The Imposter Syndrome in Christian Ministry

The Imposter Syndrome is a condition where a person feels like a fraud or an imposter amidst their success. The feelings of a lack of ownership over their lives brings ideas that some day the truth of their fakeness will come out and they will lose everything.

Jacob forgetting that he is “Israel”

“Everything is against me!” Genesis 42:36

The predominant emotion is that of anxiety (fear) and the recurring idea is that of doubt; in particular, the Christian believer begins pondering on the thought: “what if The Lord has withdrawn His promises?”

We start becoming confused about our success as we begin to ponder what part we had contributed to it. This then is the stage where pride comes in and challenges God’s role in our life. “Did you not work hard to get here?” Asks the shadow. “Wasn’t it you who conducted those meetings and closed the deals?” “Wasn’t it you who took the risk of losing it all?”  As we try to push up our sense of involvement and contribution, a deadly thing happens: perceiving God’s role in our lives is lowered down and we are once again left with our useless and inadequate selves. The truth will eventually kick in, just like with the humbled version of Samson, that without God, we are truly nothing (John 15:5).

“Who am I, O Lord God”? -2 Samuel 7:18

“What is man that you are mindful of him?” -Psalm 8:4

This so called syndrome is dangerous if left unaddressed because once our doubts have been seemingly confirmed through a biased survey of our surroundings (“Aha! I knew that The Lord meant this position for someone else!”), we go to self-sabotage mode and drop everything behind. We cannot effectively carry on with our ministries (and our callings) if our divine confidence in it has been ripped away. We end up quiet quitting as we give out 50% of effort believing that we’re going to be fired and replaced by someone better anyways.

Always remember that this condition creeps in once we allow ourselves to receive the glory that is reserved only for God. Once the SELF is roused, it starts to claim all success as its own.  The end result is eventually the honesty of self-doubt.  For we know that we had nothing to do with our success.  We all know we have zero capability to achieve it and zero rights to claim it.

All have gone through the stage of self doubt because of being overly focused on the self. Even the great ones forgot about God from time to time (Some examples from my notes which I have no space to expound on):

Moses reminding the Lord that he doesn’t speak well.
Exodus 4:10

Gideon moping around about being a loser.
Judges 6:15

Apostles returning back to being fishermen after literally being with The Lord Jesus Christ.
John 21

All of these are big clues on the premorbid personality prior to the imposter syndrome. As God uses the weakest and the lowliest to confound the mighty, it is God’s way to use the objectively least people to do His bidding. The syndrome pops out naturally as it already is within the person’s character to doubt even God’s favour in their lives.

We have to keep being reminded of our original position as base sinners who needed the saving grace of The Lord Jesus Christ. We are dirt, we are chaff in the wind. Because of our rebellion against The Most HIgh, we are not worthy of anything good. So, if you keep on focusing on your self (thus, forgetting about Him), your honesty will naturally lead you to the Imposter Syndrome. You are actually correct about your useless self but you are also missing the other half of the truth….

Our success comes from The Lord Jesus Christ, who happens to be the highest authority in the universe. He has placed you in a position, with you being unworthy, and He has elevated you for His reasons. It is not for us or the world to determine whether we are qualified or not – or whether we are successful or not. Only The Lord Jesus Christ is righteous, no one else. Only He can be The Judge.  If He has placed you in a position where you are at, then He has placed you in that position. If he has appointed you to be a pastor, who in the world is to say that He’s made a mistake?

Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten what he has made crooked?
Ecclesiastes 7:13

Did He make a mistake when He appointed Moses for his role?  Imposter syndrome rears its head out when we become unsure of His role in our lives, for us believers we believe in Him and His righteousness (not ours and definitely not the world’s).

Instead of focusing on Me Me Me, I am here to remind you to focus on The Lord instead. It is this revelation which made David worship The Lord every time he feels low. This is also why The Lord made Joshua read His word everyday. We need constant reminders to keep placing our blinders on from this world so that we can focus on what truly matters and that is His Righteousness, His sovereignty, His will, His way, His glory. We were never instructed to rely on our strength and our smarts.

The image to keep in our minds: Be like David, Be like Moses, Be like Peter. All were humbled into nothingness when encountering The Lord, yet all were empowered to reach heights beyond themselves, beyond their comprehension. All of them were made to focus on God and God alone. It never really mattered who they were in the first place.

A huge chunk of Christian Counselling is the forgetting of the self. Of course, this crazy world will have to pull you back to its games (for its own profit of course); by social media, by the pressure of the work place, by instilling fear through worldly problems, the world will do everything to derail the servants of The Lord Jesus Christ from keeping our eyes on The King.

So, what has The Lord called you to do?

Do you still doubt this calling?

If you are in need of good old fashioned Christian Counselling, please contact us through:
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