21 Day Character Challenge – The First Chapter

21 Day Character Challenge is both a daily devotional and the story of Matt and Anna. Below is an excerpt from the book. If you want more please click on the “buy” button and get started on your 21 Day Character Challenge!

Treat Everyone Like A Ten

(Week One: Day One)

The Story

She was only sixteen, growing up in a lower middle-class family. Jackie had just found out that she was pregnant. Her family was in no place for her to quit her job so she went in to work that day as a cashier at a local grocery mart.

Anna decided to do her weekly shopping and filled her shopping cart with what looked like a month’s worth of groceries. As she laid her groceries onto the conveyor belt, she noticed the sorrowful disposition on her cashier’s face. Not thinking too much of it at the time, she kept loading the belt with her goods.

The checkout clerk began scanning Anna’s items and accidentally scanned one item twice but didn’t recognize it. Her mind was elsewhere. Anna did notice, however, and pointed it out right away. Jackie looked over the itemized bill and agreed that she had overcharged Anna. She didn’t say that she was sorry but did rectify the error. Finally nearing the end of the long conveyor belt full of canned goods and other groceries, Jackie did it again. Anna, being quite watchful at this point, pointed out the mistake. Jackie agreed to rectify this mistake as well. When it came time to pay for her goods, Anna paid in cash and the bill totaled one hundred and seventy dollars. She gave Jackie two crisp one hundred dollar bills. She was returned a twenty-dollar bill. Jackie had forgotten to give her the other ten.

At this point, Anna looked in into Jackie’s eyes and realized that something was wrong. Anna said to her, “I believe you still owe me ten dollars, but may I ask, are you okay? I’m not frustrated with you. I can see that you’re dealing with something important. Is there anything I can pray for you about?”

Jackie burst into tears and said, “Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kindness!” She told Anna to be praying as she steps into a new season of unexpected life, but didn’t go into any more detail.

In the afternoon that same day, Matt needed to do his weekly grocery shopping. He loaded his cart as full as he could because it was triple-coupon Wednesday. Matt happened to be in the line where Jackie was still working.

As Matt filled the conveyor belt full of canned goods, boxed food, and everything else he had in his cart, he noticed the checkout clerk seemed angry. He thought she was angry at him for having such an enormous order that she was going to need to scan. Matt was immediately upset. He thought about how that, in a way, he was paying this girl’s hourly wage and could not fathom how she dare scowl at him.

As the checkout clerk began to scan the food items, she made the same error as she had with Anna by double scanning one of the goods. Immediately, Matt caught her mistake. Jackie didn’t say she was sorry but did rectify the error. Matt was fuming. He thought, “How could she not apologize?”.

After all his groceries had been scanned into the system, Matt pulled out his wallet of coupons, one of them being worth several dollars in discounts, but was a day past its expiration. Jackie said that he couldn’t use that coupon because it had expired the day before.

Matt lost it! He told the checkout clerk that the coupon is only one day expired and that it was ridiculous that he couldn’t use it. He told her of how loyal a customer he had been and that he would never come back. He asked to see a manager stating that the checkout clerk had had it out for him the whole time.

As soon as Matt got irate, Jackie broke down in front of him. She told him of how she had just found out that she was pregnant; that her parents were going to kick her out of her house. She said that she would have honored the coupon except that the store policy didn’t allow her to do so after the expiration date. She explained that when she does honor an expired coupon, she is required to pay the difference to the store. At this point in her life, she couldn’t afford to do so.

Matt’s heart immediately melted in front of Jackie. He was reminded at that moment that his life was not the only one that mattered. After getting her name, he apologized to Jackie and had learned an extremely valuable life-lesson.

The Devotion

This may be the most important and mission-critical piece of advice that I have received and am trying to live out this year. The advice: Treat everyone like a ten.

Consider the Olympics. It seems like about half of the sports are won or lost based on a group of judges’ opinions of how good the Olympians perform. I am sure that their scores are based on some sort of objective scale, but as an onlooker, the scale appears rather subjective. Either way, we all understand the concept of being judged on a scale. Also interesting, no one makes a perfect score. It is impossible in sport judging to be perfect. At best, the athletes can only strive to beat the other opponents who have gone before them.

I believe that in life we tend to give everyone around us a score. We score people when we first meet them (first impressions) and when we have known them for a while (built upon a list of their strengths and shortcomings). It’s hard to get a “10 out of 10” on any one of our current people-scales.

However, a new way of thinking is to begin to score everyone a “10”. No one gets less. No one is immediately criticized [in your mind] when you first meet them. Those you have known for a while get a free pass and become a “10” to you now.

This begins to develop a deep love for people in you. You will cast out criticism. In its place, you put compassion. This isn’t just a change in how you interact with someone, it’s a total shift in the way you think about them.

The benefits of this type of discipline: character and influence. People want to be around those who treat them like a “10”. You get invited into meetings you had never been before. People go out of their way to be around you because they know you are safe not to criticize. You become known as an encourager. Perhaps the biggest gain with this change of heart is the favor of God. You can be sure that if you treat his children well, you will be blessed as well.

You can do this. I believe success is incremental. Daily, make choices to think of others as a “10”. Share this with anyone who would benefit. That’s probably most of us. This is important for me!

The Bible

1 Corinthians 13 | Mark 12 | 1 John 4

The Prayer

“Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your Word and the Truth it speaks to me. I pray that You would give me a heart to see Your people as you see them. In every situation may I treat them like You would treat them. Let this begin with my own family and friends. May my character be formed more and more into Your likeness. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

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