When you start getting into understanding personal and organizational leadership, you will start meeting words like purpose, calling, mission, vision, strategy, etc. These words are all important. And we need to understand what they mean because they shape how we think and understand others.
A lot of people wonder, what is the difference between a calling and a mission?
Well, the answer is simple. A calling and a mission are the same exact thing. A person who has discovered his calling has found his mission. Yet, there is a sense in which they are a little different.
Look at what the dictionary says about calling:
Merriam Webster’s dictionary (m-w.com)
1 : a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.
2 : the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
2. vocation, profession, or trade: What is your calling?
4. a strong impulse or inclination: She did it in response to an inner calling.
You cannot define a mission and use words like “a strong impulse“. Those words are reserved for calling because calling also carries the connotation that our lives were made for something bigger than ourselves and that we are called by someone–a divine being– or by something bigger than ourselves to fulfill that service. It’s not only the divine that can call, our country can also call us to serve.
Mission then is what is given to us when we are called. Calling embodies both the beckoning or invitation and the task that is given when we answer. The mission is the assignment. Our mission is what we or our organizations are to do — the assignment.
Imagine a young brave fighter who was called by his King to go and serve his country. He answered the call to serve his country. The king gave him a mission to lead a group of fighters to go and besiege and destroy an enemy village.
In this story, the calling and the mission are different. It is important to understand that difference.
However, in real life, it’s okay to use mission and calling interchangeably because, in the end, they describe the same thing.