I remember my late teens and early 20’s, the number of times others around me tried to get me to do things I would not do. It always came down to conviction. Those things I had little conviction about like skipping class, I would fall quickly to the peer pressure. But those things of strong conviction (like drugs), no amount of peer pressure would succeed. Even to the point of loosing friends (which I did).
The first such event was at my own house. [My mom is reading this and learning this for the first time]. I was having a party while my parents were gone (for which I was caught and got in trouble for) when one of my best friends pulled out drugs and a bong and got ready to light up. When I stopped him, he said “Oh, sorry” and walked out to the deck to light up. I followed him out there and again stopped him, in front of several other friends that were ready to join him. An argument followed with plenty of name calling in my direction, and almost ended in a fight right there in my own home. After that, both the party and that friendship were over. I tried to connect several times afterwards to attempt to offer a different influence into his life but it was no good. He was gone. Now he’s on his 2nd or 3rd marriage, with a kid he barely sees. When I last saw him about 15 years later, nothing had really changed.
Peter tells us to expect this reaction. Others will expect us to join in with their poor behavior and will be surprised when we don’t. “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you”, 1 Peter 4:4. As Peter points out, there is no way to avoid peer pressure if you associate with other people. There will be peer pressure your whole life, even as you get older. We may only think of it as something teenagers deal with, but the truth is, there’s peer pressure at all ages, just maybe not as overt as it is in the teen years.
Later in life, the kind of peer pressure I faced was all the trips my friends went on or the toys they bought. Some did these things with more and more debt while others did it by having two household incomes instead of only one. I had strong convictions about not using debt for toys or travel and I had strong convictions about supporting my wife and kids so she could be home raising our kids instead of daycare doing it. Although I felt the pressure from around me and wanted to join them, my convictions in these areas was strong enough to avoid the pressure.
The trick to dealing with peer pressure is not to avoid it, it’s to have a strong enough conviction about the things that are important that the peer pressure is simply useless against you. The more you pour yourself into God’s Word, the more you truly know Him. As you truly know Him, and mature the spirit within you, your convictions grow stronger and stronger towards living in the spirit instead of the flesh.
Paul tells us in Romans 8:7-9 “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”
So soak up His word, spend time with Him, strengthen your spirit and the peer pressures of this fleshy world will has less and less power over you.