I first heard of the imposter syndrome in the context of blogging. Bloggers often write from the perspective of an “expert,” giving advice in a specific area. But it is not uncommon for bloggers to ask, “Who am I to give my opinion? Why should people listen to me?” This is called the imposter syndrome.
It is just as easy for pastors to fall into this trap. Even though many pastors have a degree from a Bible college or a seminary and are ordained by a denomination, they may feel like an imposter, that is they question the right they have to do the work of a pastor.
Imposter syndrome can make us ask questions such as:
- Who am I to lead people in worship when I’m not a passionate worshipper?
- Who am I to tell people what the Bible says when there is so much I don’t understand?
- What if people found out that I struggle as a follower of Jesus as much as they do?
The good thing is that pastors do not have to be perfect to be active in Christian ministry. If we waited for perfection, nothing would ever get done.
The encouragement I have found comes from Paul’s teachings in his epistles. He frequently talks about God’s strength being made manifest in weakness. See especially 2 Corinthians.
We definitely should seek to grow both as followers of Jesus and in our ministry skills. But we should invite God to intervene in our weakness.
I would also say that it is important to be transparent, in the sense of not pretending to be something we are not. But be careful in what we share and with who. We don’t want to unload all our insecurities every Sunday. Rather we should find people we can be real with.
The most important thing is to remember that every pastor, from the smallest country church to the largest mega-church has felt like an imposter at some point. We are not alone.