Interview with Alex and Brett Harris

Communications Staff — March 30, 2009

Editor’s note: Alex and Brett Harris recently served as keynote speakers for the Give Me An Answer Middle School/High School conference at Southern Seminary. The Harris brothers are authors of “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations.” SBTS freelance writer Courtney Tarter interviewed them during the conference.

Q: What is the Rebelution?

It is a teenage rebellion against low expectations. It says that the teen years are not a vacation from responsibility before real life starts. These years are a launching pad and training ground for the rest of our lives. It is preparing for a life of service to God. It is also a blog where we write about this concept for teenagers (

Q: What role do parents play in this cause?

Alex: The dedication of our book is to our parents, Greg and Sono Harris, and it says “this book is the message of your lives.” Now, they didn’t say, “do hard things” and they certainly didn’t call it a “rebelution,” but they modeled for us to do what was right for our family and encouraged us to do what was right—sometimes against our will—in order to do what pleased God. That was the biggest thing for us—that they modeled it for us, and we grew up seeing mature biblical manhood and womanhood in our parents living this way. The other thing is they encouraged us to step outside our comfort zones. In all those areas they pushed us beyond what we would naturally do, to the point where we had to rely on strength greater than ourselves—ultimately pointing us to the Cross. That was really the foundation of our understanding of doing hard things for God. It’s an important role that parents can play in the lives of their children.

Q: How does this apply specifically to young men and young women?

Brett: Alex and I firmly believe that there are specific things that God has called young men to do that he hasn’t called young women to do. And we also believe that there are specific things that God has called young men to do that he hasn’t called young women to do. So we challenge the young people at our conferences to go to their pastors or their parents—godly men and women in their lives—and ask them what specific things has God called me to as a young man and what specific things has called me to as a young lady. In our culture even recognizing the differences between men and women is a hard thing. It’s a challenge because it means standing up for something you see as important and going against the flow.

Q: What do pastors need to be aware of when working with this generation?

Brett: Pastors need to be aware that young people can grasp big things about God. I would say that as you approach young people in your church you need to first recognize that there are low expectations. They are not used to being expected to do these things. And then the next step is to acknowledge the low expectations and know that they are not going to get that kind of challenge in other places, but say “I believe God has made you to be able to enter into who He is,” and then proceed to really challenge them and give them meat—not just pizza.

Q: How can pastors implement this vision of doing hard things among the young people in their congregations?

Alex: I think a big part of it has to come down to first living the message themselves. A lot of pastors have communicated to us that they see their role of doing hard things is not just taking the easy route, especially as they minister to the young people in their church. To really take the time to challenge and encourage them to step outside their comfort zones and also be willing to do that themselves, and not take the easy route.

Brett: For pastors I think it really starts with teaching sound doctrine and really digging into God’s Word yourself and feeding the congregation, because it is really the truth of who God is, who we are, and the truth of the Gospel that motivates us, and gives us a reason to go out and do hard things. We do hard things because Christ did the ultimate hard thing that we couldn’t do for ourselves. As pastors, really just be faithful in teaching, and do not feel like you have to water that down or entertain young people.

Q: What is the most encouraging thing you have seen?

Alex: I think the most encouraging thing we have seen is that God is truly working in our generation. You can look at the statistics among young people today and it can be pretty discouraging—the picture can look pretty bleak, but we are reminded of Psalm 127 that says, “Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches the city the watchman stays awake in vain.” And what that verse is saying is that unless God is at work, no matter what amount of effort you put into it, it isn’t going to succeed—but if God is at work, you can move forward with complete confidence that he will see it done. And we have just seen God’s hand working so clearly in our generation and for that reason we have so much hope as we challenge our peers that they will respond, and it will resonate and happen, not because of anything that we can do, but because God is working in the hearts and lives of a generation—and that is an exciting thing.

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