The Extra Mile

I’ve heard it.  You’ve heard it.

“We go the extra mile.”

“He is a great worker, always going the extra mile.”

“We need someone with initiative; someone willing to go the extra mile.”

I never knew the origin of the phrase until recently.  Les Parrot shares the source in his book 3 Seconds: The Power of Thinking Twice.

[Roman Soldiers] often carried heavy packs for great distances. Many of these soldiers, walking through a civilian area, would order a person to carry their pack for them. The practice was so common—and so resented—that a law was passed in the empire that required a young boy given this order to carry the soldier’s backpack for a Roman mile, or about a thousand paces, in either direction from his home. In those days, it was not unusual to see sticks in the ground along village lanes, where boys had marked off the distances they would have to walk if a soldier requested it.
Because this practice was so widespread in Jesus’s time, he used it in his Sermon on the Mount as a means of teaching one of the most revolutionary relationship principles ever taught. None of his listeners liked being forced to carry anything any distance for a Roman soldier. But Jesus didn’t just preach that they should obey the law. Instead he said that if they were ordered to carry a soldier’s burden for a mile, then they should carry it two miles. This is where we get the phrase, “the extra mile.” And it all comes down to doing something above and beyond what’s required.

Are you just doing what’s required; just what’s expected of you?  Do you find yourself trying to find the minimum you can do to fulfil your responsibility?  Are you surprising anybody by going the extra mile?

Surprise your spouse.  Surprise your kids.  Surprise your boss.  surprise your teacher.  Surprise a friend.  Surprise your pastor.

Go the extra mile; just see what it will do.  You may surprise yourself!

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2 thoughts on “The Extra Mile”

  1. Another great blog, Bro. Tyler. With this origin, it’s interesting to note that the challenge to go the extra mile was presented as something to do for a person for whom you didn’t even want to go the FIRST mile. Going the extra mile for those we appreciate is difficult sometimes. Going the extra mile for someone we don’t want to serve in the first place – that’s a real challenge. It’s fitting that Les Parrot calls this a “revolutionary relationship principle.” Right up there with “love your enemy” and “pray for them that despitefully use you.”

    1. This is a great point, Bro. McGee. It is a whole lot easier to “go the extra mile” when it is beneficial to self (i.e. in a relationship, in business). It is a different story when it comes to a matter of blessing for someone or something you don’t care much for. Roll up your sleeves!

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