rebelling against low expectations

School Is About Relationships


My grades. My classes. My major. My career. My internships. My extracurriculars.

My, my, my. Me, me, me.

Listen to a student talk about school and you’ll get the impression that education is a very personal and individualistic pursuit.

Well, maybe for some. But it shouldn’t be for Christians.

Jesus said the whole law is summed up in one Great Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That means the goal of education is not individual achievement, individual accolades, or individual fulfillment. Rather, education is a means of enlarging and deepening our capacity to love and serve our neighbor.

Schooling is about relationships, both in the future and in the present.

Instead of thinking of our future careers in terms of what we want to accomplish, we should think in terms of “Who do I want to help? And what awards and recognitions and milestones will help me determine that I am doing so effectively?”

In the present, loving our neighbor is as simple as removing our earbuds and remembering that the people around us are eternal souls that we are called to love.

When we were in college our RA told us, “Love and hurriedness are incompatible.” His point was to use our time wisely, work ahead, and leave space in our schedules to love people. That’s great advice and has application far beyond our academic careers.

If these ideas encourage you (or convict you) you’ll love this video from Desiring God. In it Matt Reagan challenges us with the reminder, “All of life is a medium for relationships.” He says, “Whether you’re going to be an accountant, or a lawyer, or a doctor, or a vocational minister, or an electrical engineer — all of it is a medium for loving others.”

So what about you? Who do you want to help? And how are your studies equipping you to help them better? Even more importantly, how are you loving the people around you? What would it look like to live the Great Commandment at your school?

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Photo courtesy of COD Newsroom and Flickr Creative Commons.

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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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  • This whole series has been wonderful and I have really enjoyed and benefited from it!
    One of the biggest reasons why I’m trying to pursue some sort of nursing degree is because that is a way I would love to serve people. It will also be good for visas and practical use if I ever end up on the mission field.
    I love how he said we should try to love those around us as Christ has loved us. I’d be really interested to see what others on here have to say when it comes to the question of ‘HOW do we do that practically?’.

    • One practical suggestion Madison is just being aware of others and looking for opportunities to love. They did a study at a Christian seminary and discovered that seminary students walking to class to give a presentation on the Good Samaritan would walk around/step over an actor coughing on the ground in obvious need of help. These students were so focused on their individual performance that they failed to apply what they were studying.

      • Wow! That’s crazy! But, I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of doing something similar. Not helping a stranger because I’m just not sure if I should or thinking I need to just keep going and that someone else will help who is ‘more capable’ when really, I could have done something; whether it be comforting a kid who just got hurt in line for a roller coaster or asking if everything is ok to someone who looks like they need help.
        Thank you so much for sharing that, Brett! It’s so simple, yet I think it’s really overlooked or ignored by a lot of people today. I hope and pray I will be willing and able to see other’s needs, be bold and love people wherever I am!

  • wow…. so true. I tend to say things like, “My life is crazy.” (well…) But what about my friends who are probably have the same problems that i am??? Maybe by talking and loving on them we could get all our crazies fixed! (not fixed. that’s not the word i was looking for but i can’t think of a better on, so whatever.)

    This series is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Thank you so much

  • Wow, that is totally convicting!!! Sometimes I don’t even catch it in myself…it is so easy to go through high school and the college admissions process and testing and such and just keep your proverbial headphones on…and miss the opportunity to minister and love that God has laid down in front of you in your unique situation as a teenager!! Thank you guys for featuring this series. Such an encouragement.

  • So I’m not supposed to focus on excelling where I could be in a position to help others? Cause that’s what I’m hearing from this article.

    • I don’t think they are implying that in this article and if it sounds like that I am pretty sure they don’t uphold such an idea. While we should try our best to strive for excellence in our studies, we should also try to make relationships with others people (as this article states). I agree with that. While trying our best in our studies, and preparing for our future is good, we should not make those priorities stronger than our relationships with other people, and with God.

      God Bless,


  • Speaking of the Great Commandment… I think that education might also be a medium for carrying out the Greatest Commandment to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Do you think you could write about living the Greatest Commandment in our studies, Alex and Brett?

    P.S. I’ll write a comment about how I hope to love my neighbors in school later on. I’m still thinking it over…. 🙂

  • Wow. This article really reinforces the fact that our mission is not to entertain ourselves but to “Love your neighbor as yourself” and like Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
    Thanks a million for this post!
    God bless,
    – Trent

  • So, I’ve been thinking about this series and made a list of goals for
    doing hard things in school….

    1. Whether I study Math or talk to classmates, or whatever I do in
    school, do all to the glory of God. 😀 Study with the
    aims of worshipping God, learning about Him and His creation, pursuing my
    God-given vocation, and equipping myself to love my neighbor and be salt
    and light.

    2. Maintain an attitude of humble, total, prayerful dependence on God in my schoolwork.

    3. Use grades as my thermometer, but not my thermostat.

    4. Lead and witness to people around my school by striving to exemplify Christian
    character and ethics and by taking opportunities to discuss ideas and the big questions of life with my classmates.

    5. Promote ethical behavior in my school (e.g., report and encourage others to report cheating, encourage classmates not to cuss, etc.)

    6. Pray for my school and for the state of education in my country and in the world.

    What about y’all, Rebelutionaries? Do you have any similar plans? 🙂

    • This is a great list! It reminds me of Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions. What exactly do you mean by ‘using your grades as a thermometer and not a thermostat’?

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 →