Your friends are influencing you. The people you’re surrounding yourself with are affecting the way you think about the world, how you’re forming opinions about other people, and even how you’re assessing and critiquing yourself. Your friends are encouraging you to do things you normally don’t do and persuading you not to do things you normally would do. They’re affecting each decision you make, big and small. The truth is: friends matter and you’ll usually do whatever it takes to maintain their approval.
Sometimes the fight to win friends’ approval makes you want to negatively compromise what you know to be right and participate in activities because you don’t want to be left out. You may believe underage drinking (or smoking, or shoplifting, or doing drugs or having sex before you’re married) is wrong, but when you decide to take part in these activities anyway, you’re replacing your own beliefs with what your friends think is ‘cool.’ The dangers of peer pressure emerge when you give your friends permission to decide what you should or shouldn’t do. Deciding what’s right and wrong in your own life is your own job, not your friends’. Wanting to be accepted as part of a group is absolutely normal and as long as you’re human, you’ll seek ways to win other people’s approval. In fact, God desires for us to be friends with others, but be careful that acquiring the praise of others doesn’t cause you to forfeit what you know is right.
The dangers of peer pressure emerge when you give your friends permission to decide what you should or shouldn’t do.
Being influenced by your friends doesn’t always have to be negative. What if, instead of influencing you to make bad decisions, your friends challenge you to make right decisions? If your peers are persuading you to participate in activities that are beneficial to you, challenging you to make decisions that lead to a positive lifestyle and encouraging you to be yourself, then peer pressure is something worthy of praise. But remember, you need to decide for yourself the kind of person you want to be, and stick to it! Don’t expect or look to your friends to determine your personal values. Friends should be more concerned with encouraging you along your life-path and helping you become who you desire to be.
You are someone’s friend, which means you also have the power to affect people. You’re potentially affecting how he/she thinks, what he/she believes about himself or herself, other people and this world. Do you encourage the people around you to be authentic, or do you pressure them to be someone different? As much as your friends have power to affect your life, so you have the power to affect your friends. How are you using it?