No matter how many years you’ve been serving and communicating as a youth ministry leader, self-doubt can creep in and leave you wondering if you’re doing it well—or worse, if you should even be doing it at all. This feeling is often referred to as imposter syndrome. How can we get past this often-crippling fear that we don’t belong? In this episode, we’ll talk about what it looks like to overcome imposter syndrome and take steps toward being the leaders and communicators our ministries need.
Voices In This Episode
- What does imposter syndrome mean? (0:25)
- 1:10: “When you’re called to lead a ministry, imposter syndrome is wondering if you’re really who they think you are.” –Tyreke Wesley
- Could there be a degree of health in not believing your own press? (8:25)
- 10:15: “A lot of females in the context of ministry sell themselves short.” –Candice Wynn
- 13:04: “There’s a difference between confidence and BS-ing. Confidence says, ‘I’ve prepared, I’ve studied, what’s going to happen is going to happen.’ BS-ing says, ‘I don’t care enough to learn, and I can figure it out on the fly.’” –Tyreke Wesley
- 13:57: “What we should experience is reverence, humility, and respect, as opposed to the fear that we don’t belong.” –Candice Wynn
- Is it possible that the dissonance between the public persona and what’s really happening behind the scenes has contributed to the fall of a lot of celebrity pastors? (15:30)
- 19:09: “The more you fake it, the more you risk hurting the people you’re called to serve.” –Tyreke Wesley
- What do we do to combat imposter syndrome? (19:49)
- How do we know when we’re faking it? (27:11)
- Imagine a 20-year-old who just started ministry and a 45-year-old who has been doing it for years are both feeling like imposters. What would we say to them to combat that? (30:10)
– Hi everybody, welcome to Rethinking Youth Ministry. I’m Sarah, and today I’m joined by Tyreke.
– Hey, how are you all doing?
– Hey everybody.
– And Candice.
– And we’re talking about Faking It Until You Make It: Fighting Imposter Syndrome as a Youth Ministry Leader. And I’m super excited to have you guys here, all of you have youth ministry experience, you’re seasoned youth leaders, but I am willing to bet there’s probably a few times when you felt like you were dealing with imposter syndrome, so before we dive into that I would love to talk a little bit about what that means, what imposter syndrome is, and maybe some personal experiences you guys had with that. How would you all define that phrase, or for people who maybe aren’t sure of what that means?
– You’re looking at me.
– I saw your eyes.
– I was giving permission to speak, so I felt like the Lord had laid upon your heart.
– Gotcha. I would call imposter syndrome it’s this like, maybe intense isn’t the word, but it’s definitely self-doubt. I don’t belong, do I measure up, people are going to find out that I’m not that they think I am. I’m having to deal with that. So if you’re called to lead a ministry, it’s like am I really who I think I am. I don’t think I’m that person, having to deal with that self-doubt.
– That’s good.
– That’s so good.
– That is so good, I think that’s what it is. You feel like I don’t deserve to be here. Whether it’s walking into a meeting, or speaking in front of a crowd.
– I think self-doubt is probably a good word to put behind that.
– Yeah, as you were talking Tyreke, it brought me back to when I first started in youth ministry, and I know this is true for so many people who first start, I was 20, 21 years old. And a lot of times within a church what you’ll find is when you are that young and you begin walking in your faith and taking it more seriously, a lot of times within the church people automatically want to put you with the children and youth, because you’re young. And as you are beginning this faith journey and beginning walking your faith, you’re trying to figure out what does my life look now personally? How do I live life, still have fun, take my faith seriously. So you’re trying to answer that question and then you’re also possibly placed in a leadership position within a church. So trying to navigate personally your own faith sometimes, well this is true for me, navigating your own faith and what is acceptable, what might not be acceptable, what’s sinful, what is not sinful. What do I feel God pulling me away from and God pushing me towards. But then still leading authentically in who I am.
– That’s a great point.
– I think that’s a great way to talk about it, because there are different reasons we feel like imposters. There is I don’t have enough skill to do this. When you’re in ministry, it’s I’m not sure I know enough about the Bible to do this. You might feel like my faith life isn’t together enough to be talking about this. So there’s different levels off it. I know as a teacher before I started in ministry I felt imposter syndrome. Every night before the first day of school, I had a dream that the kids took over.
