Resisting Peer Pressure: Avoiding the Herd
About the Guest
Did you ever feel pressured to do something you really didn't want to do? That's how many teens and pre-teens feel every day. Dennis and Barbara Rainey encourage parents to prepare their sons and daughters for the peer pressure they'll face by taking them on a Passport2Purity weekend getaway. With help from projects in the kit, pre-teens will learn how to avoid the herd mentality and stand strong against peer pressure.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Did you ever feel pressured to do something you really didn’t want to do?
Resisting Peer Pressure: Avoiding the Herd
Bob: There are moments in a young person’s life that can be pivotal—defining moments—like the one Hunter Bailey faced when he went off to college.
Hunter: I can remember getting in my truck, driving up to the house, parking my car, and getting out. There’s this—almost an atmosphere of kind of “game day”. Everybody is cheering. We celebrate bid day by everyone lining up—and one after another taking a bottle of champagne—and supposedly, you’re supposed to chug it down. The goal is that you can get it all the way down without throwing up.
We walk into the courtyard, and I can—you can see, off to the side, this table. You have this emcee, and he’s inviting folks up. Then—the kind of music stopped for me. That moment of being handed this bottle of champagne was really that moment where the music stopped. I knew, “This is where real life in the fraternity starts.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, May 15th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about what moms and dads can do to prepare sons and daughters for peer pressure when the volume gets turned up.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I’ll tell you—it’s real out there; isn’t it—the choices that are facing teenagers today—the decisions they’re going to make. If they’re not equipped, if they haven’t thought ahead of time about how they’re going to face some of those choices, they’re going to find themselves in some real tough spots.
Dennis: First Corinthians 15, verse 33 says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Your son or daughter, at the age of nine—that’s right—at the age of nine, ten, 11, and 12—begins to experience peer pressure. If you aren’t preparing them for what they’re going to face in adolescence—I’m going to tell you something—you can give your child over to influences that would terrify you if you knew what was actually happening.
I think this is “game day” that we’re on here. This is really a time when we have to, as parents, be ready to be “game on”. We have to prepare our children to go through adolescence.
Bob: About 15 years ago, our team started working on a resource to help parents get ready for this phase of life that a son or a daughter is going to be going through. The resource we came up with is called Passport to Purity®.
Recently, our team said, “It’s time to refresh that resource and include some things we didn’t include the first time, and update the music and some of the illustrations, and really create a better experience for moms and daughters or for dads and sons.” We have just come out with the brand-new Passport2Purity resource.
This week, we’re letting parents know about it; but we’re also encouraging parents, “Be proactive in this arena.” You may not use this particular resource to be proactive; but whatever you do, make sure that you’re engaging with your son or daughter around what’s ahead in the teen years.
Dennis: Passport2Purity is a Friday night/Saturday—usually—experience with father/son, mother/daughter getting away to proactively prepare them for the major issues they’re going to face during their teenage years—and frankly, beyond.
Bob: One of those issues is peer pressure. It’s the “herd” that we talk about—
Bob: —the hoof beats of the herd—and, “Are you going to join in with the herd; or are you going to do what 1 Corinthians 15 talks about—recognize that, ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’?”
In fact, we thought it would be a good idea for parents to hear a little bit about what you’ll experience, when you get away with your son or your daughter, for one of these weekends. This is not an event that you go to that FamilyLife is hosting. This is something that we equip you to do with your son or with your daughter.
This particular session on peer pressure—they get a chance to hear not only from you, Dennis, but from your wife Barbara, as well, as you guys talk about peer pressure and getting ready to experience the herd.
Dennis: In my sixth grade Sunday school class, one of my favorite illustrations of “Bad company corrupting good morals” was when I would bring in three apples into the class. I called them my buddies; alright? I would bring in a shiny, red apple. Then, I would also bring in two bruised, rotten apples. I took the good apple and stuck him in a plastic bag with the other two rotten apples.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “One bad apple can spoil a whole barrel”? Well, I want you to know it’s true. I took that plastic bag—put it in a paper sack. We put our buddies in the closet to spend some time together. After a few months, I’d go to the closet, pull out the paper sack that contained the plastic bag, and I pulled it out.
