Rebels for Christ: Harris Twins Challenge Teens to Do Hard Things
- Thursday, July 24, 2008
Twin brothers Brett and Alex Harris weren't on a mission to inspire their generation. They were bored 16-year-olds facing a long summer when their father, Gregg Harris, dropped a stack of classics onto the kitchen table and challenged them to better themselves. From that summer reading list sprung a blog, and from that blog exploded an international teen “rebelution” – the term they coined to describe a “rebellion against low expectations.”
While the brothers' blog encourages teens to “rebel” against cultural apathy by embracing personal responsibility, their message to "do hard things" exceeded even their expectations – taking them as far as Japan and as high as the Alabama Supreme Court where they interned at the wise age of 16. Now 19, their journey takes another exciting turn with the publication of their first book, Do Hard Things (Multnomah, 2008).
As a late 20-something, even I found myself drawn into their book, so I was looking forward to meeting these two at the International Christian Retail Show in July to discuss it with them. Not to mention, I wanted to exchange some fun twin stories since I am also half of a twin pair. Unfortunately, Alex missed our early morning appointment due to a minor injury he sustained rough-housing with younger siblings (my first clue they are normal teens). Thankfully, Brett was kind enough (and healthy enough) to chat with me.
Crosswalk: Your book, Do Hard Things, is part of a long journey for you two. You say you never expected to write it. Can you give us some background?
Brett Harris: Well, we have a father who has written a book, we have an older brother [Joshua Harris] who has written multiple books including one that was just a runaway bestseller, so it was always kind of in the back of my mind that someday we might write a book. But we definitely did not plan on doing it when we were 18. We felt like we wanted to just get more life experience, which is a good thing, a good desire, but it wasn't God's plan.
So, it happened back in Spring 2007. [We were] just writing on our website. We were doing our conferences … and suddenly everyone became aware of that. We were contacted by six different major Christian publishers in a period of about a month and a half. We were really in an unprecedented situation as 18-year-old, first-time authors … and being able to pick and choose which publisher. So it was amazing. We really cannot take any credit for it.
CW: So the book sets out to "bust" the common cultural views of the teen years. Could you explain what you call the "Myth of Adolescence" and how teens get trapped in it?
BH: Well, the "Myth of Adolescence" is really our culture's view of the teen years as a vacation from responsibility, a time to goof off and have fun, and that is in opposition to what we believe is the biblical and historical view -- where the teen years are the launching pad of life.
We see 20-somethings and even 30-somethings who are still acting like teenagers, who are still living with their parents, jumping from job to job … having fun, but going nowhere. That has been a phenomenon documented by Time Magazine -- they have names for these: "kidults" or "adultescence." Our view, and I think it has also been recognized in the coverage, is that … the teen years and adolescence are not just a biological stage, it is a cultural mindset. It is something that if you keep thinking this way, you keep living this way. Responsibility is a muscle that you have to exercise. [If you fail to] you are going to be disappointed and ill equipped to handle the challenges that God brings your way.
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