rebelling against low expectations

How can we do hard things if people don’t take us seriously?


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  • We can thank Nick for submitting this excellent question. =)

    I’ll add to his question the following: What are ways that you’ve experienced (or seen other young people experience) not being taken seriously? What does that look like?

      • To be honest, I personally have never experienced thar kind of thing. However, I thought it would be good for all of us to brainstorm it. Furthermore, the reason I asked this question was because I am not assmuming that when I do set out to try to make a change, that I will be taken seriously as if I was an adult. I appreciate your comments/thoughts on this

    • Warning: Long comment ahead!
      I had something a bit like that happen to me. About two years ago I started working on building a website from the ground up. I wanted it to become a social kind of website for my youth group. I got met with all sorts of people doubting that I could do it, or not being sure it was worth doing. It became my favorite project because I really wanted to have a website like the one I was building. It was hard. It was fun. It was boring. It was worth it. Actually, when I read Do Hard Things this was the big hard thing I wanted to accomplish. I was convinced that God wanted me to build this website. Recently, however, my current youth director told me that he wanted a website a lot like the one I was building! He also to me that non-geeky person like him would need to be able to completely remodel the site. Boom. I anticipated not needing to build a full-blown site creator. My project that I spend maybe two hundred hours on was smashed to bits. We couldn’t use it. I needed to start over with a totally different base–one that I didn’t build. So was I wrong in thinking that God wanted me to build my website? I don’t think so. He was using it to teach me not only programming, but also how to do hard things and what to do when I need to abandon a project. I didn’t finish the project, but I don’t feel like a quitter. I did my best now God has changed my direction.
      I hope someone else can tie this into the question; I don’t know quite how it fits 🙂

      • programguy,
        I really do agree. That is an excellent example of how people really don’t think that we do or expect us to know what were talking about. Thx for your comments. Just fir curiosities sake, did that webpage ever get finished, and if so, how did it turn out and whats it about. Sounds interesting 😀 Also, did you ever submit that question you talked about?

        • I was creating a website in some ways simililar to I am not on social websites like Facebook, so I way kind of making a clone of it–only different. The reason my church doesn’t want it is because of the way it is built. They did not want me to be the only one who had the knowledge of how to make major changes to the site itself. What were they going to do when I get buzy with college? I had a lot more work to do before the site is fully functional anyway. So I abandoned the project a couple weeks ago. If there was a need for it though, I would probably be thrilled to work on it!

          Yes, I did submit a question. Haha. Yours is better. Actually I even made a typo in the content. I mentioned “Rachael Seo” instead of “Rachel Seo”. So if it does get published, I want that fixed.

    • Hey Brett, I have a question to discuss. What do you do when your Christian friend doesn’t agree with you on what the Bible teaches? Do you try to show them why they are wrong (ouch) or do you let them believe what they want to believe? After all, what makes your interpretation of the Bible more accurate than anyone else’s? I’m not talking about something as obvious as one of the ten commandments. Any Biblical help on this topic would be appreciated.

      • I think there are two important points to be made
        *This is my opinion*
        1) Is the disagreement about a fundamental doctrine?

        -We were created perfect by God, sinned, needed a Savior. then Jesus was born of a virgin, fully God, fully man, taught us to lay ourselves down before God and for other, died for us rose again, commanded us to share his Gospel with everyone, and promised that those who believe will be with him forever.

        In my opinion, if the disagreement is on a point other than this, then it may not be a point worth fighting. That is who God is. He is love, and he saved us, and we are to share it with others. I think that there is a value looking very closely at the Bible is important, but sometimes nitpicking over tiny details can really damage friendships and produce no fruit.

        2) God said in 1 John 2:27 pretty clearly, I think, that when we pray to Him and are open to it that he will reveal truth to us and speak to us.

