rebelling against low expectations

Rebelutionaries Can Waste Their Lives


I read Do Hard Things for the first time one year ago. I thought, This is great! This is what was missing in my life! This will give me the passion and purpose I want! Life is going to be different from now on. But what I thought was wrong.

It did not give me the kind of life that I longed for.

It did not give me an all-consuming passion.

I was focused on the wrong things. Even though Alex and Brett say that the point of doing hard things is to glorify God, I was really a Rebelutionary because it brought glory to me. And that was wrong, and that is why it did not give me purpose. I thought that we were created to do hard things, but that is an error. We are created to glorify God, which might involve doing hard things.

What was missing was a passion for God. No amount of doing very hard things can replace a passion for the living God.

QUESTION: What is the chief end [purpose] of Man?

ANSWER: To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

This is the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I have known the words for years, but I didn’t really understand what it meant to glorify God. It sounds like something only angels can do, doesn’t it? John Piper explained this in his book Don’t Waste Your Life. I am so thankful that my church gave this book to me as a graduation gift last week. Piper writes that:

“Enjoying God supremely is one way to glorify him. Enjoying God makes him look supremely valuable.”

“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.”

“The world [or even Do Hard Things] is no longer our treasure. It’s not the source of our life or our satisfaction or our joy. Christ is.”

“God created me — and you — to live with a single, all-transforming passion — namely a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life.”

Piper explains that to glorify God is to magnify God, but not like a microscope making something small look big, but like a telescope making something huge and beautiful look the way it really is.

Read Don’t Waste Your Life. It is possible to be a Rebelutionary and still waste your life, no matter how many hard things you do. It is meaningless to be focused on what we can do for Christ. It is fully satisfying to be so focused on the cross and passionate about God that our love and passion transforms everything we do. Then, God is glorified. That is a life to die for.

“… If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” – Mark 8:34-35

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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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  • That is totally true and a great point! Thanks for posting Katie. Literally 30 seconds before I read this post I was discussing with my mom how I didn’t want to waste my life and particularly my summer. And wow. That really hit home. Thanks Katie!

  • EXCELLENT post Katie! This has been my one and only concern with an otherwise great movement of young people– it is so easy to start striving to do ‘hard things’ to glorify ourselves, or because we think it is essential to pleasing God or being saved. You have addressed this issue in a clear and truthful way.

    May our life’s purpose and passion be exactly what you said– “To glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him FOREVER.” 🙂

  • Amen Katie!

    This is so true!

    When I read ‘Do Hard Things’ my situation was reversed. I had passion for God, but I wasn’t sure how to put that passion into action. Do Hard Things is a winner wherever you are in your life, whatever situation you’re going through.

    Thanks Katie, it is wonderful to hear from other people who have been impacted by the Rebelution.

  • Well said and well written, Katie. It is entirely possible for us to get so wrapped up in what we are doing FOR Christ, that we lose sight OF Christ and His glory and purpose. I think I’m paraphrasing Oswald Chambers here, but I don’t remember exactly where he said that. But, the point remains. As the Bible says, we are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. It never ceases to amaze me how well the instructions work when you follow them!

  • Good post guys.

    I was pondering what is perhaps one especially relevant application of this. I know for many teens purity is a very “hard thing.” I know there are many young men who chronically lose this battle, and after much pleading with God for help they finally give up altogether. This concession follows them for a lifetime as it adversely affects their marriages, families, and ability to know King Jesus.

    I believe one major reason for this is that they have not first repented of their motives and asked God the change them. God will never honor wrong motivation – for Him to do that would cause Him to be an idolater with us.

    So I am particularly grateful to John Piper for the clarity of his writing and preaching which points us to a life lived for the glory of the All-satisfying One. I hope that God’s grace of repentance will rest deeply on all of us daily.

    Grace to you.

