Posted on the wall of an office I noticed this truth: Everyone who visits this office brings joy – some by entering, some by leaving.
I feel your smile. I know. You’ve seen it too. Maybe not that one specifically, but one that asserts the same sentiment. I want to be the one who brings joy by entering.
It seems that articles circulate in themes. Lately many have discussed the impact attitudes have on work associations, home relationships, productivity, ROI (for us non-business majors, that’s the measurement of what you get back from all you’ve invested – and it’s not all money), friendships, and satisfaction on about every playing field defined by civilization. When I say attitude is everything, it’s not an oversimplification of how we humans co-exist on the planet. Getting along is hard work.
Let’s visit this attitude thing. Remember when you were 6 and your mom said, one bad apple spoils the whole batch? An apple with a bad spot, left unattended bleeds onto the skin of another apple, then another, then another, unless it’s snatched away from opportunity to contaminate. One bad attitude if left unattended, bleeds onto the attitude of another, then another – until contamination is inescapable. When is the best time to eradicate the contaminant? Yes, of course. Before it touches anything else. In theory, it’s possible; in reality, not so much.
I’ve been thinking about the detrimental effects of “bad apples” in the context of joy in the office; joy in the room. What does God say about them?
- Pride – Proverbs 13:10 “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” Conflicts don’t breed in isolation. When the proud touch the vulnerable, well, look what happens according to Proverbs 18:12 “Haughtiness goes before destruction;humility precedes honor.”
- Selfishness – James 3:16 “For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil.” This sounds like a bad apple turned rotten to me.
- Impatience – Do you remember the story of Moses, burdened with the responsibility to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt? Hey! They had been in captivity for years and unable to live as free people. But when they were released and began their journey, someone started an indignant rant that spread among the travelers. Probably not just one bad apple, but it started with the minority and look at how it turned out in Numbers 21:4-5 “the people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why have you led us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or water, and we detest this wretched food!” Well that was effective! They had just defeated the Canaanites and they were already impatient and spreading bad attitudes to one another.
- Gossiping – You know, I don’t think many revelations in scripture involved junior high. Do you? But many of the attitudes were reflective of immature people. Relationships are shattered at home, at church, at work and in neighborhoods by gossip. Proverbs 16:28 says “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” Gossip – the bad apple.
- Judgmental – Sometimes I think people who can’t pull the plug on their passionate judgment of others, are lost from themselves. They are so disassociated from loving their own life, they can’t accept that some who enter a room bring joy clinging to them like velvet. Romans 2:2 “Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors” (The Message)
What if . . . you wanted to be that one who enters a room bringing joy?
What if . . . you wanted to be the good apple escaping the basket before the bad contaminates you?
What if . . . you wanted to be the good attitude?
Well, there’s an APP for that. A Biblical application that resonates with anyone willing to listen with their heart and do what scripture says. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ or a ‘one time and you’re done’ proposition. It’s being on guard daily and even more like moment-to-moment to resist the effects of bad attitudes.
- Forgive – This is a short word with immense impact. If you’ve been in the basket with some bad apples, you have not escaped unblemished. Did you know there’s a test to see if you have forgiven completely? If you have relinquished the need to hold power over someone or given up the desire to to see them punished, you have forgiven. If you have not forgiven, you are holding onto a piece of the blemish and nothing good can come from that.
Matthew 6:14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”
What makes humans different from animals? There are variations on the answer but this is how I look at it. Conscience. Humans have the ability to discern right from wrong. Animals have awareness and senses that allow then to be trained to detect right from wrong but they aren’t born with that ability, nor can they foresee the consequences of choices. Maybe the reason we adore our pets so much is because they are such good listeners, they follow us around like we are their heroes, and they forgive us when we’re grumpy. And we forgive them. How much more could we save that basket of apples if we could all forgive each other like we forgive Lassie, Tippy, Patches, or Bruno.
Everyone who visits this office brings joy – some by entering, some by leaving. I want to be the one who enters.