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Peer Pressure Impacts Everyone

The Voice of Zion May 2024 - Home & Family Article --

Peer pressure isn’t only relevant to teenagers—it’s a force that shapes the choices and actions of people of all ages, from all walks of life. Though the term “peer pressure” can sound ominous, it actually serves first and foremost as a safeguard. Pressure—or influence—from those around us offers a valuable way to learn about our environment.

In this feature, believers from Wyoming delve into the ways peer influence affects us, whether we’re navigating the challenges of adolescence or grappling with the complexities of adulthood. Writers explore how peer pressure shapes our decisions, values, and relationships, and discuss strategies for staying true to ourselves in moments when we may wish to resist conforming.

They Remained Strong under Pressure

Lori Johnson

Chapter three in the Book of Daniel tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The story speaks of how King Nebuchadnezzar assembled a large golden idol. He then called together all the rulers of his provinces. He commanded that at the sound of music playing, everyone must fall down and worship his idol. Anyone who did not bow down and worship the king’s idol would be thrown into a fiery furnace.

Three believing men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the people who were commanded to worship this false idol. The men knew that they could not worship a false idol and remain believing.

The Bible doesn’t directly speak directly of anyone pressuring the men to join others in worshipping the idol, but there was likely peer pressure from their friends and colleagues to do as the king commanded. Perhaps some pressured with coercive comments like, “How dare you disobey the king!” Perhaps others pressured more fearfully, “Surely you will die if you do not bow down as the king has commanded!” But the three believing men were able to have a positive influence on each other: they were able to encourage each other to trust in God and remain believing.

When the music played, the believing men did not bow down to the king’s idol. As a result, they were brought before the king, and the king commanded that they be thrown into the fiery furnace. The furnace was heated to such a high temperature that the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace perished from the heat.

To the great astonishment of the king, the fire did not kill the believing men. When the king looked into the furnace, he saw not three men, but four; the fourth one was in the form of the Son of God.

The actions of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego caused the king to change his command: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abegnego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God” (Daniel 3:28).

Even as Jesus walked among Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, He walks among His flock today. We feel His presence through the Holy Spirit, and trust that He will help us to create positive peer pressure—the influence of the Holy Spirit—among all of us in His congregation.  

Care of the Congregation Influences Us

Laona Koivukangas and Susan Edwards

Listen, loved one, God is calling unto life and righteousness. He invites you to His kingdom to eternal blessedness. – SHZ 141:1

This song verse touches the hearts of believers in Gillette, Wyoming. We are a very small, quiet flock traveling together toward heaven. 

A spiritual storm passed through our congregation, and we’ve experienced firsthand that in order to hear God and remain close to Him, we must be still. He didn’t forget us, but rather He kept our small flock of believers firmly in His care.

God’s kingdom is our place of respite in this world, and negative peer pressure has no place here. When we succumb to negative influence, we are appeasing humans and this can lead away from God. In Galatians 1, verse 10 we read, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” As believers, we wish to remain as close to Christ as possible. We strive daily to live our lives as children of God, keeping a clean conscience. In doing so, we are a light unto each other and the world.

The importance of believing escorts in God’s kingdom is felt so strongly here. We notice the love and bond we have every time we gather. We instinctively look out for one another and freely visit about faith matters. We can uplift one another, support each other in daily life, and forgive each other’s sins while traveling together as one.

As children of God, there is peace in our hearts.  

Appropriate Influence Helps Shield Our Faith

Erica Plough

We have the unique perspective of living in a very small congregation. Being that we’re small and everyone knows everyone else very well, there is no option to “stay in the background” here. Each person has their duties for services and feels obligated to let the rest know if they won’t be at church on a given day so others know not to wait on them! That’s the form of “peer pressure” we really have here--to show up. 