  • Thank you Katie! I’ve experienced the same thing many times, expecting a good book to change my life just through my reading it. I’ve never really thought about what I need to change, though. I needed to hear this…

  • Oh wow, this really hit me. It’s so true. Thank you so much for posting this, Katie. I pray that we would all take this to heart, and be renewed in spirit and joy.
    God Bless!
    In Christ,

  • I have already posted the below paragraphs on a different blog topic: “Don’t Waste Your Summer: Intentional Summer Break.” (The link for the blog topic is .) In order to understand my points below, I’m going to say that you should check out the link and the article in the link. (Just for more direct access, the article’s link is .) The reason I am mentioning these points again here is because Katie talked about “Don’t Waste Your Life,” and because I think this would be a very good book to do exactly what Katie has said: be rebelutionary for God’s glory.

    Would you be willing to spend some time reading through the excellent book, “Don’t Waste Your Life,” with us in the Cafe in the Rebelution forums? (Discussion starts on June 15.) I think that this would help fulfill the several points that Lindsay Talsness mentioned in her article:

    (1) It would be a specific study of many Bible passages, not a random hodgepodge from day to day of unrelated texts (though certainly even that would be better than nothing).

    (2) It will certainly keep us accountable, for we will be talking with real people and will be sharpening each other throughout the summer (though I would advise against this being your only form of accountability).

    (3) Since we will be reading based upon a schedule, you will have a goal to meet–finishing an excellent book with great discussions. But, I am not sure when exactly discussions will end; it may extend past the summer. A goal will be in mind nonetheless.

    (4) and (5) Reaching out to Christian friends and family members would probably not be directly related to this study–though perhaps there will be non-Christians posting on the threads. But, the book will hopefully impact your life to such a degree that personal outreach/evangelism will be a result, along with a love for one’s siblings, parents, relatives, etc.

    (6) Since we’ll be pursuing having the best discussions possible, and since that is possible only if God blesses them, I would certainly hope that we would be immersed in prayer during these discussions, asking for God’s blessing. Beyond that, all five of the previous points ought to have an amazing impact on one’s prayer, just as one’s prayer should deeply affect these points. And this book will help you to want to pray more.

    So this is my challenge for you for one dimension of a well-spent summer. This book–which I have read once already and am very excited to read again–is one of the best books I have read in my life. Don’t waste your life!–don’t waste your summer! What a perfect fit.

    I do not know how many will see this, but, if you do, I hope that you will seriously consider what I have said.

    In Christ,
    Bennett S.

    P.S. This is somewhat unrelated to the above, so I’ve decided to put it here, but I think it may be an important point to make. The Q & A in Katie’s post was, “What is the chief end [purpose] of Man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” I would agree with this statement from the Westminster Shorter Catechism completely except that I feel it makes glorifying God and enjoying God seem separate or distinct to a degree, because it uses the word “and”: “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This makes it sound like those are two activities. I would personally say that it should read more accurately, “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” Replace “and enjoy” with “by enjoying.” I don’t know if you guys think this is an important distinction I’ve made, but I thought it might be good to mention it.

  • Thank you for posting this Katie. It’s funny you posted it because recently I’ve been thinking similarly about the purpose of Do Hard Things.

    I am involved in the forums and I’ve felt sometimes like the “hard things” I see people talking about there and even my personal hard things have started to lose focus on God and have slowly started shifting to focus on us. The “rebelution” truly isn’t about the teens that are involved in it. It’s about the God who inspires the teens to be involved in it and show people who He is.

    I really liked when you said,

    “I thought that we were created to do hard things, but that is an error. We are created to glorify God, which might involve doing hard things.”

    I recently realized that sometimes the little easy things like honoring your parents and siblings glorify God just as much as the big hard things like stopping world slavery. We need to keep that perspective and also remember that when we do things hard or easy, big or little, that glorify God we are not wasting our lives.

    In Christ,

  • Many times my mind goes in this direction, getting so caught up in “Doing hard things”, and thinking of all the great and wonderful things that I could be doing, that I lose the main focus of actually doing hard things. God is the one who allows us to do the hard things in the first place, He gives us the resources and talents. But at times we tend to forget this and take the glory for ourselves.

