Sunday, November 10, 2013

Book Review: Do Hard Things and our challenge to our oldest daughter

I am not in the targeted audience for the book Do Hard Things by Alex Harris and Brett Harris. I am not a teenager ready to join the rebelution. But I do need to be challenged to move outside of my comfort zone and do the hard things that will honor the Lord. And I do have children who I hope will push themselves to do far more than the measly expectations our society would punish them with. This book is a challenge to teens to live up to their potential and not settle for the insignificance everyone else thinks they are capable of. It is an account of other teens who stood up for themselves and their generation, paving the way so others can do the same. Yet it is also good for adults to read this book, to challenge us who also grew up bound by the myth of the teenager and to prepare and support our children so they can choose the difficult and rewarding path of doing the Lord's will when they become teens.
Our children are still a long ways off from their teenage years, but my husband and I believe strongly in preparing them now for the future. Our strongest desire for them is that they know and love the Lord. One piece of that is to read Scripture. We include study of the Bible in their daily life patterns, memorize verses as a family, and place them in activities where we know they will be further exposed to the truths of Scripture. Yet eventually we want them to take over responsibility for reading God's Word every day. With that long term goal in mind we put together a reading challenge for our firstborn daughter, who reads every chance she can get. This is only one step toward that goal and only one piece in our family life, yet a complete puzzle is composed of hundreds of small pieces fit together to form a whole picture.
We challenged our 6yr old daughter to read the whole Bible.
We broke it into steps: after she completes one Gospel we get to go out for ice cream; after she reads all four Gospels we go out for dinner; by the time she reads the whole Bible she'll have earned several progressively larger rewards. We don't expect her to finish before she's 9 or 10, at least (but she could finish before she's 8 if she really sets her will to it). She wasn't really motivated at first, when we set the reward of completing the Bible as a family trip to a waterpark and hotel or something similar. She didn't really understand what that meant, so she didn't put any effort into reading even one Gospel. But then we stayed in a hotel overnight, with a tiny indoor pool (unheated! my husband and I were disappointed). Suddenly that small taste of what an overnight or two at a waterpark might mean sent her scurrying to her Bible to read the book of Matthew.
As a child, our daughter needs those visible and immediate rewards. By giving them to her now for doing things that none of her peers are doing, we hope she will be in a better position as a teenager and as an adult to work harder without immediate rewards. It will be up to her to choose whether she will accept the challenge offered by the Harris brothers. But maybe knowing that she has already surpassed society's expectations for her and realizing she has all the tools needed for responsibility and hard work will encourage her to do even more on her own. And if we can give her every opportunity to know and love the Lord even while she is young, that can help her love Him enough when she is older to willingly do whatever He asks her to.
Update: She completed the Gospel of Matthew and is working on Mark now. She enjoyed her chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cone a great deal and is looking forward to earning her next prize soon.
Linked with Modest Monday, Works for Me Wednesday, Fellowship Friday


  1. That is a fantastic idea!

    I think sometimes we get lost in the idea of "doing things just because they're right" and we forget that EVERYONE does what they do for the sake of the reward - it's just that, with maturity, we learn to appreciate the value of DIFFERENT things as rewards. Even Jesus didn't go to the cross "just because." He went to the cross because the redemption of us WAS valuable reward to Him.

    Which is my long-winded way of saying that I think using concrete rewards for young ones, to encourage them in doing things that will ultimately result in more abstract rewards, is a wonderful thing! We'll have to put this into practice for Bible reading in our own children.

    1. We use rewards all the time for our kids to apply themselves to their studies (grades), to eat their meals (desserts), to finish their chores (verbal and material reinforcement), and so much more. Why not reward them for something even more important to their spiritual well-being??