Why is it so Hard to Do Hard Things?

October 1, 2010 — Leave a comment

 

These three things were my September

 

I have to apologize. It has been just about a month since I have written in my blog. And no, I wasn’t on vacation. I wasn’t working 90 hours a week or something ridiculous like that. I have no legitimate excuse. However, I try to offer one anyway.

Halo: Reach.

At midnight on Tuesday morning, September 14th, I was outside of a Gamestop along with thousands others across the globe, excited to purchase the newest Halo game for Xbox 360. I realized a few things while waiting in line for that game.

  1. Out of the 100 + people I saw waiting in line, 4 were female.
  2. Out of the 100 + waiting in line, 2 looked to be over 30 and they were parents with their kids.

These two facts did not deter me from purchasing the game and “seeing what the first level was like” until about 2:30am… on a weeknight. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who did this. Earlier that day I had posted something on my Facebook account about the game and I was overwhelmed by the response I received. Multiple friends from all over the country told me that they were doing the same thing. I hadn’t communicated with many of these friends in years. Friendships were rekindled because of this game… which leads me to believe

Halo builds bridges.

I’ve noticed this effect countless times over the last 9 years that Halo games have been around. Time and time again friendships, (and I mean real, face to face ones) are established and cultivated because of this game. But I digress. I could write a whole post on Halo and maybe I should some time.

Halo: Reach accounts for my lack of posting in the second half of September, but what about the first half? Brandon Sanderson wrote an amazing fantasy trilogy over the past few years called the Mistborn Trilogy. I am currently at the beginning of the third book. When not playing Halo, I have spent the remainder of my free time reading these books. They have been some of the best books I’ve read, definitely the best of 2010.

But this is not a blog post intended to excuse why I haven’t written any posts recently. Stick with me here.

Peppered throughout this gaming and reading, I’ve also been reading a book called Do Hard Things. If any of you remember a book from about 13 years ago called I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris, then these authors will sound familiar to you. Josh and Brett Harris are the two 19-year-old younger brothers of Josh. Whatever you though of Josh’s book, I encourage to dismiss your prejudices about his twin brothers.

Their premise is rather simple, but convicting. In a nutshell, Do Hard Things is about doing hard things. Extremely creative, I know. They contend that our culture has a certain expectation about young people. Teenagers and young adults are expected to waste time, be disrespectful and lazy, lack a sense of purpose or direction in life, and to be apathetic about everything other than iPod’s, Facebook, friends, or Xbox.

I’ve noticed this sort of trend in youth ministry. I often hear comments like, “Well, at least bad language is the only problem they are dealing with. So many other young people are struggling with drugs and promiscuity or other more serious issues.”

What?!? That sounds like a recipe for mediocrity. Being a responsible person means a lot more than simply not doing very dangerous, foolish, and risky things.

It is as if we don’t believe young people are capable of being responsible, so we settle for teenagers who aren’t irresponsible, expecting that’s the best we’ll get. And this belief carries over into young adulthood. I cannot say how many times I’ve heard people make this sort of comment about college students: “Oh, well he’s in college. Everybody parties and experiments a bit in college. He’ll settle down once he graduates and finds a job.” Somehow we’ve grown to believe that college is more about learning how to drink beer responsibly than learning what God wants for us to do in life and how to do it.

In response to these low expectations we have for young people, Alex and Brett Harris challenge young people to do hard things. They explain five different types of hard things.

  1. Things outside your comfort zone
  2. Things that go beyond what is expected or required
  3. Things too big to accomplish alone
  4. Things that don’t earn immediate payoff
  5. Things that challenge the cultural norm

I totally agreed with what Alex and Brett espoused in this book. It was a great read and I thought it was very appropriate for many of the young people I work with. “This book is what so many young people need to grasp!” I found myself thinking. Throughout most of the book I considered how this book might influence others.

Then in the last chapter they discussed the importance of creating an action plan, a way to apply the principles to real life. There were 3 specific examples from young people. In the first action plan, a young man listed 5 steps he wanted to take. His first step jumped straight at me.

“Sell my Xbox and quit my Halo addiction.”

All the sudden this book crossed the divide between interesting ideas and life-changing conviction. How was God using this book to call me to do hard things?

So I wrote an action plan myself. One of the steps in the plan was to present it here on my blog to have some public accountability. With that said, I encourage you to periodically ask me how I’m doing with these hard things. Some items on this list are easier for me than others, but I decided to include all things I’d like to do, even if I’m already haphazardly doing some of them. So here’s my Hard Things List in no particular order:

  1. Work on some household project with Sara at least 2 times a month
  2. Memorize a Bible verse a week
  3. Exercise at least 3 times a week
  4. Don’t sleep in past 11am on days off
  5. Pray for at least 3 students a night
  6. Don’t play any single-player video games each week until I’ve written a blog post
  7. Read at least 2 chapters of the Bible a night
  8. Read at least 1 chapter of a nonfiction book 5 times a week

I don’t know where this list will take me, but we’ll have to see. Some of you might think that some things on this list sound incredibly easy, but they are hard for me so I’m working at them.

And there you have it. What are some hard things for you? Look at that list of five types of hard and ask yourself what hard things God might be calling you to do. Let me know if you decide to rise to the challenge and tell me how your experience is. Let’s endeavor together to do hard things.

Austin

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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.