Have you ever struggled with imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome occurs when people see you as a success, but what they don’t know is that you feel like a fraud. You may be doubting your abilities. Or that concerned people will think differently about your accomplishments if they really knew you.
Imposter syndrome is not limited to particular professions. Doctors, tech employees, executives, and women working in male-dominated fields are just a few examples of people susceptible to believing they don’t deserve their success. Even writers (raising my hand, here!) can struggle with bouts of feeling as though they don’t belong with their peers. For example, author and poet Maya Angelou published more than 10 books, and still said, “I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
But this is a secret most people won’t discuss because they think they’re the only ones who feel this way. They quietly compare themselves to others in their profession, believing they don’t measure up and never will.
So what does this have to do with followers of Christ?
Imposter Syndrome and Comparison
Christians can easily fall into the trap of imposter syndrome through one simple act: comparing themselves to other Christians. Comparison can quickly cause us to believe we are a failure. And the Bible has a lot to say about that.
For example, in 2 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) the apostle Paul wrote, “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”
Instead, Paul shared what Christ told him about his weaknesses. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul was able to conclude, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV).
And in Luke 9:46-48 (ESV), after the disciples argued about which of them was the greatest, Jesus said, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” When we compare ourselves to others, we’re using the wrong standard!
The devil wants us to feel like a fraud, because the more inadequate we feel, the more we’ll sit on the sidelines instead of living into the purposes for which God created us. When the enemy tells us we’re inadequate in our Christian walk, in a way he’s right. In our own strength, we are inadequate. But the whole point of the Christian walk is that we don’t live it in our own strength. Every Christian has the indwelling Holy Spirit equipping and strengthening us with His power to fulfill His purposes for us.
Will we sometimes fail? Absolutely. Even Paul wrote, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19 ESV). But Paul also reached this conclusion, “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25 ESV). Paul did not allow his inadequacies to sideline him. Rather, he leaned into the power given to him through salvation in Christ.
So stop comparing yourself to others. Embrace the purposes God has for you. And lean into His equipping. You’ll find that the real fraud is the devil . . . and he has already been defeated!