Monday, June 11, 2007

Do Hard Things!

"Do Hard Things". What does that really mean? What exactly are "hard things"? Answers can be found in The Rebelution's theme verse, 1 Timothy 4:12:

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

We begin to find hard things in the very first part of the verse - "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young..." How often do we fall into this trap? I struggle with it quite a bit. "Let someone else, older and mature do that... I'm too young - not experienced or capable enough." If you're like me, these thoughts go through your head quite often. It's all too easy to use the excuse of, "Well, I'm only a teenager. You can't expect too much from me!" However, what does God have to say about that? Replying to Jeremiah's excuse, God said, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you." (Jeremiah 1:7b)

The world today makes it easy for us as young people to get away with doing very little. For, after all, you can't expect much from teenagers - right? No, as the battle cry of the Rebelution says, we should "rebel against the low expectations of the ungodly culture."

This leads us to the next hard thing: "... but set an example for the believers..." Again, as teens, we're not expected to be very good examples. However, God calls us to set a good example - not merely follow along after what's popular; not merely get by with doing just a little above normal. No, we're to set the example - and for the believers no less! This is a very hard thing for me; it's a hard thing to go against the crowd. Partly because of my personality and partly because of my own laziness, I'd rather simply follow others and not be the one to set the standard. However, we're not striving to do the easy thing, are we?

What kind of examples are we to set? The first is " speech..." How can we use our speech to do hard things? We can learn to talk and converse coherently and intelligently. Reflect - do you speak with good grammar and pronunciation? That's a good place to start! Or, as I struggle with, do you mumble, or enunciate clearly? Can you converse with anyone, from a toddler to an adult? We're not called to be an example to our own little group of peers; we're to be an example to all believers (and non-believers), young and old. This is yet another thing I find hard and am trying to learn. Being able to carry on an interesting conversation is a great skill, but can be very hard for those of us who tend to be more introverted. No, it isn't easy, but - yes, you guessed it - it's another one of those hard things. Adults and others really take note when they see a well-composed young person able to engage in good conversation.

" life..." What does the way way you live your life say to those around you? Are they inspired and encouraged by your example, or do they just write you off as another "average teen"? The way you conduct yourself truly does say a lot about you to others. Are you disciplined and diligent, or do you waste hours doing meaningless things? Do you apply yourself to doing tasks quickly and well? Are you respectful and humble? Of such young people the world will take note.

We're also called to relate to others " love...". How are the relationships you have with those closest to you? The way you treat your family usually reveals your true character. Are you kind and loving toward your parents and siblings? Yes, I know that when you live with someone, they can begin to irritate you somewhat. I know that the little things can get annoying. But remember, choosing to respond in love rather than in anger can be a very hard thing. Examine your friendships: are they cultivated in a loving manner? Do you build your friends up or tear them down? Whether interacting with a stranger or your closest friend, choose to do so with love.

We're also called to set examples " faith..." How is your walk with the Lord? Are you growing? Is your relationship with God evident in your life? Our youth is the best time in which to be focusing on growing and maturing in our faith. Diligently doing the daily disciplines of Bible study and prayer is the best way to start. Choose to be a good influence on others, and spur them on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24) Throughout God's Word we find many example of hard things and the people who have done them. Only with God's help will we find the strength to do hard things.

Finally, we're to be examples " purity...". Today more than ever, the world needs young people sold out out to living a pure life without compromise. The older believers are looking to us to take back the culture. It isn't easy. Someone living a life of purity will stick out like a bright light. You may be ridiculed or put down. Some may derisively comment about your "prude" ways. In the end, however, you will be respected for your unashamed stand.

We're called to a lot, aren't we? It's easy to become discouraged when we think of all there is to do. The encouraging thing is that we don't have to do hard things alone. In fact, in our own strength we can accomplish nothing worthwhile. Only through God's strength can we ever begin to truly do hard things.

Hard things are a choice. They won't come naturally. They come by daily dying to self and choosing to let God work through you. They may be large or small. While we're young, many of the the hard things will be found by simply being faithful in the small things. Through each choice, each small act of faithfulness, and each commitment to follow god no matter what, your character will be tested and proved.

Join with me and hundreds of other young people, and Do Hard Things!

Related posts:
Who Am I? - 1 Timothy 4:12 in poetry
Be Rebelutionary! - How I made the choice


Elijah Lofgren said...

Thanks for this great exhortation!

Anna S said...

When I read this blog, I often think, "Wow, I wish I had this kind of influence as a teenager! That would have prevented so many mistakes!"

Of course, now that everything is done and repaired, it's still lovely to read. :)

I think that in our culture, the period of 'being young and having fun' is awfully extended. I mean, I have friends who are my age (21), and who are horribly afraid of commitment and actually DOING things.

Luke said...

Thank you for sharing Anna! I needed to be reminded of these things this week. I'm not saying I'm young... (not saying I'm old either! :) ) but even an "older" person has difficulty being bold in the LORD through speech, actions, faith and just living a life pleasing to God.
Love you! You are wise beyond your years.

Coffee Wife said...

Are you aloud to Do Hard Things when you're an ol' married woman?? **Wink**


Coffee Wife said...

anna s - It doesn't seem to get any better with time. I came home from the Navy and found all of my 21 year old friends hanging out with teenagers because they were still drinking and partying. I spent 6 years in one place and watched the same party people enter their 30's and 40's and STILL party and "play"!! It was quite frustrating because how on earth do you find a husband (or wife) when no one will grow up?? I've married a man 14 years older then me and while most people freak out about that I have to admit it's sooooo refreshing to have a mature hard-working man at my side!!

Alex Jordan Harris said...

Excellent post, Anna. And thank you. Your work is a great encouragement to Brett and me. God bless you!