Dennis: I want to tell you that what was in that sack was one putrefied, brown soupy mixture of spoiled applesauce. When I opened the bag, the kids on the front row went, “Yuck!” and scattered to another row in the class. Then, I said, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Two bad apples spoiled a good one.
When I put the good apple in the plastic bag, there was nothing wrong with him. He was fine. He wasn’t having any problems. He didn’t have any bruises. He was a good apple. The problem was he spent too much time with a couple of bad apples. As a result—you know what he did—he lost his identity. In fact, he lost so much of it—he completely blended in with the other two guys. All of this illustrates what the Scripture clearly warns us about, “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Barbara: How can I make sure that I run with the right herd? The answer to that question is, “Know what to look for in a good friend.” We have another verse from Proverbs for you to help you in finding good friends. It is Proverbs 4, verses 23 through 27.
Child: “Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then, all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or the left. Turn your foot away from evil.”
Barbara: Those verses tell you how to find a good friend. So, let’s talk really quickly about what those verses say. Letter “A” is about your heart, about your friend’s heart. Look at the heart of the people that you hang out with—the people that you want to be your friends.
What are they thinking about in their hearts? Does your friend think about the right things or the wrong things? What do they think about movies? What does your friend think about music, or alcohol, or drugs? What is important to your friend? Is your friend really to committed to Jesus Christ? Is your friend going to be courageous? Will he or she guard her heart or his heart?
Obviously, only God knows what’s going on inside a person’s heart—you can’t know for sure—but Jesus taught us that whatever is on the inside of a person comes out on the outside. So, you can be watching for clues as to what might be going on inside the heart of the friends that you choose.
Dennis: I also want to encourage you to look at your friend’s mouth. No, I’m not talking about how they smile. I’m talking about what they talk about, the kind of language they use. Do they use words to build up another person or to tear them down and be critical of them? Then, look at their eyes. What do they watch? What do they look at? What do they read? What are they looking at on the internet? Is it good; is it bad? Are they committed to going God’s way or to going their own way?
Barbara: Then, last, look at their feet. No, we don’t mean look at what kind of shoes your friends wear; but look at where their feet go. Who do they spend time with? Where do they hang out? Do they walk the narrow path, or are they quick to leave that path and turn to the right or the left as the verse said?
Dennis: Another thing you need to know that will help you run with the right herd is that you need to make up your mind in advance. What are you going to do when faced with pressure to do wrong things—to toss aside your convictions?
Ben: My name is Ben.
Hunter: I’m Hunter.
Benton: And I’m Benton.
Hunter: The three of us were fraternity brothers when we went to college, back in the day. I can remember getting in my truck, driving up to the house, parking my car, and getting out. There’s this—almost an atmosphere of kind of “game day”. Everybody is cheering. We celebrate bid day by everyone lining up—and one after another taking a bottle of champagne—and supposedly, you’re supposed to chug it down. The goal is that you can get it all the way down without throwing up.
We walk into the courtyard, and I can—you can see, off to the side, this table. You have this emcee, and he’s inviting folks up. Then—the kind of music stopped for me.
That moment of being handed this bottle of champagne—kind of hoping that it wouldn’t be overly awkward—and to participate in the game-day experience, I shook that bottle up, and popped the cap, and poured the contents out on everybody else—kind of like we had just won the game. Of course, the reaction from the crowd was not one of winning.
Ben: I’m not sure anyone had ever done that before, and no one really knew what to do with it. I was two-thirds of the way through the line. There were a number of guys who had gone before me. Maybe a couple of them had been successful in actually hammering the whole bottle of champagne down and had kept it down.
Yet, I was faced with the same decision that Hunter was. I had already made up my mind—again, from a set-apart kind of standard, “I wasn’t going to drink.” So, they passed me this ice-cold champagne bottle. I grabbed it, shook it up, and did my best to spray everybody without getting too many people too wet or too angry—again, knowing that the boos were coming and it was not going to be well-liked. Grabbed my t-shirt, and hopped off stage, and went to watch the next guy do his deal.
