Just more than 7 years ago, I volunteered at The Rebelution Conference in Greenwood, Ind. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of homeschooling sub-culture in the 2000’s, The Rebelution was a blog, and later a book and conference series, started by Alex and Brett Harris (twin brothers of Josh Harris). They urged teenagers to rebel against low-expectations and use their adolescent years not for self-centered ends, but to pursue high-hopes and achieve lofty goals for God’s glory. Their mantra? Do hard things.
Their work made an impression on little high school Abby. I started waking up at 5 a.m. in high school, took a college-level math class (a step of faith for me!) and began thinking about ways to go above and beyond in my babysitting jobs. In college, there’s no doubt that the mantra of doing hard things for God’s glory was what gave me the gumption to do academic research freshman through senior year, persevere through the loneliest season of my life and begin a course of study that scared me in some ways.
When the Rebelution movement was at the height of its popularity, the Harris brothers decided to step away from that work and begin college. We’re a culture that clings to our Christian celebrities and exalts them, and the Harris brothers could have easily stayed in that culture and chosen not to go to college without any questions asked, eyebrows raised. Instead, they did a really hard thing, thought about the big picture vs. their own glory and stepped away from the movement that brought them worldwide attention. That hard thing perhaps made the greatest impression on me.
Now, the Harris brothers are 25 years old and still doing hard things, according to an article from The Gospel Coalition. Their lives have diverged and their examples offer us key insight on how to transition the call to do hard things from our teenage years to young adulthood.
Hard things means living fully in the work God has called you to.
This might look like working your tail-end off at grad school or your first job, investing yourself in countless professional opportunities, networking in key sectors and independent research and writing. Alex Harris, now a married father of one, is currently in his last year at Harvard Law School, editing the Harvard Law Review and preparing to clerk for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado. Doing hard things looks saying no to little pleasures (like TV, video games, social media) so you can say yes to fulfilling your God-given vocation.
Hard things means living quietly and learning to rely on Jesus through mysterious seasons.
Maybe you find yourself working a seemingly boring job, living in your hometown and wondering what’s next. Brett Harris is now the full-time caretaker of his wife, who has Lyme disease and needs around the clock care. Doing hard things often doesn’t earn respect and glory from the popular culture. But that should not be our motivation. Doing hard things means striving for mundane faithfulness, as Martin Luther put it, and holding to the faithfulness of God.
For all of us, doing hard things is ultimately a combination of both points: Living fully into God’s call and living faithfully in the mundane. I have five, ten, 20 year business goals and professional dreams. I also wash a lot of dishes, prepare meals and vacuum our apartment. Each of these spheres is hard in its own way. And I’m thankful for the example of folks like Alex and Brett Harris whose lives affirm the difficult beauty of living for God’s glory.