Accountability, Back To School Series, Growth/Maturity, Leadership

Back To School: Pausing Peer Pressure

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

“I don’t like her.”

“Why not?”

“Just because.”

“Did she do something to you?”

“Nope, but my friend doesn’t like her, so neither do I.”

Ladies, how many of you are guilty of such a conversation at some point in your life? I’m pretty certain that a good number of us have been on the giving or receiving end of this exchange at one time or another. I know I have! In elementary school I was the victim of such idiocy. One girl disliked me so an entire group chose not like me as well. By the time I made it to high school, I was hating people simply because my friends were hating them. Fast forward to college and I was the one dictating who we should and shouldn’t treat nicely. Although I played very different roles in each of these scenarios, one thing remained consistent—each included a horrible case of peer pressure.

Many of you reading this are probably thinking that peer pressure is just a problem that we deal with in school, but I beg to differ. Many of us adults are guilty of engaging in activities at the suggestion of someone else, situations which we otherwise would have chosen to forego.  We may (or may not) have grown past choosing our friends and enemies based on what others feel but we still fall victim to the pressure of our peers from time to time. Do you recall when your neighbor wanted to help you get a job at her company and she encouraged you to add some fluff to your resume` — peer pressure.  Remember when he convinced you to have sex after you declared a life of celibacy until marriage—peer pressure. What about when you sat around listening to your friends gossip about the girl down the street?   Sure, you didn’t add anything to the conversation but you didn’t stand up for right either—peer pressure.

In Exodus 23, verses 2 and 3 clearly admonish us against such behavior: “Do not join a crowd that intends to do evil. When you are on the witness stand, do not be swayed in your testimony by the opinion of the majority.” (NLT) We are to be witnesses daily for the Gospel. It is imperative that our testimonies and lifestyles are not dictated by the majority’s worldly standards. We have a duty to choose right, even when it is not popular. We cannot be afraid to go against the grain to maintain God’s standards for living!

I am most inspired by a very recent and familiar story of one man’s courage to stand up for what he believed in and not give in to the pressure from his peers. Dan Cathy, President and CEO of Chick-Fil-A, chose to stand on his belief that God reserved marriage for man and woman, and not those of the same sex.  I am well aware of many who challenged his stance and I am sure Mr. Cathy recognized the threat that such controversy could pose to his restaurant’s bottom line. However, that didn’t sway his testimony! He chose to stand for what was Biblically right over what was popular. Even after knowing the consequences of choosing right, will you stand for God or give into the pressure of your peers? I’ve learned that God will bless you when your life blesses Him. (Look at the lines wrapped around Chik-Fil-A!)

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that I chose to follow people when I should’ve been following You. Give me the strength and will to make decisions that would glorify You and not taint my witness for the Kingdom. Please grant me the courage to go against whatever goes against Your word, even if it means going against those closest to me. Today I choose to stand up for right! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to challenge peer pressure. If the temptation to do wrong is too strong for you to resist when you are in the company of certain individuals, you may need to reconsider their position in your life. EMPOWER your stance for the kingdom by choosing to do right!

How do you ensure that you are not tainted by negative influences? Share your tactics with us below.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Flee!

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Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant. She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments. As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible and other non-fiction pieces. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and three lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

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Back To School Series, Conviction, Forgiveness, Patience, Teacher/Student

Back To School: The Wildcat Ways

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

I started working at my new school in early August and I absolutely love my job.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I love this school so much and it hit me—“The Wildcat Ways”.  Our mascot is the wildcat and we operate under four principles: respect, responsibility, readiness, and safety.  These four principles are called “The Wildcat Ways”.  During the first few weeks of school, I spent an extensive amount of time modeling and practicing these principles with my students.

I love the principles because they invite structure and they hold students accountable for their actions.  I thought students had mastered “The Wildcat Ways” until they had a bad day.  I found myself reprimanding them and helping them realize the wrong they had done.  I was so hard on them for not following the “Ways”.  I screamed, yelled and fussed for about 30 minutes until I had an ‘Aha moment‘.  I thought about how many times I had strayed away from the principles that God had instilled in me.  I thought about the many times I have to be reminded of scriptures and the Word of God.

How could I be so hard on them for being kids and messing up when God has not been hard on me for messing up over and over?  God has let His expectations be known and sometimes I still don’t do what’s right.  You know what God does?  He puts me back on the right path.

