Calling, Role, or Identity? Ways to Know the Difference

puppet manHave you discerned the difference between your roles and your identities?

They do overlap, but if you mix them up, it can be very painful when the role is ended, damaged, or destroyed.

Fortunately, these mixed-up identities are usually fairly easy to sort out, especially if you take charge early on.


How can you separate a role from a true identity?

A role is usually a task or a function.

It may be very important (like that of a parental role), but the ultimate goal is for it to end a helping handand to be successful. For example, the goal of a parent is to stop being “god” to the child, to stop being the sole source of material support when it’s appropriate. Empty nesters can be miserable or they can rejoice in the success of their little birds flying on their own.

A role may falsely look like a calling.

Most folks understand the concept of a calling–it’s what you were “meant for”. It gives you a deep feeling of satisfaction and joy even when the going gets tough. Even when you suffer setbacks or failures, the calling remains true to your heart. You can’t imagine doing anything else with your life . . . ever.

A role can change many times but a calling remains.

I worked as a physician assistant for 23 years, and as an ambulance EMT for 2 years. I spent some time as a medical receptionist/billing clerk and volunteered in a clinic as a teenager (in a hospital setting I would have been called a candy striper). bandaging the woundsI also filled in as a clinic file clerk for a while. These were all roles. My calling was to be a healer; the work positions were roles within that calling. Today I am a listening prayer counselor, fulfilling my calling as a healer. Different roles, same calling.

A calling still isn’t an identity. It complements the identity.

Your identity must come from The Creator.


this is part 6 of a series on Identity

Part 1| Who Do You Think You Are?

Part 2| Did Your Parents Dictate Your Identity?

Part 3| Did Your Cultural or Religious Upbringing Dictate Your Identity?

Part 4|Is Your Identity Tied to Family History?

Part 5| Is Your True Identity Submerged by Your Important Life Roles?

Part 6| Is a Career Becoming Your Identity?

Part 7|Calling, Role, or Identity? Ways to Know the Difference

Part 8| Lies Cause the Strongest False Identities

Part 9| Speak the Truth to Your Identity


All illustrations courtesy of