Monday, June 09, 2008

The Danger of Complacency

The complacency of fools destroys them. (Proverbs 1:32)

My word for the day is "complacency." The dictionary defines it as "a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like." Why is this my word for the day, you ask? Because Alex and Brett Harris pegged me with it in their book, "Do Hard Things." I am quite content to slide by with less than my best and just "get by." It's funny that I can look back and see that tendency in my teenage years but I hadn't realized how much of it is still there.

I started reading this book because I thought I might want Alyssa to read it next year in school. Now I'm not sure I want to wait until school starts. I'm only halfway through the book but I haven't been able to put it down since starting it on Friday. The intended audience for the book is teenagers, as evidenced by its subtitle, "A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations." However, I think that people of all ages could benefit from reading it. I know it has already prodded me to evaluate why I do some of the things I do and why I don't do other things. It is jarring me from my complacency.

In the book, Alex and Brett describe 5 kinds of hard things:
  1. Things that are outside your comfort zone.
  2. Things that go beyond what is expected.
  3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone.
  4. Things that don't earn immediate payoff.
  5. Things that challenge the cultural norm.

At its core, this book is a wake-up call challenging teens (and the rest of us!) to pursue excellence in everything we do. It pleads with the reader not to settle for the approval of men when you know you have the God-given ability to do much more than you're doing. The Harris twins even coined a new word, rebelution, to describe this movement. Consider the following quotes:

It's easy to be content with less than our best, especially when our halfhearted efforts seem to satisfy everyone around us

Think about it. This common phrase, "Just do your best," actually encourages the opposite. When someone says, "Just do your best," are you inspired to reach for more? Or does it feel like permission to just get by? We say, "Hey, I did my best." But did we really? More likely what we mean is, "Hey, I gave it a shot, and that'll have to be good enough."


Over time, refusing to reach higher, try harder, and risk more robs us of the glorious purpose and wonderful future God has created us for.


God's standard is not for us to be the godliest person in a youth group filled with halfhearted Christians, but to "be holy" because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

God set His standards this high so that we won't make the mistake of aiming low. He made them unreachable so that we would never have an excuse to stop growing.


In the chapter on "Raising the Bar" (going beyond what is expected), the Harris twins ask the following probing questions:

We can identify complacency in our lives by asking ourselves the following hard questions and then answering them honestly:

  1. What areas of my life do I not care about that I know I should care about?
  2. In what areas have I fallen short of God's standards and my own potential?
  3. In what areas have I settled for just getting by when I know I could do better if I really tried?
  4. In what areas have I decided that things "will always be this way" without ever putting in the kind of effort that really changes things?

Ouch! Maybe this doesn't strike a chord with everyone, but it really did resonate with me. I can see so many areas where I have been content to "just get by" that it's almost overwhelming to figure out where to start in reforming my lazy ways.

So what about you? Are you ready to join the Rebelution? Be active in the crusade against complacency? If you need more motivation, I recommend you read this book. You can also check out their Web site, The Rebelution.

2 comments:

Annmarie said...

This reminds me a little bit of the passage in Daniel when his enemies were trying to find something about which to accuse him regarding his work responsibilities. What they found was there was no negligence in any area of his life. How many of us can say that?

Renee said...

I really want to read this book. Their dad was our keynote speaker at our Home School convention a few weeks ago and this is what he spoke on. It was very moving.

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