rebelling against low expectations

6 Hard Things Teenagers Can Do — Right Now


“Do hard things!” they said. “It’ll be good!” they said. “We were made for it!” they said.

“But I’m just a teenager!” you say. “I have nothing to offer!” you say. “My life is boring; there’s nothing I can do!” you say.

If you have read Brett and Alex’s book, Do Hard Things, you probably realized how important it is for young people to do hard things and how meaningful life becomes when lived one hundred percent.

But if you are like me, you probably also became discouraged with your average life. Yes, you want to do great things for God! Yes, you want to live life to the fullest! No, you don’t want to waste your teenage years! But where do you begin? How do you start? How can an average teenager from an average family in an average community start doing hard things?

I have a few ideas — six, actually — but first I’d like to clarify two things:

  1. You are not an average teenager. You are unique with desires, gifts, and experience unmatched by anyone else on this planet. God created you and, although a traitor—The Flesh—wants to distract you, your core desires reflect what God made you for: Good Works. That is God’s will for your life: to do Good Works.
  2. If you listen to Brett long enough, you soon realize that “Do Hard Things” was their way of saying “Do Good Works.” Good works are almost always hard.

So, without further ado, here are six hard things teenagers can do — right now.

1. Use Your Words to Create (Good Stuff)

Did you know that you are a creator? All of us are. We were made to create because we were made in the image of God and He’s a creator.

Do you know His primary method for creating?

His words.

Made in His image, we too, create things — for good or ill — with our words.

This is an excellent place to start, in our journey to doing hard things. Anyone can do it, everyone should do, and we can start right here, right now, in our own homes.

No matter what you do or where you go in life, your words and the attitude with which you speak them will determine whether people enjoy or hate being around you.

Here are a few old tricks to help us create good stuff with our words:

  • Speak ten encouraging words for every critical word you speak. The point is not to say ten nice things before saying what you really want to say. The point is to develop a lifestyle (habits) of encouraging everyone around you.
  • Next time you think of something critical to say, stop and say something positive and encouraging instead. This is hard, but if your critique is worth saying, you will have another chance. Later. Furthermore, they will be able to receive it easier if they know you believe in and love them.
  • Pray blessings over people. Through prayer, speak encouraging words into their hearts. Words are powerful. In fact, Jesus said that our words are so powerful that even if two of us agree concerning anything, it will be done by our Father in heaven. A vast majority of personal spiritual warfare can be narrowed down to a few lies a person believes about themselves or God. Your words spoken either directly to someone or through prayer over them can cut away those lies like a knife. You can remind them of truth and their true identity in Christ and how the Father views His children.

2. Start Something (like a business or a ministry)

Start a kid’s club! All you need is a couple Bible stories, a few songs, some snacks, and the ability to have fun. You can meet just about anywhere: the clubs I help with meet at a public park. Seriously, if you have fun and love them, the kids will never forget it.

Start a youtube channel! What do you have to lose? If you have a story to share, a joke to tell, or just like making videos, why not give it a try? It’s free guys, youtube is free: What could possibly go wrong?

Start a business! As I thought about this, I realized that I personally know (or have friends who know) quite a few young people who started their own businesses or business-like ministries. To give an idea of what you can do, I’m going to list and link a few. Check them out, be inspired, and maybe make a few purchases while you are at it!

