Recently, I heard a story about five teenagers who decided to rob a house in Illinois. They went across the street to a particular residence, knocked on the door, and rang the doorbell. When no one answered, they broke in. It turns out that the owner of the house was asleep upstairs. When he heard the commotion, he awakened, got his gun, and came downstairs. He shot and killed one of the teenagers and wounded another.
Today, the four teenagers who survived are in jail for fifty years. They were not just sentenced for attempted robbery, but, due to state law, they — not the homeowner who shot the gun — are being held responsible for the death of their companion.
In an interview, one of the teens was asked what caused him to do what he did that day. He said the reason was that he was “just being a follower.”
The Bible warns us against being followers of those who would only lead us to do evil. Proverbs 1:10-16 says, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.“
You can probably think of a time in your life when you have done something simply because your friends or someone else suggested doing it and you regretted it later. Sociologists call it peer pressure. You feel somehow that because everyone else is doing it, you have to do it too.
Many people have succumbed to that pressure and later wished they hadn’t. For example, the young man who went along with his buddies who were engaged in criminal activity because he wanted to appear cool and later got arrested along with them. Or, the young woman who was eager to get a boyfriend and have sex because that’s what all her friends were doing and she didn’t want to feel left out and she later got pregnant or got a sexually transmitted disease.
Let me encourage you to not be a follower. Don’t feel the need to go along with the crowd. Just because a lot of people are doing something does not mean that it is the right thing to do. You may not have the gift of leadership, but one thing all of us possess is the ability to think for ourselves. So, think for yourself. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. If you do not have a reason other than the fact that others are doing the same thing then you need to reconsider what you are doing.
God gave each of us a brain and the ability to think. Thinking for myself, led by the Holy Spirit of God, has saved me a lot of time, trouble, and consequences down through the years and it will do the same for you.