    Thank you Katie for posting this!


  • *applauds* Thanks so much, Katie! It really is so easy to get caught up *deep voice* “DOING HARD THINGS” and forget the One Who has empowered us to do the hard things. It is by His grace and His grace alone that we are even worth anything…let alone full of great potential if we will only listen to Him. We can’t forget Him! The sacrifice on the cross over 2,000 years ago was too much for us to claim Him as Lord and then try to do our own thing without seeking His face and His will.

    Thanks, Katie!

  • Thank you for all your kind words and compliments! But please, no more. Thank God instead. Very little of that came from my head, it was all from John Piper, Do Hard Things, and God.

    Bennet S.: About your P.S., I totally agree! The “and” does make it sound too much like two separate things. I thought about putting that in there too, but I thought that the first Don’t Waste Your Life quote I used summed that up.

  • It’s a good post, Katie. I won’t compliment you since you asked not to. I think that I am wasting some of my life right now even though school’s not out yet. I’m just kind of lazy, not really wanting to try something new or motivate myself to do something. Even something as simple as going outside and riding my bike. I live in a rural area so I don’t really have any other kids around to hang out with. I think that I use that as an excuse which I shouldn’t. I don’t want to waste my life but I do it without knowing it sometimes. Thanks for writing.

  • This was really interesting to read.
    It also had a lot of great points.
    I’m glad I read this, now I can make sure that as a Rebelutionarie, I am doing hard things for God, not myself.

  • Thank you, Katie, for redirecting our view to the only source of fulfillment; Christ. I’ll thank Him for your post, ok?
    I’ve been meaning to read Don’t Waste Your Life for a long time, but until now I never actually started. I look forward to learning as much from it as you have.

  • You know, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately but I could never really put the idea to the right words but you definitely helped sum up a few things for me. Thanks, Katie, I hope that God blesses the things that you do and in doing so give you strength to do them.

  • I will respect your request for no more “compliments” as you put it. I agree wholeheartedly: God must receive ALL of the glory and credit in any good action or endeavor. I will thank you, however, for letting the Lord USE you.

    Ultimately, however, I will thank GOD for using such lowly and insignificant creatures such as ourselves to spread his truth!

    Interestingly, “Don’t Waste Your Life” is sitting on my dresser and I passed by it not 15 minutes ago, thinking that I needed to finish it. Indeed, I have actually began to read “Don’t Waste Your Life” TWICE, but I got sidetracked each time and have not finished it. But no more. I just finished another (fictional) book, and “Don’t Waste Your Life” is definitely next!

    Coincidental that you just happened to blog about this? I think not: Providence!

  • That was such a wonderful post.

    I’ve always been the “good” girl. The one who makes good grades, who doesn’t party, who doesn’t swear, who dresses modestly… And it is really easy to become focused on myself and become hypocritical and consumed with how I am perceived by others.

    Thank you so much, Katie, for that reminder to check my heart and pray about it to make sure that my motives are always pure.

  • Katie- I thank God for using you to remind us of where our passions need to be.
    ‘Do hard things’ could mean anything. I mean- plotting theft is a hard thing- but ‘doing hard things’ for God is where the real and drastic change is- and I am eternally thankful to be reminded of that just now.

  • Wow, thanks so much for that post, Katie. 🙂 It gets so easy to become caught up in what we’re doing and taking all the glory instead of giving it back to God. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂 God bless!

  • The Lord made me think of this very thing this week. I’ve fallen into that before too, but with the Lord’s help, never again!

  • Oh yes!
    I forget this so often!
    Just the other day I was out there, working in the garden, and was feeling rather rebelious. ” Why do I have to do all the hard stuff around here? I’m not a boy, this is boys work! ” Then my Mother dear asked me… ” why are you doing it? ‘Cause you want to or you want the praise?”
    Well, for my glory.

