Peer Pressure and Your Privilege to Preach
1 Peer pressure is a powerful influence—for good or for bad. Fellow servants of Jehovah exert a positive influence that incites us to fine Christian works. (Heb. 10:24) However, non-Witness family members, workmates, schoolmates, neighbors, or other acquaintances can put pressure on us to follow a course that is contrary to Christian principles. They may speak “slightingly of [our] good conduct in connection with Christ.” (1 Pet. 3:16) How can we maintain our determination to keep preaching despite negative peer pressure that we may encounter?
2 Family Members: At times, a husband and father who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses may not want his wife and children to share in the public ministry. This was the situation in a household in Mexico. A man’s wife and seven children came into the truth. At first he was opposed because he did not want his family to preach and offer Bible literature from house to house. He felt that this was beneath their dignity. His wife and children, however, stood firm in their decision to serve Jehovah and to have a regular share in the ministry. In time, the man began to see the value of accepting God’s arrangement for the preaching work, and he too dedicated himself to Jehovah. It took him 15 years to accept the truth, but would he have ever done so had his family not persevered in their privilege to preach?—Luke 1:74; 1 Cor. 7:16.
3 Workmates: Your efforts to witness to workmates may not be well received by some. One sister related that when a discussion about the end of the world arose in the office, she was ridiculed because she suggested that they read Matthew chapter 24. However, a few days later, one of her workmates told her that she had read the chapter and was impressed. A publication was placed, and arrangements were made for a Bible study with her and her husband. The first study lasted until two o’clock in the morning. Following the third study, they started attending meetings, and soon thereafter they gave up the use of tobacco and began sharing in the ministry. Would this have happened if our sister had made no effort to share her hope with others?
4 Schoolmates: It is not unusual for Witness youths to experience peer pressure at school and to be afraid that other youths will belittle them for sharing in the preaching work. One Christian teenager in the United States said: “I had a fear of witnessing to other young people because I was afraid of being made fun of.” So she avoided opportunities to witness to her peers at school and in the territory. How can you develop the strength to stand up to peer pressure? Trust in Jehovah, seeking his smile of approval. (Prov. 29:25) Take pride in your ability to use the Word of God in your ministry. (2 Tim. 2:15) The youth just quoted began praying to Jehovah, asking him to help her cultivate the desire to talk to her schoolmates. She began witnessing informally at school, had good results, and was soon talking to everyone she knew. She concluded: “Those kids need and want a hope for the future, and Jehovah is using us to help them.”
5 Neighbors: We may have neighbors or other acquaintances who show some irritation toward us because of who we are and what we stand for. If you fear what they think, ask yourself: ‘Do they know the truth that leads to everlasting life? What can I do to reach their hearts?’ A circuit overseer observed that good results are achieved when witnessing to neighbors in measured doses. Beseech Jehovah for the needed strength and wisdom to continue seeking out honesthearted ones.—Phil. 4:13.
6 Our yielding to negative peer pressure may please opposers, but would doing so be in their best interests—or ours? Jesus was opposed by people in his own community. He even endured sharp remarks by his half brothers. But he knew that he could help them only by remaining true to the course God had set for him. Thus, Jesus “endured such contrary talk by sinners against their own interests.” (Heb. 12:2, 3) We must do the same. Be determined to make the most of your privilege to preach the Kingdom message. By doing so, “you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:16.