Our new friends invited my husband and me to a fancy fundraising dinner. A black-tie affair attended primarily by wealthy businesspeople, this event felt way above our league.
The banquet hall glowed with glitz and glamor—men in their tuxedos, women in gorgeous gowns, and tables festooned with glittery centerpieces.
‘Underdressed’ and ‘inadequate’ don’t fully express how I felt. ‘Imposter’ is a more appropriate descriptor.
Across the room, we saw our friends—confident, fancy, and fabulous. They looked like they belonged, like jewels in a crown.
But as I approached, one of them pulled me in close and whispered, “I never get used to this. I’m so intimidated by all these fancy businesspeople. It’s like I’m the kindergartner on a bus with all the high schoolers and I just want to go home!”
Have you ever felt inadequate, incompetent, or like you’re a failure, even if there’s evidence that proves otherwise? The dreadful—and common—affliction we call Imposter Syndrome can be discouraging, but the Bible has a cure!
God Makes an Unlikely Choice
We can see glimpses of Imposter Syndrome when we look at the life of Moses. He was raised as royalty, made some bad choices that changed the course of his life, and encountered God.
I mean, he really encountered God. The Creator of the Universe literally blazed onto the scene in the form of a burning bush and audibly talked to Moses (Exodus 3-4).
God told him, “Moses, you’re my guy. You’re the one I’ve chosen to lead my people out of Egypt. You’ll deliver them from slavery to freedom.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
If God physically appeared before you in such a spectacular way and audibly told you what He had planned for you, would you take Him at His Word? “Okay, God! Let’s go do it!”
Moses didn’t respond that way. He hemmed and hawed and gave God solid reasons why He should choose someone else. He made it clear that God picked the wrong man, convincingly detailing his inadequacies.
I get it. Freeing an entire nation from a foe as formidable as Pharaoh seems like an impossible feat for even the greatest of men. I’m certain my response would’ve been similar to Moses’ because my internal dialogue regularly echoes his words in this passage.
God’s Choice is Intentional
When we’re doing what we know beyond doubt is God’s will for us, Imposter Syndrome shouldn’t be a problem, right? For example, as a mom, there’s no question God gave me my children, so why do I doubt that I’m actually qualified for the job?
It turns out that even the Apostle Paul struggled with his own feelings of doubt. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he admits that he was weak, “timid and trembling”, but he relied on the Holy Spirit and the power of God instead of human wisdom.
Paul intended to show the Corinthian church that “God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise… things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful… things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important” (1 Corinthians 1:25-30 NLT).
If anyone was qualified for the calling of an apostle, it was Paul (Philippians 3:3-6)! Yet, he purposely refrained from using “lofty words and impressive wisdom” to tell the Corinthians God’s plan because he wanted them to be focused on Jesus, not on Paul (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
God intentionally chooses people who don’t seem like the natural choice. He specifically chooses the ones whom the world deems incapable or inadequate.
Our weaknesses are not disqualifications to God. They’re exactly what He’s looking for because they’re exactly what He uses to fulfill His purpose in and through us.
God uses this strange strategy deliberately to keep us humble and dependent on Him and to display His glory.
The Cure for Imposter Syndrome
Even though God uses the “weak and foolish” to accomplish His will, our Imposter Syndrome experience is sometimes an indication that we’re not the right person for the job. There may actually be someone else more qualified—maybe more available—than we are, and our doubt in ourselves is justified.
For example, a blog ministry I serve with needed a style guide to help our writers and editors. Initially, I thought this task was my responsibility, but it completely overwhelmed me. After more prayer, a woman on our ministry team shared that she had professional experience creating style guides and she loved it! Clearly, she was the one for the job.
But when Imposter Syndrome is a discomfort we must overcome to fulfill God’s call on our lives, how do we treat it? Is there a cure?
Here are two biblical truths God uses in my life to help me overcome Imposter Syndrome.
1. God is able.
Do you remember how God responded when Moses was concerned about his ability to accomplish his assignment?
God said, “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God’s answer was to tell Moses who He is.
God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). When we accept that, it’s easier to fathom that He might use us even if it doesn’t make earthly sense. He’s all-knowing; we’re not.
When we are willing and make ourselves available to be used by Him, and when we humble ourselves and rely on God for the wisdom and strength we need to do what He’s called us to do, He equips us (2 Peter 1:3). It is His power at work in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
2. It’s all for God’s glory.
As Paul said in the passage about the wisdom of God in choosing the weak and powerless, God’s purpose is His glory—“If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31 NLT).
Delivering the Israelites from Egypt was not about Moses. It was about God, His love for His people, and His plan of redemption. It was for the good of God’s people and for God’s glory.
In the same way, our assignment, the role God has placed us in, the calling He has on our lives—it’s not about you and me. It’s all about Jesus. It’s for our good and His glory.
Our Faithful Response to Imposter Syndrome
God is the source of all wisdom. He knows what He’s doing, He has a plan, and He has the power to accomplish it. He doesn’t need us—we need Him. And He is faithful.
Doesn’t that set your mind at ease?
When we remember the truth about who God is, and when we remember the truth that it’s all about Him—for His glory—we have no reason to doubt. We simply respond in faith by obeying His call. Then we get to watch Him work in His wise ways and worship Him in awe and wonder.