  • Thanks so much for the post, Katie! It is encouraging to see your growing passion for God’s glory. 🙂

    That book is definitely a tight read… I remember reading it last year, and I also help lead a book study of DWYL last semester.

    Keep fighting for joy, fam!

  • I would have to agree with what you say. you can be a rebelutionary and waste your time. though i would have to point out that we can also be christian or followers of Christ and waste our time there too. i guess my point would be that there are days when that flame that once burned so bright will be dim. and there are days when you can sense that God is near and days when he feels far away! i know that there are days when i just feel like glorifing myself. if we want to Glorify God then we are going to have to step up to the plate and ‘do hard things’. somedays it won’t be as hard as others. the problem i know for me is that when it does get hard – instead of looking to God for strength i tend to back out. i tend to follow the crowd. so the Cheif end of man is to glorify God. what do you and i make our cheif end? glorifying God or glorifying ourselves?

  • I have to agree with Hannah, I have thought about what you wrote since I finished the book.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • This is soo brilliant! i was just thinking about that the other day when I was thinking about starting some sort of project that will glorify God. I realized that I might have been, or most likely have been doing it all to glorify myself and show off my skillz.
    My Science teacher last year even talked about creation and how man was made to “glorify God and enjoy him forever” in those exact words! I still have the notes we took in class!
    I had to take some time to get my thoughts together and evaluate whether or not I was doing it for my glory or God’s. I still haven’t really come to a conclusion. But the more I work on and prepare this project, I feel more and more like its to his glory since i know i can’t do it on my own.

    Thanks for such an amazing post! i might just go out and buy that book when i graduate this year!

  • Amen! That was very encouraging Katie. Oft times we humans want to take the glory that isn’t really due us. Doing hard things indeed is just one of the ways we can glorify Him.

  • Wow! So often we do that. We think “oh yeah, I have to do something hard” rather than “how can I glorify God with this?”. Thanks for reminding me!

  • Wow! That was a really good article. Great reminder. I so often forget to remember God in everything I do and to be constantly living to glorify Him. Thank you for the encouraging reminder that there are other teens out there striving to be living for God’s glory as well!

  • Yeah, it is one thing I struggle with: to do things for God without expecting and wanting to be in the limelight because of it. I am always berrating myself about it, and it just seems to get harder. I realize that it’s getting harder because I’m not trusting God and giving myself wholely to him. Thanks for the reminder!! I have been relying on myself too much again!!

  • Wow, Mark 8: 34-35 is the exact passage my pastor has been preaching on for the last three weeks! This is a great reminder that everything is meant for God’s glory, and it’s about His great sacrifice, not ours.

  • Two good developments here… the twins posting something that puts their book down to size, and Katie asking for commenters to stop the hero-worship.

    I was thinking about the topic of this post this morning… Eph. 2:8-9 says salvation is freely given, so that no man should boast. On the other hand, salvation came very costly to God, taking the death of his Son. To buy it so dearly and give it so freely, God must have wanted the result of it very much. If he did it so no man can boast, he must have procured salvation for us to glorify himself.

    This leads me into how to apply this. How do I magnify God’s glory in what I say and what I pursue, without swelling myself up? I’m naturally shy in conversation; should I just say what’s on my mind to spark a flow, or bend what’s on my mind to uplift others? I’m finally going to study linguistics this summer; how does exuberant joy and confidence properly mingle with respect for others’ more extensive experience? I find delight in reading Chaucer in the original Middle English; is it to the glory of God, or is it to boast of my powers of comprehension? And the part I’m reading is the Parson’s Tale where he explains the minutiae of the Deadly Sin of Pride.

    Every deadly sin is a result of loving some creation more than I love Jesus Christ. Deliver me, O my God.

    “Who gave the tongue its power? Is it not I, the Lord?” Just make it a point to acknowledge it at every opportunity. Make it a regular part of my enjoyment… like Mike, a reconverted Catholic I met the other day on the train. “I try to be very careful in what I say, so you know that if there’s anything good I said, it didn’t come from Mike, it came from God.”