Benton: By this time, I’ve seen Ben and Hunter both get booed. I pretty much knew what was coming my way. What I chose to do was just to decline. I remember a senior from our fraternity, who was standing up on stage and looking at me. He was holding up this bid day t-shirt, which, in a sense, was sort of a rite of passage, if you will. “Hey, do you want to be a part of this group of guys that you’ve just said you want to be a part of?” He kept asking me, “Do you want this? Do you want this?” I was saying, “Yes”; and his expectation was that I would come up and participate.
In the end, he allowed me to pass; but he did express his frustration. He, actually, threw the shirt at me. I think trying to go it alone in a world like that is an uphill battle. It would be very tough to win. There’s no way, for me personally, I could have done that without Ben and Hunter. I couldn’t have navigated those next years without the support that they gave me.
Dennis: There’s a story in the Old Testament about a young man who faced enormous peer pressure. His name was Daniel. As a young man, his country was captured; and he was forced to move to a new country. The only way that Daniel was able to survive all the pressure he faced is found in Daniel, Chapter 1, verse 8.
Man: “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine that he drank.”
Dennis: In other words, Daniel made up his mind, in advance, that he was not going to compromise his convictions, even for a king. Daniel is a great model of what we’re talking about here.
That brings us to a third thing.
Barbara: Look in your journal where it says you need to know who you are and why you are here. First of all, you need to remember that you are created in God’s image, and He sent His Son to redeem you. If you trust Him, you are God’s child. You, also, need to know why you are here. “Why are you even on this planet?” “Why were you born?” Ephesians 2:10 says that, “You were created for good works.” God has a mission for you. He has a unique purpose for your life.
Child: Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Barbara: In our sixth grade class, I remember, every year, we talked to those kids about the difference between being a missionary or a mission field. A missionary is someone who goes to someone else to tell them the Good News. A mission field is the person who is in need of someone telling them the Good News about Jesus Christ.
So, just as we challenged all of those students, we want to challenge you to decide, “Will you be a missionary? Will you be the one who will tell your friends the Good News, or will you be in need of someone coming to talk to you?” There’s no more important decision related to how you interact with your peers than deciding if you are going to give your life to Jesus Christ or not.
Dennis: Okay, finally, on page 19 in your travel journal—and by the way, this is the most important principle we’re going to talk about today—you need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to be able to withstand peer pressure.
I’ve already shared with you, as a young man growing up, how I caved into peer pressure, how I stepped into a lot of traps and, ultimately, disobeyed God. Disobeying God is what the Bible calls sin. I was well aware that I’d missed the mark and needed God’s forgiveness for my sins.
Child: Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Dennis: Now, what you need to understand here is that death means spiritual separation from God. Because we’ve sinned against God, we need God’s forgiveness, we need a Savior. Romans 5:8 says—
Child: “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Dennis: Here’s what you need to understand: Jesus Christ did, for you and me, what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He paid the penalty on the cross for our sins, but it’s not enough just to know that He died for your sins. You need to personally place your faith in Him and give Him first place in everything.
Child: John 1:12, “To all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”
Dennis: It’s talking about believing in Jesus Christ. As a young man, I needed a personal relationship with Christ to help me resist temptations and peer pressure. I realized if I was going to be the man God created me to be, I needed to give Jesus Christ preeminence—first place in everything.
During my teenager years, I’d gone my own way. I compared how I treated Jesus Christ to that of a spare tire. I kind of kept Him in the trunk of the car, while I was the driver. If I had any trouble, I’d pull Him out of the trunk, like a spare tire. After a few days and the problem was over, I’d put Him back in the trunk.
Well, I slowly began to realize the truth of Colossians 1:18—that Jesus Christ didn’t come to be a spare tire. He didn’t come to be a hitch hiker. He didn’t even come to be a friend sitting next to me as I controlled my life. I realized I needed to give Him control of my life. He needed to have the steering wheel. It was at this point in my life that I asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior from my sins and to be the Lord, Master, and have first place in my life.
