In my last post, I discussed the practical advice on doing hard things from Brett and Alex Harris’s book Start Here. The bulk of the rest of the book is spent on the mindset of a rebelutionary – not on the need to do hard things (that’s what their first book was for), but on how to think and act and live like a rebelutionary. They covered topics from dealing with peers who don’t understand and time management to keeping up the motivation and how to respond to the unintended consequences, both positive and negative, that come from doing things that go against the cultural grain. And over and over again, they bring it back to full dependency on God.
I was impressed with how strongly they warn against pride that may come from the attention and praise that may come from doing hard things. Teens that have followed the rebelutionary lifestyle have made it on the cover of ESPN magazine, have written their own books, and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charitable organizations and social causes. Brett and Alex themselves have been interviewed by media venues such as NPR and The New York Times for their work. In Start Here they very candidly address the dangers of such attention. They remind readers that everything they do is through dependency on God, and when they remember that, pride is transformed into humble thankfulness to God for allowing them to be a part of His work. As they so often remind the reader, they don’t want to be considered exceptional, special, or “better” than other young people. They sincerely believe that ALL teenagers have the capabilities to do hard things when they break away from society’s low expectations and make themselves faithful to God.
“We are called by God to be examples, not exceptions. The message of the Rebelution is that all young people have the ability to accomplish far greater things than our culture would have them think. We live a different way to show our culture a better way.” (62)
I was also interested in how they addressed the criticism that people said they were encouraging teens to grow up “too quickly.” They describe responsibility as a muscle that needs to be worked and strengthened in order to be effective. The teen years are supposed to be a time of preparation and growth. To rebelutionaries, doing hard things as teenagers is not a matter of growing up too quickly, but rather a time to strengthen their abilities to handle responsibility appropriate to (but not limited by) their age.
“Some teens we’ve talked to think “growing up” means losing their sense of humor, not being able to have fun, or being stressed out all the time. It’s true that adulthood brings a lot more responsibility, but one reason many adults exhibit the tendencies these teens have identified is because they’re overwhelmed when responsibility comes. They haven’t worked up to it… The problem will not be that we grew up too quickly, but that we weren’t prepared when we did grow up and become adults.” (90)
They also point out that taking on responsibility is exciting! They tell stories of teens that missed out on “normal” teenage experiences because they chose to live like rebelutionaries, but these teens share that the rewards have greatly outweighed the sacrifices. These teens know what it means to follow a passion and find joy in accomplishment.
“The joy and fulfillment that comes from doing what God has called us to do are a hundred times better than a trip to the mall or a night at the movies could ever be.” (93).
How can more teens discover that joy and fulfillment? How do those who have found it continue to carry it with them into their adult lives?