rebelling against low expectations

Do Heart Things: A Challenge For Every Would-Be World Changer


I believe anyone is capable of doing hard things.

Anyone can publish a book, start a business, or run a campaign to raise awareness for AIDS in Africa.

Everyone can do hard things once they set their minds to it.

And while we might not do something as big as the things mentioned above, we are all capable of doing those things, and more.

If we truly ever want something bad enough, trust me, we will do what it takes to obtain that goal.

And yes, it might be hard.

The things mentioned above are extremely hard and are things that if you succeed at doing, the world even in all its immorality and secular filth, will notice and publicly applaud you for accomplishing.

Our view of “hard things” can become warped by the world’s standards

But how often do we hear on the news people cheering on the courage of the teen admitting to his parents about lying, and turning his life around starting with honesty?

When was the last time you read an article about the girl who decided her siblings were people with feelings just like her, and decided to go against the accepted cultural norm of treating her sibling “pests” rudely?

You never hear people talking about the girl who admitted to her parents about wasting time on the Internet, or watch an interview where the boy is discussing his triumphs over deciding to not swear or take the Lord’s name in vain anymore.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” — 1 John 1:8

The world applauds doing big things, but don’t expect us to do the hard and right things

Alex and Brett encouraged us to go past our comfort zones and to use the teen years not as a stumbling block, but as a stepping stone.

They greatly encouraged us to not put off doing a hard big thing for when we are older, but publishing that book now, throwing that concert now, creating that invention now.

But they also showed us how doing hard things was not just things that received glory or fame, but things closer to home.

Things like honoring and treating our parents with respect.

Showing self-discipline in the responsibilities we already have, like our chores and our relationships.

Keeping our big mouths shut.

Doing these things are not glamorous, don’t make you look good and you don’t see instant and enjoyable results all the time.

And I think that makes them all the more hard.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” — Colossians 3:23

But I chose to ignore this less appealing dare, and this is my testimony.

When I first read Do Hard Things, I saw the possibility of attention and popularity.

I wanted to prove to the world that Homeschooled-Jesus-Following-Big-Family kids were just as smart, talented and great as everyone else.

I chose to ignore what I really needed to hear and what would have been hardest for me and only took from that amazing book that I could spend the teen years working hard to be noticed.

I could publish a book, build a website, and start a business.

Then I would be noticed and successful. I would be important and people would look up to me because of the hard and big things I accomplished.

Three years later, my big mouth and I have been through a lot, and at my parents and siblings expense, no less.

After being grounded for up to 6 months at a time on and off with all the things I loved taken from me, I finally broke down and started a heart change that hopefully will be ongoing for the rest of my life.

This also gives you a hint at where my heart was, but that’s for another time.

I read through Do Hard Things again, and added that to my parents’ wise advice and the valuable convictions God was painfully pointing out to me.

I finally took away from the book what I would have benefitted greatly from the last three years.

The hard things I should have been doing I was choosing to ignore

If I am truly going to do hard things, the attitude needs to go out.

I’m going to have to wave bye-bye to saying the last word.

I need to swallow my pride and admit when I’m not right.

It might mean I’ll feel like I’m being walked over sometimes.

I will feel misunderstood often because of not trying to make others understand my point of view.

I’d much rather write a feel-good historical novel, thank you.

But the hard and sad truth is that there are amazing people out there who have started and done amazing things, but are still having that affair.

Our society’s icons who we find ourselves idolizing are still going to drug-rehab.

Even the “good girls” and “good boys” who are excelling at everything they do can still be smart mouths, liars and snobs.

And this is because they chose to ignore the training and testing they could have received at home in dealing with their siblings and parents before going out into the world.

And as a result, there are people out in this world doing big and great things, having that great job, excelling at everything, and yet they could still be treating their co-workers rudely, their bosses with disrespect and their friends poorly.

Your home is going to be the hardest place for you to practice how you will treat people outside your home one day.

It will seem like a lot easier to respect your boss, treat your co-workers kindly and manage your work and chores one day when you are on your own and grown-up, but it will not be.

Just think what a difference us teens could make on the world by just starting to treat our homes as the training experience and mission field that they are.

What goes into the heart will eventually find its way back out.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” — Philippians 1:20

I should have focused on my heart before I tried to change the world

So I challenge you readers who have read this far. Be honest with yourself.

I dare you to start at the heart, the “wellspring of life” where all your true colors will show one day for all to see.