    “A man of my sort, who has travelled about the world in rough places, gets on perfectly well with two classes… the upper and the lower. He understands them and they understand him. I was at home with herds and tramps and roadmen, and I was sufficiently at my ease with people like Sir Walter… But what fellows like me don’t understand is the great comfortable, satisfied middle-class world, the folk that live in villas and suburbs. He doesn’t know how they look at things, he doesn’t understand their conventions, and he is as shy of them as a black mamba.”
    – John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps

    So, be all one way or all another, but don’t rest content with retaining part of the glory for yourself and being ambiguous as to the other part.

  • Thank you for putting this up. It has really meant a lot to me. I was think about the same thing over the past week as I was at Camp training. It was in my mind as I was thinking about how I could minister to young boys at the boys camp. It is really weird how the devil can get a hold of us in things like that.

    Thank you again. It will be on my mind for awhile.

    In Christ


  • I agree. This bothered me too after I read the book. Not that what they were encouraging was wrong (and the book helped tremendously, believe me), but that their end goal was to just do hard things and not going far enough. The only thing I missed at the end of the book was doing hard things FOR GOD.

  • Very, very true! I have struggled with this a lot. Honestly, I think we all do. Pride is my biggest problem and the root of all other sin, because when pride gets in the way, we forget about God and think only of self and what we want, which will always lead to wrong motives and bad choices. I want Christ to always be the center of my life and for all things to flow out of my relationship with Him, yet so often I lose my focus and put myself on the pedestal and then things fall apart and I wonder what went wrong. My team pastor is constantly reminding us that we must not “get so busy in the work of the Lord that we forget the Lord of the work.” I confess that often I rush around doing a lot of good work, but in the end it will all be wood, hay, and stubble because I was doing it for my glory, or simply because it needed done, not to bring glory to the God of heaven and earth who is so very worthy of all praise, glory, and honor! Thank you for the timely reminder. I needed it! God bless!

  • Um, I can’t remember any specific refrences right now, but I’m fairly sure they mention glorifying God in DHT. Or at least, I remember getting that message…and that God doesn’t want us to settle for complacency in our lives. If I may be so bold, I think the point of the book was more that we COULD do hard things, not that we always have to go around doing them for no purpose other than to just “do them”. But since I haven’t read the book in a while, I’ll guess I’ll let Brett and Alex speak for themselves! 🙂


  • Very good point. Our truest desire is to love God, not ourselves. We can so easily get caught up in our own pride, our own accomplishments, and our own goals that we forget who it is all for.

  • Camille: You’re right… that is the message that we wanted people to get from the book — and many/most do seem to come away with that understanding. But at the same time if someone didn’t get that message it’s most likely because we didn’t emphasize it enough, which is why we didn’t want to correct anyone about it. =P

  • Don’t worry, Brett & Alex, I think our pride is strong enough that no matter how much you emphasized it someone was going to come away prideful about their hard things 😉

    This is so totally true, though. I’ve always struggled to understand how we can use our everyday lives or our hard things to glorify Him. So instead of bearing down and working hard to glorify God, I just kind of forgot about it and kept moseying through hard things. Thanks for the reminder, I will start the fight again! 🙂

  • Very thought-provoking post… that’ll definitely leave me with some things to think about in my life.

  • wow, i live in a third world country as a M and i thought it was impossible to not “do hard things” or to be lazy but i guess i was wrong

  • This is so true and something God has to constantly remind me of. We can do all the right “stuff” even hard stuff, but if we have the wrong motives what significance does it have?

    God not only wants to live IN our lives but LIVE our lives. To fill us with His spirit, His character and His power and work through us. Sometimes I have to ask God to help me move out of the way so He can shine through because after all, it’s not my life.

    It’s truly amazing though to think that above all, God wants us to know Him, rest in His love and be amazed by all that He is. May we allow Him to live through us by faith, not wear ourselves out by trying to do everything by our own power, and may we let His love sweep us off our feet!

