“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
-1 Timothy 4:12
For the past few weeks, I have been reading a good book called Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. If you are a teenager like me, you have probably noticed how in today’s culture, teenagers have very low expectations. This book tells us how we can raise these expectations. Just think for a moment how much the expectations of teens have dropped over the years. Many years ago, young children were required to do a lot more than we are expected to do today. In fact, many years ago, there wasn’t a stage in between childhood and adulthood. But as the years have gone by, the expectations have fallen, and most teenagers today think that they don’t have to go above those low expectations. This is where we can change the way people look at teenagers. We can do hard things. We can go above and beyond what anyone expects of us. In Alex and Brett’s book, they show us five different ways we can do this:
- Do things that go outside your comfort zone. Now I know that this can be very hard at times for some people. If there is anyone who is reading this and feels that way, I can definitely relate. But when we step outside our comfort zone, we learn to rely on God for strength. We can serve God more fully and use all our talents unreservedly for Him. Remember, true courage is taking that step of faith even when we are afraid.
- Do things that go beyond what is expected or required of you. Most teenagers today are not required to do anything on their own, which means they usually don’t. But our time refusing to reach higher, try harder, and risk more robs us of the glorious purpose and wonderful future God has created for us. We need to pursue excellence, not excuses. When you see something that needs to be done around the house, don’t wait for someone to tell you to do it, do it on your own.
- Don’t let things that are too big to accomplish alone stop you. Sometimes things are just too big for us to do alone, but don’t let that stop you! You can do some of the most effective things with a group of other Christians, such as speaking out against abortion or raising money for orphans. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
- Do things that don’t earn an immediate payoff. This is hard to do because you don’t see much progress from one day to the next. But it is important to do things not to be recognized or praised by others, but because they are right. I once heard someone say, “Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to do the dishes.” Everyone wants to do the big things that they think will make more of a difference. But really, the small things can make just as much of a difference because it shows that we have perseverance and diligence.
- Do things that challenge the cultural norm. This can be one of the most difficult things for teens to do because it goes against our natural desire to fit in, to be liked, and to make lots of friends. But we have to care more about pleasing God than we do about pleasing man. We are not called to fit in, but to be faithful. Instead of trying to blend in with everyone else, we need stand up for what we believe.
If we practice all five of these steps, we can show others that we will not stop at the expectations they set for us. We can show them that we are servants of God, not of man. We can show them that God is raising up a generation of teenagers whose main goal in life is to glorify God and serve Him.