Let’s examine and fix the condition and motives of our heart before trying to change others and accomplish the bigger, harder, more noticed things.

Doing big things might look more appealing because of the attention you most likely would receive or because of the drastic changes for the better it could make on people.

But will it really matter one day when you find yourself standing before the Lord, saying, “I raised money for orphans in Romania and dug wells for tribes in Africa in your name Lord, and yet I argued with my parents, couldn’t control my tongue and was known to be selfish and a liar”?

Be remembered for who you are, and then what you did.

Live your life to glorify God, through every single thing you do, and it won’t matter if the thing is big or small.

So will you join me in doing the small, hard, heart things?

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Photo courtesy of Simone Walsh and Flickr Creative Commons.

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About the author

Carolyn Taylor

is 16 and the oldest of 8 kids. She loves sorting her thoughts out on paper and is homeschooled in the beautiful farmlands of Illinois. She enjoys doing anything outside, creating jewelry, reading, playing the guitar and traveling with her family. Her top loves though are her family, her Savior and of course, her chocolate.


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    • Thank you!! I just realized that I need to take my own advice and be changed, (like you said!) especially since I have family members and friends who are reading this! It’s much easier to talk than to do, which I struggle with a lot! 😛 And I don’t normally comment on other people’s articles but I have received so much encouragement from y’all already that I might have to start taking a minute and doing the same for the other amazing articles here! Thank you again, Grant, and God bless! 🙂

      • Carolyn, its only been a few hours since this article has been up. If you think this has been a lot of encouragement wait a few more days!

        It will be awesome. 🙂

        God Bless,

  • Wow, this gave me a lot to think about. I know it is a long article everyone but it is worth reading! Thanks Carolyn!

    God Bless,


    • So glad it was thought-provoking and thank you for the encouragement! And if you thought this article was long, you should have seen the rough draft! After cutting it down to half (I kid you not!), I had this! 🙂 I felt a little like a rebel sending in this article that far-exceeded the recommended length and still can not believe they published it! 😛 Thanks again and Blessings!

  • I think you have it soooo right! When I first read the book (Do Hard Things) all I could think about was all the big things I could do, and pretty much ignored the little things, the heart things!
    It is so awesome to get another perspective!
    Thanks for writing!
    🙂 😉

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad we can relate! Now I just have to go out and do what I wrote so I don’t seem hypocritical to my family! 😉

  • Thank you so much for this article!! I read Do Hard Things about a year ago and recently I’ve been lacking in these areas :/ I’ve been thinking a lot lately about some of the big hard things that I want to do, and this is such a good reminder to me that first I need to focus on the smaller hard things and my heart condition, this way I will be ready and prepared for the bigger hard things that God has awaiting for me :). Thanks again!
    Hayley 😀

    • I am so glad this article was helpful! I unfortunately learned all of this the hard way! 😛 It was a dream of mine to start an online jewelry business, and I ended up investing more than 30 hours of my precious time pulling my hair out over trying to build an e-commerce website the cheap way (aka, HTML coding. Fun stuff. Not! :P) before figuring out I wasn’t supposed to be doing that at this time in my life! I am so happy to hear that it sounds like you are being wiser than I was in that area!! 🙂 I appreciate your comment and hope you have an awesome day!! 😀

        • Hey, sweet! Now I know that if I ever start it up again one day, I’ll have someone to ask questions! 😛 I think I scared my family when I started crying tears of joy after finally coding a vertical fly-out menu, with CSS and everything! 😛 🙂 Google was my best friend! What got me to realize I wasn’t supposed to be doing an e-commerce website at that time was trying to code a shopping cart, since I was too cheap to buy the software! Maybe one day I will get back on the bandwagon, though! 🙂

          • Yeah, that’s a bit hard. Then again, so is building a social website for my youth group. Haha. I’ve got a long way to go. I’m using ASP.Net (which uses HTML and, in this case VB.Net) and an SQL database.

          • Yikes, I don’t do SQL! 😛 But kudos to you for being brave! 🙂 And I had never heard of ASP, so thank you for telling me about that! I will have to explore that soon. I wish you luck with that website!

          • Well, I like ASP.Net but PHP is pretty good too. I don’t think you can use SQL without active sever pages such as the aforementioned. If you need to do a shopping cart or something I might recommend x10 web hosting. They have some pretty good stuff for free.

          • Whoo . . . I am going to start doing code, my Dad does it. Currently I am involved in film but I want to have one other thing to back up to if I don’t succeed!

            Good luck on your website!

          • Filming is cool too!

