Hanging out, goofing off, and avoiding responsibility may be what teens do best – at least, that's the kind of behavior that is usually expected of young people.
And it's those very low expectations that have left many teens today idle, immature and unprepared for what God has planned for them, says two young brothers.
"Our culture tells us it doesn't matter how you spend the teen years; this is a time to have fun," Brett Harris, 20, said in a recent interview with Focus on the Family. "We've been culturally conditioned to give up when things feel hard and to miss out on the glorious purpose that God has for the teen years because we've been trained to believe what is false."
Harris and his twin brother, Alex, just ended a five-city summer conference tour this past weekend with more than 3,000 teens and parents in Washington. Their main message to teens: do hard things.
Teens are faced with low expectations in school, society at large and even in church where they are not fed the difficult truths of God and left to be spiritual infants, the brothers lament.
The modern notion of adolescence is a vacation from responsibility and a period of rebellion or relaxation, the brothers say. It may be a sign of affluence and progression compared to a century ago when young people were primary contributors in society, but the Harris's view it as teens wasting away their foundational years.
"All of us ... are extremely susceptible to low expectations. And when we've satisfied our culture's meager requirements, we stop pushing ourselves," Brett said at a Do Hard Things conference.
So they started a rebelution – that is, a teenage rebellion against low expectations. Their message, promoted in their Do Hard Things book and on their blog (www.therebelution.com), has resonated with tens of thousands of teens, excited to start their lives now rather than later.
The rebelution for the Harris's began at age 16 when their father handed them a copy of The World Is Flat. They realized the mentality of young people in America was in stark contrast with that of teens in other countries such as China and India who tend to get an early start in life. And someone needed to tell their generation that how they live their adolescence does make a difference.
"We believe that our generation is ready to rethink what teens are capable of doing and becoming," the brothers state. "And we've noticed that once wrong ideas are debunked and cleared away, our generation is quick to choose a better way, even if it's also more difficult."
Brett and Alex are currently sophomores at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va. They've already authored a book, gained wide media attention and inspired young people across the country.
They stress that they do what they do because they're driven by the Gospel.
"We just encourage young people to understand that the reason we do hard things is because Jesus Christ did the ultimate hard thing, the hard thing we couldn't do for ourselves – ... he lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, was raised again from the dead," Brett explained. "He has saved us. We do hard things not in order to be saved but because we are saved.
"He saves us from our sins but then He also saves us from wasting our lives doing things that aren't really important."