When we have visitors, we are all pushed out of our comfort zones to welcome them and chat; we can’t wait and hope for someone more outgoing to do it. This results in a rewarding experience, even though most of us here tend to think of ourselves as naturally shy and reserved. Likewise, when given the opportunity to visit larger congregations, we are happy to be welcomed with enthusiasm! It’s heartwarming to hear the greetings of “God’s Peace,” sing familiar hymns with a larger group, and hear the same comforting message of the gospel we hear at home via the Internet.

The adults in our congregation all originally came from larger congregations, but our children have mostly grown up here and they don’t have experience being in large churches except on occasional trips. They are excited to go visiting but have expressed being overwhelmed by the size of the crowds of kids! It is so meaningful to them when visiting a larger congregation to be welcomed and included by even a few others. 

As peer pressure and fitting in is felt most intensely in kids and teens, they feel both the sting of being a stranger, and of being fearful of reaching out when they are on their home turf more strongly than their parents. But our kids also have found the joy of expanding their friend groups when visiting with others. It’s a joy to be driving home from a visit and hearing our kids tell us, “I made a friend.” Likewise, it’s hard when they tell us they didn’t feel included. If we feel any drawbacks about living here, it’s that our haps age kids are lacking in believing company. We pray that God has a plan even for this current situation.

Children, especially teenagers, naturally begin gravitating away from the influence of home and parents toward their peers as they seek acceptance and look for their own place in this world. A parent’s job is to help the young ones navigate situations where they might run into pressure from unbelieving—or even believing—peers to partake in activities that wound the conscience. We can create a safe, open environment at home where children can freely share their experiences and concerns. We can preach the gospel when anger and frustration result from difficult encounters with peers. 

We are reminded often that a believer is “in the world, but not of the world.” We should instruct as such and model healthy interactions with those who are not in faith. This includes being kind and respectful while also openly and honestly sharing how we believe when we find ourselves in situations where our faith could be impacted. The Bible instructs us to seek fellowship and unity with others who share our faith, rather than engaging in relationships that could lead us away from our faith or compromise our morals (2 Cor. 6:14).

Youth can experience difficulties and pressure from believing friends and acquaintances as well. We don’t all have the same interests and hobbies, and the natural tendency of people to form likeminded or family-centric groups can mean some feel excluded at times. As parents, we can encourage our children to actively reach out to others and include them in our activities, and to remember that our primary goal need to be to support and encourage brothers and sisters in faith. When keeping faith and a good conscience are our priority, we will find ways to have good fellowship with believing peers.

In our home here in Gillette, we have been blessed with a nice community. Large families and traditional values are accepted and even the norm here. When sharing our beliefs with neighbors and teachers, we have found that time and again we are met with acceptance and positive feedback. So often we feel slow and hesitant to confess our faith for fear of judgment, misunderstanding and possible ridicule, but we should be free to openly share with those around us. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32).  

Positive Peer Pressure Keeps Me Social

Aaron Johnson

I’m not aware of negative peer pressure in my life. I get invited out by unbelieving coworkers, but it’s easy to decline respectfully, with no offense taken.

I travel often and notice other congregations have more haps. Bigger congregations give the opportunity to have more friends, but it may also be harder to get to know people. There is unspoken peer pressure to fit the vibe within different groups.

Positive peer pressure helps keep me social. I enjoy being in a small congregation because it allows me to know everyone around me. It’s comforting to know I’m always free to stop in and visit everybody.  

Discussion Questions

  1. Some pressure to conform is useful; it helps our society function in a cooperative way. Give examples of this.

  2. There are several examples in the Old Testament where believers confessed their faith and were shielded from harming their conscience. Share your experiences of this.

  3. How does peer pressure impact decision-making?

  4. Everyone is impacted by peer pressure; what pressure might parents of today’s teenagers feel?

  5. How can parents help children navigate peer pressure from believing friends and from those who are not believing?

  6. What are effective ways to resist negative peer pressure?

  7. We lead by example. What example would we like to show others? 

  8. What would we like our behavior and attitudes to communicate to others around us?

  9. How can we best help and influence each other in God’s kingdom?

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