When we think or talk about doing hard things, it’s easy to think only about the big stuff. If we assume being a rebelutionary means fighting slavery, digging wells in Africa, running a political campaign, or writing a book, then it is hard to know where to begin!
But if our goal is to glorify God — to point other people to Him and show more of what He can do—then our first priority is to be faithful with what He’s already given us to do, not embark on a big new adventure. What we’re doing doesn’t necessarily change right away, but how and why we’re doing it will change dramatically.
Let us introduce you to the first of many real-life stories we share in Start Here. As you’ll see in Elisabeth’s story, the place we start doing hard things is right where God has us already—such as sitting in a car on a snowy night.
I was ready to go out and conquer hard projects. Big responsibilities. Things far outside my comfort zone. I prayed for God to work through me in big ways. He answered me, but not quite in ways I expected.
For instance, one night on the way home in a blizzard, my dad stopped for a few minutes to pick up some necessities at the store. I waited in the car and surveyed the nearly empty parking lot until my eye caught a lone car with a person scraping off snow. As I looked closer, I saw that it was an elderly lady trying to scrape off her car while leaning on a cane. She wasn’t making much progress because the snow was falling faster than she could wipe it off. I felt instinctively that I had to help her. I ran out with my scraper, and soon a few other people joined me in clearing off her car.
Nothing outwardly significant happened then, but this was the first time I had strongly heard God’s voice and responded to it. As I tuned in, I began to recognize His voice at other times. I sensed that I should go talk to the girl who was crying in the bathroom at school—it turns out she was pregnant and needed help. Or that I should offer tips to someone who was trying out for the sports team—it turns out she needed advice on deeper areas of her life that she normally wouldn’t have opened up about.
What I have found is that in order to do hard things and conquer big challenges, we need to be willing to listen to that little voice the Holy Spirit uses. The more you listen, the clearer it becomes. And in order to do the great thing, you must first be a servant.
— Elisabeth, age 17
Even though Elisabeth had dreams about the hard things she wanted to be doing, she was tuned in to God’s voice when He spoke. God answered her in ways she didn’t expect, but she was ready to hear Him. And with one simple act of obedience, Elisabeth became aware of many other opportunities for doing hard things.
When your heart and mind are alert, you can see opportunities to do hard things in the everyday things. It might start with a renewed commitment to excellence in your schoolwork or a decision to help more around the house. School and chores are things you probably do already, but now, as a rebelutionary, you are doing them with a new attitude. Your primary goal isn’t to do something extraordinary but to do all things, even the ordinary things, extraordinarily well.
We want rebelutionaries to dream big, but we’ve also observed that God often passes over the person with grand, me-focused plans in favor of the one who has a heart to love others, to trust Him, and to do the small things for their own sake.
Doing hard things doesn’t mean being preoccupied with something bigger, different, and more exciting all the time. It means being ready and willing to obey, no matter how big, small, or hard it might be. Elisabeth’s openness to God’s leading made her available to several unexpected opportunities to show the love of Christ. Faithfulness in small hard things is always the fuel for bigger hard things.
If we say we want to do hard things for God, but we’re not satisfied with pursuing excellence where He has placed us (at home, at school, and at work), it’s likely that we’re really more interested in getting glory for ourselves than in getting glory for Him.
So, where do you start? Right where you are — with a new attitude, a new heart, and a mind open to how the everyday hard things available to you right now will lead you to the next step.
Check back for more excerpts, or pick up a copy of Alex and Brett’s second book — Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are.