Sunday, March 29, 2009

Do Hard Things

Alex and Brett Harris are teenage twin brothers who are tired of society's low expectations of teenagers. If a teenager does not use drugs or get his girlfriend pregnant, he is considered an outstanding young man. The Harris brothers' new book, Do Hard Things, challenges teens to go beyond such low expectations.

In Part 1 of Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris provide a historical perspective of adolescence. They point to George Washington, David Farragut, and Clara Barton as models of people who took on heavy responsibilities as teenagers. In doing so, those teenagers prepared themselves to become the first U.S. president, the U.S. Navy's first admiral, and the founder of the American Red Cross.

In Part 2, the Harris brothers encourage teenagers to do five kinds of hard things:

1. Hard things that take you outside your comfort zone
2. Hard things that go beyond what's expected or required
3. Hard things that require collaboration because they are too big for you to do alone
4. Hard things that don't pay off immediately
5. Hard things that go against the crowd

In Part 3, the brothers tell inspiring stories of teenagers who are doing hard things today. Some are providing clean water to poor communities around the world. Some have become modern-day abolitionists who are advocating for the freedom of slaves around the world. Some volunteer to help abused children in their communities. Some have run statewide political campaigns. Some have raised tens of thousands of dollars to purchase ultrasound machines for pro-life pregnancy resource centers. Some have started ministries to feed and evangelize the homeless. Whatever they are doing, they are doing far more than society expects from good teenagers. They have taken on responsibility to improve their world; and they have taken the initiative to get the job done.

In explaining Jesus' description of his disciples as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, Alex and Brett write, "He's saying we have been placed here to preserve (the earth) until He returns--to fight against the decay of sin, to combat sickness and suffering, and to oppose corruption and injustice...The picture of us as a city on a hill or a lamp on a stand means that as Christians we display the truth in word and action--shining the light of God's Word and the gospel all around us, in every corner...(W)e are change makers who influence our world both as salt and light. That is to say, we influence our world both by fighting against sin, suffering, and decay and by fighting for truth and justice. And that covers a whole lot" (pp. 172-173).

I highly recommend this book for parents, teenagers, and youth ministers. It casts a biblical vision for using the teen years as a launching pad into responsibility, significance, and adulthood. It will inspire young (and older) readers to reject low expectations and to make a difference now.


Christy said...

We need more teens like that today. Adults, too, for that matter!

Terry said...

I agree completely! Thanks for the comment, Christy!

Rick Morgan said...

It is difficult to push a teen that has had everything given to them so easily to actually do something that is hard and that is our fault for over indulging our kids.

Terry said...

Good point, Rick.