One of our role models when it comes to this is the young Ruth in the bible. She was the daughter-in-law of Naomi from the land of Moab who refused to return back to her people but cleave to Naomi, her mother-in-law.
But first let’s talk about Orpah.
The action of Ruth had somehow portrayed her as the ‘bad one’ in our subconscious. In our subconscious, we want to be like Ruth because Orpha is the unacceptable one. Should they be presented with the same situation, with the reality that comes with it, they would also make Orpah’s choice.
And Orpah did not do anything wrong. Not at all.
Orpah genuinely loved her mother-in-law. She started the journey because she was a dutiful lady. She took on her role and would have followed Naomi to Bethlehem.
She followed until she was relieved of her duties and at this point, before God and man, no obligation was laid on her anymore. She cried sincerely when her mother-in-law gave her the reasons why she couldn’t continue anymore. She had a people and god to go back to, she also owed them her loyalty.
But the extra mile:
For Ruth, it wasn’t at all about following Naomi to Bethlehem. She chose what Naomi represented and it was beyond obligations. Beyond what the law dictates for her. “For you to be able to go the extra mile, you must have embraced that vision beyond the legal obligation”.
The extra mile is not a split second decision, it’s an attitude you would have developed overtime, something that has become part of you. It is not for the purpose of outdoing others.
Ruth had developed that tendency long before she was known and it wasn’t displayed just in the big decision of following Naomi, but in the sum of every little things she did viz:
● She clung to Naomi even when obligations had been lifted off her.
● She wasn’t satisfied with sitting at home and so told Naomi to permit her to go to the field with a strong determination not to return empty, even if it meant gathering left overs at the risk of being molested.
● She worked from morning to evening making sure she never moved beyond her boundaries. She stuck to her plans of collecting leftovers so much that someone decided to purposely leave lots of leftovers for her.
● When she was offered something to eat, she had some leftovers and she took it to her mother-in-law. She didn’t just eat and leave.
● She did what her mother-in-law asked even though it meant being in the place where she wasn’t supposed to. When she told Naomi that she will go with her no matter what, she wasn’t bluffing.
● Until she married into the house Naomi, she stopped at nothing and here we can see the weight of what she said on the road to Bethlehem.
The next time you say; ‘I will go the extra mile’, know this:
The passion for which you want to go the extra mile must be stronger than the obligation you have. So if you are not passionate, you might only do just enough, no more.
If you are not prepared to go to the very end, you cannot go the extra mile.
Sometimes it will require you to put yourself out there, not knowing what it will bring, and make you walk roads at the end of which you know not what lies.
It is a pattern you will be known with; consistency. You cannot go the extra mile in one thing and shrink away in another.
It is a capacity you build into yourself over time by being true to the little steps you take. It is not one big split second decision.