Imposter syndrome and the Christian

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It’s the day after Easter, and as a Pastor, I am feeling it.

Maybe you have felt it.

Something called “Imposter syndrome.”

What is that, you might ask?  An impending doom-type feeling brought on by…But not limited to, some things John Piper, in his interview on “How do I battle imposter syndrome,” lists.

  1. Perfectionistic tendencies.
  2. A sense that when you’re competent at work, parenting, faith, or lifestyle, someone is going to “discover” you’re a fraud, an imposter, or at least this is what you tell yourself.
  3. Thinking your successes and competencies really are just owing to luck.
  4. Anxiety that comes from all of these thoughts, which may build, causing you to shut down, disengage, leave the space, stop speaking to friends and family, act irrationally, and lash out at family and friends for seemingly innocuous reasons.


These feelings may often come for the believer or the unbeliever during a high-pressure moments at work or school where you are about to take a test, perform a function, catapult into a high-pressure season, deliver on a product, answer for your actions, confront a fellow co-worker, talk to your boss about a raise, or try to function as normal when you feel ashamed because you think somehow you have failed but you are worried people are going to find out “I’M NOT  GOOD AT…. WHATEVER….” Parents often struggle with comparison through imposter syndrome feeling like they are not a good enough mother, father, or example. Christians struggle at feeling like they are not a good enough, worshipper , provider, worker, pastor, leader, servant, ….person.


Let me offer A biblical perspective on your experiences by starting with a practical reality  I sometimes struggled with. I was told by fellow classmates often in elementary and middle school that I was too skinny, ugly and stupid to do anything right. My experience culminated when a public school guidance counselor looked at me and point blank told me to my face, “You will never amount to anything.”

When someone struggles with an eating disorder  or self image issues they can have what is known as body dysmorphia. It means when they look in the mirror, the person they see physically does not resemble the image in their mind. Even though the image they see has passed through the cornea of their eyes, the neurons connected to the brain have processed, then suppressed, & rewritten the the information. Something has morphed, and who is physically present is not who they believe is in front of them. As adults this psychologically manifests itself  especially with white collar professionals, blue collar labor workers, parents, or believers in Jesus. This sort of spiritual dysmorphia can take place when we live in an honor shame culture within our own mind.

Truth be told. Sometimes I still struggle….like today after I was told by someone during this weekend that I wasn’t good enough to accomplish a dream I have.

Christians are notorious for comparing themselves to the perfection of Jesus, falling short and shaming themselves for this reality without giving themselves the grace that Christ himself died to provide…Pastors, professionals, supervisors, and parents tend to be the worst.

But the gospel flips the script. By grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of the work of Christ alone, we stand on the forgiveness of our sins, rooted in the love of God. We are able to say, “I can pursue excellence and yet not be ruined by the banshee of perfectionism screaming in between my ears. Because of the grace of God; I am free from condemnation!

Let me say this. If you are walking in the grace of Christ, but not understanding everything all the time in every way possible, you are not a fraud! You are in fact just like every Christian who is walking through this life while learning to live for Jesus through His love and forgiveness.

John Piper continues in his interview, explaining: “Fraud is defined as an intention to deceive a person or a group, usually for personal gain.”

I have a friend who is a lawyer. One day he explained to me that in order for either defamation or fraud to be proven, there must be a victim. If there’s no victim, then there’s no crime. If you are perceived as competent, responsible, and helpful as a parent, employee, or Christian believer volunteering at your church or serving in your community, it’s clear. YOU ARE NOT A FRAUD. No matter your internal monologue. Because there’s been no evidence to the contrary, I repeat, you’re not a fraud — no matter what your feelings are.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 118:24 (KJV) “This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.”


Philippians 4:4-7 reminds us as well, “4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Sometimes, the one we need to be the most gentle with is ourselves.

The day you feel like you are an imposter is the day that Jesus tells you. “I have made you. I have made this day. And I am commanding you. Rejoice in this day!” So pray, be thankful, and present your feelings to God. Pray through the imposter syndrome.

And if you’re angry, sad, frustrated, feeling lost or broken, tell God…He’s a big God. He can take it.


Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us, “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”


Realize as well that God has provided for you. Food, clothing, friends, relationships, siblings, a church, a pastor, a loving spouse, and even accomplished and capable kids, even a steady job or people who check in on you; look for the ways that God has provided for you.


Matthew 6:25-34 guides us, “25 Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? 26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? 28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”


With these and so many scriptures from the word of God, you can beat back imposter syndrome and walk in the grace of Jesus.

I want to leave you with one last reality when it comes to moments where you want to quit on your genuine authentic self.

It was shared by my friend Michal Chanley, author of the devotional “Hope & Honeybees” and Pastor of Tunnel Hill Christian Church in Georgetown, Indiana.

One day I called Michael. I was complaining about my life. How challenging, how difficult, and how merciless it seemed my life had become…Michael said to me, “Joe….Jesus loves you.” I ignored his all-too-simple, all-too-profound statement and kept going on about my problems. I was really creating a self-imposed indictment, trying to get Michael to agree and convict me of my own imposter syndrome.

Michael changed my life that day when he said again into the phone, softly, calmly, and sincerely…”Joe…Jesus loves you. He really loves you.” I finally stopped..and actually listened.

Michael explains in his devotional, Hope & Honeybees, “Simply put, Biblical hope is confidence in God’s continued faithfulness. Our hope in Christ is not in vain. It is of great value. Because God has always kept his word, we are well assured of an eternal future when we place our hope and faith in Jesus Christ.”

It’s time you lived in that confidence, assured of your future, while accepting how God sees your present.



Be gentle with yourself as you put your faith in Christ.

Exchange your garments of shame for His garments of grace.

Present your requests to God.

Recognize the grace He has provided for you.

Let the peace of God guard your heart and mind.

Recognize your value in God’s eyes.

And live in the reality….Jesus loves you…He really loves you.



Bible Excerpts are from the King James Bible.

John Piper, How to battle imposter syndrome,

Michael Chanley, Hope & Honeybees, Churclit Publishing, 2023

Tunnel Hill Christian Church,