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Don’t Set Yourself Up for Peer Pressure

Overcoming peer pressure — Part 4

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: Learn to live wisely when facing peer pressure from your friends, family, or those who influence you. Practice being aware, Try to avoid people who tempt you. Spend time with positive people. Say “no” to temptation.

Part 4 of a 4-part series on “Overcoming Peer Pressure”

Part 1      Part 2      Part 3

Review of Parts 1-3 on “Overcoming Peer Pressure”

Part 1 — Who’s Pulling Your Strings?: This Bible study illustrates how you may give in to peer pressure and go along with others, unaware of how you are being controlled.

Part 2 — Please God, Not Others: The best way to overcome peer pressure is to change your focus from pleasing people to pleasing God, not other people.

Part 3 — Be an Influencer, Not an Influencee: Redefine what it means to be strong. Remember that you are an ambassador of Christ. Look for ways to help others.

Practice being aware

It’s easy to go through life without really thinking about what we are doing. We slip into routines without asking ourselves if we are making good choices. In fact, we often are not aware that we are making choices.

The Bible encourages us to take a different approach—to live carefully and purposefully.

The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives. (Proverbs 16:17)

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise. (Ephesians 5:15)

In today’s lesson, you will have the opportunity to look at key areas of your life, and then to make some choices about your friends and activities.

Make it personal

1. Reread Proverbs 16:17 and Ephesians 5:15. What is the main point of these verses?

2. How well do you put these verses into practice? Explain your answer.

Related: Guard your thought life

Try to avoid people who tempt you

If you are honest with yourself, you could probably make a list of people you know who are bad influences—people who encourage you to do unhealthy things. The Bible warns us to stay away from them.

The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Proverbs 12:26)

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. (Proverbs 4:14-15)

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25)

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21)

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such people. (1 Corinthians 5:11)

I am not suggesting you only spend time with “safe” people. It’s important to love and interact with non-Christians as well as Christians. The point is to be wise. Stay away from those who will tempt you to sin.

If you need to be around “dangerous” people, people who will pressure you to do foolish or dangerous things, pray ahead of time. Ask God to help you be strong and wise. Also ask him to help you be an influencer, not an influencee.

Make it personal

3. How much of your time do you spend with “dangerous” people? Explain your answer.

4. Would you like to spend less time? If so, what steps could you take?

Related: Defeating Temptation

Spend time with positive people

If you mainly hang out with people who want you to do unhealthy things, you live with constant temptation to give in to their negative peer pressure. Make it a project to spend time with healthy people, especially other Christians who will encourage you in your faith. In the book of Acts, we learn that this was so important to the early church that they met together every day.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. (Acts 2:46)

The Bible describes all Christians collectively as “the body of Christ.” That means we are intimately connected, yet we often do not act that way.

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:14)

If I were to cut off my ear and put it on the floor, how long would that ear survive? Not long. It is designed to be connected to the body.

That is the way we are as Christians. We need each other.

…not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

Make it personal

5. Do you have positive friends, people who will encourage you to make good choices? Explain your answer.

6. If you need to make some healthy friends, what steps will you take?

Ask yourself, “Am I setting myself up?”

If you go into a dangerous situation, be honest about your motives. Are you going for seemingly innocent reasons, but inside you know you are preparing to sin?

Don’t flirt with danger, putting yourself in a position where you are likely to be tempted. In other words, don’t set yourself up to sin. Instead, identify activities, settings, or situations that are dangerous for you, then avoid them whenever possible. Remember Proverbs 16:17:

The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives. (Proverbs 16:17)

What do you think?

7. Can you think of a time when you set yourself up to sin? Briefly describe it. What lessons can you learn from that experience?

Evaluate your excuses for giving in to peer pressure

Here are some common excuses people give for sinning:

  • Everybody’s doing it.
  • We’re in love, so it’s okay.
  • Nobody will ever know.
  • I deserve to have fun.

What do you think?

8. How do you think God would respond if you gave him these excuses for sinning? Explain your answer.

Think when you face peer pressure

There’s a good reason peer pressure is called “pressure.” It can be hard to say “no.” Ask yourself these questions if someone tries to pressure you to do something:

  • Is this person trying to control me?
  • Am I willing to be controlled?
  • Is this person a true friend? Is he or she really interested in my welfare?
  • Would it be safe to do this?
  • Would it be wise to do this?
  • Is this something God would want me to do?
  • What does the Bible say about it?
  • Would I do this mainly because of peer pressure?
  • Do I think I need to do this to show I am not afraid? Would I show more strength of character if I said “no”?

Make it personal

9. Choose three of the above questions you could ask yourself to resist peer pressure. Why did you choose them? Would they really help? Explain your answer.

Say “no” to temptation

Sometimes the easiest and fastest way to resist peer pressure is to simply say “no.”

My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. (Proverbs 1:10)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Declare independence

Let me invite you to join me in making a personal declaration of independence from peer pressure (and media pressure):

I don’t care if people around me think I’m cool or not. If they pressure me to do something that’s not good for me, I’m going to say “no.” If that means I lose their “respect” or “friendship,” so what?

I’m not suggesting you declare independence from everyone and everything. But I am inviting you to declare independence from peer pressure and society’s unhealthy pressures.

Make it your goal not to let other people, TV, advertising, or anything else control you. It can seem impossibly hard to say “no,” and there will be times you aren’t successful. But every time you overcome peer pressure or our society’s unhealthy pressures, it feels great.

What do you think?

10. Do you want to declare independence? Why or why not?

Memory verse

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise. (Ephesians 5:15)

Make it personal

1. Proverbs 16:17 says, “The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guards their ways preserve their lives.” What does that mean?

2. How well do you “guard your way?” Explain your answer:

3. Do you spend much time with positive people? Explain your answer.

4. How can you develop a lifetime habit of spending time with positive people, especially Christians?

5. Why is it important to stay away from people who will tempt you to do unhealthy things? Explain your answer:

6. What steps could you take to stay away from these people?

7. Reread “Think when you face peer pressure.” Which of these ideas will help you overcome negative peer pressure?

8. Write a prayer asking God to help you overcome negative peer pressure:

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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