Thursday, November 15, 2012

Setting the Example by Doing Hard Things

 “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,”
1 Timothy 4:12

     Most people don't expect you to understand what we're going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don't expect you to care. And even if you care, they don't expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don't expect it to last. Well, we do.1 That’s what writers Alex and Brett say about the new movement reaching the world. They call it the Rebelution. God calls it “setting the example.” Both call youths to do hard things for the glory of God.
     Modern thought has wrought a great disease upon society. It’s called “low expectations.” It wants teens to think that they don’t have a duty or job – or a future to prepare for. They can just coast by without making any effort for excellence. Their choices today won’t have a detrimental (or beneficial) influence on the circumstance of tomorrow. They can party, play, and squander their life while just doing the bare minimum to survive – not thrive.
     The Harris brothers, in their book Do Hard Things 2, relate this to the taming of an elephant 3. While it is just and infant, the elephant is chained to a tree by his right hind leg. Desperately trying to escape, the elephant yanks and pulls against the chain, wanting to be free. All that is accomplished is a painful gash in his leg. While he is young and weak, the shackles are strongest; when he – by his instincts – feels ready to break free, then is he held tight. As he grows older, he knows that a string around his hind right leg, whether it be iron or twine, will always keep him from reaching freedom. When an adult, the chain is replaced by that piece of twine, and the tree is replaced by a wooden peg in the ground. He never knows the change, so he never attempts to escape. The same is true for us: we’re held captive by a myth.
     But that’s all it is – a myth. Enter, the Myth of Adolescence. In fact, the term “teenager” didn’t come on stage until a 1941 issue of the Reader’s Digest. The myth is that youths can’t do anything for God and shouldn’t have to exceed their comfort zone or contribute to their family’s workload, much less society. They are subject to the fads, belligerence, and crimes of the world. They are perceived to be adults, but expected to act and think like children. Today’s youths are imposed upon that they can be nothing but unproductive trendsetters, or “kidults.”
     Where is hope? Where is there light to challenge young men and women to pursue excellence? The answers are found in the Bible. God says in 1 Timothy 4 to not “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,”4 and to “watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”5 As for the Myth that shackles us to unproductive mediocrity, he says in 1 Corinthians, “When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me…Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”6
     In fact, time and time again, these tried and true scriptures have exploded into lives of true success. My favorite examples are those of George Washington, David Farragut, and Clara Barton. Each of these American heroes are known for their brave and honorable deeds as adults yet wouldn't have epitomized the ideals they represent today if they hadn't had a youth to prepare for their adulthood. The first president of the United States wouldn't have been just that if he hadn't been faithful as a surveyor. The young American sea captain would not have been able to manage an unruly commander if he hadn't worked hard as a midshipman. The founder of the American Red Cross wouldn't have been able to save millions of lives if she hadn't overcome her nausea at the sight of blood.
     Grasp the gravity of these illustrations: you will only grow up to be the person that you work to become. These young men and woman weren't great examples as kids because they were going to be great leaders as adults; it’s the other way around. So many don’t understand that their teen years are such a gift: a time to prepare for the future – they settle in for the fun only to be in for a shock when their adulthood is here. So many adults don’t have the strength to manage stress when their jobs and occupations generate it because they didn't stretch the emotional muscles in their youth. Take the extra steps throughout your day now, because a few years from now, they’ll be worth it. Paul tells Timothy to avoid the laziness and perversion of the world and to “flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”7

            Justin Gummi

1 Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris
2 Multnomah Press, ©2008
3 Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris
4 1 Tim. 4:12, 16; NIV 1984
5 1 Tim. 4:16; Ibid.
6 1 Cor. 13:11; 14:20; Ibid.
7 1 Tim. 6:11-12; Ibid.

Image by Leaping Lizard


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