rebelling against low expectations

5 Things That Get Harder As You Get Older


A few weeks ago I sent a query to the editors of TheRebelution about writing an article for the readers who frequent the site and apply the words of wisdom that they find there.

I was initially hesitant to send a message as I thought that I might be too old to add my voice into a conversation about equipping teenagers to rebel against low expectations.

I’ve come to the realization, however, that I’m still raging against low expectations at 33-years-old.

In other words, God is teaching me to do harder things.

If you recall the home page logo of TheRebelution, 1 Timothy 4:12 underscores the significance of letting your character reflect your Creator. Paul encourages Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because he is a young man, but to set a godly example for all to see and mimic.

As it turns out, this verse is still the one that I cling to at 33, a life verse if you will. I memorized it at a church camp as a kid.

In fact, I will still be quoting it at 83 (provided I’m still around).

I’d like to return to those harder things I spoke about in the aforementioned paragraph, though.

Since high school I have walked through some major changes in life, but I believe these experiences have undoubtedly molded my character. I’ve made some mistakes and have met with some success.

Here’s a brief list of hard things to do now that, at least in my estimation, become harder as you age.

1. Invest in education.

Be it a university, a community college, or a trade school, keep learning and apply this knowledge towards a career of interest. Speaking of knowledge, don’t stop reading either.

Though the books you are likely to come across in high school and college are of an academic nature, seek out novels, non-fiction, and even some poetry to enrich your mind and bolster your vocabulary.

Keep digging into the Good Book too.

2. Serve others at your local church.

At seventeen I went with my dad to purchase my first suit for high school homecoming. I thought I would only wear these new duds for the dance and Easter or Christmas services at church, but a youth group leader (who was also an usher at the time) asked me to perform usher duties (e.g. collecting tithes and offerings and serving communion) one Sunday morning.

I did this for about two years, and I felt deeply honored to serve alongside men who were two or three times my age.

First Timothy 4:12 was ringing in my years.

I drifted at serving during my twenties, but I picked it up again this year as my wife and I serve in the nursery at our local church.

Serving can be hard at times as it does require commitment and inconvenience to your schedule – but it matters greatly to God and those it directly impacts.

3. Exercise.

I played baseball as a kid but stopped short of continuing in high school (as I feared being plunked by a wild pitch). I tried out for the high school basketball team but didn’t make the cut due to a lack of conditioning. Exercise waned a bit during college.

I wasn’t sedentary but I wasn’t an active person either.

Nine years ago I had this thought to try running and I haven’t looked back since.

Since 2007 I have completed nine marathons and numerous races of shorter distances. When it comes to exercise, the possibilities are plentiful: running, walking, cycling, hiking, climbing, surfing, kayaking, and hitting or kicking or throwing a ball of some kind. We can leave deflating off the list though.

I’d implore you to never let exercise become work to get through though; make sure it is always defined by a sense of play and fun.

4. Seek out a mentor.

I’ve had numerous men pour into my life since middle school, and I will be forever grateful to God and to them for taking the time to invest in my character.

They have nudged me in subtle and not so subtle ways to chase after God and draw closer to Him. They are part of the “cloud of witnesses” (see Hebrews 12:1-3) that has formed in my life, men and women who spur me to chase after God and His principles and provisions.

Though I don’t have a mentor at the moment, I’m planning to ask a good man I know in the next few weeks as I transition into a new season in life.

Find someone you trust and ask them to do the same for you.

5. Cling to your faith.

I’m taken aback at how quickly the world seems to change on a daily basis.

Technology is helping us simplify our lives, and yet it seems to also facilitate a sense of envy and isolation (e.g., Facebook).

Poverty is rampant across God’s glorious earth, as are terrorism and hate and violence against one another. I want to be optimistic about the future; I desperately hope that our best days are still ahead of us.

But I still have doubts about this. I’m scared sometimes.

In Psalm 63, David writes, “I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” In Romans 12, Paul encourages us to cling to what is good. Hold fast to God. Pray earnestly. Find him in the Scriptures on a daily basis.

Put others before you. Cling to the cross and to Christ and to the forgiveness you have received through His life, death, and resurrection.

This clinging will lead you into the doing of hard (and harder) things worth doing in this life.

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Photo courtesy of Lauren Rushing and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Austin Bonds

is a thirty-something, ragamuffin runner who lives north of Atlanta, GA. His musings on how running intersects with pop culture can be found at You can also follow him on Twitter (@austincbonds).


