The struggle is real: impostor syndrome

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for a Baptist News Global article titled “Clarify those expectations, experts tell pastor search committees.” Two people were quoted in the piece: Craig Janney, the reference and referral guru for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and me. Craig is a bona fide expert. Churches and clergy from all over the country call him for help with ministerial searches. But the title said experts – plural – and the article included several statements from me that expounded on the headline.

I just got a promotion, I slowly realized.

In my shock, here were my inclinations:

Duck and cover my head with my hands, as if someone was about to throw something at me. (I actually did this.)

Make a snarky comment on social media about how much credibility the article had if it counted me as an expert. (It took all my willpower not to do this.)

Email Craig and apologize not only for the number of my quotes in the piece but also for the appearance of my photo above his. (I did not do this, as Craig is a humble and generous person who referred the reporter to me in the first place.)

I was suffering from an acute case of impostor syndrome.

After a few deep breaths, I started to think it through. I was on my first search committee as a junior in high school. I have been in the search process with more churches than I care to count in fourteen years of ministry. I have observed searches from the perspectives of an interim minister and of a coach working with clergy in transition. I have consulted with search teams. And the Louisville Institute saw fit to award me a grant to come up with a better-resourced, more spiritually-grounded approach to search & call.

In other words, I have done some things. OK, I can claim them. But what will it take for me to wear the clothes of someone with some expertise – and not feel like I’m swimming in them like the tween Josh at the very end of the movie Big? Time will tell.

In what roles do you have some growing room? Which roles are too tight? And what roles fit you just right? When you wear these clothes, give yourself a double thumbs-up in the mirror and a big ol’ Fonzie “heyyyyy!”

Creative Commons image “Erin and The Bronze Fonz” by Kurt Magoon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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