Resist peer pressure
PEER PRESSURE means that friends put pressure on you to do something you may not want to do. They may urge you to cheat, steal, try drugs, deceive your parents, or say or do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. This is known as negative peer pressure.
But there is a positive peer pressure as well. Your friends may encourage you to go to church with them, help you give up bad habits, want your assistance in helping someone, or perhaps urge you to go to a church camp. This is positive peer pressure, and can do much good.
A study in the United States in 2009 found that teenage girls were much more likely than boys to feel peer pressure. The girls in the study often felt anxious or depressed about what their friends thought of them. Boys generally didn't worry about what their friends thought.
The problem with negative peer pressure is always this: If you give in to your friends (your “peers”), you may feel guilty or even get into trouble. But you are afraid that if you refuse to give in, you will lose their friendship or respect. What do you do?
Is it easier for Christians?
In some ways, peer pressure is easier for Christians to resist than it is for non-Christians. At first this may not seem so, because Christians should have a higher moral standard than many non-Christians, which theoretically puts more pressure on the Christian.
Satan doesn't pressure unsaved people like he does Christians, because unsaved people pose no threat to him. But Satan will try to get a Christian to turn to drugs, alcohol, pornograpy, and so on. The Bible says "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7). So Christians can resist him. But if you give in you will lose your closeness to God, and not be as useful to Him.
But Christians have a greater sense of right and wrong than many non-Christians, so their values sometimes allow them to say no quickly to anything that is dishonest or wrong. As a Christian you always have the strongest person on your side: God is always the majority! When you take a stand for what's right, you are taking a stand for God, and God's side is always the winning side. In this sense, Christians do have it easier, because God promises never to abandon us.
Good advice from the Bible
Negative peer pressure is just another name for temptation. The Bible gives some wonderful examples of people who resisted temptation. The key Bible verse to memorize is James 4:7, which says to submit yourself to God, for if you resist the devil he will flee from you.
Keep in mind that even Jesus Christ was tempted, but not successfully:
- by Satan (Matthew 4:1–10)
- by the Jewish leaders (Matthew 16:1)
- by Peter, His faithful disciple (Matthew 16:23).
Job withstood enormous temptation to give in to Satan. He resisted and did right simply because it was right.
The prophet Daniel is another amazing example of someone who was able to deal with peer pressure from the time he was very young. He and his three friends were taken captive by the king of Babylon, but always resisted their captors' pressure to worship idols and false gods.
In one famous incident, the king threatened to throw them in a fiery furnace if they didn't worship a golden image. Daniel's wonderful answer was that he trusted God to save him and his friends, but even if God didn't deliver them out of the furnace they would not serve the king's false gods or bow down to the golden image because it wasn't the right thing to do.
God blessed them amazingly for doing the right thing, and “gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom”.
Jesus made several comments about resisting temptation. At the last supper (Matthew 26:41) He said the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, so we are to watch and pray that we will not fall into temptation. Part of the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:13) says, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
How to deal with peer pressure
- Immediately pray for wisdom. Pray that God will take away the circumstances, or give you the right words to say to whoever is pressuring you.
- Say with a smile, “I'm sorry, that's against my religion.”
- Try to find someone who has the same values as you. It helps enormously if there are two of you who are ready to say no to the wrong thing. Find better friends if you need to.
- Have an excuse that takes the decision away from you personally. “I can't smoke / drink alcohol / take drugs because I get throat infections / asthma / stomach pains.”
- Try humor. “I'd love to do drugs with you, but my family has a history of killing kids who get into drugs, and I'm too young to die.”
- Ask someone older and wiser the best way to handle your particular negative peer pressure. This could be your pastor, a school counselor, a parent, teacher or someone in your family you respect, a Kids Helpline, or maybe an older Christian friend who has some wisdom.
- With God's help, you can summon up the courage to deal with peer pressure.
God knows how to rescue us
In 2 Peter 2:9 we read that the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation. And 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God is faithful and will not allow temptation beyond what we can resist.
God can deliver us from temptation and negative peer pressure if we pray for it. But we should pray the tempation does not arise. If it does, say no quickly and get away from the difficulty. Even if the results from doing right don't seem promising, they will turn out for the best in the end.
You have God's Word on it!
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