  • Knit’s Etc. was started by my sister-in-law Teresa (under 25) and passed off to my 21-year-old sister Kristi, when Teresa moved over seas. Kristi buys quality fabric for cheap in L.A.’s fashion district and retails it online to people in the east. You can check it out for yourself.
  • My other sister-in-law, Krista, bakes bread and sells them to cafe’s and grocery stores.
  • Andrew started a successful landscaping business in The Middle of Nowhere, Canada. It isn’t necessarily that he is passionate about leveling lawns and trimming trees; he simply needed a job, saw the opportunity and need in the community, and took action. This is what he says about it: “I’m a believer in doing whatever I have an opportunity for, and if it’s not in God’s plan for my life, I’m sure he can take care of closing the door.” This business has funded his passion of photography, through Destination Infinity, which has taken him around the world — seriously, he’s been to more places than I can count.
  • But if Andrew’s not trimming trees or taking pictures of them, he might be brainstorming innovative business strategies with a social impact. This, he is launching a clothing brand. A clothing brand, people. The great thing about the new brand, Bridge, is that he and his fellow designers will each pick a charity or cause they are passionate about and donate a percentage of the profits earned by their signature lines.
  • RaVonne has a gorgeous selection of original cards based on her own photography which she sells through her business Artistic Moments. She lives in Thailand, where it’s hard for young people to find work. Get creative by merging what you love and what people want with what you need.
  • The Vibrant Girl (formerly the Girlfriend Gazette) by Monica and the Daughters of Promise by Rachel are two magazines for ladies (subscribe!). Monica is my age, but while I was playing with legos, she was creating magazines. She started with a small, print-out gazette for her friends; Rachel started with email newsletters. You don’t have to start out huge or flashy: just start.
  • Reagan recently launched Bronze Bow Media. The dude liked making videos; now he does it full-time. He still doesn’t know where all it will go, but at least he’s going.
  • Jared is a whiz with computers. He’s not a geek, he just enjoys computers. It is one of the ways he can support himself while having time and flexibility to pursue ministry and his family.
  • Ryan and Rebecca love each other and coffee so they started R&R Roasters. Although they are older than 25, this is definitely the type of thing any young person who appreciates coffee (and free trade) could start doing and even making money through. All you need is some good green coffee beans and a Poppery popcorn popper (google it). Check out R&R to see what quality coffee tastes like. I have had some and it tastes wonderful!
  • There are many more I could tell about including photographers, singers (quartets, bands), and artists.

You know what is awesome about all of these entrepreneurs? They are tapping into the unique gifts, interests, and opportunities directly in front of them! You can too!

3. Live Life with Whimsy

This is one from Bob Goff who talks a lot about it in his book, Love Does.

First, read the book.

Second, realize how much God loves you and what lengths He goes to express His love.

Then, live and love like that — like God does.

Love extravagantly. Celebrate exuberantly. Mourn deeply. Sing loudly — I mean, really loudly. Laugh, cackle, and giggle like nobody’s watching.
Learn an instrument and get your friends together to make music—even if it sounds like a crying dinosaur. You’ll get better.


And when you fail or embarrass yourself, first have a good cry. Then laugh about it with your friends. Because it is funny. Life is funny. You’re funny.

4. Share your testimony in front of a group of people

Because your story is worth sharing. Besides, it is not your story, it’s a Jesus story. A story is something you are born with: it is both a precious gift and a weapon against the enemy. Stories bring joy, depth, and connection to life. They can inspire and motivate incredible change into our lives and the world. Share your story, you never know how God might use you.

5. Find a mentor and share honestly

Someone older and more mature (of the same gender) and allow them to speak into your life. It doesn’t have to be official or even regular. It just needs to happen.

Be painfully honest with them about your life and struggles. Transparency is the first step toward freedom. There is nothing more freeing and empowering than being fully known yet still fully loved. But it is hard. But that’s okay.

6. Find a significantly younger person or two and invite them to hang-out with you

Honestly, there are few things more worth your time.

Well, those are some of my ideas. What about you? What hard things have you done (or are planning to do) as a teenager? What would you add to my list?

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

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Photo courtesy of MartinaK15 and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Christopher Witmer

is the 24-year-old Editor-in-Chief for Originally from Northern Minnesota, he lives with his family in Los Angeles where they moved to plant inner-city churches. He loves sports, travel, and music, but his passion is writing for God and lifting high the name of Jesus through his writing.


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  • Christopher, these are great! And just at the time when I’m looking for a new Hard Thing to do because a couple of others just left my life. Here’s one: Hang out with people your age who aren’t “popular,” who aren’t easy to get along with. It is really worth it! 🙂

    • Awesome, glad this came just in time! =)

      Yes, that is a good one, but harder than it seems at first! Thanks!

  • These are awesome by the way Christopher! I just LOVE your blog posts! And I LOVE Love Does SO much! Have you heard the song by Brandon Heath? These are good things to keep in mind as I have thought the same things! This one is a keeper! Even in the small things Jesus’ light can shine just as much!

