Purpose, Identity, Calling, Function
He was the ruler of the kingdom and the most powerful man in the whole empire, yet he was powerless when it came to his son. As he looked down at his son and his son’s three friends, the loving father concealed his emotion and asked, “Son, what is your purpose in life? What is your three friends’ purpose in life? Think carefully before you speak, because your answer will determine what type of king you will be, and whether you are ready to assume a king’s duties.”
The son smiled broadly and answered with confidence, “Oh, that’s very easy, Father; Lion is here to protect us, Eagle is here to provide food, Ox is here to carry our possessions, and I am here to rule them, and to tell them what to do.” A shocked silence descended on the throne room.
These are not Human’s famous last words, but it was his first words in The Four Faces. As we journey with Human, Lion, Ox, and Eagle, we realize the beginning is not as important as the end. How does it end? Will they find the answer?
Human gave the wrong answer. When we read further, we realize his three friends…Eagle, Ox, and Lion…also had no idea what their purpose was.
We laugh but at the same time we cry, because the question comes back to us, to you and me.
Do you know what your purpose is? Do you know what is meant by purpose? Where does identity and calling come in?
What Does It Mean?
Purpose is why something is done, or created or for which something exists. Synonyms for purpose are intention, aim, goal, end, and plan.
A calling is when you have a strong urge towards leading a particular life or towards a specific career or a vocation. General synonyms for calling are profession, occupation, trade. A calling is an inner impulse or urge that is usually divinely inspired.
Function is an activity or purpose that is natural or intended for a person or thing. It can be an assigned duty or activity. Synonyms for function are office, duty, role, and behave.
Identity is who or what the person or thing is. It is about the characteristics of the person or object, the collective aspects. Synonyms for identity are sameness, oneness.
That is my identity.
We are created with a free will. Many times man puts labels on us that are untrue. When we believe it, and think it is part of our identity, we accept the false identity. We have a choice whether we want to assume the identity determined by man or by God.
Identity has two facets. I have the unique identity that defines who I am, and then I have an identity that belongs to a group. For example, my identity book contains a unique number that identifies me. At the same time the identity book classifies me belonging to the group South Africa.
Exodus 3:13–15 (NLT) – But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.
This is my purpose. Purpose is established by God.
Purpose is not something you necessarily know immediately but is revealed with time. The Four Faces had to go on a journey that took them a year before they understood their purpose. Prayer and obedience helps to reveal your purpose.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) - For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
That is my calling.
The greatest difference between calling and purpose is to give and to get. Calling is what I can give to the world, that which I am called to become. Even if we don’t know God, or am disobedient to God, our calling drives us, urges us. Purpose is what you get. It is why you came here; it is what you get from life which you take with you when you leave.
Jeremiah 1:4–8 (ESV) – The Call of Jeremiah – Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”
That is the function.
Ephesians 4:11–13 (NIV) - So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.