Almost every one of us has heard the expression “going the second mile”. You almost know when you hear the expression that “going the second mile” means that you must do more than you originally thought you were supposed to do. However, it goes deeper than that. I do not know if you have ever heard where this saying originated, but if not, I thought I would share it with you.
Years ago, in the Roman Empire, a soldier carried a heavy pack on his back. When there were no military barracks as we know it today, so at the end of each day, the Roman soldiers would walk home to the house where they lived. A law had been created that if a soldier compelled you to carry his pack for him, you had to do so. The law required that you had to carry his pack one mile in any direction. If it just so happened that you lived in the same direction as he did, then you were in luck, because you would be heading that way anyway. But, if you lived in a different direction, you were out of luck because you had to walk a full mile in the opposite direction of where you would normally be headed.
The Roman soldiers protected the Roman Empire, and they were fierce warriors. One of the ways the Roman government showed honor and respect to the soldiers was by creating this law that anyone who was told to carry their pack for them had to do so – but only for one mile. The packs could weigh a great deal, so a young boy who had to carry the pack for a mile could experience a heavy burden.
At the end of the mile, the Roman soldier would take the pack back away from the person who had been carrying it and would go on his way. I have heard stories over the years that young boys would often hide themselves from Roman soldiers when they saw them coming…especially late in the afternoon. They did not want to have to carry that heavy pack for a mile…especially if it was in the wrong direction from their own journey.
Occasionally, someone would show additional gratitude to the Roman soldier and not only carry the pack for one mile but would ask if they could carry it a second mile, also. This oftentimes came as a surprise to any Roman soldier. They knew that no one really wanted to carry their packs for one mile, much less two! But people who carried the packs for the second mile began to learn some things. They learned that the first mile was hard and laborious, but the second mile seemed to go by easier. The first mile was more of a “got to” obligation, but the second mile was a “get to” opportunity. People who went the second mile soon discovered that something transpired during the journey of the second mile. It seems that the first mile only fulfilled their responsibility. But the second mile they began to meet a friend.
You see, it is always during the first mile that someone else is in control over you. It may be an employer, or some other type of situation. You will not find much joy in only doing what you are required to do. That is called the first mile responsibility. However, in the second mile, things begin to change. You are in control at that point. You are no longer doing what you have been told to do or what you must do, you are doing what you want to do. You are experiencing success in the truest sense. You are learning to do new things that you had not done before in order to get new things you had not gotten before! That is when your heart and life begin to change.
I never will forget when I was in high school. I went to a party one night and everyone there had a date except me. I thought we were all supposed to come single, but it turns out we were all supposed to have a date. Rather than being upset at my lack of paying attention to the fact that I was supposed to have a date, I ended up serving everyone hot dogs and hamburgers all evening. I became the “head waiter” that night. Something happened in my heart that evening so long ago. I went home and told my mother what had happened. She said, “You experienced what it means to go the second mile. Tonight, you didn’t do what you had to do; you did what you wanted to do. That is where real freedom and joy occurs!”
I am so glad I learned that lesson many years ago. I wish I could say I have always followed it perfectly, but that would not be true. I have learned, however, that it is important to go the second mile in any endeavor. That is where real success in life occurs.
It is a fact that life did not call you to be the best person in the world, but life has called you to do your best in every endeavor. I hope this week you will look for a way to go the second mile and do things not because you have to, but because you want to. That is where you will experience a new level of freedom. That is where you’ll experience real, true success!
Tip: When you do more than is required, you will get more than expected!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm