At the height of Michael Jordan’s NBA career, Gatorade launched the “Be like Mike” campaign. If we replenished our electrolytes with the same sports beverage as Jordan, then we could hope to lead our teams to NBA titles, be named the NBA’s MVP, and take home multiple NBA scoring and slam-dunk championships.
It’s important to have role models, people who broaden our imaginations about what’s possible. At some point there becomes a danger, though, of feeling like a fraud if we compare ourselves to those role models – or even to those who don’t seem to be putting in the work yet reap the rewards of their positions – and judge ourselves as coming up short. There aren’t enough gallons of Gatorade to make up for gaps in privilege or charisma or opportunity or raw talent.
Even in 2020, many clergywomen are treated as if we are “playing at” pastoring, as if we don’t deserve to live into the fullness of God’s call on our lives and aren’t capable to exercise the fullness of God’s equipping for our vocations. While we often feel like we are treading water, toiling for our authority every day, we see others gaining bigger platforms.
Enter impostor syndrome: what am I doing here? Is someone going to realize I don’t belong and call me on it? Does my effort even matter, since I might never be recognized as the Michael Jordan of ministry? (Spoiler alert: YES.) Impostor syndrome is widespread and insidious. It makes us feel like our gifts and ministries aren’t valuable to God or God’s people. It urges us to lead in ways that are not authentic to us, which means we don’t leverage our God-given strengths as faithfully as we could. It causes us to doubt our decisions instead of using outcomes – whatever they might be – as fodder for ongoing discernment. It causes us to compare ourselves to others, which prompts discouragement that can eventually lead to our departure from ministry altogether. And that is not ok, because the church and the world need the leadership we have to offer.
From 11:00 am -12:30 pm central time on May 13 I will be offering an interactive workshop for clergywomen on managing impostor syndrome. Within a theological framing, we’ll name what impostors are. As counterpoints, we’ll discuss how we came to be where we are, what our impact is on our ministry settings, how we can remember our worth, and how we can develop mutual support networks to bolster one another when symptoms of impostor syndrome emerge. Participants will take away awareness and practices they can put in place to live out of God’s call on their lives and their love for God’s people rather than out of the (sometimes internalized) expectations of others.
The cost for this workshop, which will take place via the Zoom online platform, is $20. There will be an option to add on three 1-hour coaching sessions, at a discounted rate of $225 (total for all three sessions), to help you apply what you learn. Click here to sign up.