Imposter

“What is your biggest fear?”

Not sure I could pinpoint my biggest, but I know certain ones seem to surface more frequently than others. For example: Will I be able to always provide for my family? Am I raising my children the way God wants me to? Am I walking in the right direction?

In my men’s group last month, I was able to re-read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. One line in particular stuck out:

This is man’s deepest fear: to be exposed, to be found out, to be discovered as an imposter, and not really a man. (pg45)

Exposed.

In many ways, I feel like that appropriately summed up my feelings: that one day I am going to be exposed as a failure–specifically, a failure at being a husband, a father, a son. At times this fear feeds lies that one day I won’t be able to provide for and defend the ones who are the most dear to me: my family. Quite honestly, I do not think I am the only one who struggles with these feelings — we stand on the front lines of  a battleground with the Enemy. These fears, acted out in my life (ie. essentially choosing to believe the lies of failure, etc. over God’s truth of not only who He says I am, but also what He promises to those who call Him Father) are expressed in my people pleasing flesh, my desire to prove my worth, and my inclination to play it safe.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

When that fear creeps in, I want to boldly clinch that verse in my fist and remember that comfort is found in the way God leads and guides my life. When I’m scared that I’m going to mess up, I can trust in Him. When I feel like what I do doesn’t matter, I can rely on His help. When I can’t discern what path to take, I can hold His hand.

How does that Eldredge quote resonate with you?

Photo credit: justinlee89

66 Comments

  • bill (cycleguy)

    February 9, 2011

    I think John’s quote is accurate. As a pastor I know my life is lived under a microscope. As a father, well…my two girls are now adults (35 & 31) so I hope their lives show that I was a loving and gracious father. My marriage of almost 38 years hopefully shows I have been a loving and gracious husband. In both cases, my legacy will be seen in their thoughts and words about me when I am gone. My biggest fear has been being exposed as a sinner, an inadequate pastor who in his pride and arrogance made statements of judgment and did acts of stupidity all the while hiding what was really going on inside of me. Not sure if that makes sense or not Dustin. On the side: because you are aware of the dangers, you are further along than I ever was in heading it off at the pass.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Oh it definitely makes sense. I know where you’re coming from, having two girls of my own. Really appreciate your comment today, Bill.

      Reply
    • Randy Kinnick

      February 10, 2011

      As a pastor, I too, can relate to your comment, Bill. There is the fear that my frailties and failures will be exposed to say to the world, “He’s no good…not a man or a man of God.” As I read your post, Dustin, the thing that stands out in my mind is the juxtaposition of the Eldredge quote against the Isaiah quote. THAT gives me hope and confidence! Thanks for sharing this!

      Reply
      • Dustin

        February 10, 2011

        Thanks Randy. I’m grateful too that it is so comforting!

        Reply
  • Ben

    February 9, 2011

    It definitely resonates deep, and more times than not it takes longer to cling to His word where there, I find “rest.”

    I’ve got that book on my list to read, I heard good stuff about it.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Ben, to be honest, some of Eldrege’s books say some of the same things to me, but its well worth a read. I always seem to take away one or two pretty impactful things.

      Reply
  • Brandon

    February 9, 2011

    Great post! Thanks for sharing this! You know…I am reminded of the verse that says “When I am weak…He is strong.” It is good to know that God works through our weaknesses! I have certainly experienced that!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      thanks, Brandon. 2 Corinthians 12:10 is a great reminder… one that we all need to “post on our walls” to see everyday!

      Reply
  • Tony Alicea

    February 9, 2011

    Dude, that quote is so on point. That was my biggest fear for years. A fear that gripped me to the point of inaction. That just made it worse. The only way I’ve been able to overcome fear is to change my mind about it. I actually talk about this very subject today on my blog.

    I love how God connects thoughts with like-minded people! Great post man.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Like-minded… love it! (really enjoyed yours as well)

      I know EXACTLY what you mean when you say to the point of inaction. For me, sometimes this fear manifests itself through playing it safe (read: not doing much of anything). Thanks for sharing, Tony.

      Reply
  • Jim F

    February 9, 2011

    Love the book and the quote. It hits me similarly to Bill. I want to leave a legacy for my family first and foremost and put a whole lot of energy there. I am not as old as Bill :) but have the same ideas about when I am gone. I fear being exposed as a fraud in my ministry through sin or stupidity or both. I do not want to ever be seen or portray something on the outside that is not real – it is hard in a world wear it is easy to wear masks but the thing with a mask is once it is pulled off, you are then exposed. i would prefer to be exposed from the start so to speak as to who I am.

    Excellent Post Dustin.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Thanks for bringing up the point of ‘masks. That is so true. One of my favorite poems is “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I remember it was first shared with me by a good college friend of mine when we were in school:

      We wear the mask that grins and lies,
      It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
      This debt we pay to human guile;
      With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
      And mouth with myriad subtleties.

      Why should the world be over-wise,
      In counting all our tears and sighs?
      Nay, let them only see us, while
      We wear the mask.

      We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
      To thee from tortured souls arise.
      We sing, but oh the clay is vile
      Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
      But let the world dream otherwise,
      We wear the mask!

      Reply
  • Jonathan Pearson

    February 9, 2011

    It definitely speaks to my insecurities. To be found out that I’m not as tough as I would like others to think I am…. That I’m not as strong in my relationship w/ God as I’d like to be.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Thanks for sharing, Jonathan. I appreciate your transparency over here!