– And in youth ministry they did.
– And to be honest, if you don’t have that dream I don’t know that you’re really going to be a good teacher, because you don’t respect what can actually happen. I remember from probably the most where I felt like an impostor the most, because I was, was my middle school principal came to me and said, have you ever coached basketball? Now, I’m a swimmer. And I don’t do anything where I have to cross my body. There is no coordination there. And so I laughed at her. And then she came back the next day and was like, “No, you’re actually the basketball coach.” And I remember–
– [Sarah] Surprise.
– Being like wow, this is not going to go well. And I went out and I bought basketball, I mean I didn’t know the positions, I didn’t know whatever–
– Oh wow, you really?
– I knew how a game of basketball worked–
– This is a basketball.
– I had played elementary school basketball, but from a coaching perspective.
– What’s that book “Basketball for Dummies”?
– Yeah, It was. It totally was. So I learned to positions and everything else and then when I felt most likely impostor I walked into the gym and 97 kids had come out for 12 spots.
– Oh my gosh.
– And it was my responsibility–
– To figure out what–
– To choose the best 12, and I was a complete impostor.
– So that was actually true.
– Yeah, that was true. But I felt that that many times since. Especially once you get into ministry and you add those different levels. I will say we won the division.
– Oh, well done.
– Shout out, okay.
– Yeah, we did.
– So did you coach again?
– And then we went undefeated the next year.
– Did you really?
– I just want strong on defense.
– That’s middle school.
– I’m from Pittsburgh, that’s what we do.
– Defense wins games.
– Defense wins championships.
– Offense sells tickets, isn’t that what it says?
– So I wonder Shef, in you navigating through that, and you said that’s when you first started teaching, right?
– Yeah, I was a couple of years in.
– A couple of years in?
– So how comfortable were you in that moment saying, I have no idea what I’m doing?
– The good news was my boss knew I didn’t know what I was doing, she was basically saying you’re the best we’ve got. So you do the best.
– What a vote of confidence.
– You can. And then I asked for a ton of help and a ton of feedback. From people who did know. And it went okay, but it was nerve racking for sure. And then you go to speaking for the first time, or walking into a meeting for the first time when you feel like what am I doing here?
– I think you bring up a good point that there is actual, legitimate feelings where you aren’t prepared to be in a position. And I think it’s okay to feel that tension off I’m not necessarily equipped to be in this leadership role yet, I know I have a lot of growing to do. And then the tension on the other side feeling like you totally are equipped, you totally are called, you should be here.
– And I still feel this way.
– But you have the self-doubt. Right so there’s kind of that tension I think you probably need to wrestle with.
– Yeah, I think I felt it possibly the most when I was in seminary. So I graduated from college, went to seminary, and you’re in this place with all these people, and you deserve to be there. You applied, they looked at your criteria, you got in. But when you walk through those doors, it’s like everyone in here is smarter than me. And so you mute self, for whatever reason. You can mute yourself because you feel like your race isn’t valued in this space, your gender isn’t valued in this space, where you come from in the country isn’t valued in this space. But then over time I know for me in seminary, I was like wait a minute, none of us know anything. Okay, cool, cool. And then you learn to just be bold enough just to be yourself and say let the chips fall where they may, this is my perspective and my perspective is valuable. So I think sometimes just the maturity of going through stuff lets you beat it in a sense, but then there’s always another level of like, wait a minute, do I really deserve to be here, do I belong here?
– Yeah, that’s good.
– And I hear this from a couple of different angles, being comfortable with your leadership and admitting hey, I don’t really know what it is I’m doing here. Being comfortable with your peers. Hey, I don’t really know what I’m doing here. But how comfortable are we really with sharing with our students? I don’t really know what I’m doing here.
– Right, yeah. That’s a good question. How much should you be willing to share. But I think I want to come back to that, but Tyreke, what you were saying with I’m the only one that feels that I don’t belong here. I think that is a common misconception that we feel isolated in the tape that’s running through our head, but everyone has a tape running through their head that’s telling them they are not adequate in some way or another and I think it’s really freeing when you realize, no, that everyone’s got that same tape.
– I think the craziest thing I heard was, so Toni Morrison, who people say is America’s greatest writer ever struggled with this. So she wrote, let me get it right, she’s like the Nobel Laureate in literature, all that stuff. And she said, “I always wondered when I started a new book “if they were going to find out “that I’m not who they think I am.” And it’s like but no, but you are Toni Morrison.
