Be the Positive
How to be a good influence in your group of friends.
It’s every minute of every day: life hands us a full-blown multiple-choice test or a steady series of pop quizzes. Making the right choices are not always easy.
Young people are often told how important their choices of peers and pastimes can be. You are told to avoid negative influences. But with that warning, many times, comes little or no instruction for doing so. In life, no matter how young or old we are, we face positive and negative influences, and we act as positive and negative influences for others.
The best way to choose and live among positive influences is to be the positive influence that you and others need. The key to avoiding bad influences is to be a good influence and to love people enough to tell them the truth for their sake without judgement or regard for their influence on you.
Who wants to be seen or remembered as a negative influence or to be led by someone pushing us toward destruction? Not many. But we don’t live in a bubble. We live in the world. The Bible tells us to be in the world, not of the world. We are all capable of acting as bad influences unless we follow the truth. We all have the good and the bad in us. The key is loving people enough to be honest with them and not pretend the bad influence in them is OK for them or for us.
Peer pressure, too many times, guides us into risky territory. We can make foolish choices to impress others or to fit in. But, it’s important for all of us to understand our identities as defined by Christ, not by others. What God’s word tells us to do are the right choices. When we do what His word tells us not to do, we are making wrong choices. Scripture tells us God has set us apart and we are His children. So, we do not have to go out on our own to prove we are acceptable. Nor should we encourage our peers to make wrong choices to be popular.
Many times our peers are looking for someone who will care enough about them to be honest with them, to be good role models for them and help them make right choices. And some will test us to see if we stand behind what we say.
Tips for living the positive
Don’t seek out crowds or situations that can cause you to fall or make bad choices. Walk away and encourage others away from foolishness and risky situations that could cause you and others to stumble onto a wrong road leading to harm or threatening your well-being and future.
Don’t ignore or turn away from an opportunity to be a positive influence.
Love others enough to be honest with them. If we pretend to approve of bad influences and wrong choices, people making bad decisions are drawn to us for the wrong reasons. We are reinforcing their bad decisions and encouraging them toward destruction. Sometimes they’ll take us down that road to destruction with them.
Don’t compromise your good influence to fit in with others. It’s absolutely never OK to be selfish or to support others’ selfishness.
Be strong in the Lord in order to turn those negative situations and negative influences around.
Speak the truth to others in love, without judgement.
Seek out a mentor: a trustworthy adult who shares your faith. Young men, choose an older man and young women, choose an older woman: a person of integrity who you and others trust—who can help you identify and counter negative influences and nurture positive ones. This person can be a family member, coach, youth leader, pastor, family friend or teacher who can teach, train, mentor, admonish, challenge and encourage you.
Find an accountability partner in your age group—a believer who will not make light of your fears, but someone who will validate your dreams, keep your confidences, be honest with you, encourage you and challenge you to achieve your goals. Likewise, be their trustworthy accountability partner. Accountability partners help each other to make wise decisions. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This verse teaches us that when believers hold each other accountable, they become better people.
A true story about Jason
Jason was a longtime friend. He was fun to be around. He exercised a lot, ate healthy foods and took care of his body. Jason also loved the Lord and studied God’s word.
But one day, our family went to a festival and we happened to see him there and he was smoking a cigarette. I was shocked, well, more like blown away! In my mind, his smoking was nothing but the road to cancer! I couldn’t understand how someone that, otherwise, took such good care of himself, would put that kind of poison in his body.
My wife Tammie really cared a lot about Jason and it broke her heart that he was smoking. So much she had to say something. I was thinking it was a bad idea, but when I heard Tammie start talking to him, it was immediately clear she was only worried about Jason and what was best for him. Jason could see Tammie's sincere concern for him and his poor decision so clearly, he was grateful she said something. I learned that day there is no greater influence than when people know we are truly focused on what is best for them.
Jason told us that after that night, he’s never touched a cigarette again. What made this work was love.
Be ready for the test
If negative behavior doesn’t find a positive reaction from you, it will not seek you out, unless it is ready to be challenged or to be changed. Then step up with love and watch the power of God’s influence work through you.
About Kenny Vaughan
Kenny Vaughan is the CEO and founder of Shields of Strength, a company that empowers people through its scripture engraved jewellery. Kenny found strength and purpose in God during his trials as a national water-ski jumping champion. Now his passion is to help others find that same strength. Kenny and his wife Tammie are the parents of three children, and two are teens.