As you can see in this picture from Valentine's Day of 1982, I have struggled with peer pressure. Well, to be honest, I don't know if I was the one pressuring Carolyn (cute, flippy-haired girl on the left) to wear the red overalls to school, or if she was pressuring me (gum-smacking goof on the right).
I also don't remember which one of us thought it would be a good idea to stay up all night (in seventh grade) and then ride our bikes to the convenience store (newly opened wonder-emporium in our teeny town) for ice cream sandwiches at six in the morning. And the time we decided to climb up into the middle school locker room ceiling? Don't remember who was pressuring on that one, either.
But, not all peer pressure is bad. She peer pressured me to work harder as an athlete, and I peer pressured her to play a saxophone solo at the music festival. She peer pressured me to do my Algebra homework, and I peer pressured her to be my friend forever. Okay, that last one was weak, but she's been a way better influence on me than I have been on her. I just ran out of stuff to balance it with...
ANYWAY, school is back in session for most, or soon will be, and so is peer pressure. That's what we all think anyway. "Oh, Lord, how will I keep little Pumkin' from being influenced by those around her? What if others around her are making bad choices and she starts to do the same? What if she starts talking like them, and it's not appropriate? What if she picks up some other kid's bad attitude?"
Listen, if I had a way to make sure Pumkin' never went with the crowd or made poor choices, in addition to reading my blog...you'd be watching my show. During prime-time. And Dr. Phil would be calling in and asking me for advice. Nobody's kids - including and especially mine - are perfect. We just have to keep doing what we can...and pray. A lot.
Even if we put up every guard rail imaginable, kids are still going to be tempted to crack under the influence...of peer pressure, that is. And you know what? So are we.
Who do you hang out with? Who is pressuring who? Who is influencing who?
"Cavewoman, I hang out with church people only, so you know I'm good to go on this one." Um, I have a couple of problems with that defense. First, just because we label ourselves "church people" doesn't mean we act anything like Christ. And even if we are truly trying, it certainly doesn't mean we act like Christ all of the time. (I had at least two bad thoughts in the past hour, one involving trying not to hate naturally skinny people.) Second, I think Jesus hung out with church people and non-church people. So, we should, too.
If it were ever appropriate to ask, "WWJD?" - it's now.
When Jesus hung out with negative, slanderous, gossipy or hypocritical church people, He loved, lived and died trying to influence them.
When Jesus hung out with devil-may-care, full-on heathens, He loved, lived and died trying to influence them.
We've talked about kids watching us "pack" and watching to see what kind of time-stewards we are, so...believe me when I say that they are definitely watching to see if we're the influenced...or those doing the influencing.
We model a lot of things for our kids. We model life attitudes, we model life management skills, but one of the greatest things we'll ever model for our kids is life relationships. Let's all purpose and pray to make our lives - and our life relationships - the kinds our kids will want to immitate.