When I am not respectful to His will…God reminds me that, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13 NLT)

When I am not being responsible and accountable for knowing the Word and how I am supposed to live…I am reminded that I am to study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2: 15 KJV)

When I am not ready for my assignment or for the next season in my life…God reminds me, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When I am out of the Will of God, not practicing safety, or not guarding my heart…He reminds me that He is my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence. “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22: 3-4 NASB)

The next time I am ready to throw a tantrum because my students are not actively engaging in “The Wildcat Ways,” I am going to remember that I don’t always do everything I am supposed to do and my Daddy always forgives me and lets me start anew.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being an understanding God. Thank You for protecting me when I wasn’t being respectful, responsible, ready or safe in Your will for my life.  Continue to mold me into the woman of God that You will have me to be.  Daddy, I need You to continue to guide my thoughts, words and actions when other people don’t do Your will.  Teach me to love with an agape love, the same as You love me!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to remember to be respectful to God in everything that you do.  I EMPOWER you to be responsible and accountable for living in the Will of God.  Always be ready for what God has for you and be ready for attacks from the enemy. Learn to be patient when people are not operating in excellence and remember that God forgives you, so you need to forgive them.

What are four principles you are maintaining today? When was the last time God had to remind you about being patient when people are not operating in excellence?

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: You Know Better!

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Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1: 5: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” and Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Attitude, Back To School Series, Character, Direction/Guidance, Self-Control, Speech

Back To School: Trifling!

School has begun for most students across the world so for the next two weeks, EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

Thinking back over the 18 plus years of schooling I have embarked upon in my lifetime, I immediately thought of a multitude of joyous occasions to share with our EmpowerMoments readers.  It was then that I recognized that the most influential lesson I learned was a result of my very first suspension from school.  As my Spanish teacher distributed the graded exams from the week prior, I laughed and giggled with my tenth grade friends certain that I had passed with flying colors.  When the paper arrived on my desk full of red marks, my first reaction was to blurt out, “This is trifling!”  As I searched the entire sheet for an indication as to why I received such a low score, my teacher approached my desk and sent me directly to the principal because ‘I called her trifling!’

Trifling!

It was when I arrived in the office that I realized just how serious everyone else was taking this one word.  In my mind it was my phrase of the month, nothing more than a mere cliché that I had adapted for everything. I was issued a two-day suspension and a phone call to my parent; I became even more enraged because of the disciplinary actions taken.  My verbiage of choice was not one that deserved a bleep or a sensor; yet, I was being penalized to the fullest extent of my school district.

“For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty.  Your own mouth condemns you and not I; your own lips testify against you.” (Job 15:5-6 AMP)

Two days of suspension and a month after being grounded, I still didn’t fully understand what I had done wrong in this situation to have my social life placed on pause.  Back then I chose to use the word in a very loose context but the definition was purely insulting.  It did not make total sense until I grew older and developed a personal connection with God for myself.  Just as my teacher felt disrespected by my preferred adjective, I would be even more appalled if my relationship with the Father was labeled with such an offensive and harsh term.  Recently, a guy that I know challenged the depth of my love for Christ in a joking manner, but I ended up feeling the sting of his words much like my teacher did back in 2000.  At first I wanted to send him to the nearest principal’s office to be reprimanded when I remembered that Romans 10:9 boldly states that if I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead, I am saved without dispute.  It was then that I realized just how serious my actions were years ago and I FINALLY accepted my punishment.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for allowing me to learn the lessons, even if they occur years later.  Help me to stay sensitive to the words I speak into the atmosphere for they can easily become applicable to my life.  Fill me with words of Your love so that people will be able to see You and none of me.  Please keep me grounded in You that my ears, eyes, and mouth gates will continuously bring glory to Your Kingdom at all times.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Women of God, I EMPOWER you to think back over your days and look at the bigger picture of it all.  Even the happiest times taught you a lesson that can help you to become a better Christian.  Never allow the enemy an opportunity to let his “trifling” ways shine through on a child of God like you.  Have a Blessed week. ☺

What moments from your past or current school days have taught you lessons in becoming a better Christian?

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Ms. Latasha Sampson is an accomplished writer who is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Human Resources Management.  She resides in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a faithful member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She serves tirelessly with the Evangelism Team there.  Latasha also works at Mt. Zion as a member of the Administrative Support Staff. Her favorite scripture is “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.” Isaiah 54:17