Who is influencing whom?

When I turned 16 years old, with my brand new driver’s license, my parents sat me down to have a serious conversation. With the privilege awarded to me by the state, it was important for my parents to remind me of my responsibilities in my life. During this heart-to-heart, they brought up my history of choosing good friends. My parents knew all of my friends and their families. I never had a friend of whom they disapproved.

As I grew older and more independent in life, I have come across a broader range of people and behaviors. When you leave the confines of high school, the world gets very different, very quickly. Whether you go off to college, or you enter the workplace, you’re going to be exposed to a whole new world. It can be very enticing to explore and experience new things.

It can also be dangerous.

As a Christian, it can be very difficult to know how to balance hanging Influencearound people who are good influences, and being around people who are not. It is important for us to be an example to those who need it…if we are strong enough to do that. It is necessary to spend time with people who hold us accountable and are good examples to us. However, it is very easy to get caught up with people and crowds who do things and go places that look and sound exciting, but perhaps cause us to compromise our character.

It is easy to justify our time investment in people who say and do things that we might not like our family and friends to see. We can convince ourselves that we are influencing them. Are we? Am I? Are they becoming more like me, or am I becoming more like them?

Whether it’s as a young person transitioning into a world of greater independence, or an experienced, seasoned adult, we have to take inventory. We need to honestly evaluate who we are and what is the greater influence in our lives. Are we different around one group of friends than we are with others? If one friend or group saw me involved in this particular activity, would I be ashamed?

I’m at the stage of life where many fall into what is commonly known as a ‘midlife crisis’. I have observed too many men and women in the past several years who have walked away from their families and friends in order to pursue some new relationship and lifestyle. This is something we need to guard against throughout our lives, not just as adventurous young adults.

True character is consistent in any setting. We cannot be one way with one friend, while something completely different with another. Examine yourself. Be honest. Are you consistent? Are the influences in your life healthy? Are you spending time with people who make you better? Are you spending enough time with them? Are you positively influencing those who need it? Really?

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

~1 Corinthians 15:33

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