The Difference Between Your Role and Your Identity

Ecclesiastes 10:10

If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.

identity

One trait that most people rarely develop into a positive habit is learning the art of turning failure into success. Like an old ax with a dull blade, we continue to exert more physical energy in its use rather than employ sound wisdom on the problem. Like the person who keeps trying to mop up the water in the bathroom without first turning off the faucet, we work harder rather than smarter. But sound wisdom is available for those who are tired of continually falling short of the mark.

To pursue any type of success without expecting setbacks is like running a marathon without expecting to take a drink of water. Life is not designed that way. The quicker one learns to turn lemons into lemonade, the more enjoyable life will become.

First failure is in the eye of the beholder. Thomas Edison failed over two thousand times to find the perfect filament for the electric light bulb. That is how an outsider viewed the situation. However, Mr. Edison himself simply viewed each test as one step in the process of eliminating what doesn’t work.

The largest reason, I believe, people are able to properly manage the mental anguish of failure is the ability to separate their identity as a person from the role they are working through. When you truly realize you are a child of the same God who holds the universe together, held in the grip of Jesus Christ, made and being morphed into his image, you have an eternal identity which no failure nor person can remove. However, when your identity is found in anything else (no matter how good it may look or be), you have made an idol that will eventually come crumbling down.

When you can separate your identity from your role in life, then you will find it easier to evaluate the situation and come up with more reasonable solutions to your dilemma. However, when you use your role as your identity cup, that cup will leave you totally empty when the role is over. Roles come and go but your identity in Christ remains forever.

You see this all the time. The person whose career is over becomes lost because their identity was solely buried in their work. The mother whose identity was found in her children becomes lost when the children leave home. The teenager whose identity is found with his friends becomes lost if not accepted by his peers or their friends move away. The athlete whose identity is found on the football field finds himself loss when he is discarded because of his age.

When you know who you are in Christ though, then each role

you accept becomes a learning process of developing the necessary skills needed to succeed in that role. No matter how well you succeed or fail to succeed, you are only defining your ability to manage that role. Your identity in Christ doesn’t change. Yes, you may be a lousy waitress, but you are an awesome child of God. Yes, you may be a lousy ballplayer, but you can improve by sharpening the necessary skills need to succeed. The same with any role you have chosen to pursue.

Of course, when you build your role upon the God-given gifts and natural abilities given, the path will be easier. Yet motivation and hard work developing the necessary skill set is also necessary and doable. You may not become the #1 rated person in your industry, but you will be greatly respected for what and how you do it.

So, the next time you find yourself short of your mark, thank God for the opportunity you have been given, find yourself a mentor, and know that failure only sets the bar for you to discover what you need to change to become more effective in the role you are working through.

Don’t confuse your identity with your role. Master your role. Keep centered in your identity. Then failure is only a holding pattern in a learning process of improving your role.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
Great Business Emulates a Good God
Be Radical…Follow Christ!
Simply The Messenger
Unequally Married

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