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!

Artificial Authenticity

I have recently been reading the wonderful book The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells.  This is a great read which I highly recommend to anyone who is involved in ministry.  I read a section of the book yesterday that really intrigued me.  Mr. Wells deals with the shift of focus in western culture from character to personality.

Allow me to explain (I didn’t understand what he meant at first either).  It used to be that a person was judged by their character (i.e. who they are in private, what they stand for publically and privately).  I’ve heard it said many times that the only contract they had in those days was a handshake.  Not so much anymore.  Character has taken a back seat to personality.  People don’t seem too concerned about the inside (you know, the part God sees), they are preoccupied with what other people see.  (btw, I’m not just thinking of holiness)

One of the buzzwords of the day is Authenticity.  Some have even given placed authenticity at the highest place of importance for business in the future.  We hear it a lot; be authentic, authentic worship, authentic ministry, authentic relationships, etc.  Maybe “buzzword” isn’t fair.  I don’t have anything against being authentic; in fact, I embrace the idea that we should be authentic (in our worship, ministry, relationships, etc.).  The problem is, too often, authenticity is applied to the personality, and not to the character.

As a result, the term, “authenticity” is misconstrued to mean the projection of the personality.  As long as we are “being real” in our interactions with people, the character of the person behind the image is hidden and irrelevant…for now.  But a person’s character will always come to light.  (Oops!  Um…You character is showing!)

True authenticity starts with the character and works itself out into the personality.  If I want to “be real”, it must start on the inside, and too often, the inside is something that we don’t even want to look at, let alone let others see.  What we need is an authentic move of the Holy Ghost in our lives that will change us, starting with the character and working out to our personality.

That is authentic authenticity!