One of the challenges we must face in the Christian life is that by coming to know the truths of the Bible we are at times forced to make a choice in certain situations. We know what’s right, but if we choose to do what is right, we will stand out from the world around us. From a human perspective, it is hard to do what is right when everyone else is not.
This is a difficulty for all Christians, but it is an especially a serious challenge for children and teens.
Pressure to Conform for Adults and Young People
How do we deal with the pressure to conform as adults?
As an adult, you have become more adept at rejecting negative influences, pressures and temptations. You worry far less what others think when you refuse to go along with the crowd on something you know to be wrong. The pressure to conform is still there, but being more mature, you have become more capable of resisting the pressure that is brought to bear. You don’t worry about the opinion of others if you don’t go along with something you know to be wrong.
We must look for opportunities to emphasize doing what’s right in spite of peer pressure to go along with the crowd.
You have learned as a Christian the importance of putting God first at all times. It’s a lesson the apostles learned shortly after the Day of Pentecost. They learned not to buckle to the pressure from the religious leaders of the day to cease preaching the gospel message entrusted to them by Jesus Christ. Their reply to those who admonished them to desist sharing the truth was, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:27-30 Acts 5:27-30  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
 Saying, Did not we straightly command you that you should not teach in this name? and, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood on us.
 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew and hanged on a tree.
American King James Version×).
The apostles were committed to preach the truth regardless of the consequences. They would not give in to religious or governmental pressure to conform. Like the apostles, you know that you are to do what is right even when others are not. But do your teens understand this fundamental principle of Christian living?
Schoolchildren feel the need to conform—to be like everyone else—more than adults. I know this to be true from personal experience.
At the beginning of my teen years, I went to a school that had a mix of well-to-do and less well-to-do teens. In that time there was a definite unwritten dress code among my peers. There were certain items of clothing that were popular and beyond the financial reach of the less moneyed families. One such item was Levi’s jeans. It was embarrassing to have to wear the knock-off brand of jeans from J.C. Penney or Sears instead of the coveted and popular Levi’s. It was an especially difficult situation when someone would point out the “cheap” jeans. I didn’t want to stand out, but when singled out by others it was embarrassing. What a relief it was when I received my first pair of Levi’s and I could conform to my peers. In my early teens, I definitely felt the need to conform.
This pressure to conform is intense for teens because they are still maturing, and their values have not become fixed in their minds. The fact that teens do not have firmly established values emphasizes the need for parents to be imparting true values. God inspired Moses to emphasize the teaching approach we must take in Deuteronomy 6:7 Deuteronomy 6:7And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
American King James Version×, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Our teaching is to take place on an ongoing basis. We must look for opportunities to emphasize doing what’s right in spite of peer pressure to go along with the crowd.
Called to Do the Right Thing
Let’s consider a few areas where Christians are called to do the right thing even as the rest of world doesn’t follow the same path.
God’s people, including teens, have been called to keep the seventh day holy. By observing the Sabbath you can miss out on jobs, friendships, sports, parties and the fun that can take place Friday nights and Saturdays. When you choose to keep the Sabbath, you automatically stand out in a non-Sabbath-keeping world, and there is great pressure to go along with the crowd. As a parent, you might talk to your children about how they are dealing with the pressures associated with the Sabbath.
You have been called to honor and reverence God’s name. Christians are to honor God’s name even when many around them regularly exclaim, “Oh, my God!” “God!” “Jesus!” and acronyms such as “OMG” in texts. Many haven’t a clue about honoring and reverencing God’s name. But once God opens one’s mind to the truth of the Third Commandment, they make a habit of putting it into practice. You might ask your teens about how they are dealing with honoring God’s name.
The Scriptures tell us: “Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God]” (Ephesians 5:4 Ephesians 5:4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
American King James Version×, Amplified Bible). Do your teens know what is right in the area of language? Are they willing to do what is right in a world where vulgarity and coarse language are commonplace?
Another area to consider in regard to our calling is that God wants us to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18 1 Corinthians 6:18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.
American King James Version×). Our world is saturated with sexual immorality on every front, and it seems like everyone around is indulging in this area of life. But is that really acceptable? Even if many are involved in sexual sin in one form or another, what must you choose to do? You must choose to do what is right in God’s sight. You must not conform to the world around us, but you must seek to conform to what is right and pleasing to God (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×). You might talk to your teens about “fleeing sexual immorality.”
A final area you might consider in regard to doing what is right is in the area of alcohol and drugs. The over-consumption of alcohol and taking drugs in various forms is becoming more and more acceptable in society. The real challenge on alcohol and drug usage comes when friends are indulging in what you know to be wrong. You might ask your teens: “Does this come up? How are you handling this challenge?”
We have considered just a few areas in life in which we can face pressure to conform. There are many others where Christian values are challenged, so we have to be on alert to what is right and be dedicated to follow through on what we know.
As we understand between right and wrong, we come to realize that we must do what is right (James 1:22-25 James 1:22-25  But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like to a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
 For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was.
 But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
American King James Version×). When we do choose this path we will be different and stand out. But we also have to come to the reality that being different is worth the suffering we may have because of the choice we made.
Why Do What’s Right?
The Bible is encouraging, as it is full of examples of human beings, both young and old, who have stood up against pressure to conform to what they knew to be wrong. Why are there multiple examples recorded for us in the Bible? One reason is that these examples of doing what is right are there to show us the right path to follow. The second is to show the positive outcome of doing what is right and pleasing to God.
Let’s Consider the Example of Daniel
The prophet Daniel and his friends are prime examples of people who chose to follow God even though it made them stand out. Everyone else was conforming to the path established by those in power.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were selected to be a part of a training program to serve in the government of Babylon. However, they learned that the food and drink offered in the program was unacceptable based upon the Bible.
What should they do? Why not just go along? No human being would know they did anything wrong. But they would know. Most importantly, God would know.
Daniel and his friends chose to put God first, rather than defile themselves with the king’s food (Daniel 1:8 Daniel 1:8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
American King James Version×). They chose to do what was right even though the others involved in the program took part in the food and drink offered.
The encouraging lesson is that God was involved in the matter. God, noting their faithfulness, gave them favor with the administrator of the training program, and by eating what God approved the young men were clearly healthy at the end of the trial period.
When we are challenged on doing what is right and we choose that way, God will be with us just as He was with Daniel and his friends.
In the present age, whether young or old, you will be challenged concerning doing what is right. We must not give in to pressures to go against God’s truths.
Will you give in to the pressure to conform to the pressures and temptations around you, or will you hold fast to what you know to be true?
By our doing what is right when everyone else is not, our Savior Jesus Christ will know that we love Him enough that we will deny ourselves in order to please Him.
Determine in your life to do what is right even when others are not.
Please let us know what topics you would like to see addressed in future articles by e-mailing Steve Nutzman—United Youth Camps coordinator—at firstname.lastname@example.org.