), now I have the courage to do it, even better, I don’t even fear it. There are more fears I need to overcome, but I know the power of Christ is in me and it will give me the strenght I need.

  • I have both in my life and i want to get it all to the glorious life so then i can look back at my life and say, ” i had a glorious life.”

  • i look forward to the rest of the series 🙂
    but i was just wondering what wrong with procrastination? like how is it sin..i don’t understand it really.Can someone give maybe a few bible verses that can help me out?

  • What a great challenge! To live consistenly in every sphere of our life is such a high calling. You guys are right on with the challenges facing many christian teens today. Many of us are not living out-right sinful lives but we easily let complanecy in. We start by comprimising at doing are best once and tell ourselves only “this one time”. Yet, it quickly becomes a habit that we never intended. With God’s help, though, and a willing heart that wants to change we can overcome this.
    Thanks for encouraging us to live well-spent lives! Such a great reminder for all of us…

  • Lukewarm, lazy, and paralyzed. Some people may be disagree, but that isn’t how I would want to be described.

  • I was very happy to search out this net-site.I needed to thanks on your time for this glorious read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you weblog post.

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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 →