How do you deal with peer pressure? Many people just ignore what other people say. They are wired to shrug it off. It’s like water off a ducks back. But sometimes the pressure to conform is hard to discern and a tough challenge to know when to say, “No.” Let’s consider four action steps for dealing with peer pressure.
The firstaction step you can take is “know your values” or “know what you believe.” That might seem like a big concept, but it really comes down to the principles by which you live. What is important to you? What are the things you believe in? They might be honesty, integrity, purity and getting along. Getting along is a good team concept. It helps people function well in a family or on a team. Yet getting along can influence you to go along with peer pressure if you are not careful. What do you believe about what you will not compromise?
Values can even be costly. Scripture records, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.1Sometimes it means you’ll have to take a stand or that you will lose out on an opportunity. You can never lose from God’s perspective if you choose for purity, for example. You may take a stand for purity and that means foolish people will make fun of you for being prudish or a goody-two-shoes. Take the stand. You’ll be the one who smiles twenty years from now when others are suffering for their foolish decisions. Because you chose purity, you will always have the confidence knowing that you won’t have regrets.
The second action step you can take is to set realistic goals. When you have goals or direction, you’ll be less influenced to follow the crowds. Scripture records, “See then that you walk circumspectly (carefully), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.2 Some people have no goals. As the saying goes, they who fail to plan, plan to fail. But the one who searches the Scriptures will be like the ant who works through the summer and will have provisions for the winter.3 Don’t become a workaholic. God never intended us to work all day and night.4 Set realistic goals. You may not be able to accomplish as much in one year, but you’ll see that in five years time, you’ll have accomplished far more.
The third action step is enjoy God’s creation around you.5 When you enjoy God’s creation, you’ll be less apt to be influenced by what the crowds think is something you need. Get rest; take time for a walk, do some reading and choose friends wisely. Trust God in all your decisions by studying Scripture and depending on His Holy Spirit. Life is short, so take time to cultivate what you know about God’s creation.
The fourth action step is seek after God’s purposes. Scripture says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”6 When you seek God’s purposes, you’ll be less influenced by peers to their desires. When you develop eternal interests, you’ll be less concerned about temporal desires like get rich quick schemes, desires to satisfy the flesh, gluttonous desires for foods beyond what exercise and work does not consume, desires for relationships that corrupt, or other earthly pursuits.
Preemptively overcome peer pressure by stepping out by faith in the actions steps and you’ll put on the armor of God to stand firm for godly principles.7
The next segment will look at a specific situation of peer pressure and how to deal with it.