rebelling against low expectations

TGC Profile: Alex and Brett Harris Are Doing Hard Things


When Sarah Zylstra approached us about doing a profile for The Gospel Coalition we were thrilled and honored. Not only do we highly respect the organization (Tim Keller, Don Carson, John Piper, etc.), but no one had asked to interview us in forever! This was cool.

At the time neither of us realized just how encouraging the process would be. Sarah and her editors at TGC helped us draw connections between our lives and message that we are often too busy living to see clearly. And the response from readers has been so up-lifting.

So thank you Sarah and everyone at TGC for the kind profile and for your dedication to bringing people together around the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Alex and Brett Harris Are Doing Hard Things
Written by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

“Do hard things,” Alex and Brett Harris told their fellow teenagers six years ago. Get up early. Step out of your comfort zone. Do more than what’s required. Find a cause. Be faithful. Go against the crowd.

Be better than your culture expects.

The Harris twins, then 18, were leading by example. They worked through the summer to finish their (homeschool) high school at 16, then clerked with the Alabama Supreme Court. They organized a statewide grassroots political campaign. They started a blog, coined the “Rebelution” movement (the website has more than 40 million pageviews), wrote a book (which has sold 470,000 copies), and spoke at conferences.

And then they turned 20.

But they didn’t slow down. The twins enrolled at Patrick Henry College, took first place in the moot court nationals, and wrote another book. They dated and married their wives, cared for and buried their mother, and chose directions for their careers. Since then God has taken Alex and Brett, now 25, in starkly different directions that illustrate the Lord’s mysterious plans and purposes as he calls us to forsake all and follow him.

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About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.


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  • Wow, this is fantastic! It’s great to hear how you guys are continuing to do hard things; it continues to be an inspiration to us. I’ll be sure to keep you guys in my prayers.

      • Hey Brett,

        Off-topic question: How did you and Alex get clerkships with the Alabama Supreme Court, given that you were high school grads? I ask because where I live, clerkships are usually things that only university students get…. If it’s possible for high school grads to get clerkships, I’d like to look for one when I graduate from high school! =D

  • Wow – thank you both so much for your example! That alone challenges me more than just about anything you’ve posted. Not that your posts haven’t been challenging (God’s used them to convict me a lot), but that your own hard decisions that you make every day speak SO much louder! It isn’t often that we run across people who really, and I mean REALLY, live what they preach. Thanks again – I’m definitely encouraged and motivated now!

    • Thanks Hannah. Alex and I have always tried to practice what we preach. By God’s grace we’ve realized that anything we have to say means nothing if we don’t live it in our personal lives.

  • Oh… my!

    Why do you have to post two super intense articles so close tother!? I don’t believe you posted this to get praise from your loyal readers, but to inspire us. I have to say, you have definately achieved that! Brett, you and your brother are an inspiration to me. God bless you and your entire family!

    • Absolutely, Trent. I try not to focus on my personal life here, but I thought it might encourage you all to know that the ideas I’m sharing have made a big difference in my own life and are still making a big difference right now. =)

    • Thanks so much, David. I’ve really appreciated your comments around the site, particularly one that you wrote in response to a very angry and hurt man on Rachel’s post about depression. You did an excellent job communicating with him. =)

  • Brett thank you for sharing this with us. it was vary inspiring to hear your life stories. my heart goes out to you with your wife being sick. You both will be in my prayers. i commend you for taking care of your wife so diligently and without complaining. i know it’s hard. But i love that your pushing through it cause so many men in this day in age wouldn’t. 🙂

    thank you so much for sharing your story cause it really pushes me to do more to step out of my comfort zone. and to do hard things that will prepare me for the future. and ya’ll are so right about it being a muscle. i’ve just recently refocused my life and every day it get’s easier and easier. 😉 and i get stronger and stronger. And Alex your so right about doing those little things that give you no recognition but speak so loud to God and bring Him greater glory.

    thanks guys for all that you’ve done to challenge us and to help us beat low expectations. May God bless you! thank you again for sharing your story!

      • Your welcome Brett!!! continue the good work! you and your brother have impacted my life in so many ways and i’m so thankful to ya’ll 😀
        Thanks for being their for creating this website and writing your book!
        God Bless,

  • Brett & Alex, you have restored my faith in young people. Oh, I have always loved teens, having raised 5 of our own, but the news media, etc. seems so disheartening at times. It’s fantastic to know that you’re out there for teens everywhere!! You certainly have earned a place in my daily prayers. I am a Mother, Homemaker, Grandmother, & a Christian and I’m proud to have “stumbled” onto your website. I eagerly look forward to your work.

  • Wow, Brett. I just now got around to reading this. I LOVE how you guys live what you ‘preach’. This was a fantastic article. Your dedication to Ana is so precious, especially in a day and age where marriages seem to be falling apart everywhere and everyone is so concerned about themselves and not feeling inconvenienced. I knew Ana was sick, but I didn’t realize how bad it was. I will continue to pray for the both of you and that you will find God to truly be ever faithful and able to provide for you guys and that your testimony will bless others. Thank you so much for sharing this here!
    I especially loved this quote; ‘You cannot look intense suffering in the
    face without making the choice between faith and cynicism. It either hardens
    you or melts you.’ This really has rung true with my life and experiences.
    I intend to share this on my blog and hope many more will do the same so that many will be encouraged, inspired and challenged by God’s faithfulness to and through you. 🙂

    • Thanks for your encouragement and prayers, Madison. They really make a big difference. =) And thanks also for sharing the article. Reading what Sarah wrote helped me see the testimony God is creating more clearly and I’m excited for Him to use it however He pleases.

