Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are

I found the book Do Hard Things by brothers Alex & Brett Harris while browsing through our local Christian bookstore, and I immediately thought of my oldest son. Just entering adolescence, he was starting to experience the pressures of being like “everyone else” and I feared him falling in with kids who were content with fulfilling society’s generally low expectations of how typical teenagers act. I bought him the book, and we read through it together. Although he was only in 5th grade when we read the book, it led to  some good discussions and exposed him to boys who were not afraid to go against the crowd and not just take the “easy route” through adolescence.

Building on Do Hard Things and their highly popular blog, the twins have just released their companion book Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are. It is meant to help young people move from inspiration to action through concrete steps as well as stories and testimonials from real-life teens who have “done hard things” and seen their own lives blessed as they have blessed others.

It intrigued me that, even though the book was written for a much (much) younger audience than myself, I found myself nodding, underlining, and rereading passages as I discovered both advice and insight that directly relates to my own life, right here and right now. For example, the first part of the book concentrates on figuring out where you should start in doing “hard things.” This chapter, I feel, was packed full of wisdom. One pearl that I think is often overlooked is that doing something “big” for God doesn’t have to be “big” according to society’s standards. They say:

Doing hard things doesn’t mean being preoccupied with something bigger, different, and more exciting all the time. It means being ready and willing to obey, not matter how big, small, or hard it might be.” They go on to say, “If we say we want to do hard things for God, but we’re not pursuing excellence where He has placed us (at home, at school, and at work), it’s likely that we’re really more interested in getting glory for ourselves than in getting glory for Him.

Wow, how true is that?

The other chapter that really made an impact on me was Chapter 4: Side Effects May Occur. Here they offer frank and practical advice on how to handle the changes that come when you choose to do hard things. As a writer (although not nearly as accomplished as these boys), I often struggle with how to handle affirmations I do receive. I want to think I’m a humble person, but when someone says they love something I’ve written, I have to admit that it makes me feel really, really good. So what do you do with that? Alex and Brett have a great answer, with some help from the words of a brave, amazing woman.

Like every gift from God, affirmation is something we can recognize and enjoy as long as we remember its source. Holocaust survivor and author Corrie ten Boom is quoted as saying, “When people come up and give me a compliment—’Corrie, that was a good talk,’ or ‘Corrie, you were so brave,’ I take each remark as if it were a flower. At the end of each day I lift up the bouquet of flowers I have gathered throughout the day and say, ‘Here you are, Lord, it is all yours.’ “

Among the other topics this solid little book tackles are:

  • How to create a plan for your idea or project
  • How to raise money
  • How to manage your time
  • How to keep doing hard things from actually distracting you from God
  • How to keep going when the going gets tough
  • How to move against the crowd—and why
  • How to keep from falling back into your old ways

The book concludes with a list of 100 “hard things” teens have done that were submitted to, which is an incredible resource to get kids thinking about what options they have for doing something good for others (and for God). There are also discussion questions that could be used with a small group or book club.

Although a relatively small book, all 137 pages of Start Here were written with purpose and intention, delivering an abundance of inspiration and practical guidance on how to shatter the “Myth of Adolescence” by moving from complacency to action for God. I highly recommend this not only to teens or those who work with young people, but to “post-adolescents” (like me) as well. The wisdom these brothers share in this book is ageless as well as timeless.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
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