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  • Melinda K. Bowens

Keeping It Simple: Roles

I have written a bit before about how each blog post causes me to be a little more honest with myself before I can be a little more honest with you. Today is no exception.

So, I sometimes (read as a lot of the times) struggle with the concept of a little something called…control. Like, if this were a college football game (cause War Eagle), I would want to come up with the playbook, call the plays, run the routes, and be in charge of reviewing the call after the whistle. Yes, I would want to essentially micromanage every single aspect from one end of the field to the other. Football may not be your deal but keep tracking with me.


As I typed those thoughts, all I can think was “that sounds incredibly exhausting!” And just so we know, it is! I have often taken on the idea that I need to be able to do all the things so my life will turn out exactly “right.” And more accurately, I have taken on the idea that I know how life is “supposed” to go, so I start trying to make people and things fit the picture I created in my mind. Which again, is an exhausting mindset.

Imagine working for a company with 85 employees, each with their own unique talents and responsibilities. Now imagine having your own talents and responsibilities but trying to complete those other 84 jobs all in the same work day. How?! Like, how could you do that?! In reality, you couldn’t, and neither could I! But somehow that does not stop us from trying to live and manage the lives of others each day.


I’m sure you have heard the phrase “you can’t change other people” at some point in your life. While that is true, I want us to think about what happens internally for us when we try and play life organizer for everyone. Keep in mind, we already have individual talents and responsibilities…but decided to be extra!

Each of us have a role during our lifetime (or as the Bible puts it, we are a part of one body). However, when we begin to try and fill the role (or roles) of someone else, we create a bit of a mess called role ambiguity. Now Christ believer or not, role ambiguity is a thing and you can read more about it here, if you’re interested (my inner nerd really wants you to be interested). But let me give you the basics.

Role ambiguity occurs in any area of life where we become unsure of what is being asked or required of us. The could be in our families, careers, relationships, anything! Because there is a difference between attempting to help someone with their load (good thing) and taking on someone else’s load as our own (not a good thing). And as strong and helpful as we think we are sometimes; role ambiguity is not without its consequences. This type of uncertainty, whether real or perceived, causes burnout, stress, and conflict (among other things).

So, where do we go from here?? I do have an idea!


If control is how we arrived at this point, then letting go of control is how we leave this place. That was cute, but vague, so I have more. The antidote to control is trust. And as believers, we have a specific trust. We trust that God is far wiser than us on our best days, so He clearly must know what’s going on here. Now, there is scripture to support that claim and I’ll list a few below, but we still need to focus on our role.

I am pretty certain that each of us have experienced so many unnecessary pressures because we decided to try and navigate someone else’s life. When in reality, we are only responsible for our role in life. Nothing more and nothing less. Yes, that will include serving other people (cause Jesus served and so will we), but it will not include living their life for them.

If we believe that Christ empowers us for our life’s journey, then we must equally believe that same strength is available to others. We’re not God and it’s time we take the weight off of pretending.


Let’s do the work!

1. List each of your roles and their responsibilities (include family, work, church, etc…)

2. Are each of these roles yours to have? Why or why not?

3. If a role is not yours to have, how can you eliminate it or give it back to its owner?

Helpful Verses:

In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.

Romans 12:5 GNT

For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9 HCSB

O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

Psalm 40:5 NLT

Help carry one another's burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 GNT

We each must carry our own load.

Galatians 6:5 CEV

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