            What kind of programing are you interested in (e.g. iOS/Android/Windows8 apps, Windows/Linux/OSX programs, Web development)? What programing language?

          • I would probably be more interested in Windows/Linux/OSX programming, and C5. Although I am not that up to date with all the names for coding, I would still like to try and learn it. 🙂

            God Bless,


          • Some type of image coding. I think it has something to do with moving images on websites. My Dad said he is going to learn it with me . . . sometime. 🙂

            God Bless,


          • Ah, yes, C#. You can do a lot with that, and it won’t be hard to find code samples online! I know a very tiny bit of C#. VB.Net and C# look a bit different, but when they are compiled, they both compile to IL (intermediate language, I think). VB.Net is my favorite programming language, probably because I know it pretty well. It would have beem better if I had learned C# in the first place. Well, have fun!

          • I’m learning C# currently, and I think it’s much easier than HTML or SQL. It’s a lot less complicated in my opinion, I don’t think it’s quite as versatile for web design though, HTML’s better for that.

      • Oh, I’ve definitely had my fair share of learning things the hard way! This time I’m trying to be a bit wiser and make sure I have my priorities straight BEFORE I get started with a big project 😛 Thanks! You too!! 🙂
        Hayley 😀

  • This was a great reminder Carolyn! So convicting. Especially the part about standing before the Lord. WOW. (I also liked finding out you are also 16 and the oldest of eight!!) Thank you so much for this!

    • Aha! A fellow comrade! 😀 And I’m glad you liked it! It is so hard for me to remember at times that eternity could happen at any moment, and I am so ill-prepared! So when that thought about standing before God hit me, I was kind of speechless! 😛 It was perfect for my mind to be able to understand and grasp! I guess it is kind of a spin-off of the whole “WWJD?” phrase for me! 🙂 Thank you for your kind words and Blessings to the rest of your large family! 😉

      • Haha! I guess we are comrades 😉 Yes, eternity’s unknown ‘beginning’ (I guess that’s a way to put it) is a great reminder to change and be better, but often I don’t let it impact me as much as it should. Your example of standing before God really hit home for me! 😀 I’ve heard before that as Christians we should be always looking forward to Christ’s coming, and now I think I realize one of the reasons why; it helps to remind us that we will have to confess/have our sins brought before God. I am beyond thankful that Jesus has cleansed me and given me His righteousness, otherwise…well, I think you get the picture 😉 Keeping the idea that Jesus may show up this afternoon helps me to be kinder to my siblings (usually ;P) Again thank you for this article and blessings to your family as well! 🙂

        • You made me laugh about the siblings! I’m glad I’m not the only one who does that! Most of the time, I sadly do not control my temper or words with my siblings, but in my defense there is a small percentage of the time that I remember mid-yell (:P) that if Jesus was physically standing there, I would do everything in my power to come across as the perfect, loving big sister! 😛 🙂 So, even though I know Jesus is everywhere and sees everything, for some reason it helps a lot more to visualize it! 🙂

          • You are not alone! I often struggle with temper and words when dealing with my siblings as well…I’m really hoping to change that. Haha, mid-yell! One second angry, the next doing your best to be super sweet and kind 😉 Yes, if I can actually imagine Jesus standing next to me, it usually drastically effects how I treat them. Visualization certainly does help! Otherwise, I am quick to forget. (I once asked a few years ago if I could get a picture of Jesus to put over my bed so if I was struggling with dealing with people I could look at it 😉 I still don’t have one :P) I’ll be praying that we will both be able to pour out Christ like love to all we come in contact with, but ESPECIALLY in dealing with family. 😉

        • Except for the bath times, naptimes, diaper changes, no personal space, being a built-in babysitter and the noise, it is awesome! 😛 I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s, though. 🙂 And Elisabeth, I checked out your blog/website and it was really neat! You are doing some really cool stuff! I think my favorite hat is the candy corn one. 🙂 I have a weakness for candy corn! 😛 Blessings!

  • thank you for inspiring me. I used to sit on the couch and do nothing but now im showing people what im actually worth… I doing the heart things 🙂 so thank you

    • So happy for you! I’m glad that this could be inspiring for you and good luck doing heart things! And hey, while sitting on the couch doing nothing may not be the best way to spend our time, I may or may not be speaking from experience when I say that there are times when our couch and a bowl of popcorn are my best friends! 😛 Have a Blessed day!