  • Wow! That is like the ultimate hard thing for me. I tend to keep Glorifying God and doing hard things separate, if you know what I mean. I am striving to Glorify God but it is hard for me to give him the praise for the hard things I do (when it is really him leading me to do them!) It takes constant practice but I am working hard to give the praise where it is due… to my Father in Heaven!

  • Thanks so much for posting this! I was just pondering the idea of correct motivations this morning. I really looked closely and gave myself hypothetical scenarios that would be hard things to do without recognition, and checked how I felt about them to see if I really wanted to bring glory to God, or myself. You’re so right; it is possible to do the wrong hard things, or hard things the wrong way, and totally miss the point: glorifying God!

  • awesome post! i totally agree-God needs to be our all consuming passion, and our number one purpose. when i focus on HIM, i feel peace and assurance-whereas when i focus on myself or even the ‘hard things’ i do, i feel disappointment and even discontentment. when i ‘do the hard things’ HE puts on my heart, i experience the overwhelming joy of being in his will i feel that i can truly fulfull the calling of being a true rebelutionary for Christ!! 🙂

  • I’ve been asking God to help me to glorify him in everything I do for the past few months, but I was never quite sure what glorifying him actually meant.

    I’ve literally just finished reading Do Hard Things and have come straight on here and read your post – I can’t help feeling that God is telling me not to waste what I’ve just learned!

    Thank you for helping me to understand what glorifying God really is – and I thank him for answering my prayer. I hope that we can all learn how to glorify God in our everyday lives, and to learn to live for him by allowing his light to shine through us.

  • Finding this blog was so timely! I had a conversation with my mom just a few hours ago about this very topic. I commented that I wished that God had given me some more visible “hard things” to do. I immediately followed that comment with the idea that the things that seem so ordinary to me are still important to the Kingdom. This blog expressed perfectly how I’m feeling and what I needed to hear. Thanks, Katie!

  • I just got back from a week long missions trip here in my hometown and the book we read this week was Do Hard Things. I haven’t finished it yet, but already I want to do something to change the world for Christ. This is a good reminder to do hard things not to glorify ourselves, but God. It’s all about God. Thanks for writing this Katie!

  • I am currently raeding the book and at first I feel really motivated to do hard things but then when school started and things started to pile up one after another, I’m starting to have doubts that I can do anything at all. You see, I’m not really a person who is into sprts or active stuff and all. In fact, everything that I belive I;m good in somehow seems to pull me down because I would always feel insecure from those who are better than I am. I do feel really motivated by the book and I keep on telling myself to just trust god in whatever He has planned for me, hard or easy. Every teenager experiences a lot of hard things because of always wanting more and I can say that it is my problem at the moment but i guess my hard thing that I have to do at this point is to not want everything I like and envy. It may seem like not a hard thing to do for a lot but for me it’s really something that I have to put a big effort on making it a hard thing for me.

    To live is to glorify God, not yourself.

  • I totally agree with this subject, Katie. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while myself.

  • Yes we should do it all for God’s glory. But I’ve found that a big hindrance to doing it all for God’s glory is the blindness of just doing it all for God’s glory. So much so that I’ve felt times in my life that ministry, obeying God, and all that has no joy. Just that I’m not doing “wrong things”. It’s really different if you know WHY you want to glorify God. If we know the real value of what Jesus Christ did for us and truly understand (not just superficially) what such a great God has done for us, giving God all the glory will be an overflow of response from grateful and joy-filled hearts. If we say that we’re all doing it for God’s glory, won’t we burn out if that phrase becomes an everyday phrase and somewhat seem to lose it’s value? Unless you personally know why you (not us in general) but personally you, why you want to glorify God.

  • I am extremely impressed with your writing talents and also with the structure for your weblog. Is this a paid subject matter or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice high quality writing, it?|s uncommon to see a great blog like this one nowadaysc9 gold

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 →