Fighting Imposter Syndrome

Image by Prashant Sharma from Pixabay

I’m a lay preacher. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about preaching is that “you can’t preach it if you don’t live it.”

This doesn’t mean that someone who preaches never sins or makes mistakes – of course not. It does mean that as a preacher, you must be completely genuine and transparent before God, and before other people. You must be authentic. If you don’t actually know or experience anything of the love of God, if your life is not rooted in the truth of his Word, if you are not actually trying to live that truth out, how can you share those treasures with other people? How would you dare?

Even so, when I first began preaching, I felt like something of a fraud. Who on earth did I think I was, to be proclaiming God’s word to others, to be telling other Christians what to do and how to live? Was I better and more holy than them? Of course not!

Preaching is a spiritual gift. It didn’t come naturally to me, it was definitely a gift I was given by the Spirit of God. All the grace comes from God. We simply have to be willing to receive that grace and that gift, and humbly acknowledge that everything we are, everything we have, comes from him.

What has this got do with writing? I suspect that quite a lot of writers can suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’. ACW has many writers who have been successful in getting their work into print, whether through a Christian or commercial publisher, or through self-publishing. Hallelujah! Yet even a successful author can suffer from feeling like a fraud, wondering if their next work will be as good, as successful, as well received, as their first. In Christian culture, there can be a tendency to worry whether we’re as ‘spiritual’ and ‘godly’ as other writers. This, of course, is baloney – we are all pilgrims on the same road, we are all beggars who find the same bread – but the enemy of our souls is very good at helping us tie ourselves up in unnecessary knots about it.

As for the countless other writers, like me, who are very far from being ‘established’, but keep on doing what we do … I guess we can suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ too. I think all of us can, however ‘successful’ (or not) we may be.

The thing is … God gave us all the gift of writing. It doesn’t matter how big an audience we gain (well, OK, not much …) Very few become rich and famous through their writing (alas ...)

So to all of you I say: you are brilliant, you are gifted, and you are NOT an imposter or a fraud. God created us so that we could, in turn, create. Our writing gift is unique to each one of us. May we write to glorify him and to bless others.

I work full time for the United Reformed Church in their central London office (although am working from home at the moment). I’m also a lay minister. I wrote a devotional for the anthology ‘Light for the Writer’s Soul’, published by Media Associates International, and my short story ‘Magnificat’ appears in the ACW Christmas Anthology ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’.

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