The most unique aspect about this book is that it is a book about teens written for and by teenagers. Many youth ministry books are written from the perspective of older adults about teenage issues, but often miss the mark when it comes to communicating the actual needs and opinions of teenagers (probably because we expect too little of them). The wisdom that these two teenagers bring to the table is rare, no doubt because they chose to "do hard things" when they could have veged out in front of a TV or computer screen.
The main issue in the book is that society places too low expectations on teenagers. The authors' solution is for teenagers to "do hard things," instead of doing nothing or just enough to get by. The teenage years should be a launching point into adulthood rather than a waiting period. What these two young men are saying is not necessarily new, but it is often unheeded and definitely needed. As with every bright idea, there needs to be something to distinguish this idea from others. The chic thing to do is to splice key words together to form a new word. The authors combined the words "rebellion" and "revolution" to form "rebelution" to brand their idea. This word, though a bit cheesy and clich, captures the main theme of "rebelling against rebellion," or, as the subtitle of the book states, "a teenage rebellion against low expectations." (pg. 11)
The style of the writing is very conversational and testimonial. After a brief history and explanation of the authors' rebelutionary idea, the bulk of the pages expound the "Five Kinds of Hard": Things that are outside your comfort zone, go beyond what is expected or required, are too big to accomplish alone, don't earn an immediate payoff, and challenge the cultural norm. Of course, with all books about action, the last few chapters challenge the reader to do something, or more specifically to "do hard things." The book also has appendices that give ideas for taking the first step, which can be helpful for the person that does not know which hard things to start doing.
Ironically, for a book challenging teens to "do hard things," reading this book does not live up to its title. Maybe that is on purpose, but keep in mind that it is a book written for and by teens, though parents and adults can benefit as well. I guess I expected that this book would have been a little more The book can be skimmed in sections. Part 1 contains the more "meaty" parts while Parts 2 and 3 are mainly the how-to guide of the "Five Kinds of Hard," testimonies of teenagers who have done the hard things and how God has changed their life in the process, and the motivational speech to get up and do something.
One major critique of this book is that it comes scarily close to promoting a secular humanistic agenda of "be all that you can be" or "you can do anything you put your mind to." For the Christian reading this book, it is most likely assumed that God's glory is the reason for such things, but the non-Christian wanting to impact the world can easily do hard things and come away with the three pillars of the Rebelution (character, competence, and collaboration) without glorifying God. Apart from all Truth being God's Truth, the Truth that needs to be explicit is Jesus as the Savior of our sins. The authors equate being salt as fighting against sin and being light as fighting for truth and justice. The idea Jesus was trying to communicate was that the point of the Christian's existence was to specifically point to Him, not to some Christian ideal (Matt. 5:13-16). Christians do need to create a counter-culture, but the gospel that Jesus came to save people from their sins should be explicitly communicated in that counter-culture and not merely indirectly acknowledged, as if we simply tip our hats to Jesus. What separates a Christian counter-culture from secular culture is Christ. If Jesus is not explicitly present in the "hard things" that we do, then all we have secular humanism with a little Jesus sprinkled on top instead of having Jesus as the tree and "doing hard things" as the branches.
It is not my intention to discourage people away from reading this book. Honestly, I probably would not have picked up this book if it had not been for endorsements from respected authors such as Randy Alcorn, John Piper, and R. Albert Mohler Jr. But after reading it, I highly recommend it. I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not obliged to write a positive review.
This book offers such a great challenge for young people. This is my go to gift for middle and high school students. I bought several copies to just hand out in youth group. Adults can benefit from this book as well. It has a good message for people of any age, reminds us to take the first hard step in what God wants us to do with our lives.
Title: Do Hard Things: A teenage rebellion against low expectations
Author: Alex and Brett Harris
Date I Finished Reading: February 21,2013
My Rating: 5/5
WARNING: If you do not want to be challenged or inspired to step out of your comfort zone and do something, then keep on walking, 'cause that is what this book is gonna do! Do Hard Things is the perfect book for our generation on rebelling against low expectations, and doing something hard, whether it is big or small.
I absolutely loved this book_ and needed it too! Alex and Brett discuss very practical, very true points. They speak on things that keep us from striving towards and achieving big things, whether that is lies within the culture and media, or our own pride or fear. They explain to us where our mindsets are wrong, and how WE, teenagers can truly accomplish something amazing, whether it is ourselves individually, or us as a team. One point that I really needed was the reminder and encouragement to keep on doing the small hard things, cheerfully. They say that small things, such as chores, homework, and repetitive, even mundane duties help to strengthen us and to prepare us for the bigger hard things to come.
Alex and Brett did an amazing job on this book. They use humor, personal examples, and also the examples of others to encourage teenagers to stand up and step out. The book was actually fun to read.
I would say that I DEFINITELY recommend this book. Every teenager out there needs to read this and be motivated and encouraged to Do Hard Things.
Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, my opinions are my own.
I won't lie; this book took a bit to get into. The nineteen year old twin boys who wrote this begin with an introduction to the general idea of "Doing Hard Things" and this is all well and good. However, they then go on to discuss all of their accomplishments, and this left me with the distinct impression that they were teens who had been born into a textbook family, encouraged in all they did, and given everything on a silver platter. That impression left me dubious of the authors' ability to inspire any teens who hadn't been born into nuclear situations and skeptical of their real world experience. As the book goes on; however, this impression fades, and I came to respect the authors for their experience and commitment, but this is the reason that I had a difficult time becoming immersed in the book.
Once readers get over the initial bad taste of the first few chapters, it becomes apparent that the authors of the book do know what they are talking about. There is an ample amount of scripture successfully integrated with the instructions, and they consistently use bible stories to emphasize their points. Do Hard Things to the Harris brothers means overcoming fears and hesitations so as to glorify God more, and they mainly express their ideas in true stories of other so called "rebolutionaries." The authors assert that society's expectations of adolescents set the bar far too low, and it should be the goal of all teens to rise above settling into unchallenging and uninspiring lifestyles. They share stories of massive political campaigns run by teenagers, of online initiatives that spiraled into ground breaking Christian social experiments, and of shy or unmotivated teens who broke free from their shells and blossomed into productive young adults. Overall, this method of story-telling works well in the goal of inspiring youth. The Harris brothers emphasize that the teens in the stories are just normal kids who decided that society's average is far too low. By doing this, the book invokes a sense of unity in a reader-the sense of "If they can do it, so can I."
One chapter in particular stood out to me as an all-star. The chapter entitled Small Hard Things discussed the daily tasks that seem repetitive, pointless, and boring. As per the title of the chapter, the Harris brothers label them as Small Hard Things and call teens to focus on them just as much, if not more, than they focus on Big Hard Things. For parents, this chapter might be a Godsend. It's all well and good to have kids running campaigns and witnessing to friends, but it's not worth much if they won't clean their rooms and help around the house. This chapter explains that the daily tasks build the discipline and character needed to do the big things that the rest of the book calls for, and is a perfectly written chapter.
Overall, I would recommend Do Hard Things for any adolescent eleven or older. The language of the book is simple and it is perhaps aimed more for younger teens, but older teens can get just as much from the stories and advice given within. 4 out of 5 stars.