Click for audio: Roles and Purpose
It is easy to think of the many roles we play in life and associate them with our purpose for being here. We might invest so much in the role that we think of it as our purpose. The problem with doing this is that the role may end. Then what is our purpose? Or, what if we don’t play the role so well? What if we weren’t the world’s best parent, or the best player on the team, or the smartest kid in the 8th grade? Will we then judge ourselves as flawed from that point on?
Whether we like it or not, as long as we have a body, we will be engaged in a variety of roles. We are a son or daughter, a mom or dad, a salesman or a housewife, a CEO or an employee. And if we’re playing none of these roles, we are, at the very least, a spiritual being playing the role of a human being.
Roles change but the essence we bring to them does not. If we seek to find our purpose in the roles we play, then we are defined by the roles. We take our cues from role models. If we bring our own sense of purpose to the role, then we define the role. We bring to it an unprecedented quality that presses the role into service of the soul rather than the other way around.
You and I are not what we do. We do not want to fall into the trap of defining ourselves by our roles of age, occupation, place in family, position in society, titles, degrees, economics, or anything else in our physical history. That which we are transcends all of these roles. We will outlast every one of them.
As you move through your day, observe the many roles you play. You become the parent, the consumer, the driver, the hiker, the congregant, the board member, the artist, the person standing in the line at the post office. Pause to acknowledge, “This is not who I am. This is what I am doing right now. I am much more than what I do.” Then, in that very setting, consider what this “much more” is. Who is this being playing this particular role? Who is this being that has suddenly become conscious of playing this role?
Does this sound like a silly game? Try it. With a little practice, you may change your mind.