Defining Roles

For part of the past month that I have been in Pennsylvania, I worked at a preschool covering for one of the teacher assistants. For “Queens and Kings” and fairytale week, the kids got to come to school dressed up as their favorite fairytale or fantasy character. There were a couple of knights, quite a few pirates and Cinderella’s. The most popular character by far, however, was Elsa from Frozen. Even the little girls who were dressed up by their parents as another princess character wanted to be Elsa.

It being a preschool, the children naturally fell into role-playing games. They do that everyday, but being in full costume just made pretend-play that much more fun. The kids with stronger personalities stuck to the characters they wanted to be and would start assigning the meeker kids roles nobody really wanted. Over and over again, I heard it said in a five-year-old’s matter-of-fact tone: “I’m Elsa, you’re Anna.” Everyone wanted to be Elsa. Only the kids who were a little less assertive would grudgingly concede to being Anna. Sadly, no one wanted to be Olaf.

I watched them intently. I thought about how I, myself, would have chosen to be Anna – I think she is the real hero of that story. I also thought about how even as grown-ups, many of us act just like that – like kids at a role-playing game. We want to get to decide who we are in the story. We like to think that we get to decide who we are in the story. We like to think it’s our story.

Many of us will go through life playing role after role. There will be the roles we play in the relationships we have: child, sibling, spouse, parent. There will be the roles we play in the careers we pursue: student, teacher, writer, artist, businessperson. Some roles will be more ingrained in us than others. When asked what is it that defines us, many of us will give that one special role for an answer. It becomes, in a way, our life-defining role.

While I am proud of everything else I do and all the people I love, I know those and they  don’t make me who I am. There are roles to be filled. And then there’s a being to become.

The Bible says that when we made the decision to follow Jesus, not only have we stepped into a new role, we have become an entirely new being.

GALATIANS 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (NASB)

When we say we follow Jesus, we don’t just add a new persona of “Christian” to the list of all our other personas, we become an entirely new person.

This means that first and foremost: I am a child of God. I am a follower of Jesus. God defines me. Jesus gives me my identity.

Esther 4:14 says:

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?” (NASB, emphasis added)

There are only two books in the Bible who are named after women. The above verse is found in one of them. In addition, Esther is also the only book in the Bible that does not mention God by name. It shows no obvious supernatural intervention or miracle. It just shows a woman placed at the right place at the right time.

However, not only did she have to be in the right place, at the right time, she had to be the right person doing the right thing. We’re talking about a single person, simply performing the role that God has placed them there to do. That, my friends, is how you make history.

I always find it interesting that this verse offers the thought that perhaps we are not indispensable. God’s will and plan and this world will go on the way He wants it to whether or not we choose to do the right thing. I am not here to debate you on the theology of that. I am here to urge you to look at the second half of the verse. `

“Who knows whether you have attained royalty, for such a time as this?”

Who knows whether you have attained royalty… [your job, your family, your career, your situation, your place, your talent, your skills] for such a time as this?”

There is a need for us to do something. Here. Where we are. We have a role to play. Like the kids at the preschool, we can insist on being Elsa, when what we need to be is Anna. Perhaps we can outright choose to not play our roles. We can choose to play it the way we want to. We can choose to define it for ourselves. We can let the role define us.

Or we can ask God to define that role for us.

What will be your defining role?

The above post is derived from a sermon written and given at the Women of Influence gathering at Christ’s Chapel FGA in Parkesburg, PA on March 13, 2016. 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.





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