(disclaimer of relation: I was so encouraged by the message of this book, as described on their website, that I volunteered to run the Do Hard Things Portland conference tour. And, their father, Gregg Harris, is the founder of the group of churches that I and my family are members of).
This book is the print version of a vision that has been in place for many years in the Harris household. When Alex and Brett were 16, their father sat them down with a heaping stack of non-fiction books and told them to start reading. Most teenagers might see that as a summer of drudgery, but these twins took the book list as an opportunity to learn more about the world in which they (as the future generation) would live. Learning about all the issues in the world today (poverty, economics of scale, pollution, adult-essence, monetary systems, political processes), they began to wonder how other people in their generation (my generation) could cope with it all if we continued to do the stereotypical teenage thing; sleep in and ignore the world issues in favor of celebrity gossip. Then they started a little blog called “the rebelution”, combining the terms rebellion and revolution to get a new meaning; “rebelling against rebellion”. Then it became a website with 5,000 hits a day, then a movement that spawned conferences in multiple countries, then a modesty survey that crashed their internet server with 500,000 views in the first two hours, and now a book.
DO: The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility, but rather, a training ground for future leaders. For centuries, there was no middle ground between “child” and “adult”; once you started looking like an adult, you were expected to act like one. We need to act like the adults we want to become, because, newsflash fellow young adults: we’re adults. And if we want things to be different from the present we must make changes in the present. Young, yes: need to work on competence, yes; freed from responsibility because of the aforesaid, no. “To make changes in your life requires you to make changes in your life.”—Alex Harris.
HARD: Hard doesn’t mean “hard for other people” (i.e., unless you are recovering from alcoholism, staying sober isn’t an achievement. It’s a good thing, but not your hard thing), or “stupid” (jumping off a cliff) . Don’t, however, think that just because its hard (keeping your room clean every night) or big (starting a business) or both (fighting modern slavery) that you can’t. At the same time, there is a place for small hard things (like keeping your room clean, which is hard because you have to keep doing it every day for the rest of your life) and unseen hard things (not harboring anger, or giving in to lust). If God is calling you to do something, whatever it is, pray and do it.
THINGS: They give lots of examples about teenagers (throughout history and today) who used their teen years to the max and reaped the benefit. And of “typical teens” who need to be renewed in their vision for their own lives. What I loved about all the examples was how simple the concepts were, and yet, I could see a piece of myself in each teen they profiled (and they are all real people). Some were cause for rejoicing, others, for disappointment. But each chapter helped me get closer to finding my “hard thing” that God would have me do with my life.
Overall, this was a very easy read that has challenged my thinking on many levels. I honestly didn’t think this book applied to me when I picked it up. I’m a good young adult (not a teen), who is trying to be more Christ-like (not there yet, but trying), living in a Christian environment… so how does “Do Hard Things” apply to me? The answer lies in the question, “what is hard for you?” There will ALWAYS be something that God wants me to do that is hard. “If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you’ve always got.” – Brett Harris. God wants the best for us, which will always involve change in my life.