– No but for real, do you know who you are. But don’t you also think there’s a degree of health in not believing in your own press?
– Oh, absolutely.
– I feel like also the tension is there’s the self impostor, and there’s also the celebrity culture, so it’s like you don’t want to doubt who you are and what you have been gifted to do, but also you don’t want to be such a big deal that you’re a jerk.
– Right, well I think that’s when you lose touch. Especially in student culture. Because what we feel in those moments is what our students feel every day is they’re trying to figure out their identity and everything else.
– Yeah, that’s a great point.
– It’s like how far does it go for one of your seminary buddies to turn to you and say that was a really good point or something like that, you know what I mean? And you start to realize, or they say, “You’re so smart, you shouldn’t be here.” Those sorts of things, those are the things our kids need as well. So it’s a great way to be reminded. But I watch my sister the same way, Division I swimmer, she works with Olympic swimmers, and she helps swimmers get better, the best in the world by talking to them about confidence.
– [Sarah] Really?
– Yeah, that’s the thing that they all feel that way, the best in the world gets up and things when are they going to find out I’m not who they think I am. You know what I mean? It’s part of the human condition in a lot of ways.
– Right, and it does seem like maybe social media probably feeds into that a little bit, when we do really put it out there.
– We look at everybody’s highlight reels.
– Oh, absolutely.
– I think the question becomes too, when does it become paralyzing, when does–
– Yes, that’s when it becomes a problem.
– Yeah, when does impostor syndrome or self-doubt become paralyzing to where you’re not stepping into things that you should be stepping into?
– Have you guys seen that play out in your own experience, where you can look back and see I sold myself short in this situation, I could have done it and I didn’t, and I didn’t try this at?
– I think a lot females do that, especially within ministry, in the context of ministry where a lot of churches females aren’t necessarily permitted to speak. They aren’t permitted to pastor. When I first went into, when I first started walking in my calling with this seminary I was well into seminary before I even called my grandfather, who was a pastor and told him I was in seminary.
– [Shef] Oh wow.
– And when I did he said there are many places for women in the church and preaching and pastoring is not one. Right? He since called me back and we’ve talked about it and he is blessed my ministry and he’s routing me on and cheering me on. But in that moment what that did for me, when I’m already hesitant walking in my faith, and then I’m having this person I tremendously respect saying this to me. So it’s interesting how males versus females navigate that water and stepping into there. I was talking to a mentee of mine earlier today, she was applying for a job, and I said when you walk in don’t necessarily walk in cocky, but when males and females walk into a room, a lot of times males walk in, they sit down on their seat and they put their feet upon the table like they belong. But females will say hey, is this the right room? And when you walk into the space just have the confidence in knowing, even if you don’t think that you’re supposed to be there, I mean sugar, I doubt myself sitting at the table right here, but it’s about just doing it anyhow, direct afraid kind of thing.
– Well it’s interesting when we were preparing for this podcast I found that it wasn’t just a ministry, but women tend to suffer from impostor syndrome more than men. And I would think that would be even more true in ministry context. I just wonder why that plays out that way?
– We live in a misogynist society?
– Thank you Tyreke, I didn’t want to say it.
– But being a teacher, even the way that we socialize boys and girls differently, I think it can lead to those things. I know for me as a teacher I always tried to encourage my girls to do stuff that boys would do. And this was first-grade, so I remember we were on the playground and all the boys were playing basketball, and the little girl was like, “I wish girls could play basketball.” And I was like, “Why can’t they.” There are so many girls that play basketball, like go play basketball. And I think when we put barriers, because it’s like society creates them and sometimes it can reinforce them and not realize it, I think that’s something that we have to work. I think those can help create this impostor syndrome, or this lack of confidence that when you show up you don’t belong there, you almost have to have the audacity to say, you know what, I do belong here. And I think it’s the difference between having confidence and BSing. Confidence says I’ve prepared, I’ve studied, I’ve done the best I can, what’s going to happen is going to happen. BS as I don’t care enough to learn and I could figure it out on the fly or I could just make something up, you know what I mean?
– Yeah, I think that’s an important distinction.
