My friend, who is in a leadership position in a Christian institution, was expressing to me that among the group of people he leads he often gets the sense that those around him are better than him. For him, this meant that he assumed they were living much more ‘spiritual’ lives than he was living. They were likely, he guessed, praying more often, doing devotions every day, and generally doing the things Christian folks are supposed to do and doing it better than him. It came at an interesting time because just days before I had witnessed him interacting with a group of people and thought to myself ‘he likes people so much more than I do, and is so much better at interacting with them’.
Do you catch the irony in this situation? I did.
The Imposter Syndrome is characterized by people who have become successful in their respective roles who never feel as though they really know what they’re doing. They fear that it’s just a matter of time before people around them realize that they’ve been faking it for a long time. I’ve been doing this work for almost 10 years, have led 3 schools, and still consistently get the familiar feeling of self-doubt and low self-confidence that are manifestations of the Imposter Syndrome.
My first encouragement to you if and when you experience this is: it’s normal. In fact, I think it’s a sign that you have some humility about you and your position. The opposite, which is more dangerous, is that you are overconfident in your abilities and rarely think that you’re wrong. I do, however, have two other encouragements. First, the malady gets easier to manage as you gain experience (as long as you have positive experiences, which you likely do, and you likely have more of them than you tend to focus on). You will begin to recognize when it is rearing its ugly head and you will find ways to combat it. Second, you need to realize and take to heart that God has called you to this work. In most cases you did not decide on your own that you were going to take up this role. God worked through teams of people to identify you, and the giftedness within you, that make you an ideal candidate for the time and place that you’re in.
Even though you may at times feel like you’re the world’s greatest con-artist, I assure you that God is the greatest artist – and He hasn’t made a mistake on you.