        • Thank you so much Joseph! In my case it’s not something you listed as fundamental doctrine. Maybe it’s right for me to quietly disagree. I guess if God wants me to mention it, He will make a situation that will allow me to do it lovingly. You’re right, it is something to pray about. I should be praying about it a little more than I have been.
          Anyway, thanks for answering my question! I don’t suppose that there’s too much more that needs to said on that topic.

          • To add to the sage advice Joseph posted, it might be an excellent opportunity to engage in a discussion–not just *what* you and the other person believe, but more importantly, *why*. Dig into The Word as recommended above. You will find that most times the “disagreement” is really a difference in how you each paraphrase the basic idea.

            As Joseph mentioned, there *are* doctrines (teachings) that are essential. CS Lewis (Narnia, Screwtape Letters, & others) called them “the essential minima”–that is, the smallest amount of essential teachings without which one cannot be a Christian. For example, Unitarians cannot be Christians, since the *Unitarian* belief contradicts the essential teaching of the Trinity.

            On the other hand, while Jesus clearly said “Be baptized” He wasn’t nearly as clear about *how*–sprinkle, splash, slam dunk? *That* one is baptized is essential; *how* it is done, probably not so much. But it is one of those super opportunities to sit down and calmly discuss it. “What mode do *you* think is preferable? Why? What Scripture can you show me that leads you to think that way? Is there some cultural practice you know about that might help shed light on what is in the Bible? Can you show me where I can find references to that stuff that’s not in the Scriptures?”

            An open, honestly questioning approach to understand where someone else is coming from frequently works wonders. Even if you end up disagreeing on the subject, when approached in humility, the relationship won’t be harmed–you both can agree to disagree on that point and refocus and rejoice in the gazillion *other* things you do agree on!

            And if the other person insists on a more…argumentative, divisive stance…remember that we don’t fight against flesh and blood…

            my apologies for hi-jacking the thread…

  • To be honest, I personally have never experienced thar kind of thing. However, I thought it would be good for all of us to brainstorm it. Furthermore, the reason I asked this question was because I am not assmuming that when I do set out to try to make a change, that I will be taken seriously as if I was an adult. I appreciate your comments/thoughts on this.

    • I like what you said Nick, “don’t just STAY on the small stuff,” It’s a very good point. I tend to get comfortable doing small things, (After all, they’re not as scary as big things.) but I can’t be afraid to put myself, and my talents out there. I need to face challenges, rejection, praise and/or criticism if I want

  • Nick, that is a very good question. It is all too easy to rise to a challenge or decide to do something difficult, and then become demotivated as we realize that the people around us are scoffing and mocking our decision to make a stand. The world doesn’t see the wisdom in following God, neither do they understand it. They don’t see the point in rebelling against low standards, or using our time to serve God and others. But we need to persevere and remember why we do these things and Who we are living for. Our vision is Jesus Christ.

  • If you look at the story of Daniel, he was forced at a young age to live in a culture full of greed and indulgence, but he remained faithful to God, and he flourished as a result. That culture is very similar to ours today. Others may not understand our choice to live differently and follow God, but if we work hard and remain true to our faith, people’s attitudes will change. Galatians 6:9 says let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. As Nick and Sarah said, if we start with the small stuff, persevere, and show what we’re capable of, those around us will begin to see that we’re different, that they can have high expectations for us, that we can be taken seriously and do hard things. It’s a marathon not a sprint, but it’s undoubtedly worth it at the end.

  • I don’t really think of matters what other people think of your conviction. If they don’t think your serious, then that’s just their opinion. You can still do whatever it is you feel led to do even though people don’t believe you can or will do it. Nobody believed David could defeat Goliath. No one thought Jesus was the Messiah. People said Paul was crazy. It didn’t stop them one bit. And when they accomplished their task God’s power was all the more demonstrated to all those who doubted.

  • That is opposite of what happens with me. People take me a little to seriously. I preached my first message last night. (Which was really cool because i want to be a pastor when i grow up.) I am on the worship team at my church and on the media team and i teach the preschoolers. I have to remind people that i’m only 15, because i find myself way to stressed out.