– Yes, and that’s problematic. We don’t need, there’s a lot of BSers in the church, we don’t need more of them.
– We don’t need more BSers.
– Right yeah, no more.
– We don’t need someone pretending to be a lifeguard who hasn’t been trained.
– Who can’t swim.
– We don’t need people teaching Scripture who haven’t been trained. You know what I mean? You’ve got to be super cautious about some things. It’s one thing to get up and do a comedy act, it’s another thing to get up and have authority and talk about something that really matters.
– Right, and I think that goes back to that tension that maybe we should feel to a degree, that this is a weighty kind of role that you step into in ministry, and teaching maybe especially.
– And maybe what we should experience is more reverence and humility and respect, as opposed to I don’t belong.
– That’s a good distinction.
– I think there might be a fine line between that, knowing when one stops and then when one begins, because it is a weighty responsibility. It has a humbling responsibility, it’s something that we ought to walk around and carry with the utmost respect, and if not, then we’re doing everyone a disservice. But finding the line between the two, where one ends and the other begins is a challenge maybe.
– And I think you said something that is interesting. It is this thing of in the church how do you manage authority that’s been put on you, right? So you set it as the basketball coach, you walk into the gym, you’re the coach, everyone’s looking to you to organize, to execute, to cast vision. And what does it look like to say, okay now you’re the youth master. You have authority to do what you need to do here, and how do you manage that?
– If you fail, people go to hell.
– On top of that.
– In a hand basket.
– No question, no question at all.
– I mean it is life guarding in a lot of ways, you know what I mean? I’ve always wanted my son, who’s a swimmer, to be a lifeguard. Because I remember being 16 and sitting at that pool and even though there’s eight people there it’s like, at the end of the day if something goes down it’s on me, and to feel that level of responsibility I just think if you don’t have reverence for it, you are messed up. Or you don’t realize how important the situation is.
– Okay, so as we’re talking about this impostor syndrome and this idea of feeling like we don’t really measure up, versus this very public persona that we see in celebrity culture, do you think it’s possible that this dissonance between the two, between the public persona and what’s happening behind the scenes has contributed to this fall from grace that we have seen with a lot of celebrity pastors?
– I think that’s a really interesting question, because on the one hand I want to say, if you’re doing what God has called you to do or ask you to do, it’s going to be more than you feel like–
– [Sarah] You’re capable of.
– You’re capable of.
– So there’s that side of it. On the other hand, if the public is put you on a pedestal, if you have been seen as this person and you’ve got a secret, and it just keeps building, I would guess you’re becoming more and more of an impostor talking about some things and that’s just going to spiral to what we’ve seen I would guess. It’s so important to stay healthy as a leader, and this is one of the reasons.
– So how would you combat that? Because I think you’re right that there is a healthy sense of like–
– Don’t get popular.
– Don’t get popular.
– Don’t become a celebrity.
– But some of that you can’t–
– The higher you get the harder it is to share some of the stuff that’s going on in your world.
– Sharing seems like that’s really like–
– Very much, great community, safe people.
– I think what would help is if we would be all just real and honest about who we are and what we’re going through. And I think if more pastors, more people in leadership were just honest about the struggles that they face and the experience. I think the challenge comes in when people feel like they need to hide so much, and then they have these breakdowns, right? Lauren Hill has something on her Unplugged CD, and she says something like, if we could all just be honest about who we are and just be exposed, like, oh, you got one too? Kind of a thing, because everybody has something.
– [Sarah] Everyone has them.
– All of us here have something that we struggle with. But when we stand up on Sunday morning or whenever and we prepare messages and we speak, and we say thus saith the Lord, there’s a weight that’s placed on us when we have to do that. And a lot of times the weight that is placed on us is feeling the need to feel like we are perfect and like we have everything together. And what it does is it makes people think that people who are in church leadership–
– Have it all.
– Is flawless, and have it all together. But if we were more transparent about our struggles, I’m not saying bleed on the congregation. But if we were more transparent about our struggles and sharing what it is that we are experiencing, what we’re going through, then I think that it might provide for a safer space for other people–
– Oh it would.
– I don’t know how to close it, but you all know what I mean?
