The journey of life is full of diverse experiences, the good ones, the not-so-good, and the bad ones. As Christian youths; we are constantly reminded that we are not exempted from these experiences (John 16:33). The fact that we are Christians doesn’t mean we will only have good experiences or we will only have bad ones, but our attitude to whatever comes our way is very important, not only to us but also to God because our decisions will in one way or the other affect God’s plans for our lives.

Having come to the understanding that we cannot but face certain experiences even as children of God and that our response to them has great implications, we are not to run away from the reality of these experiences, but rather, face them head-on with the Word of God and ensure that we are victorious over them all (we walk in the reality of the victory we have in Christ Jesus).

As regards this, we shall be studying one of the experiences we cannot but face as youths especially youths which is PEER PRESSURE. You may want to ask: “Why the emphasis on Christian youths”?Some Christian youths feel that they cannot do certain things because they are Christians and that is why they are not making it or they feel inferior in society, but if every Christian youth knows what God has in mind concerning them and how beautiful it is not to be moved by what people do around, but to only live based on what the Word of God says, then peer pressure will not be an issue in the church.

We shall look into what peer pressure is, some possible causes and effects of peer pressure, what the Bible says about peer pressure, and how to manage and overcome peer pressure.

What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is defined as the strong influence of a group, especially children on the members of that group to behave as everyone else does. It further defines it as the pressure to behave in a certain way because your friends or people in your group expect it.

Peer pressure is the intention to want to down at what people in your peer group are doing. It is a feeling of wanting to “fit” into a particular group. This is to say that as much as peer pressure can involve people forcing us to do what they want; we without anyone forcing us to do so. it can also feel pressured to want to do certain things without anyone forcing us to do so

We need to know that as long as we are in that is; peer pressure is a part of life but how we handle it determines whether we are wrong or right. Therefore, peer pressure is not completely wrong.

Whenever there is peer pressure, there is always a choice; whether to succumb or not or to leave it to linger but no matter how much one tries to shy away from it and allow it to linger, one will eventually come to a state where one will have to choose either to submit oneself to it or not. But it is advisable to make leaving it to linger will decision quickly, because, leaving it to linger will disturb one’s peace. This is where PEER influence comes in.

Peer influence is the result of succumbing to peer pressure whether positive or negative. When an individual experiences peer pressure, other people do not get to know the kind of pleasure until the pressure has an influence. Peer influence shows in the kind of behaviour or attitude a person exhibits after he has experienced the possibility of succumbing to peer pressure so possible for someone about it. In the Scriptures, we can see the example of Daniel (1:5-14, 3:3, 16)and there is also the example of Aaron who found themselves in negative peer pressure but did peer pressure and yielded to it (Exodus 32:1-5). The question is, what kind of pressure are you experiencing and what is your response to it?

Although positive peer pressure can lead to positive results (that is positive influence), one’s decision should think about certain things and make necessary decisions on them without being pressured whether or not to succumb to it or not. Peer pressure is inevitable but one can decide whether to give in to it or not.

Causes and Effects of Peer Pressure

The different causes and effects of peer pressure but we will be looking into a few of them.

Low self-esteem: Self-esteem means to be confident in one’s self-worth (Hebrews 10:35). Low self-esteem therefore means not being confident in self-worth. Christianity is not a sign of having low self-esteem. As children of God, we are highly esteemed by God but, unfortunately, most of us do not know this and we end up having low self-esteem.

I have once been in a state of low self-esteem and unknowingly, it became part of my personality. When a person has low self-esteem, he begins to see others as being better than him and sees himself as one who is inferior. Although it is not bad to appreciate people who are better than us in one way or another it should not be to the extent of having a feeling of doing more harm than good because it can hinder an individual from seeking assistance to overcome peer pressure.

One of the things low self-esteem does is that it keeps such a person from deciding as regards it such that until it lingers and begins to affect the peace of that person. Low self-esteem often makes a person succumb to negative pressure and even if it is positive peer pressure, the person will not see anything good coming out from it until that low self-esteem is worked upon. Inferiority complex is a result of low self-esteem.

Are you having low self-esteem? Do you think you cannot do well unless you are influenced by someone? These are ways through which the deviltries to get at us. If you have low self-esteem and you are experiencing peer pressure, the first thing to do is to work on that low self-esteem then it will be possible to make the right decisions as regards the pressure.

The desire to be accepted by a certain group of people: The reason why some people fall victim to peer pressure and eventually peer influence is the desire to be accepted by certain people at all costs. This is most times on the negative side of peer pressure and rarely on the positive side. It is not bad to be accepted by people, after all, God has not created us in isolation but to what extent are we so good as to be accepted by people? Why do you want to be accepted by those people? Most times, the kinds of people we mingle with are not the right people we should associate ourselves with. We oftentimes get close to them to gain popularity. The wrong association makes us lose our identity because it determines our manner of behaviour or attitude.

Desire to become better: This can be referred to or seen as one reason why people are pressured by their peers and this shows how much they have been positively influenced (Proverbs 6:6). When a person is surrounded by good people, it is possible to be influenced by their good behaviour such that he becomes a better person. For example, if one is surrounded by friends who study their books and one is such who does not like to study, by constantly walking with such people, one may be influenced to read better as they do.

This kind of positive pressure has an extent to which one can go if not it may eventually become a negative peer pressure. So, as much as one’s desire to become a better person is good, it can result in bad if it lingers for long. When this happens, an individual may start having a feeling of not doing well which is not so with the people around him. It is not bad to strive to be a better person but in a situation where he is never right at any point in time, one needs to be careful.

Past hurts: This is another reason why some people succumb to peer pressure. If a person once had people who he thought were his friends but got to realise that they were not true friends, such a person could withdraw from such friends and make new friends As much as possible, we must learn to forget our past hurts so it does not affect our future decisions (Philippians 3:13).