How would you describe yourself?
I recently enjoyed a women’s dinner gathering. Following dinner, we went around the circle to tell a bit about ourselves. The widely diverse group included teachers, parents, empty nesters, computer programmers, wives, widows, stay-at-home moms, grandmothers, travelers, scrapbookers, and sports fans. Some were beginning careers while others were pondering retirement.
We tend to fill many roles all at the same time. I am a wife, daughter, mom, friend, neighbor, writer, missions director, and new empty-nester. We switch gears depending on the needs and the demands at different times in the day. In most instances, we switch roles gracefully as the needs and the demands arise. Conflict mounts when two (or more) roles call at the same time: being mom to a sick child and employee for work create huge stress.
Much is written about balancing our roles. Self-help books abound. Many titles exist on how to parent, how to be a better spouse, how to speed clean your house (I need this), how to manage your time, and more. Books exist to help us transition roles as well. You can find how to buy a home, how to prepare for college, and how to embrace retirement. Oh my… we are all about our roles!
Purpose or Role?
Our biggest problems exists when we confuse roles with purpose. According to Scripture, we actually only have one purpose: To glorify God. We are to know God and make him known.
In our reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ, we receive Holy Spirit guidance to fulfill our divine purpose. He gives gifts and abilities to enable us to grow and to serve. We experience God’s presence as we step into mission and ministry serving the needs of others. We become intentional ambassadors of the good news of Jesus’ salvation message.
Purpose is not taught. We just become more aware of it. The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37) Worship, growing faith, sacrifice, and church life are all about exploring how to live out this purpose.
Roles, however, can be taught. So if I am a teacher, parent, gardener, etc., there are how-to books and we can ALL learn to do roles better.
Tangled Purpose and Role
Tremendous challenge occurs when we intertwine and tangle our purpose and our roles.
If I see may role of being a parent as my purpose, then I become lost when my child moves out of the house. That does not mean that I don’t miss him/her. But my life’s purpose does not end.
If I see my purpose as being a high school English teacher, when I retire I lose my purpose for life. Instead, if I recognize teaching as my spiritual gift, when I retire from my high school role I can take on new teaching opportunities to exercise my gift. I can use the gifts in another way in the community to teach ESL, in church to teach a Bible Study, etc. My purpose continues.
Jesus had one purpose: to bring the good news of salvation. But he had many roles. He worked diligently to ensure he stayed focused on his purpose. After prayer, he redirected the disciples to teaching instead of healing (Mark 1:38-39). His roles included son (even at his death he thought of his mom), carpenter (his friends and village knew him as a carpenter), a Jew ( he knew the Old Testament scripture and laws), Rabbi (mentored followers), Healer.
But his purpose: To direct people’s attention to God, to honor and glorify God.
What about you…?
Think through your roles. Are they tangled and intertwined with your purpose?
How are your roles changing? How can new roles oen opportunities for you to serve God’s Kingdom?
Written by Sharon R. Hoover