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Navigating Peer Pressure

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Peer pressure is one of the biggest challenges for young people. Especially in middle school, students have a strong need for belonging or "fitting in." They will often compromise their beliefs or morals in order to fit in. This can happen all throughout adulthood too! However, as an adult, people often rephrase "peer pressure" to "people-pleasing." Regardless of the terminology, it's a common struggle among all people. So, how do we avoid it?

Ponder Galatians 1:10: "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."

Ouch. We all have moments when we feel pressured to "please" someone else over God. Some struggle with this more than others, but it's important to reflect on your relationships and behaviors and recognize where you are compromising. Compromising is necessary for successful relationships, but compromising has detrimental effects on a believer who denies their faith to please others.

Some common pressures/pleasing you may face that go against God's plan:

  1. Approving lifestyles the Bible doesn't approve

  2. Sex

  3. Drugs/vapes/drinking

  4. Immodest fashion

  5. Foul language

  6. Porn/lust/objectification/sexting

  7. Gossip

  8. Dishonoring parents

  9. Improper use of money

  10. Lying

These are only a few of the pressures we may face everyday! We have all experienced or encountered all these pressures in one way or another. The Holy Spirit may sound an alarm in our hearts when we face them, but even then, we have the choice to flee the pressure or engage in it.

All situations differ, but some important first steps in avoiding peer pressure are as follows:

  1. Know God's Word

If we don't know His Word, we won't understand His thoughts on the pressures we face. We have to be in prayer and in Scripture consistently to navigate these pressures. We have to recognize a distinction between His voice and the world's. That requires knowing His voice!

2. Know yourself

With peer pressure, it's essential to have self-awareness. What are your limits? What are your boundaries? How can you best avoid these situations? You may recognize that you're more likely to get drunk if you go to a party. So, you need to be aware of your own behaviors and weaknesses enough to not go to the party at all. Pray fervently. Recognize your own faults and pray for strength. Abide in Christ moment by moment, because He is the only way we can stand firm amid these pressures.

3. Set boundaries--Avoid the "edge"

To avoid peer pressure, you need to set your boundaries. Don't play with fire. Avoid the edge; don't just stand next to it. Run from it! Second Timothy urges us to flee temptation (2:22); we don't toy with it, get close to it, entertain it, or pretend like we are being a witness by being in the tempting situation. The Bible tells us to run full force in the opposite direction! Our spirit may be willing, but our flesh is weak. Examine your areas of temptation and pray and set boundaries for those situations ahead of time. Most importantly, stick to them!

4. Choose your friends wisely

The Bible gives clear direction on our friendships, and He encourages us to select friends that will draw us closer to Him. We have to be very cautious about who we allow to speak into our lives. Our friends have significant influence on us, whether that's bad or good. There are times when our friends have more of a say than our families, so we must choose them wisely. It's better to be alone than surrounded by people who will lead you astray.

5. Surround yourself with godly people who will keep you accountable

Have open and honest dialogue with other believers, especially those who may be a little older and can keep you accountable. For example, maybe you're close with your youth pastor and feel comfortable having honest communication with him. Discuss these pressures with him and ask him to keep you accountable, and choose godly friends to spend your time with rather than people who expose you to these temptations.

When you consistently apply these steps, you will notice that it's easier to avoid peer pressure over time. As you grow in your faith, pleasing others becomes less important and pleasing God becomes your main focus.

As you walk through these situations, remember 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."

He has you!

~Ally B.

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