In my work as a Leadership Consultant I come across a very common phenomenon with many of my clients called the ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Rooted in a lack of self-belief and deeply held insecurity, these leaders become convinced that they are not as capable as others perceive them to be. Despite external evidence of their competence, they buy into the belief that they are ‘frauds’ and do not deserve all that they have achieved.
The reality is, unless we’re a closet narcissist, we all feel inadequate much of the time. I’ve been in the same profession for 30 years and there are still days when I feel like I don’t know what I am doing. It’s part of our fallen human nature to have self-doubt.
There are many examples of the Imposter Syndrome in the Bible. Some of the greatest heroes of the Christian faith felt woefully inadequate for their calling.
Moses made every excuse imaginable to avoid God’s call on his life: he claimed to be incompetent, ignorant, lacking persuasiveness, inarticulate and ultimately unwilling to serve God (cf. Exodus 3:1-4:17).
The subject of our devotional passage was not much different. Gideon also strongly declared his inadequacy for the mission God planned for him. He tested God multiple times looking for a way out.
We could go on…
Jonah literally ran away from God because he disagreed with His plan to save the Assyrian city of Nineveh from much deserved judgement (cf. Jonah 1:1-3).
Although he was willing to answer God’s call, Isaiah felt morally inadequate to so much as be in God’s presence, let alone represent Him before the kings of Judah (cf. Isaiah 6:1-5).
Jeremiah thought he was too young and inexperienced to be of any use to God as a prophet (Jeremiah 1:6).
After her miraculous rise to become Queen of Persia, a Jewish exile named Esther hid her true identity and initially resisted using her God-given position of influence to save her people from imminent genocide (Esther 2:20; 4:5-17).
The Apostles spent three years being personally nurtured and taught by Jesus only to abandon Him and cower in fear when the going got tough (Matt. 26:56; John 20:19).
Looking at it from their human perspective, each of these people were indeed ‘imposters’. They had no earthly right to expect success for the impossible endeavours to which God called them. Except for one very important fact: God is not bound by our limited earthly perspective. He transcends the laws of physics, society and reason because He created them!
“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
God sovereignly chooses to work through fearful, flawed humans in order to:
- fulfil His will,
- teach us life-shaping lessons which grow us spiritually, and
- to point people to Himself as the only source of salvation from this broken world.
All He asks of us is humble faith in Him, despite our fears and insecurities. We need to take our eyes off of our limitations and inadequacies and see ourselves the way God does:
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:3-4; cf. Gal. 3:26-27; 1 John 3:1-2)
We are united with the Father through the Son (cf. John 14:20). Our position in Christ provides unrestricted access to every spiritual blessing:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3)
As such, we can join with the Apostle Paul in declaring that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13).
“for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5-6)
So how did things turn out for all our reluctant Bible heroes?
God used Moses, the stuttering murderer, to miraculously free Israel from 400 years of bondage in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land.
He used cowardly Gideon and his ragtag band of 300 men to route the mighty Midianite army saving Israel from annihilation. He dramatically redirected reluctant Jonah, who’s message of imminent judgement initiated repentance and a great revival in Nineveh. God purified Isaiah and emboldened Jeremiah to become two of the greatest prophets in history. The Lord saved exiled Israel from genocide in Persia through timid Esther’s willingness to risk her life before King Xerxes. Jesus used His confused and frightened Apostles to start the Christian Church and to sacrifice their very lives in order to take the Gospel into the world, changing the course of history.
There are no imposters in God’s Kingdom. Once we become a child of the King, when He looks at us and assesses our suitability for service, He doesn’t see a timid, insecure and sinful person. All He sees is the cleansing blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.
“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:13-15; cf. Rom. 8:14-17; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:21; Eph. 2:1-7).
What will God accomplish through you and me once we acknowledge our fears and insecurities in order to fully submit to His power and will for our lives? No excuse we can think of is strong enough or limiting enough to dissuade or disempower the Creator of the universe from using us for His glory and purposes. All we have to do is invite Him to do so.
The only thing we stand to lose by trusting God is a life of fear and regret. It starts with one small step of faith. He will give us what we need when we need it. So, let’s confess our fears and let God take charge of every aspect of our lives today.
“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. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor.12:9-10)