– Yeah, I think you’re right, but I do think at some point you’ve moved past this general feeling that I’m in over my head that I think might be impostor syndrome, to where you’re really dealing with, I’m putting on a charade, this is not really me, and that’s when you’re really going to start to run into big issues. But from the beginning, from the first time you feel it, I think to say well, I really feel like I’m in over my head on this one, but clearly God has put me in this place So I am going to with confidence, not necessarily in myself, but in what God has entrusted me with, give it a shot, you know what I mean?
– [Sarah] Yeah, yeah.
– But the more we do that, the more we fake the more it’s going to become that tension that’s just, it’s just going to become a cycle.
– And the more you fake the more you chances of hurting the congregation or the people that you’re called to serve anyway, because if you’re fake you’re not asking anybody else’s input who may actually be qualified in speaking to the situation. So I think what we have been saying is it’s okay, everyone feels at times they don’t belong, and that’s okay. The problem is when you pretend so much that you create this wall around you that you don’t seek feedback or influence from other people and find that it’s okay to say, “You know what, I’m not sure what’s going on right now.”
– And no one knows really what’s going on. That’s when you start to get into trouble.
– Right, so I think that kind of transitions into what do we do to combat the impostor syndrome. So it feels like, really one of the bigger things is being willing to talk about it when it shows up with people that are safe.
– Because Candice, you’re making the point, letting your congregation know you’re not perfect, I think that’s true. But it also seems like you want to have a safe circle of people that are capable of speaking truth, and do really know you and can lean into that. What else would you guys recommend?
– More leaders in therapy, I want to advertise that on every podcast we have.
– What? Go to counseling.
– Because I believe in that. The therapist that I’m seeing, I’ve been seeing her since I was 22 years old. I’m 35. She knows my life, she’s been around before I got married and had kids, she knows me, man. And I think that it’s so important to just have, be in therapy, and just talking through some of that, you know?
– Yes, we talked a little bit about this I think on our mental health episode, but I think it’s good to, and I think that’s actually were some of this was birthed from that podcast, because I think that’s important that you want to have these safe places, especially for ministry leaders who don’t feel that there is a safe pastoral voice for them in their church, because it’s a job. So having these people that can speak into them.
– Which is, the higher you get the harder it is to find safe places. So for those of you who are thinking I hope someday that’s a great place to start. Find some community where you can share your last 10%, find some save people and start there. I think it’s really an important part of it. The other part for me where I’ve never gotten past it, in fact I don’t even know that it’s healthy to get past it. The day that I strap a microphone on to stand in front of a group of people and speak and I’m 100% confident
– And feel totally confident.
– I’m probably arrogant and lost.
– I think that’s a really good point, yet.
– But for me it comes into prep time, that’s how I get there. And my old boss, Andy, used to say, “It depends what you’re nervous about.” Like, if you’re just nervous to speak then you haven’t prepped enough. And his point to me, and he said, “Here’s how you know when you’re ready. “When you find that thing you can’t wait “to tell this group of people “for this moment you’ve been entrusted with “to stand in front of a group of people “and you have found this biblical truth “that you can’t wait to tell them, “then you’re in the right place.” And you’re still nervous to do well, to speak well, to speak clearly. But at the end of the day that’s the moment where I feel like okay, I’m confident God has trusted me with this moment and this truth. And I’m going to just trust him to fill the gap between what I feel like I’m capable to do and just do the best I can. And I’ve done really well sometimes, and I’ve also walked off and thought what was that, you know what I mean?
– It keeps you humble.
– But nobody remembers the sermon by Monday, so you’re in good shape.
– Yeah, either way, good or bad, your out of their minds.
– And that thing when we see people, like you said like Andy Stanley, like Shef, you’ve been speaking for a long time, and other people who have just been really speaking on these big stages for a really long time. And we used you first start out, and we are working to find our voice, and we don’t really have our style and our rhythm and our groove yet.
– [Shef] This is great, this is a great point, yeah.
– And we want to imitate them, so we ended up becoming these carbon copies of somebody else who we’re not, but it’s not necessarily authentically true to who we are. My sister and I have this thing when I first started in ministry she was like hey, “Borrow it until you get your own.” Right?
– Yep, you need reps.
– And if you see somebody else who does something speaking-wise and you like it, borrow it, but as long as you’re not like 20 years in a row and you’re still trying to imitate this person, but you’re borrowing it until you find your own language and you find your own voice, right? Prime example, when I first started preaching, my mentor, she to this day, still takes her shoes off before she stands up and preaches. When I preached my first sermon in the video you can see me unbuckling my shoes trying to get my shoes off. And you know for a while I did that, until I realized I don’t need to do this because this is not me.
