Do Hard Things

June 4, 2021


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When you hike the Grand Canyon or build a mud hut, you discover muscles you didn’t know you had. And that’s precisely the point. You’ve got to put yourself in positions that will push you past your previous limits. That’s how you grow.

“That which doesn’t kill us,” said Friedrich Nietzsche, “makes us stronger.” Or if you prefer Kelly Clarkson’s hit single, Stronger: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller.”

The way you gain strength is by breaking down your muscle fibers. Then, with the help of protein, those muscle fibers grow back even stronger. What’s true physically is true emotionally and spiritually. When you go through a season of stress, think of it as an emotional workout. It might feel like a break down, but God is building up your emotional fortitude!

When astronauts return from space, their reentry is not easy. Weightlessness is fun for a while, but bones weaken and muscles atrophy. We weren’t made for zero gravity! We need to be pushed and pulled, stretched and strained.

You don’t play the man in a man cave!

You play the man by not caving in to temptation.

About the time I released my first book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, my publisher released a book by two teenagers titled Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. It was one of the twelve titles I assigned during my son’s Year of Discipleship. And we didn’t just read the book; we put it into practice by doing a sprint triathlon for his physical challenge.

A 10K would have been easier, but I wanted my son to tap his potential by pushing him to do something I wasn’t sure he was capable of. It wasn’t the running or biking portion that was cause for concern; it was the open ocean swim.

The day of the race the swim portion was almost cancelled because the ocean waves were more than six-feet high. We probably drank a gallon of salt water and resorted to the doggy paddle a time or two, but crossing that finish line gave us a sense of unparalleled fulfillment.

My point? Do hard things!

It’s part and parcel of playing the man.

Excerpted from Play the Man published by Baker Books.

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.

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