  • This is absolutely fantastic! Any excuses I had about not having hard things to do just flew out the window 😛

    I really liked the line where you said, “Transparency is the first step toward freedom.” I guess I struggle with that some. Do you have any extra thoughts/advice on that, Christopher (or anyone else)? Thank you so very much for this article. It’s just so full of helpful stuff!

    • Haha, I know right?

      Yes, transparency is tough, but worth it!

      Think of transparency as “living in the Light.” Don’t do anything in the “dark,” be honest and open about your life. Find a trustworthy person and let them into the darkest corners of your life–take your time, share as you need to–but definitely do it. Don’t feel like you need to tell the whole world. Start by telling one or two people your thoughts, questions, painful memories, failures, secrets. That’s why I say find a trustworthy person, because what we share is precious and not something to be crushed or passed around (gossip)–but valued.

      Eventually, though, as you get used to it, you’ll find that it’s easier to share with more and more people.

      Probably not everything we share will be sin, but when it comes to sin, I believe that 80% of the bondage is in the secrecy. Once we are honest about our stumbling and failing, we can start working on the other 20%. But we’ll get nowhere until we are honest with ourselves, God, and others.

      Hope this helps! God bless!

      • Thank you so much for replying! Yes, it helps very much 🙂 I want to live in the light. I really do. God’s working on me, and he’s using you to help me. Thanks, brother in Christ 🙂

    • “There is nothing more freeing and empowering than being fully known yet still fully loved.” #5
      #4: “It is not your story, it is Jesus’ story. A story is something you are born with: it is both a precious gift and a weapon against the enemy. Stories bring joy, depth, and connection to life. They can inspire and motivate incredible change into our lives and the world. Share your story, you never know how God might use you.” Sharing your struggles tells other people that they are not alone and that there is someone in the world who won’t judge them. They know you won’t judge them because you have been there yourself.
      Great article by the way, Christopher. I even took notes while I was reading it! God has given you a great writing ability- so keep doing hard things for Him!! Thanks for sharing!

  • I love the articles on here. My favorite point was #3, because it’s something I need to work on.

    I plan on publishing a book in a little while, and I am under an apprenticeship where I am learning how to do flame work with glass.

    • I’m a really creative person, so your apprenticeship interests me. What kind of things can you make with the glass? And what kind of book are you writing? (I’m a writer too)

      • I can make marine/Florida life (dolphins, manatees, starfish, shells, etc.) and hearts, because I live in Florida. As for the book, it’s a short story made out of poems. I don’t think anyone has done that before. Wish you the best for your writing.

  • This is an awesome article! Point #1 reminded me of something I took part in three years ago. At the end of my youth group’s Winter Retreat, our guest speaker invited us to take the Honor Challenge. In the Honor Challenge, you aren’t allowed to say anything negative for a week (this includes sarcasm!). If you do, you have to start over. It’s harder than it seems! I challenge you all to take the Honor Challenge and not say a single negative thing to anyone all week!

  • Good job! I appreciated the article.

    What do you think about being accountability partners with a peer?

    • Awesome, glad you liked the article!

      I think being accountability partners with a peer is great! I have several friends my age who I share stuff with. We’re not official “accountability partners,” but that’s the idea.

      However, I still think there is tremendous value in interacting with and seeking wisdom from people older than we are, because they have perspectives on life that we haven’t reached yet.

      • I am officially accountability partners with a peer, and I share almost everything with him. I agree that there is enourmous value in an older person overseeing your life (probably not the right expression, but in context, the point is clear). My pastor and my dad currently are the people who I share most with, aside from my acc. partner. As an aside, did you see my comments on your post “thinking hard about the Holy Spirit,” cuz I was hoping someone would read it… lol

  • Hey thanks for writing! Here’s another hard thing….I’m going to be taking some time of from the Reb and Revive. I’m going on a family campout this weekend, and I’ll be taking the rest of the week off, too (basically from Friday to Friday). And, I have a piano camp thingy from next Monday to about Saturday I think, and I will be staying at a friend’s (my pastor and his family’s lol) house, and idk if I’ll have internet or not. AND I’ll be packing next weekend for the camp. So basically, don’t expect to see me at all until next Friday, and don’t expect to see me much until NEXT NEXT weekend lol.

