How to Make a Difference: Taking Initiative and Going the Extra Mile

Recently, I wrote an article on making a difference. My point in that was to realize that you can influence others and make a difference in their lives, even if you don’t feel like you can. As someone pointed out, however, I didn’t really talk about how to go about doing it.

Sometimes it can be something small, like helping someone carry something, or it can be something really big, like helping someone find a place to stay after their house burned down. It can be a bit more complicated with advice sometimes, but it does come down to something very essential, and that’s taking action, also known as taking the initiative.

Many times, people aren’t helped with simple things simply because others do not take action out of an expectation that others will; thus, no one does anything. Don’t be that way. Be the person who takes initiative. Too often, people just expect that at least one person will do something, and then everyone thinks that, and no one gets helped. Instead, take the initiative and motivate and encourage others to help out too.

Basically, don’t wait for others to do something. Just go ahead and do what you can to help, even if it’s something you think is little, because that little thing may turn into something very big.
The next thing to do is going the extra mile, something that Christians are very familiar with in terminology although many do not seem to follow it, unfortunately. The phrase comes from Matthew 5:41, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which says, “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.”

Specifically, Jesus was talking about a practice by Roman soldiers, who could ask someone to carry their armor for them for one mile, and whoever was asked was obligated to, but only for a mile and no more. Jesus was saying a lot when he asked for his followers to do this.

The Romans weren’t exactly favored by the Jews, as the latter were a conquered people and viewed the Romans as oppressors. Jesus was not only saying to help someone by obeying the law, he was saying to take it a step further and volunteer to help carry the armor, which was very heavy, for a whole other mile. This meant helping someone who was viewed as an enemy of God in the eyes of the Israelites.

Essentially, it comes down to this: in order to make a difference, you have to take the initiative in acting to do so. By going the extra mile, you’ll not only stand out but also make a statement about your character, a statement that others may be inspired to emulate.

So the next time it looks like someone could use a helping hand, just go ahead and offer, and then go above and beyond the call of duty by going that extra mile. If it’s help with groceries, offer to help carry some and then offer to help them put them away. If it’s with someone’s car you see broken down, ask if you can do anything to help, and follow up and see that they got the help, if you’re able.

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