Living for Christ as a Youth Day 3: Handling the Pressure
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10, ESV)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)
Have you been in a situation where you felt uncomfortable, but didn’t want to let down those around you or stand out, so you gave in? Yeah—I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. It’s not easy when you’re in this situation, especially if it’s with a new friend group or people you’re trying to impress. When all eyes are on you, waiting for you to decide your next move, it’s hard to make the right choice.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” We tend to make light of the quote since it’s extreme, but it makes a good point and hits at the heart of how peer pressure impacts us. Peer pressure is letting our friends, or peers, influence our decisions. It typically has a negative connotation, and often the first examples that come to mind are drinking, smoking, partying, sex, cheating, swearing, and gossip.
A major problem with peer pressure is that it stems from wanting to portray ourselves in a certain way, and often to impress those around us. It’s important, as Christians, to remember that we are to serve Christ and not man. Galatians 1:10 asks an important question: “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?” When we are faced with peer pressure, this is a great verse to re-visit. We have been saved by grace, and we are servants of Christ—that’s Who our focus should be on. Those pressuring us don’t love us as Jesus does, and they certainly didn’t give their lives on a cross for us.
Satan uses peer pressure in such a sneaky way. It’s not always in the obvious forms, like a shady friend-group trying to force drinks down your throat at a party you didn’t even want to go to. It can come from friends you’ve grown up with who gradually change through the stages of life and begin to take part in things that are harmful, like underage drinking and smoking. It’s much harder to identify the second type of peer pressure because we have known them for so long and feel we can trust them and their judgement.
Not wanting to stand out is difficult; it’s almost easier to silently comply so we don’t have to answer awkward questions or be in the spotlight. It may be the easy way out to give in and conform to the world, but we are meant to be transformed—we are to be the light of the world. Romans 12:2 reads, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
One way to face peer pressure is to be mindful of who we surround ourselves with. Make sure it is with those who will point you in the right direction—friends who will encourage you to deepen your relationship with Christ and spend more time with Him. Another way is to be mindful of your environment and your surroundings. Peer pressure may be felt less when you are at places like youth group, church, a trusted friend’s house, etc. But you’re much more likely to face it when you’re at a party, club, or bar. In Proverbs, we read what happens when man follows his own way—it results in death (14:12). When we follow our own way, we make the wrong decisions, but God is the one who makes our paths straight.
The best way for us to handle peer pressure is to come to the One who gives us strength in every situation. Jesus faced temptation for forty days and forty nights when He was in the wilderness and He never gave in to Satan’s lies. When tempted, He quoted Scripture to Satan. Instead of believing the lies, He combatted them with the truth found in the Word of God. I encourage you to memorize Scripture; in times of need, what we have memorized from His Word will be a help to us. We can also pray and bring our needs before Him; He knows them before we even speak.
I could spend days of study on this topic, but I crammed it into one day. Just know that I understand that overcoming peer pressure isn’t easy—it’s more comfortable to fit in and conform. But I am urging you to make a stand for Christ; make the choice that has eternal worth rather than one that gives you temporary comfort. I promise you it will be so worth it!