    See y’all around!!!

    -Josh =)

  • Amen! I want to mow lawns for people and do it with friends (they live more than 10-40 miles apart) but that wouldn’t hurt right?

  • I love this. Thank you so much. any recommendations on how a thirteen year old could start a business cause I’ve been thinking about that lately.

    • My niece is almost 12 and just started selling handmade toys, and her friend who is the same age is going to grow a pumpkin patch this year. Think of something you like to do and maybe you can build it into a business. You could also mow lawns or get a paper route.

  • I just wanted to mention (I’m back from a break from Reb, and going wild commenting on everything, my apologies) I would love to start a music ministry, but since our family might be moving, it’s pretty hard to do that.

    So I’ve been focusing on “little” hard things. Like smiling and saying hello to people at stores, trails, and at church. this is something that is very, very hard for me to do. I might seem outgoing on here, but you meet me in real life and you’ll be thinking, “Man, she’s unfriendly.” (I just don’t talk)

    I also have always had problems with apologizing. When I was younger it took about ten spankings, twenty talks, and a lot of exasperation before i choked out a half-hearted, “Sorry.” I don’t like admitting I’m wrong, cant ya tell? So going up to people and apologizing without being forced, even online is something I’ve been consciously working on. So even though friends and family might not realize I’m doing it, I am. And it is good. So I loved this post, thank you!

  • Thanks so much @christopher_witmer:disqus! This was so good! 🙂 I love point 3, and 1, and 6, and 5, and….

  • I’m gonna make a lot of movies – write a lot of scripts – do stuff with my friends – and read a lot of books

    There’s my life.

  • Thanks so much Christopher – this was really helpful. I love the way you show how our small starting attempts can bear immense fruit. It’s easy to get bored with the little practical challenges of everyday life, but simply “dreaming” about doing hard things won’t get us very far…

    After reading this, I feel encouraged to keep exploring how best to serve God in the music world, both now and into the future.

  • I love this post! I read Do Hard Things when I was twelve. It inspired me, along with the inspired Word of God, to:

    1. Start a photography blog 2 days ago about habits for filling your heart with hope.

    2. Start an annual 5K race 4 years ago called 5K4H2O to raise money for Compassion International’s Water of Life program: See pictures of the race here:

    3. Make art with scripture and share it with my friends.

    4. Share my story about my suffering on my blog:

    5. E-mail a college student friend who is in India for six weeks on a missions trip and hear about all she is doing so I can learn about mission work.

    6. Use my babysitting money to sponsor two little girls from Compassion International who live in Guatemala. Their names are Daniela and Ericka, and we are pen pals.

    Thanks for this great summary of good works and hard things! I will be sharing.

  • On the Bridge website it just says coming in the fall. Christopher, or anyone, I don’t know how you would but does anyone know a more specific month or date or anything?

  • Well done Chris(can I call you that?) you really explained what we should do in clear detail.

  • This post came at the perfect time. I really needed some encouragement in stepping out of my comfort zone, and this provided it. Thank you!

  • This really encouraged me! I really want to make a difference in the world and i just didn’t know how. IT gave me some ideas though!

  • Hola mi nombre es Laura soy de Colombia, tengo 20 años y estoy en mis últimos años de carrera profesional ingeniería ambiental, actualmente estoy leyendo el libro haz cosas difíciles y realmente me ha alentado a realizar cosas que nunca me imagine que haría, quiero compartirles mi experiencia, el mes pasado se realizo un evento en mi país llamado Light the City 2015 al cual quería ir (eso fue en septiembre), así que para ello necesitaba dinero el cual no tenia, así que con una amiga de la iglesia empezamos a hacer postres para vender dos mese antes del evento, corríamos día tras día preparándolos y caminábamos bajo el sol por varias horas mientras los vendíamos a personas que nunca habíamos visto y ademas debíamos cumplir con nuestras obligaciones universitarias, pero al final vimos la recompensa recaudamos mas dinero del que teníamos previsto, así que pudimos ir al evento. Ahora decidimos seguir haciendo postres creemos que es una pequeña empresa que Dios nos regalo y creo que sin darme cuenta ya he empezado a ser cosas difíciles eso me hace feliz.

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 →