Purpose, Calling, Assignment: What's the Difference?
September 23, 2019
Lisa C. Gant
Welcome to another episode of Purpose Without Apology! In this episode, I explain the difference between purpose, calling and assignment. These words are used interchangeably all the time in church settings, but how many of us really understand what they mean? Here, I break it all down into simple terms that you can easily apply to your everyday life.
What is purpose?
- According to Collins Dictionary, purpose is known as "the reason for which something is made or done"
- Our purpose as Christ followers boils down into 3 parts:
- We exist to glorify God. (1 Peter 2:9)
- We exist to do good. (Ephesians 2:10)
- We exist to expand the kingdom of God by way of the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20)
What is calling?
- According to Webster-Merriam, a calling is "a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action, especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence." It is also defined as "the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages."
- While purpose is a broader, more overarching term for why we exist, calling is more specific. It refers to your gifts, talents and abilities. (Ephesians 2:10)
- Calling can include what you do either professionally or personally. (Romans 8:28) For example, being gifted at graphic design and mentoring women in a weekly bible study can both be examples of your calling in action.
- Calling can be a role or status in society. (ex. You can be called to foster or adopt children, or to have a large family)
What is assignment?
- According to Webster-Merriam, an assignment is "a specified task or amount of work assigned or undertaken as if assigned by authority"
- While purpose and calling remain unchanged, an assignment is usually temporary, often limited to a certain season of time. (1 Corinthians 7:17)
- If your calling refers to your gifts, your assignment refers to the specific tasks you do with those gifts. (ex. Being gifted at graphic design/artwork is a calling; working as a graphic designer is an assignment.)
- You do not choose your purpose, calling or assignments. However, you can choose how to partner with God in order to manifest them on Earth.
- Purpose is not a tightrope. It’s not a prison. It’s a wide open field with a fence around it. In other words, God does give us some boundaries, but we also have more than enough room to explore and try new things.
- You are meant to be empowered by your purpose, calling and assignment, not burdened by them.
Using the definitions given in this episode, take 30 minutes and define your purpose, calling and assignment as best you can.
"The Truth About Finding Your Passion" - The Courtney Sanders Show, Episode 79