“Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are” by Alex and Brett Harris with Elisa Stanford

“Start Here” is the follow-up on “Do Hard Things”, which Alex and Brett Harris released in 2008.  “Do Hard Things” described a teenage rebellion against low expectations. It tried to explain to teens, particularly Christian teens, how society had come to expect so little of them, but when we look to history, and looked to what God has called them to be, that they are able to break this self-fulfilling prophecy of low expections.  As teenagers began to break free of these low expectations and began to “Do Hard Things”, they faced a variety of obstacles and had trouble knowing where to start.
“Start Here” is great how-to guide and how to overcome obstacles and offers many practical suggestions on what to do – taking the first step, putting an idea into actin, handling change, keeping God in focus, perseverance, moving against the crowd, and how to finish strong.

Here are the things I highlighted as I read:

God often passes over the person with grand, me-focused plans in favor of the own who has a heart to love others, to trust Him, and to do the small things for their own sake.

If we say we want to do hard things for God, but we’re not satisfied with pursuing excellence where He has placed us (at home, at school, and at work) it’s likely that we’re reallly more interested in getting glory for ourselves than in getting glory for Him.

Faithfulness in one season prepares us to step into the next season with strength.

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Keep in mind that your parents might want to see you grow in other areas before you do the hard thing you have in mind. For instance, they might be most concerned with how messy your room is, your attitude when helping with household chores, and the way you interact with the siblings. They might say that you are not ready for a new project until you have made progress in these other areas or shown how you can follow thorugh on a small project. There is wisdom (and love) in such an assessment.

If you’re going to be a true Gideon, you’ll need about three hundred buddies to help you.

It must grieve the Lord that so little is expected of His children.

Attention gives us the opportunity to humbly say thanks and then point people back to the One who made us, sustains us, and gives us everything we have (see Colossians 1:15-20). It also gives us the opportunity to tell people our true goal.

Deflect that praise to Christ, not to appear humble, but to be humble. You are chosen by God, and also targeted by Satan.

the history of David is not about what David did for God, but about what God did for David!

When we forget that God is a person, we ask questions we’d never think twice about if we were talking about our best friend or someone we love. This question is a good example of that. When we thinka bout what it looks like to make God the most important thing in our lives, we get confused. But how would we answer that question if we were talking about another person — someone we admired and respected more than anyone else?
We’d want to know everything about him– his likes and dislikes, what makes him happy, what makes him sad. Nothing would seem too insignificant to us.
We’d want to find out what he thought about things. His opinion would be more influential than everyone else’s combined.
We’d want to learn what he loves, and we would come to love the same things.
As we went through out day-to-day lives, he would be on our minds. As we made decisions about what to wear, what to buy, and how to spend our time, we’d think about what he would do. We’d make decisions we believed would please him.
We wouldn’t just try to fit him into our lifestyle and schedule. Instead, we’d look forward to experiencing life with him. We would make changes in our schedule so we could spend more time together. We would be honored if he asked us to be part of what he was doing. In fact, we would drop what we were working on to join him in his work.
Because we admire him, we would want people to identify us with him. We would want to represent him accurately so other people would get to know him as well.
Doesn’t this seem like a natural response to liking and admiring someone? Of course, the catch is that if we go to the extreme in treating a human friend like this, we’re in danger of idolizing him. But this is how we’re supposed to relate to God. It’s how we bring Him glory as we do hard things.

We want to be world changers, but we all have days when we don’t want to do what it takes to change things.

the joy and the fulfillment that come from doing what God has called us to do are a hundred times better than a trip to the mall or a night at the movies could ever be.

I found that being vulnerable with my Savior was the only thing that could start the healing process in my life.

“The equation was simple,” John says. “They would get a team of young people with creativity and passion who were willing to listen to them and respect their experience, and we got a team of very knowledgeable men who would be patient with us and overlook our sometimes embarassing levels of ingorance.”

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