  • Wow. I just want to thank you for writing Do Hard Things. I found the book at the Momentum Youth Conference this summer and bought the book. Best $15 I’ve ever spent. This year alone has brought more spiritual growth than I’ve ever seen in my walk with God. He’s given me hope for a future I once thought was hopeless.

    • That’s amazing, Alana! Helping someone grow in their walk with God is the most important and eternal impact our book could ever have. Thanks for the encouragement! =)

  • WOW. What a wake-up call! It’s exactly what I need right now. I’ve been getting laid-back in doing hard things and unsatisfied with doing small things…. Now I realize how wrong my attitude has been. Thank you so, so much for this article! Please post more and more super intense articles! =D They are so good and so needed.

    P.S. I’m keeping you and Ana in my prayers, Brett! God bless you both!

  • I agree with the other comments, this article was very encouraging. Thanks so much for all the work you put into this website even with all you have going on. I have been challenged spiritually by the many articles and videos on this site, and I know many others have as well. Thanks again!

  • My Mom told me about this article and how much it encouraged her. I’ve read it and shared it with a few of my friends. Thank you for your example and hard work to glorify our amazing Lord.

  • Hi there!

    Wow. I want to first of all thank you for sharing your story. After reading this, I poked around the internet & blog a bit more and read some more about Ana’s struggle with Lyme. And all I have to say is “wow”. What an inspiring women she is!

    This hit a really personal note for me: I’m 17 years old, and for the past 6 years I haven’t felt well…Through a series of misdiagnosises, we’re just now finally on the path to trying to find out what’s wrong with me. I can greatly relate to several of Ana’s symptoms. I have over 20 symptoms that effect just about every part of my body. Although our circumstances are different, I felt a connection with Ana’s story, just because she’s a young woman, who’s life went differently than she would have ever imagined, who is suffering well, and living out the the knowledge fo the Truth of Romans 8:18 (one of my favorites!!).

    I can’t imagine all you both have gone through with all of this. I just want to express my hearfelt prayers to you, and thank you for leading by example and doing hard things.

    Often times, I feel like, because I’m chronically ill, I can’t do anything for the kingdom, and that God couldn’t possibly have a use for me in my present circumstance. Ana & your story showed me otherwise; it showed me that, for some seasons of our lives, God may just be calling us to suffer well…to “do the hard thing”, not by doing any big, grand works, but by having a trust in Him that is beyond words.

    Thanks again!



  • Grateful to read this interview and see God’s fingerprints all over it. What an incredible blessing to see! Thanks for sharing the tough hard things you’re both doing. Being in serious pain and sickness like Ana is definitely can’t be easy. I know from personal experience. I praise God for your sharing this – it’s giving Him glory!

  • Hi I’m Matthew and I’m homeschooled and my dad is reading me your Do Hard Things Book and I like the book!!

  • If I hit this right but, if you know the history of Israel and the history of the U.S. you see that the Israel history lines up with the American history so if I get this right (do not stone me) Israel’s history can (if it can)foretell the future of America.

  • Hey Brett I’m in a Homeschool group called Classical Conversations and I’m a junior and there is this book that we (a class) read each week and the book is called It Couldn’t Just Happen it is based on The Theory of Evolution and Creationism. It is a really good book on tearing down Evolution you guys should find on and read it!! 100% great

  • hey, I am the son of a vicar, and I’ve been following the Christian faith as long as I can remember. However, now it is starting to get boring, it’s just the same thing again and again. Would you happen to have anything to help with this?

    • Can you do two things for me? Further define what kind of vicar you are the son of(i.e Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Church of England)? And do you mind being a little more specific? Like, what kind of things are you seeing over and over again that are boring you? That would be really helpful in me trying to help you a little.

    • Hi Charlie, thank you for asking. 🙂

      For twelve years of my life, I had gone to church, memorized much of the Bible, followed the rules, and did everything as “Christian” as I could. But something about Christianity is it is not about what you or I can do. If we look at the Bible, this is what it says:

      For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23

      For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23

      …all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf and like the wind, our sins sweep us away. – Isaiah 64:6b

      So, we are all messed up, and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Going to church, being a kid of a church leader (my dad was a church elder for a while), none of it matters. We are doomed by ourselves.

      But, there’s good news!

      For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him. – Romans 5:6-11

      “For God loved the world •in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. – John 3:16-17

      Jesus died for you and me to pay the wages of sin that we could never pay: death. Even for me, the one who knew everything I needed to know about being saved, for 12 years, but didn’t act on it!

      So, maybe you’re like me? Maybe the reason you’re board is because though you have the knowledge, you never really accepted Gods’ forgiveness. And if that’s you, then the only way to rectify that is to pour your heart out to God. To surrender everything to Him, to be sorry and ask His forgiveness for everything wrong you’ve done. To ask Him to come into your life as your Savior and the boss of your life.

      Three years ago, I prayed a prayer very similar to this one. If you sincerely pray something close to this to, then you will be saved and God will give you great passion and joy in Christianity, like He did me:

      Dear Jesus,
      I know that I’m a messed up sinner. I’ve done a ton of garbage in my life. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I know you died from me, to take my punishment, that God raised you from the dead, and that you are God. I give everything to you. Please come into my life as my Savior and my Lord. Thank you, Jesus!

      It’s just like that my friend. 🙂

      If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe
      in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
      – Romans 10:9

      If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:8-9

  • Hey do you guys have any good thoughts…let’s put it this way I have a problem with frustration and for school I read a book called Door in the Wall and it…well you guys should read it helps and as I was saying good thoughts for pushing through junior high?

  • Hey guys I like to get together with friends and laugh. That’s in my comfort zone I have inched out of my comfort zone a few times waiting to be blasted and well I have been a couple times. Where do I start to lunge out of my comfort zone? I know Start Here would work but I need some ideas from people my birthday is coming so that has made it.

By Brett Harris
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 →