  • Thinking about the progression of Jesus’ life. First Jesus spent 30 some years working under His parents vision. Then Jesus received revelation of sonship and the Father’s love at His baptism. Then Jesus began public ministry.

    So many Christians try to work at it the other way, diving into “ministry” in hopes of receiving God’s affirmation. “If only I could do something great for God, then He would be pleased with me.” In reality, this reveals our deep heart issues, that we are really not secure in the Father’s unconditional love. Jumping into ministry before the Lord works through these heart issues will destroy us.

    The Lord has used the book “Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship” by Jack Frost to work through my heart issues and model what it means to be a son, like Jesus, safe and secure in the Father’s love.

    • WOW. Wish I had thought of this! I had to read it over three times to let it sink in! Jesus is, as usual, the PERFECT example! And what you said about us feeling like we have to do something for God hit me hard. It is so true! We as humans, even us who have faith in God, somehow think that we have to do something to be worthy of God’s love and gifts. Isn’t that interesting? We can’t just realize that God is above all that and gives the kind of unconditional love that doesn’t need to be compensated! Praise God! I had written this article going off on the idea that people did big things because they wanted to, but there are totally people who do big things because they feel like they have to, whether to look important, fit in, or in trying to please God! Thank you so much giving me something to think about! Maybe you should have written this! 🙂 And I will DEFINITLY check out that book! Thank you for commenting!!

      • Carolyn, thank you for writing this article! If I could also recommend one more thing, it would be to share this book with your parents. There Maybe discuss it as you go.

      • No, thank you for writing this article! As soon as I read it I knew the Lord was touching something deep in my own heart. Thank you.
        If I could share one more thing, it would be to share this book with your parents. This is something I really need to do too. (For some reason this is more difficult for me than it should be.) I think there are discussion questions in the back of the book, if that would be helpful.
        I have been praying for you and your family. I’m excited–the Lord is doing something awesome.

  • Carolyn, I am so proud of you and honored to know you! You have grown into a fine young lady! I can’t wait to see all the ways God uses you because of your obedience to Him! Thanks for being the young woman God wants you to be and for being an encouragement to me and my family! We love you!

    • Thank you so much, Aunt Robo! 🙂 I’m so glad you read this! But you make me out to sound like a saint! 😛 Love you too!

  • You’re right. Sometimes it is easier to do the “Great Hard Things” than the “little, not as interesting hard things that only God sees. I think it’s time to put hard things in their proper place. Thanks for this post:)

    • It definitely seems a lot more fun to do big things! 🙂 And thank you for reading this post! Blessings! 🙂

      • It definitely is, that I am certain. And when you finish one you go “Ahhhh.”

        Think of it this way. In order to get a big hard thing accomplished you have to go through the little steps first. All those lead up and eventually you get a big hard thing.

  • I’m so glad you wrote this when you did! I recently read Do Hard Things and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I think this article will help me start right and avoid learning the ‘hard way.’ Thanks so much!

    • Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! Glad it might help you! 🙂 You are doing it the smart way! 😛 Blessings!

  • That’s a great reminder. Quite often I think that the small hard things are the hardest hard things. Self examination is quite often hurts, but in the end is is definitely worth it! Thank you for writing this article!


    James W.

    • Exactly! So happy to see so many people getting this! 🙂 And not only is self-examination hard, but it also is not fun! Who likes finding fault with themselves? Sadly I find it easier to point out what is wrong with everyone else, before myself. And I guess the fact that it is easier to point out other people’s faults is a very blatant warning that it is not a good habit! 🙂 Thank you for dropping a note!

  • Wow. What a great article. I really do need to look at the small things before jumping to the big things and skipping the important things. I so needed this today! Thank you so much!

  • Many people have judged me by my brawny appearance. I am 6’4, 315 lbs and I get judged by this. I have a very intimidating look and many set low expectations for me by their own judgement. I easily surprise people with my intelligence and my sincerity. within the last month I have received many college letters and e-mails. Due to the people who have judged me all my life I made a vow to never judge by physical appearance. If I do judge I take something I really like away from me. This is a small change I have done and thought that if the world won’t follow me then maybe a few people will.

    • Wow. Being able to realize your faults and then having the self-discipline to punish yourself? Now that is maturity! I tried doing that a couple months ago (it was actually a failed New Year Resolution, haha! 🙂 where every time I ate a sweet I had to exercise, but sadly I lack in self-discipline. So perhaps I should try to make that my next small, hard thing to accomplish. 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting and reading this article, and I wish you success with those college interactions! 🙂

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 →