Now, let me ask you a question, “Have you ever done that? Have you ever placed your personal faith in Jesus Christ to forgive all your sin and give Him first place in everything?” If you’ve never made a commitment like that to Jesus Christ, then, what I’d like to do is to ask you to bow your head in prayer and ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and to be preeminent in everything in your life. By the way, if you do receive Christ and, then, at some point in the future cave into peer pressure, Jesus promises He’ll be there to forgive you. He promises He will never, ever leave you.
I want to conclude our time by reminding you that your parents are still very important guides as you encounter peer pressure. Ask them when you encounter the herd—“Wait a second, do you hear what I’m hearing? It’s the herd. Yes, that’s right. They’re coming.” [Music and stampede sound] Are you going to run with them; or are you going to stand alone, if needed, on behalf of your convictions? The choice is yours. I think you’re going to do just fine.
Bob: Sounds to me like a lot of those kids are going to get trampled by that herd coming—
Dennis: Well, I was thinking about the guy playing the harmonica. He was toast. I can picture him sitting by the fire, getting ready to eat some beans; and he’s—[Laughter]
Bob: It’s over for him. [Laughter]
Dennis: He was crushed!
Bob: What we’ve been listening to is a session from Passport2Purity—talking about peer pressure—talking about how the herd can head you off in the wrong direction. This is just one of the sessions that a mom and a daughter or a dad and a son would go through as they get away for their own Passport2Purity weekend, where the two of you get away. It’s your own experience.
There’s a kit we provide that’s got all of the sessions you can listen to, a workbook, a parent’s guide. Then, there is a project kit you can get, as well, that has everything you need for the projects that you’re going to be doing over the course of the weekend.
Dennis: All the object lessons that you use to drive home the points. You know, Bob, this is so much better than the first one. The student journal is just so well done—graphically, it’s so fresh. It has a 25-day devotional that follows up the weekend—all included in the travel journal so that your son or daughter’s got this thing. They can refer back to it, they can keep it, and probably, they are going to talk about it with their friends. Instead of being run over by the herd, they are going to apply a little peer pressure of their own on their friends.
Bob: Yes, probably, the best thing for folks to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com where they can see what’s included in the Passport2Purity weekend and the project kit and decide what you need to get. We’re hoping, this summer, a lot of moms and daughters, a lot of dads and sons, are going to get away for a Passport2Purity weekend. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were tens of thousands of parents doing this with their nine-, and ten-, and 11-, and 12-, and 13-year-old son or daughter? It’d be a great getaway time for you and great material to go through.
Find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. That is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free. Ask about Passport2Purity. The number is 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
You know, here we are half way through the month of May. This is an exciting month for us, here at FamilyLife, as we have a matching-gift challenge that we are hoping to meet this month. We’ve had some friends of the ministry who came to us excited—not only about the new Passport2Purity—but about a number of the new resources and events we’re working on: the Stepping Up video series for men that’s coming out in August and the National Men’s Simulcast that’s taking place on Saturday, August 4th.
These folks said, “We would like to help support the ministry, but we’re going to do by way of a matching-gift fund.” They’ve set aside $650,000 that they are matching every donation we receive this month, dollar for dollar. So, when you send in $25 or $50, they’ll match that with a contribution of their own, up to a total of $650,000.
We still have a ways to go if we are going to take full advantage of that matching gift. That’s why we are asking you to go to FamilyLifeToday.com or to call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY, to make a donation online or over the phone. That donation will be matched dollar for dollar, up to that total of $650,000. We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for doing what you can to, hopefully, help us meet the match or exceed it. We don’t take that for granted, and we appreciate the part that you play in helping make that happen. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can make an online donation; or call, toll-free, 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone.
Be sure to be back with us again tomorrow when we’re going to talk about how a young person’s body begins to change during puberty and how mom and a dad can have that kind of a conversation with their son or their daughter. That comes up tomorrow. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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