Last night I finished reading Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris at around 2:00 am since Elijah decided not to sleep last night. I must admit that the book wasn’t entirely what I expected, but it was still good. I suppose I expected it to be, well, a harder read. But I guess a book about low expectations can’t be too challenging in its structure and vocabulary, or else the target audience of under-achieving, entertainment-driven, lowest-common denominator teenagers probably won’t pick it up, and should they pick it up, that kind of audience probably won’t finish reading it.

What I loved about the book is that it was challenging, insightful and practical. It is populated with examples of everyday teenagers taking on significant tasks. But even more significant about the book is the challenge that it issues to tackle the most mundane, ordinary, small tasks of life, for these are the tasks that will ultimately determine the ability of any individual to embrace the larger-than-life challenges with confidence and competency. And the reality is that the ordinary tasks are what most of us – children and adults alike – struggle to complete with excellency .

Personally I would like to have seen more balance in the book from a biblical perspective. While I would affirm that most of what the Harris brothers said was biblical, I would like to have seen more biblical examples of individuals “doing hard things” as well as more principles undergirded by referenced biblical truth. Primarily I had hoped to see the pages saturated with Scripture. The main reason for concern here is that every generation needs to see that the kind of practical counsel and challenging affirmations issued in the call to do hard things is rooted in biblical authority, not simply in the personal experiences of ordinary teenagers who have embraced an extra-ordinary call. Anything less than this biblical authority and we’ve simply offered people a motivational speech. This isn’t to say there aren’t many biblical references in this book; there are. I just would have liked to have seen a few more.

The five kinds of “doing hard things” were exceptionally helpful – not just for teens – but for all individuals who desire not to waste their life. Taking these seriously really could change the way one lives life for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom. They are:

  1. Things that take you outside your comfort zone – taking risks to grow.
  2. Things that go beyond what’s expected or required – pursuing excellence.
  3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone – dreaming and daring big.
  4. Things that don’t earn an immediate payoff – being faithful and choosing integrity
  5. Things that go against the cultural norm – taking a stand for what is right.

I would definately recommend that middle, high school and even college students read this book. Furthemore, I think parents should as well. Truth be told, parents are as guilty of enabling indifference, low expectations and apathy among children as our culture is. Far too many parents expect too little of their children and fail to push them to excel beyond our culture’s normal expectations for the next generation.