Do you ever feel like a zero? As we moved into studying about decimals there were some students who characterized themselves as zeros. Now I could not let that stand but neither did I think arguing with them about their perceived self-worth was going to be effective. After all they were expressing deep seated feelings, and those powerful feelings do not always take second place to facts. So even if I used my imagination and creativity to come up with positive things about them maybe I could only raise them up to be a 2. No, that would not be an effective tactic to try.

Instead, I told my class a story about what happened recently at the bank. I took in two checks to be deposited one was for $30,000 and the other for $200. Now I should add that $30,000 checks are not my normal deposits. But when the girl processed everything and gave me the receipt, she had my deposit listed as $320. It was a simple mistake as she just left out a whole lot of zeros. I used that illustration to make the point that zeros are crucial in math, and they can be extremely valuable in life.

Now zeros can be thought of as just placeholders. But in reality, zeros can make a number bigger or smaller. Put a zero to the left of the decimal point and it increases the value of the number 10-fold. A Zero to the right of the decimal point decreases the number by a factor of 10. I challenged my students to think about the impact that they have on others. Even if they think of themselves as a zero, they can have a powerful effect on others. In the way that we act, think, and interact with others are we encouraging them to growth in their relationship with God, to better themselves, to act in beneficial and positive ways. That’s putting our zero to the left of the decimal point. But in our own behavior we can also be affecting others just like a zero to the right of the decimal point. Do we encourage our peers in the path of rudeness, disobedience or other negative behaviors and thinking?

God gives us the opportunity and the ability no matter what we think of ourselves, to have a tremendous impact on others. We may not think this or realize it, but it is real. It is as real as the impact of the missing zeros in my bank deposit. Hopefully they will take this as a challenge to think about what side of the decimal point they are on. Then, as they strive to add their zero to the left they will begin to see themselves differently. Then, they will see the unique person that God has made them and the abilities that He has given them. Then, they might begin exercising and developing those characteristics and eventually see that zero is only part of their number and that God has really made them a 10.