Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing. Especially when it can increase your faith. That’s not to say it always works the way we want it to.
Often throughout my dozen years as a school administrator, I dealt with the negative side of peer pressure –w hen kids were led astray by hanging out with others who influenced them in the wrong direction. I got used to citing verse like the following:
He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Prov. 13:20)
Bad company corrupts good character. (1 Cor. 15:33)
But I soon learned that peer pressure itself is not a bad thing. I saw students join our school and be influenced in a decidedly positive direction, just by hanging out with a different set of friends. Our school culture quickly became one in which not doing your work was, well, weird. I call it positive peer pressure.
Positive Peer Pressure
In fact, the pressure we sense from others to do or say certain things can be good thing — especially if we are hanging out with people who can increase our faith.
On our recent trip to Guam, we got the chance to hang out with brothers and sisters in Christ who are fellow FaithWalkers. I don’t mean simply that they have placed their faith in Christ or that they embrace the Christian faith. I mean people who have stepped way out of their comfort zone to respond to what they believed was God’s call on their lives.
They stepped up to tackle huge assignments or scary re-locations without knowing how it was all going to work out. They embraced uncertainty and went “all in.” Ya, those kind of FaithWalkers. The kind who do things that others look back on and say “Wow! How did you do that?” or “Are you nuts?!”
We felt right at home with them.
As we talked about what each of us has learned on our various faith walks, a common theme surfaced — the need to patiently endure, to just keep walking through the process.
And as we talked, it became apparent that we’ve all noticed the gap between those who have stepped out by faith and taken risks for Christ’s call and those who smile, nod, and say they understand — but have never really experienced it for themselves. They are still sitting in the boat at the dock, talking about setting out someday while we are so far out on the waters that we’ve lost sight of all the boats some time ago.
“If They Can Do It…”That’s not to say we are superior. I used to be there, clinging to the dock while thinking I was way out on the waves somewhere. In some ways, I always will be. In fact, some days, I think the ones at the dock are the smart ones — especially on those days when we take our eyes off Christ and begin to slip beneath the waves.
It’s on days of doubt that I truly appreciate the power of positive peer pressure. When we spend time with people of faith, our own faith increases. When we hear their stories of how God miraculously provided, our own belief levels skyrocket. When we hear their tales, we think, “If they’ve done it, we can do it, too.”
In short, our success as a FaithWalker will be directly related to the people we intentionally call friends. If we surround ourselves only with people who tell us that we are fine at the dock, we’ll likely never push away, out into rougher waters. We’ll be more likely to just stay in the boat with the other disciples. We’ll settle. And feel good about it.
But when we consistently expose ourselves to people who embrace a walk of radical faith as a way of life, we begin to feel uncomfortable with our “safe and secure” mindset. Positive peer pressure kicks in and shoves us away from the dock. Their story makes us want to get out on the water ourselves so we have an incredible story of our own to tell someday. It’s as if those voices say, “You mean you’re not stepping out by faith and tackling something that’s way too big for you to do on your own? Oh, I see.”
I don’t know about you, but my faith needs all the help it can get each and every day. I need friends who can encourage me to take the next step over that next wave. I need people who can tell me that shark fin I think I just say was probably just a tuna. And remind me that I’m in tight with the One who controls the sharks anyways.
Perhaps most importantly, I need people in my life who can give my fingers a slap when I try to clamber back into the boat. I need people who have permission to point out my blind spots instead of pretending I don’t have any in exchange for my not pointing out their blind spots, either.
So it is in that context I now share the next phase of our FaithWalkers journey. God has answered our prayers to sell our house — a cool faith story for another day that involves our circling it seven times with our kids.
Next destination: Atlanta.
No, we don’t know how we will get there. No, we don’t have income lined up waiting for us. Yes, we’re open to God directing our path elsewhere.
Some days, we’re excited. Some days, we’re terrified. Other days, we just feel as if we’re drowning.
But we’re taking the journey with friends who encourage us to increase our faith. They’ve been there, done that. And lived to thrive on the other side. What an encouragement!
Oh, and you’re welcome to join us, too. Let’s walk together. By faith.
How have your friends influenced you in a positive way to walk with greater faith? Share your story — or your need — to help us all grow with more abundant faith.