Doing what is right instead of what is popular is not easy. Two names come to mind of people who had a hard time in this area. They are Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and Aaron, Moses’ brother. Lot seemed to make most of his decisions based on what people thought of him and how beneficial it would be to his comfort, rather than on biblical principles. He chose the well-watered plains of Jordan because they were beautiful. Lot’s ability to make critical decisions would continue to weaken over time until, in a major crisis for his life and family, he would choose what people wanted rather than what was right.
Aaron is a classic example of this pattern of behavior. It was the first time Aaron had been left in charge of the people while his brother Moses was up on the mountain. The people came to him demanding he make them gods to worship: "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him" (Exodus 31:1). Aaron found himself intimidated and unwilling to take an unpopular stand, so he chose what the people wanted.
Anytime and anywhere someone pressures us to do the wrong thing, we must do what is right regardless of what they think of us. This is a major challenge for teenagers and even college-age students who often please the crowd more than they do God. Whenever we choose an agenda that compromises our convictions and corrupts our morals, we are caught in a web of deceit. Today, one of the major compromises for Christian young people is whether or not they will remain virgins until they are married. The popular thing is to be sexually active—to not be is to be weird. This lie is very prevalent today, but it’s not new. Whenever we put our self-centered interests or our desire to be popular over principle, we sin. We always lose more than we gain in the bargain. Aaron’s and Lot’s decisions were disastrous, and they not only brought shame and disgrace on themselves and their families, but they also failed to give God the glory in their decisions.
On the other hand, Daniel and Joseph are examples of men who did what was right even if it was unpopular. Daniel’s entire life represents an uncompromising stand for what is right even if it meant he might have to suffer. Joseph overcame sexual temptation, thereby showing all young people it can be done. You don’t have to be a slave to your biological drives or a puppet in the hands of your peers. You can choose to do what is right even if it is very unpopular.
You ask how a person makes good decisions like Joseph and Daniel. It begins with developing a faithful commitment to God. This is a commitment to trust God in all situations, enabling you to make tough decisions that from the outside look as if you are the loser. However, on the inside you know God will not abandon you, and therefore you will not abandon your principles. Never has there ever been a day when we needed men and women who are willing to do the right thing, even if it is unpopular, more than we do today.