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    • Hi Danny – Thanks for the encouraging words. I hope what few insights I have gleaned throughout my life thus far (at 33) can provide even a little encouragement to you and others who visit the site. I hope that you have a blessed school year when it resumes and will be an example of how to live in such a way that others will take notice.

    • Thanks Anastasis. Life experience certainly provides some perspective, and I can only hope that others who are older than me can offer some wisdom and counseling as I age too.

    • Hi Emma – it’s always cool to meet a fellow runner. At 15, two half-marathons is undoubtedly a hard thing to complete. Well done. If you keep this up I see no reason why you can’t complete a full marathon by twenty!

  • Thank you so very much for your input, Austin! It’s extremely helpful to have the perspective of an adult when considering how doing hard things is a life-long process. Thank you for taking the time to write this!!!

    • Thanks Haylie – I like the icon you have selected. Too often we wish for stuff to happen or pray that God will open up an opportunity and we should just simply wait for it to happen, but I’m developing a deeper belief that God is faithful and will guide our steps as we “do,” as we take action, as we make forward progress. He will revise our path as needed. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Great article Austin! It’s always good to get advice from someone who’s already been through the stage of life you’re in. I had a question about the mentor part that you mentioned: how is the best way to go about establishing a mentor/accountability partner relationship? I really feel like I need to have someone to confide in and to keep me accountable, but I don’t know how to find and then ask that person. Any thoughts?

    • Hey Caleb – Thanks so much for the question. As you may gather, my first thought would be to pray about this and ask God to grant you wisdom to find someone. In my late teens and early twenties, the church I was attending at the time had a new pastor come on board to oversee the college ministry. I immediately gravitated towards him, and with time I found myself wanting to be present anytime he taught from the Scriptures for a class or a Sunday morning message. That said, you might consider talking with a pastor at your church to see if they might have some thoughts on this. Many churches today have elders and deacons, and having met a handful here and there, they are very Godly men – and worth listening too.

      • Thank you for your answer! I’m actually between churches, so it may be a while before I’m able to find someone, but I’ll keep looking.

  • Thanks so much for this article, Austin! I’m a little older than the average Rebelution reader but this is even more relevant for me now than when I was a teen still in high school. So encouraging. ~AnnaGrace

    • Hey Anna Grace – Thanks for encouraging me. As I noted in the first paragraph, I was intimidated at how this first article would be received, but I’m very grateful to see that the content is helpful to others, even those like you who are older but still wanting to passionately grow in your faith in Christ.

  • This post is awesome! I enjoy reading articles written by teens, but I also enjoy learning from someone with more life experience. 🙂 Thanks for writing this!

  • This is great, Austin! I was feeling kind of down in the dumps about turning 17 next week because that seems so old (fine, laugh at me! :). I felt like I was losing my chance to do hard things and train myself for the future, but your post reassured me that it’s all a process and turning 17 won’t end the world. 🙂

    • Hi Cecilia – You are right. There is much time left to change the world. I actually echo your thoughts right now at 33. I’ve wondered what hard things I can do right now, but God has reminded me that there’s much work to be done. In fact, some of the smallest decisions that we make right now that honor Christ will have far reaching implications later in life. Don’t look back, but look forward with an open spirit and a heart that is assured by God.

      • “Some of the smallest decisions that we make right now that honor Christ will have a far reaching implications later in life.”

        God has been telling me exactly this all summer. Thanks for reinforcing that thought! 🙂

    • Hi Zipporah – I agree. I’ve seen news stories lately that indicate those in my generation (the Millennials) are perceived to have low expectations and little to no work ethic. But I believe we have so much more to offer than this.

  • Thank you for writing this, Austin! I’ve had a feeling I should be doing a couple of these intentionally, but I’ve been shrugging it off because, “it doesn’t matter.” Thank you for giving your perspective on the “unimportant” things! 🙂

    • MimeforJesus – Thanks for being so honest. I agree with you. When I started serving at my local church this year, I didn’t think it mattered much, but I’ve discovered that this small task helps parents connect with the Father in church without interruption. God has reminded me of this many times; in fact, the emphasis at our church right now is “one matters.”

  • You’re never too old, Austin! The journey continues for our whole lives. God will always have new hard things for us to do! 🙂 Thanks for sharing some wisdom from someone who’s been on the road a little longer. 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouraging words to keep writing Amanda. It’s funny how seems a third of the way completed at 33 years old now, assuming I’ll go to 100, but this journey is far from over. Keep it up yourself.

By Austin Bonds
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 →