I Didn’t Expect That!

Rafael Nadal playing on a clay court.


Rafael Nadal is a 19-time Grand Slam Tennis champion. When I retired from Frazer in 2008, the church gave Lynn and me tickets to attend the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament in London. We saw Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer for the first time in the longest finals match ever played at Wimbledon.

Recently, the tennis world saw pictures of the real heart of Rafael Nadal. He had just finished an extensive practice session on a clay court. A clay court has to be swept and watered when players finish. Nadal did something that I’ve learned he always does. He took the big broom and started sweeping the court. He said he wanted to leave it in good shape for the next folks that would play. Nobody expected that!

What an attitude! One of the best players in the history of tennis, and he’s doing the unexpected task of sweeping the courts. I’ve never done that nor seen other tennis players do that!

I remember a couple of years ago watching Vanderbilt win the College Baseball World Series. Vanderbilt players raced onto the field and had the big dogpile. They excitedly received the college championship trophy. They held it high and proudly showed it to their fans. It was a great celebration.

I continued watching as the players left the dugout and the field. I noticed one of the best players went back to the dugout. He took a big garbage bag and started cleaning up the trash in the dugout. He had just contributed to winning the baseball championship, and now he was cleaning the dugout! Nobody expected that! Real champions are not too big to do little things.

The president of a big company called his executive team together for a very important discussion about the future of the company. When the president walked in, he noticed some trash on the floor. He simply asked why no one had cleaned up that trash. Different excuses were offered.

The president of the company then said, “Before we start our meeting, let me teach you something that obviously you didn’t learn in school.” He found a couple of items. He held up the first and said, “This is a broom. It’s made so that you can sweep up things.” Next, he held up the other item and said, “This is a dustpan. This is the way you collect the trash from the floor.” He invited them to watch him demonstrate the use of those two items. He swept the trash onto the dustpan and carried it out to a receptacle in the hall. He then came back to the meeting, which was very short. He simply said, “The future of this company will be determined by how well people do the things they’re not expected to do.”

The scope of a big accomplishment is related to the willingness to do the little things that others don’t expect you to do.

At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus called His disciples together. The disciples were discussing who would get the best spot in God’s Kingdom. While they argued about the top, Jesus took a towel and began to wash their feet. He taught by example – not by arm twisting, but by knee bending. He then said, “I gave you an example that you should also do as I did to you.” (John 13:15) Nobody expected that!

Jesus said, “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.” (Matt 5:41) The mile that means the most is the unexpected extra mile!

How many unexpected extra miles are on your odometer?

Image Credit: Alberto Carrasco Casado / CC 2.0 / cropped & resized

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