– But I did it for a while because I’m like hey, she’s someone who I admire, let me try it on for size, didn’t fit me and I got my own groove and I’m way more comfortable in my own skin. But as long as we are not 10 years down the road, I don’t know when that fine line ends, but you know.
– Yeah, that’s good.
– But with this generation, you have to find your own voice or they’re not going to listen.
– They won’t take you seriously, yeah.
– It’s such an integrity culture, I remember culturing up some of the younger speakers in the ministry, and one in particular he was such a student of speakers, like he would study the different speakers, he would practice just the way they stood, the way they kept their hands, the way the would make these transitions, some of the words they would say. And technically incredible. But from an integrity perspective, it was just missing. And so what I did to him, this sounds crazy to do because I’m so big on prep when it comes to communication. I said, “You know what, technically you’re a great speaker, “but if you’re going to find your voice, “I need you to put 20 minutes of prep into this talk “and close your book and just get up on stage and do it.” So we could see if we could find in there somewhere is your voice, but you have studied so many speakers that I’m having trouble finding it, and you are missing the groove because it’s not you.
– [Sarah] Yeah, that’s good.
– So again, he was an amazing technical speaker.
– At what point–
– And I’m not saying it was a good idea. Go ahead.
– But at what point did you feel the need to say, hey, let’s cut this out. You’ve been faking other people too long?
– Well I don’t think he was faking, and he wasn’t trying to find his own voice, he was trying to be like them. As opposed to, and that’s really where I think he was missing the emotional connection.
– Maybe he was putting in the wrong kind of work. Putting in the work an imitation instead of putting in the work and self-discovery.
– I’ll not discourage anybody,
– Or constant development. from watching somebody and some of the best, that’s just smart. But at some point you do have to be yourself, and he had just gone beyond that where it was like this isn’t about faking it till you find yours any more, this is about you’re trying to be someone you’re not.
– That’s a good distinction.
– You know what I mean, you are an impostor in some ways.
– So I guess maybe the question also becomes, how do we discover. Or maybe that’s a different podcast, I don’t know. But how do you really, and some of it, especially when it comes to speaking, some of it comes with like you said, reps, doing it over and over again, you realize you’re standing up and you didn’t even think about taking off your shoes. But how do you find who you are authentically in all of this?
– So maybe another way of asking that then is how do we know when we’re faking it. What are the indications to look for to know that we’re not being our authentic selves in that case?
– I think, maybe I’m wrong, but maybe if it doesn’t come natural do you think? Maybe, no?
– I think that’s part of it.
– I think other people can tell, when other people can tell you. So I watch a lot of comedians, because I think I’m so interested, how do they do what they do.
– And they work so hard.
– Because it’s a lot like preaching.
– It’s a whole lot, I’ve said that too.
– Exactly, yeah. And I do think preaching is harder, because you’ve got to come up with new material every week.
– [Sarah] That’s true.
– But it still.
– Unless you’re one of those traveling preachers.
– Shout out, three or four talks, you’re good. I want that life, no I don’t.
– Different people.
– But I think it’s like when you say something like, man, you watch a lot of Kevin Hart, or man, you watch a lot of whatever. And it’s like oh yeah, I do. And I’m just trying it on till it works.
– See what lands, yeah.
– But I also think it could backfire in meetings, where you feel like you have to be, you’ve seen a certain type of leadership, so you see the leader that knows all the answers, is very demanding and you know whatever, so you walk in and you’re the same way. But you don’t understand how it offends or mutes everybody else, so I think that’s another way of you’re mimicking what you’re saying, but because you haven’t analyzed to see how it impacts other people, it comes off problematic.
– Or you might not have the clout that they have, so they have earned that kind of–
– Exactly, exactly.
– I wonder too if this could be wrong, but I wonder if some of that comes with age too, just experience, just that you get to a certain place in life where you to figure out more of what you are, I don’t know.
