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
started TheRebelution.com 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
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
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.
blog, TheRebelution.com, 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.
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.
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?
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.
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?”
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.