My church held its second yearly youth conference on 13/14th August 2016 and I was given a 30-minute slot to speak on the subject of (peer) pressure. I’ve put “peer” into brackets because from the sermon delivered by Pastor Derek Wilson, Chairman of Tabernacle School, it was soon learned that no matter our age or experience(s), we are all under some kind of pressure, and in fact, the pressure is only getting greater. When it came to the second service on the Sunday, many parents and adults who were present were also learning a lot more than the youth and so, this conference was beneficial for all ages. But before I share the handy tips I gave on how to avoid (peer) pressure, I thought it would be great to briefly touch on the messages I parted with those who attended:
This was supposed to be a practical activity but due to time, I asked the audience to remain in their seats and picture themselves as having been blindfold and told that there was a gift for them, hidden somewhere in the building. They were to imagine having multiple voices giving distorted instructions and directions to find the gift but to also imagine one distinct voice giving the correct guidance on finding the gift. I then explained the following in relation to peer pressure:
– represents pressure as a veil which blinds us from the right way to go about life when we’re made to make a decision. This veil can usually be our social surroundings or a weak spiritual state
– demonstrates that pressure can lead us to walk in darkness or achieve success/gifts in an alternative way to what God intended if we are not careful with the influence we have around us
The Multiple Voices…
– represents the subconscious decisions encouraged by bad friends and bad or lack of genuine role modes
– signifies a diversion from God’s intended plans and hopes for us
– demonstrates the insecurity, lack of self-confidence and trust we have in God and the abilities He places within us to achieve the promises He has destined for us
The Distinct Voice…
– represents, not only God, but the influence our parents, pastors, mentors, leaders and good friends have on us but is usually lost in the noise of other distractions
– shows that God speaks to us all the time, no matter our age, circumstance or ability – although we are surrounded by other distractions and pressure, He is always pressing to lead us in the right direction
Pastor Derek Wilson and I both spoke on Daniel 1 but specifically focused on Daniel 1:8 which reads: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
From Pastor Wilson’s sermon, I took away the following:
We will face pressure from different areas of our life but it is only by the grace of God that we will continue to persevere and endure until the end; it is not through our own strength or ability that we will overcome pressure.
God wants to use us but are we willing to pay the price? The pressures we face are usually a test of faith, will we choose to remain serving God when faced with pressure from work, friends, family, church, health? When our faith is put to the test, will we turn to the strength of God or give in and settle with excuses which justify moving in fear?
In this generation, some people lack identity and this is where it becomes easier to get lost under the pressure of being like others or following secular trends and motives. Things will not get better, pressure will not go away or become easier but if we honor God and do not bring reproach on His name, He will show us His mercy
The Handy Tips|How to Avoid (Peer) Pressure…
1) Spend time with God so we can recognise His voice when making decisions in life; seek His help and guidance. Learn to wait for a response on His timing and in that time of waiting, pray, read the word, praise Him in advance and worship with great thanks for His faithfulness
2) Speak to and listen to wise elders and role models such as Pastors, parents, older siblings (who have probably been through it all), teachers, mentors – these people are not our enemies but they have a word of wisdom which can help ease the feeling of pressure, insecurity or abandonment when facing different situations
3) Be true to yourself – Do not live a lie but instead, live for God. Living for God is not about following a set of “do’s and don’t’s” but it is a new lifestyle which involves a change in mentality, behaviour, speech and mood all in which will glorify God. When we live for God, we are encouraged to live righteously and purposefully rather than for image or to pursue worldly success and attention
4) Stop, think and question yourself, should I be doing this? If this was done in front of family, would they be happy; am I even happy doing this? Is this by force or am I choosing to do this? Sometimes being under pressure, we make irrational decisions or follow what the majority chose to do because it “just seems right” but we ought to be slow to react and quick to think, seek spiritual guidance and understanding
5) Prioritising how we spend our spare time, what we do during this spare time and who we spend that spare time with can help remove peer pressure because we do not find ourselves being in the wrong place, at the wrong time and with the wrong people. Sometimes it is unavoidable but it could be questioned whether the people we chose to spend our time with, lead us to places we shouldn’t be in, doing things we shouldn’t be doing and mixing with people we shouldn’t meet.
6) Surrounding ourselves with friends/people who genuinely love God and so, love us, and connecting with people who encourage us to pray can be uplifting because they will encourage us to walk the right way of life. When it comes to situations we need help in and advice on, they will seek to edify us for the better and influence us to do the best and right things. Receiving constructive criticism and correction from the right people can only correct our ways from having done wrong and encourages self-reflection and a positive change
Overall, the pressure we are under is not just from peers but from all different areas of our life and not just when we are in our youth but especially throughout our whole life as we get older and become exposed to more experiences. By choosing to live how God us to live; following His ways and seeking His strength, mercy and grace, we can be moved by the influence of the Holy Spirit as opposed to being diverted by ways of darkness and lies. Pressure is neither unavoidable nor going to disappear but we can choose to seek God’s ways to liberate us from the weight of stressful and negative influences and circumstances.
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