– I think when you get to a place where you’ve done enough reps, you’ve prepared enough and you can walk off, and again, we’re just talking about speaking, not necessarily being in meetings. And you don’t remember choosing her words carefully, you look back on it and go, all I know is that felt right. If I’m thinking about every turn in there, I’m not in my natural state if that makes sense. But if you can prepared to a place where you’re just speaking, you’re hitting your points, you’re aware of it to that point, but you look back at it and it was kind of automatic, like I drove home and don’t remember making the turns sort of thing, then you are yourself. And that is a long way off for most of us, especially standing in front of a crowd. And I don’t know that it’s, I don’t know that the question is are we faking it. The question is are we preparing and earnestly trying to get better as part of it. Because you haven’t failed, if you’re trying some things and you weren’t quite authentically yourself and you took your responsibilities seriously and you did a great job, do you know what I mean?
– Yeah. So let’s imagine there’s a 20-year-old who is listening to this, he’s just started in youth ministry, or she’s just started in youth ministry, and then there’s a 45-year-old has been doing this for 25 years and they are both still feeling that tension, that they are an impostor. So the 20-year-old is like I don’t know what I’m doing, the 45-year-old still feels that, even though they’ve been doing it for 25 years. What would we say to them to combat that impostor syndrome faking it feeling?
– I think it’s twofold. I think there is a spiritual side of where you have confidence in God And who God has made you to be. And God put you in this position of authority for a reason, and regardless of how you’re feeling, the truth is God has put you here for a reason and you need to believe that, so I think that’s the spiritual side. I think the practical side is you need to work like you’re trying to figure it out. Like don’t just put it on, like okay well God, the heavens will open, and we’ll just, no no, you should be studying, you should be asking questions, you should be trying to gather all the resources you can to work on better, and anything that you can control, control. And the things you can’t, God, this is where I need you at.
– Don’t use the holy spirit as an excuse.
– That is so good.
– The holy spirit is upset about that.
– He can be there when you’re preparing too.
– Don’t you put that on me. That’s what the Holy Spirit says.
– You just didn’t do your work.
– That’s okay.
– No, that’s good.
– That’s good. What else would you guys say?
– For me the spiritual side is you should always feel–
– The tension.
– The tension.
– The weight.
– And it’s okay, you may become more comfortable in it and I think part of it is exactly what you’re saying. But a lot of times, I’m 47, and I go and talk to a group of students I feel like an impostor. But I feel like the minute I start to change who I am to try to connect with them, I am an impostor.
– [Sarah] That’s good.
– You know what I mean?
– And especially this generation, they just want integrity. They are okay with a 47-year-old, just be who you are. The minute you pretend to be something else–
– [Sarah] You’ve lost them.
– You’ve lost them, yeah.
– I think it comes into the, if you’re trying to, and this is all just the tangible pieces of it, changing the language. Yeah, you have to change your language to some degree so people understand what you’re saying, but I don’t mean necessarily throwing in slang if you don’t naturally talk like that. Or saying, “These are my youth ministry clothes.”
– Wait a minute.
– Right. I didn’t even hear what it was.
– I don’t even know what that means. I just say things.
– Wait, what did you say?
– He said, “I know what it means.”
– That’s even old, so.
– But if you have like hey, these are my youth ministry clothes.
– Your jean jacket.
– Yeah. That you’re wearing trying to be cool, it’s not you, and let that authenticity, like Shef was saying, people just–
– [Sarah] Pick up on it.
– Yeah, they pick up on that, and the students love authenticity. But I think for the younger one also, for the one who is 22, I would have hated, well people said this to me when I was 22, I’m like yeah, but you don’t know me. Now that I’m older I get it. At 22 you probably don’t, you’re still trying to navigate life, you’re probably still trying to just graduate high school if you went that route or in college if you went that route, you’re still trying to understand who you are in this bigger world.
– Your brain is not even done yet. Still three years of cooking.
– Right, so just keep on living and keep on trying.
– That’s good. Guys, thank you so much for this, I think this is a great place to wrap up the conversation, Tyreke, Shef, and Candice, thanks for joining us. And talking about Faking it Until You Make It: Fighting Impostor Syndrome as a Youth Ministry Leader. So before we go we want to ask you a question, what is something ridiculous or not so ridiculous that you tried on stage that totally gave you away as an impostor? And to answer this question head to our Facebook group, and the best way to get there is the link on our show notes page, rethinkingYM.org. Until next time, thanks for joining us.
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