There Is No Traffic Jam On The Second Mile!

This post is based on material from Dave Anderson’s book, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. It is the third post in a series of five in which we will address common character issues for leaders. The character issue we are addressing is going the second mile.

second mileOne of my favorite people in the whole world is Zig Ziglar! If you have ever met him or listened to him, it is likely that you feel the same! First of all, how can you not love his southern drawl?

But even without that, he just knows how to say things in a way that cuts to the heart of it all. The title of this post is a quote of Zig’s, “There is no traffic jam on the second mile!”

What Does The Bible Say?

To get a complete understanding of how this applies to us, let’s take a look at Scripture first. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed his listeners that just doing the minimum required was not enough to be His follower. He gave them several examples of this kind of behavior.

One of these examples referred to a Roman law that required a Jew to carry a Roman soldier’s heavy pack for the distance of a mile. Jesus told his listeners in Matthew 5:41 that they were to carry the pack for a second mile.

Why The Second Mile?

Now why would he ask this? Well the Bible does not specify, but we can infer a likely possibility. Imagine the thoughts of the Roman soldier as he walked alongside the Jew carrying his heavy pack. He and the Jew both know that the obligation is for one mile.

What do you think the soldier’s thoughts would be as he neared the one mile mark and then continued past? When the Jew continued to carry the pack beyond that, don’t you think the soldier would be curious? Do you think he might ask what was going on?

Open Door for Witness and Influence

It is at this point that I believe the Jew would have the opportunity to explain his reasons, starting with Jesus’ teaching and how it had changed his own life. I believe the Roman soldier would then be wide open to hearing more from the Jew simply because he was willing to go the second mile, beyond his obligation.

So how does this apply to leadership? I think it is very applicable! As Christian leaders, I believe it is our goal to gain influence and to use that influence to point others toward Jesus. In his book, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK, Dave Anderson says the following…

Going the first mile fulfills an obligation. By going the second mile, you earn the right to witness and influence.

Unlike The Majority

If we truly want to influence others by operating a Christian business, then we simply cannot just fulfill our obligations. We cannot do only what is required or necessary. This is expected! Zig’s quote is so powerful because he is saying that the vast majority of people stop at the first mile and skip out on the second mile! We cannot afford to be like the majority.

If we are serious about pointing others to Jesus, then we must open the door to opportunities to speak into the lives of others. This second mile behavior will help us do just that! When we go beyond our obligation in whatever the circumstance, we will get the attention of others. People will ask “Why?” and give us the opportunity to tell them!

Dave Anderson’s Tips

Here are Dave Anderson’s tips on going the second mile:

  1. Accept the concept that each day you do less than you can, you become less than you are: personally, and in the eyes of others.
  2. Embrace the promise of Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
  3. Realize that you may be one phone call away, one discipline away, or one effort away from your next breakthrough. Make it your goal to be totally used up when you die, leaving this world with no regrets.

So what part of this idea speaks to you?

Do you have any examples of open doors from going the second mile?

What can you do today that would open a door with someone?

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  • I had never really thought of the reason for going the second mile.
    I particularly like the idea of embracing Galatians 6:9. I imagine the going gets tough pretty often. I’m also convicted that we should be praying for these opportunities. Praying for hearts to be open and to have these “divine appointments” when we have the opportunity to witness.

    • You are correct in saying we should be praying for these opportunities. Though it is hard to pray against comfort, it IS in line with Scripture.

  • Bradley J Moore

    I think we need to be careful about building our activities around hidden motives – “Oh, I’ll go the extra mile so that I can pounce on the guy and make him listen to me.” I don’t think it works like that. We need to be going the extra mile, just because it’s the right thing to do. Not because we’re vying or positioning ourselves for something else, or to manipulate others. It makes Christianity into some kind of game, or competition, instead of being authentic and honest and forthcoming.

    I do agree that people will respect and notice the humble acts of faith, but that’s not why we should do it.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Chris!

    • I agree with part of what you are saying, Bradley. When you use words like “pounce” or “make him listen” or “manipulate others”, I cringe. I do not want to advocate that behavior. If any of that type of thought came out in my post, I apologize. I was not at all intended.

      At the same time, I believe we are commanded to Go and make disciples. I do not think that is a passive command and I believe too many people think it is (not accusing you here!).

      As I said in the post, Matthew does not explain why Jesus told us to go the second mile. I am in complete agreement that He did not intend it for manipulation, I do think He wants us to “be prepared to give a reason for the hope we have” and this type of activity will most often give us an opportunity to do so.

      I see no “game” or “competition” in what I am recommending. I see this as an opportunity to show our love for others. I think a natural extension of that love is to share our faith when given the chance.

      I hope this makes sense. If I missed this target in the post, I am sorry.

  • Bridge building relationships takes time, patience, persistence, and the same perseverance that God has with us… Go the extra mile means willing to do whatever it takes to earn the right to share. Using the bridge building theme it means not standing on your side inviting, nor seeking to meet the person halfway, but crossing the bridge and going to where they are and earning the right to guide them back across the bridge. This translate in the workplace in so many applications. Good message Chris!