    So when Nick said, “when people don’t take you seriously.” I kind of laughed a little. (not much. just a little.)

    For me, a hard thing is saying “no!” (which people don’t take seriously…)
    Is there anyone else out there who has this same problem? Or am i the only one?

    • I have that problem, too. With church and my music it is hard to not over-volunteer or say yes to every request – not that I get a ton, but each takes time, you know? So “out there” I often don’t have that problem. But “in here” – at home – I do. If I have some crazy grand idea or want to write a story under a short deadline, my mom often doubts my ability and recommends I think about it more. And…well…that is cos she knows me. She knows how terrible a time-manager I am and that I tend to dream big and execute little. I suppose I know what I need to work on. 😉

  • If you act mature and responsible, people will take you seriously, but if their first impression is that you are the average goofy teenager, then no one will.

    When I do a hard thing, I don’t rely on other people’s expectations. If I did, I would be…lets just say I would still be playing with toys. 😛

  • I know how this feels. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild autism. I look like a normal teenager, but with autism I have a naturally strong focus and a very literal view. Autism also includes emotional immaturity and sensory problems. I go to a small Christian school with less than 20 other kids in my class. The teachers think my hardworking, serious manner is impressive, while my classmates think I’m weird for working hard and think I should ease up a little. What that means is, someone teases me, and even if they do it for a short time, I freak out. I’m not saying my classmates are bad; they’re just immature. They don’t take me seriously. They know the teachers don’t take them seriously, and they don’t care. How can I get through to them that society views them lower than the floor?

    • Hey Alana,

      My brother also has Asperger’s so I understand both sides of the issue to a limited degree.

      To be honest, my brother is much more hardworking then I am. He works on things until they are as perfect as he can make them.

      To be totally honest, I do sometimes tease him, but in no different a way then how I tease my closest friends: with the intention of trying to be lighthearted and funny. I have no problem with people teasing me in the same way I tease my brother, because I know it’s just for fun. I assume my brother is the same way, but he’s not. He takes “making fun” as personal attacks, where as I mean it in a way that brings my friends and I closer in friendships. So, in essence, what I mean for “bonding” (for lack of a better word), he takes as insults.

      What is the solution for this?

      Well, in my opinion, both of us are at fault for this problem. I seriously need to learn to restrain myself from teasing my brother, because I know he will very likely take it the wrong way.

      But, because no one is perfect, I will slip up sometimes (a lot of times). And when that happens, my brother has to learn to restrain himself from taking offence, when I do slip up.

      Unfortunately, not everyone views it this way. Many just assume he needs to “lighten up” as you put it. Thus, it makes it MUCH harder for him, when he has to be doing all the restraining while everyone else lets loose.

      Doesn’t seem fair at all, does it?

      Well, I would think of it this way:
      The Bible does say that God will not allow you to be tempted more then you can handle. The Bible also shows countless examples of God using tough times to strengthen us. And, Jesus did say, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”.

      So, if you are being tempted to take offence because of what someone else said (regardless if they meant it for good or for bad), remember that God is always with you and that He will help you through the temptation, if you let Him. No one is perfect, so you will mess up sometimes. If we were perfect, then Jesus died in vain. My friend, Jesus did not die in vain. He died for your mistakes and for mine.

      I hope this helps, and I will pray for you, man!
      God bless,
      – Trent

  • I know what you mean…some people just think we’re messing around like normal teenagers when we do hard things. Or they think we’re going through a phase, kind of a fad that will pass eventually. I would just say don’t give people a reason to think that! I tend to get excited about stuff at the beginning and then not actually end up following through with it, because I get discouraged or feel like I’m not “old enough” to do it. So now when I get a project started, some people just figure it’s another one of my “phases” and expect I’ll be “over it” in a couple weeks. It’s hard not to fall to meet that expectation! So yeah like I said make sure you are acting responsible and mature and follow through with things, and you won’t give people a good reason to look down on you or not take you seriously. :

  • Patience, perseverance, and prayer. Prayer really keeps us in tune with God, and keeps us from straying as we do these hard things. Perseverance keeps us from quitting when people refuse to believe that we can do hard things, and patience helps us to forgive and love those who refuse to take a teen seriously. I know it’s hard, but we teens really need to pray for guidance, have the perseverance to finish what we start(and what God commands), and be patient through all the struggles that may come along the way.

  • Step 1. Make sure you take yourself seriously.
    Step 2. Take action on issues you’re passionate about. From personal experience, adults that would typically not take you seriously will quite literally step out of the way if they see a teenager driven by the passion to do something huge. Although, that’s definitely more God acting in their hearts than anything else.
    Step 3. Persevere. Nothing screams “teenager” like a kid that doesn’t finish what they start. Know that the God of the universe loves you, He loves to use you, and He wants to help you succeed in glorifying His name. If God is for you, what could possibly stand against you?

    • I wholeheartedly agree with the perseverance thing. Perseverance is necessary! I just feel that I need to point out that sometimes the right thing to do is to quit. When you’re not sure if you need to quit, ask God to show you want He wants and pray that He would make your desires match His. God will make it clear.

  • Start with the hard things you can do, and then when people start to see that you’re doing them, then you can ask them for help with the big hard things you want to do and they might take you more seriously. But if you don’t need their help with what you’re doing, then why does it matter if they take you seriously? You don’t need their approval and admiration!

  • Hey Nick –

    Thanks so much for asking this question to spark conversation. It has really sparked my thinking.

    I was thinking that, well no one really doubts my ability except my parents. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: my parents are the people who know me, and they see that I truly am not a very good time manager and that I have a tendency to dream big and execute little. That is why they appear hesitant. (Man, are they wise!)

    So, if anyone is out there asking this question I would tell them what I am telling myself:

    1) Be faithful in the little things. Make your bed, be on time, work efficiently, do a job well, and finish what you start.

    2) Then volunteer and/or be willing when asked to do even little (and unpleasant) things. Help someone. Take out the trash before anyone realizes it is overflowing. Maybe if you play an instrument be willing to play when asked or go to a nursing home and bless the elderly and infirm.

    Be reliable. Be dependable. Work hard. Be willing.

    Don’t fall under the temptation to sweat the small stuff cos it seems nothing compared to the big picture. It is your foundation to stand on to start chipping away at the big picture.

    Once you get the small stuff under control, that is the time to act on big dreams.

    And then people will not doubt you. If you are serious, they will be too.

    (And go read the other comments on this thread, cos a bunch of other people are already saying the same thing, and more, and better. 😉 )

  • This question applies to my life right now, so well. I’m in the awkward stage of almost 16, but not quite there. I recently tried to get a job to contribute to my family’s budget. I was refused on the grounds that “we do not hire people who are under 16”. I think that this is a good thing in some ways and a bad thing in other ways. It is good because the government limits how many hours a week a minor can work. This is good because it allows us to concentrate on our education as well as earning money. This is a bad thing because it makes people not look at who you actually are when they consider hiring you. You go in, they see that you aren’t 16, you are instantly refused the job. There is absolutely no way for you to ask them to just give you a chance, to let you prove that you can do hard things, that you can succeed.

    I guess one of the things about this that really bugs me, is that, even just one generation ago, this wasn’t even an issue. My mother got a job at 15 as a waitress in fast-food restaurant. Us not being able to be hired because we are “underage”, would not have applied had we been born one or two generations ago. We would have been expected to go out and earn a living. Now, we can’t, because we are viewed as unreliable and lazy.

    If I was just given a chance, I would work my hardest to fulfill my job to the best of my ability and to please my employer. How can we do that if we can’t even get our foot in the door?

  • Sometimes one of the Hard Things is actually dealing with people not taking you seriously. I find that quite a challenge.

rebelling against low expectations

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