It was a rainy day and the class was forced to stay inside and most of us were obedient but it took only one naughty boy with 'ants in his pants' to cause the whole class to run amok! When she finally managed to calm us down she punished the naughty boy and she told us that all bad apples will be sent to the Principal's office, this was a scary thought so all obeyed.
I remember finding the concept of the 'bad apples theory' very interesting and I took it upon myself to study my class for a few days to see if the theory rang true: it did, it was an excellent theory so in my mind I filed it as fact.
Yes, I was one of those quiet children in the back of the class and this was probably the first sign that I was going to be a scientist, or at least study it for a while. Without knowing it my study continued in my adult years and I have found that the 'bad apple theory' can be flipped upside down and used for good. Allow me to explain:
The bad apple
It can be anyone with a negative influence on a group: an atheist, a grumbler or a grouch. A person with a negative attitude can so easily sway other people's views to negative as well. For instance, I saw this happen over the last few months at my work place. We were once a very close knit, generally happy team, often referring to ourselves as a 'family', but lately that term doesn't quite fit our team's relationship with one another any more.
It is understandable, I guess, that sometimes pressure at work may become too much to handle and then it helps to blow off a little steam by telling someone about your frustrations. We all do it, we are in fact just human, we believe it makes us feel better and it sure does for the moment, but what about the other person? We seldom stop and think what effect it has on them and additionally the people that might not have the same grievance with that person.
It may seem harmless at the time to have a little rant about your colleague to someone you trust but every time it is easier to to make a comment at their expense. We start feeling comfortable to comment about other's shortcomings and before we know it the poison starts to spread like wild fire and suddenly nobody seems to get along with them.
Gossip is hands down the worst offender and it is not an easy task to revert a group's feelings back to positive. It is becomes a real problem when a group is against someone or some new project or procedure at work, because in a group, individuals tend to feel less responsible for their actions as opposed to when they are not part of a group, because they do not feel responsible for their actions, it is termed: de-individuation. I have recently learned about de-individuation in a course on social psychology and when you think about it, it is sad but so true.
On the flip side
I have however also discovered something positive while looking into the 'bad apple theory' and I have created my own little phrase: a spoonful of sugar turns lemon juice into lemonade. I guess it depends on the size of your spoon!
Fine, I admit it isn't a catchy saying nor is it literally accurate, nevertheless I believe it holds some truth. For instance, observe a group of people that consists of individuals that know (of) God but they are not yet comfortable with outwardly displaying their religious views in public, when there is a atheist in their midst that is clearly outspoken about his/her views on religion.
The individuals in the group is more likely to hide or even deny the fact that they believe in God just to 'fit in' with everyone else in the group that also do not want to be judged or pushed aside for stating their beliefs. They might make sure they do not mention religion at all to avoid the 'embarrassing' truth that they do not 'fit in'. Fortunately, the same is true for when one person in the group is an outspoken Christian. I have found that with myself, I am much more comfortable in sharing my views when I know there are other Christians about.
I never used to say anything about being Christian when I was at work, because I wasn't sure how my colleagues would react if I did. Heaven forbid! What if I offend someone?
One day a new member joined our team and he just mentioned a few times, when asked what he did over the weekend, that he went to church. I noticed that no one had a problem with him being Christian so I started feeling comfortable enough to say the same when asked about my weekend.
Soon enough I was telling comfortable to speak about Christianity at work and the more I spoke about it, the more I heard other people speak about their relationship with God as well. I even came to learn that one of my colleagues didn't even know about the types of moral values Christians have, I was very surprised to hear this, because to me it was common knowledge.
I then shared some basic information about being a Christian with her and she seemed very interested to listen. It was a very rewarding experience.
Ultimately, I thought that if a group can go from silent on a subject as delicate as religion to mentioning church and good values to colleagues and enforcing them, it is safe to say: a rotten apple may spoil the entire barrel but a spoonful of sugar makes lemon juice into lemonade, the larger the spoon the sweeter the lemonade of course!
Let's make lemonade for Jesus.
Leanne van Rensburg was born in 1988 and grew up on a farm in a small town in South-Africa. After school she chose a career in science and obtained degrees in biotechnology and microbiology. She moved to Australia in 2012 and is currently working as an oncology technician in Sydney. Family, friends, horses, photography and travelling are a few things that add value to her everyday life. She is a adventurous person that loves taking risks and trying new things. Writing comments for Christian Today is one of her latest undertakings.
Leanne van Rensburg previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/leanne-van-rensburg.html