I remember learning about the “The Imposter Phenomenon” or “Imposter Syndrome” while pursuing my nurse practioner certification. This occurs when a person feels like a fraud. It is when smart, successful people fail to see that their accomplishments are valid or good enough (Correll, 2019). With this syndrome, one often feels like despite their best efforts, they are still falling short and are often afraid of being exposed. And if I am being honest, as I think about starting a new position as a new nurse practioner in a clinic in a foreign country in a few months, I will admit that these thoughts often plague my thinking.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon can also show up in the life of a Christian. Have you ever felt like a fake or a fraud? Or afraid of being exposed? Maybe you look at other Christians and you think, “Man she really has this figured out” or “I wish I knew my Bible like him.” Maybe you don’t really know how to study your Bible and you think, “I hope no one finds out…”
Or maybe you have struggled with thoughts like:
If they only knew how much I struggle with doubt.
My faith seems so small compared to hers.
I am a huge mess inside.
Everyone else seems so happy... so what is wrong with me?!
I’m not enough.
This syndrome can paralyze us in our walk with Christ and we wind up sitting on the side lines instead of pursuing new opportunities for the sake of the gospel.
So how do we shake this feeling? How do we cure this syndrome? Here are 5 tips that have remedied imposter syndrome in my life:
Tip One: Remember You are Not Alone
Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are the only ones with certain feelings of inadequacy. This leaves us feeling alone and as if we have no one to relate to. But the truth is, at some point in time, everyone has felt like fraud in their life. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). That includes imposter syndrome.
Tip Two: Take Your Thoughts Captive by Focusing on the Word of God
2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” When the thoughts of imposter syndrome take you captive, you take them captive. One way to do this is to take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns. In one column, write down all the thoughts currently taking you captive. For example: fear of failure, comparison, doubt, insecurity. In the column next to it, write out scriptures that combat those feelings. Remember, those thoughts do not control you, you control them. When Satan tries to convince you of the lie that you do not belong, remember the truth that Christ died on the cross to justify your belonging. If you have obeyed the gospel, by the blood of Christ, you belong—you belong in the church, and if you have breath in your lungs, God is not done with you yet. Take those thoughts captive.
Tip 3: Redefine Your Weaknesses
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Today we are often taught that our weaknesses our bad. We are taught to filter our weaknesses, or water them down or maybe even pretend like we do not have them. But the truth is, God will use us despite our weaknesses. And actually, when we boast in our weaknesses and allow God to work through us despite them, we end up bringing God glory. When the devil tries to harm you with the thorns of fear and inadequacy, allow the word of God to heal those wounds and remind you of who you are in Christ and what your purpose is despite your inadequacies.
Tip 4: Tell a Trusted Friend
Sometimes, especially as women, we can spiral in our thinking and we need someone to stop the spiraling with a word of truth. Fear of judgement often prevents us from doing this. But scripture tells us to “bear one another’s burdens” and to “confess your faults to one another.” Telling someone what you are struggling with allows them to serve you and bear the burden with you. I used the word “trusted” because this should be someone you know will offer you biblical counsel.
Tip 5: Focus on God’s Ability Instead of Your Inability
As long as you focus on your inability, rather than God’s ability, you will live a life of fearful restraint. Imposter syndrome is fueled by fear of failure and a focus on our inabilities. And fear of failure is what prevents someone from trying new things. It is what keeps us sitting in the pews instead of getting to work in the kingdom. It may prevent us from starting a new project, teaching a Bible class, writing a book, or mentioning Jesus to our neighbor…But remember God constantly shows throughout scripture the ways in which He worked through inadequate people: Gideon was used despite his lack of faith.Paul was used despite once killing Christians.Peter was used despite his impulsivity and denial of Jesus. We all stumble in many ways (James 3:2). We are all failures at some point. That is why we need Christ. Instead of fearing it, embrace it and the ways God is able to work through it. And remember, Proverbs 24:26 says, “A righteous man falls seven times and rises again.” Failure only occurs when you let fear prevent you from getting back up again. God will do wonders through a willing fearless soul.
What new opportunities can you pursue for the Lord today? Don’t let imposter syndrome hinder you from getting to work in the Kingdom. I hope these tips were helpful <3
Correll, R. (2019). How health care professionals can beat imposter syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.berxi.com/resources/articles/how-to-deal-with-imposter-syndrome/