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ALEX AND BRETT HARRIS, 19, live in Gresham, Oregon (near Portland). They are the recipients of six national championships in high school speech and debate, frequent authors for Focus On The Family's online publication, Boundless Webzine, and main speakers for The Rebelution Tour. Read More...


CBD interview with Alex & Brett Harris

CBD: You started after reading a stack of what’s typically thought of as heavy reading for 16-year-olds. What would you recommend as a primer reading list for other rebelutionaries?

 ALEX: That’s a great question. Our recommended reading list is not a collection of “teen books” — we’re generally not big fans of that genre — it’s a collection of books that teens should read:

 Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey

Bringing a biblical truth to bear on all of life, this book is a must-read for any and all rebelutionaries seeking a truly Christian worldview.


Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney

C.J. Mahaney is a hero of ours and a shining example of godly leadership. This book is written in the same spirit of humility it inspires in its readers.


The Enemy Within by Kris Lungaard

Every time we read this book we gain new insights. It brings the works of John Owen to contemporary readers in a way that is easy to understand and apply.


Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

A book of particular significance to young adults and rebelutionaries. The title really does say it all. Don’t waste your life. Highly recommended — anything by John Piper.


I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harris

           So much more than “not dating” — this book is about living your single years for the glory of God. We may be
           biased, but this is one of the best books for teens out there.


Anything by Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer was an incredible man. His influence on our approach to evangelism, apologetics, and worldview has been immense.


CBD: When you created The Rebelution, did you realize you were tapping a nerve? Or did its explosion surprise you?


BRETT: We were blown away. For the whole first year it was just a generic Google-hosted blog. We were sixteen when it started, had been reading a lot of those books Alex mentioned, and just wanted a place where we could put some of our thoughts into words. But God had bigger plans. We quickly realized that God was doing something huge in and through our generation.


CBD: Your blog,, and book, Do Hard Things, encourage teens to create a “rebellion against low expectations.” What are some things we should personally examine when we are considering how to rise above expectations from oneself, others, or society?


ALEX: Here are a few ideas: Number one, you have to ask the question, “Whose standards am I living for?” To be a rebelutionary is to reject the standards the world has for young people and to instead pursue God’s standards. You can find them in 1 Timothy 4:12, the theme verse of the Rebelution, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Number two, you have to ask yourself, “In what areas have I settled for just getting by when I know I could do better if I really tried?” The goal of a rebelutionary is not to be “above average,” but to continually grow and move forward in the pursuit of holiness and excellence. Number three, you have to ask yourself, “Am I rebelling out of pride and self-righteousness or out of humility and love?” To be a rebelutionary is not about being exceptional. Exceptions only prove the rule, they don’t change society. The goal is to hold the truth with humility and to lovingly share that truth with others so that they can join us in redefining what the teen years — and all of life — are really all about.


CBD: You define a teenager as “a young person with most of the desires and abilities of an adult but few of the expectations or responsibilities.” What are some things families can do together to counteract this mindset and help each member to realize his or her full potential?


BRETT: The key is to nurture a home environment that encourages every member of the family to do hard things that stretch them, take them outside their comfort zones, and make them grow. The home should be a place where expectations are high, not low — but at the same time, it should be a place where young people know it’s okay to fail at hard things. Doing hard things is not about success or grades or scholarships, it’s about being faithful and persevering in the pursuit of excellence. We encourage people to do hard things together, as a family. All the things we’ve done, the conferences particularly, have been whole family affairs. Our vision for the Rebelution is that it would encourage a partnership between generations, what we like to call a partnership between “wisdom” and “strength.” The Bible talks about the glory of youth being their strength, and the glory of older adults is their grey hair – or their wisdom. Young people often have a lot of energy, but don’t know what to use it on. Older people can have a lot of ideas and insight, but they don’t always have the time or energy to make it happen.


CBD: Selfishness often manifests itself in different ways, including masquerading as pride or fear. Do you see any correlation between our generation’s lack of a strong work ethic and the “me-centered” worldview many youth hold today?


ALEX: There certainly is a correlation there. Many young adults today have the mentality that they deserve certain things — a good education, a nice job, a fast car, and all the latest techno gadgets — but they don’t understand that those things, as well as many more important ones, require hard work and personal responsibility. What excites us about our generation — the current crop of teens and the one that’s following us —  is that many of them are grasping on to that truth. Not only that, but they’re seeing the world in all its broken beauty and realizing that this life is not about them. Instead they’re taking advantage of modern technology to reach out and touch the lives of people around the world in ways that have never been possible before. They’re doing hard things for the good of others and the glory of God. That’s exciting.


CBD: Homeschoolers are often praised for their achievements. Yet as you point out, getting a “gold star” can easily lead to complacency. What is an area in which homeschoolers can set the bar higher and say “we can do even better?”


BRETT: You’re exactly right. Homeschoolers are often “above average” in nearly every category, statistically speaking. The problem is that so many of them fall into the trap of complacency. Being above average is not enough. In fact, it’s dangerous if it turns into pride. That’s where what Alex talked about comes in: being a rebelutionary means continually growing and moving forward in the pursuit of excellence. That is what is so great about “do hard things” — it applies to you wherever, and whoever, you are, because there’s always something harder to do, something that will take you outside of your comfort zone and cause you to grow.


CBD: How do you tackle doing hard things? Do you check off your resolutions throughout the year? Work on things as God lays them on your heart? How do your prioritize personal goals?


ALEX: We wish we could say we had a detailed ten-year plan we consult for all of our decisions — it would make us sound much more organized and intelligent than we actually are. In all honesty, everything that has happened over the past few years has been God faithfully leading, sometimes pulling, us through the doors He wants us to go through. Our goal is simply to be faithful to do what God places before us — even, and especially, when it’s hard. And I should add that we’ve been blessed with wise and godly parents, along with several other mentors whom God has placed in our lives. That has been a tremendous blessing.


CBD: What curriculum did you use when you were home schooled? Was there one book or workbook that was your favorite?


BRETT: We really used a very eclectic assortment of curriculums. Because our father owned a small publishing company for a while, we were sent all of the curriculums to try out, and we probably tried most of them throughout the years. The real mainstay in our homeschooling, however, was reading great books and real life experience. Our parents believe that reading high-quality books is the best way to learn how to write well — they’re right — and they also believe that you haven’t learned anything until you can explain it to someone else and use it in the real world. That was part of the core philosophy that guided our education.


CBD: You wrote an article “‘Do Hard Things’ Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have Fun.”  What are some of your preferred “fun things” to do right now?


ALEX: We really love to read, but besides that, our favorite activities are soccer and basketball, which we play whenever we can get a chance. The key for us is to make sure that fun is a break from doing hard things, not the other way around. And doing hard things can be fun, too.


CBD: You’ve had to break out of your comfort zone in order to carry out your ministry. What’s been the greatest blessing you’ve experienced in doing so?


BRETT: Just seeing other young people take these ideas and start living them has been the greatest blessing for us. We can’t take any of the credit for what God has done through our ministry or for what He is doing in our generation. We’re just trying to be faithful in living out the message in our own lives. It’s already been an incredible adventure, and we’re just thrilled to be along for the ride.




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Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
Alex & Brett Harris


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