      Reply
  • Michelle

    February 9, 2011

    About a year ago, I memorized that same chapter but verse 10, which says, “fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
    I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV) I have never forgot that verse, but at times I didn’t let it sink in that God’s righteous right hand was holding me. I think you are right though. I think in a way its an odd thing being a human. We want to be fully known that is why we feel so loved by God. He fully understands us and we don’t have to hide anything from Him. Yet, we don’t want to be known. We don’t want our failures to be out in the open. It’s such a weird thing. I feel that same way with homeschooling and parenting. What if my kids rebel? What does that say about me? It says I sucked as a Mom. I didn’t do something right. And that is not something I want to be known for. I have had to trust God with my kids because nothing is gonna guarantee that they will turn out how I imagined them. I love that God is still holding me and them with His hand helping us as we do His will. Great post!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Michelle, oh thanks for sharing that verse as well! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about being a mom/homeschooling. That is certainly a real fear (as a husband to someone who will probably homeschool our kids, I can relate).

      Reply
  • Tom Raines

    February 9, 2011

    I needed this verse today Dustin. Thank you I will write this down and memorize this week.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      You’re welcome, Tom. Let’s “boldly clinch that verse in our fists” this week.. together!

      Reply
  • Jay Cookingham

    February 9, 2011

    Love John Eldredge’s stuff…you should read “Fathered BY God” if you haven’t already.

    With seven kids and a very detective minded wife, it’s hard to hide in my house…but I find myself doing so (or trying really hard).
    I know this…the closer I am to Him, the more real I get.

    Good Post bro’
    Jay

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Actually…. you are like the third person to mention that book to me within the last week or so. Interesting… :) The only other book I’ve read of his was Waking the Dead, and that was one of those books where I felt the message/points didn’t hit me until weeks later. I guess I needed to spend some time processing it.

      Jay, I can relate to hiding. In fact, my wife and I just went through something like this the other day. I scheduled something on a day where we already had plans, and so before even telling her about it, I tried to go around her back and “fix it” before bringing it up with her. Completely wrong. I wasn’t up-front and honest with her, and didn’t afford her the chance to work through it with me.

      Thanks for sharing and stopping by, Jay. As always!

      Reply
  • Donald Borsch Jr.

    February 9, 2011

    Totally on-point, Dustin.

    You said:
    These fears, acted out in my life (ie. essentially choosing to believe the lies of failure, etc. over God’s truth of not only who He says I am, but also what He promises to those who call Him Father) are expressed in my people pleasing flesh, my desire to prove my worth, and my inclination to play it safe.

    The truth is yes, we do CHOOSE to not believe God. We choose it. A million books could be written on this topic alone. Paul springs to mind-
    Who will rescue me from this body of death?

    Why, Jesus will, of course. And He already did. Past tense. All we need to do is finalize and realize that Truth and walk accordingly. God’s will is looked upon as being a future event. Is it? I look at it as a present-moment event. Choose God. Choose His Truth and rest in what He says we are.

    Good stuff, Dustin. Good stuff, indeed.

    Reply
  • Michael

    February 9, 2011

    Donald makes some very good points. Believe it or not I’m speaking on this, this weekend. I may have to throw in that quote now.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Awesome. Glad it was timely for you, Michael!

      Reply
  • mo

    February 9, 2011

    It resonates pretty strongly with me. test of being “found out” is the ultimate insecurity. It’s a relief, then, that we actually have nothing to prove to God. He knows who we are, and who we will become.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      That’s so true Mo (that we don’t have anything to prove to God). Didn’t think of it that way–but that’s a comforting thing to rest in. I appreciate your comment!

      Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr.

      February 9, 2011

      Mo,

      >>It’s a relief, then, that we actually have nothing to prove to God.

      Shhhh…don’t tell the legalists that, Mo. It will kill them. Their doctrines will crumble and their hearts will be splayed wide open.

      We’ll just let this be our little secret, shall we? LOL!

      Mo, that was a great statement! Loved. It. It is true, and simple, and truly simple. Kinda like how we should be when it comes to the things of our Father, wouldn’t you say?

      Reply
      • Dustin

        February 9, 2011

        >>It is true, and simple, and truly simple.

        Love that statement, Donald.

        Reply
        • Donald Borsch Jr.

          February 9, 2011

          Dustin,

          Thanks! I ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but like my drill sergeant used to say, “Even a blind pig gets an acorn now and again.”

          Have I told you lately that your blog is in my Top 5 of relevant and meaningful blogs out there? Being bombarded with so much fluff and then being able to sift through it all and find a blog like yours is…providential.

          Keep on being you, Dustin. You have it down pretty well.

          Reply
          • Dustin

            February 9, 2011

            Ha, that is funny!

            Donald, thank you so much for the kind words. I sincerely appreciate that. Also, I truly value your readership!

            Reply
  • seekingpastor

    February 9, 2011

    It tells me that we should quit wearing masks and aim for authenticity; that instead of working so hard to look good we should trust God to work good in and through us.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Oh yes, Matt – but you know for a people pleaser like myself… that is hard to do! :) Seems like “authenticity” is coming up a lot in my head the last couple days.. thanks for sharing that!

      Reply
  • Moe

    February 9, 2011

    When I begin to think about who we really are, it becomes clear that it’s not what God had originally designed. Adam and eve were naked before God. The way it should be. Unfortunately, we can no longer be naked because we see our shame. something that wasn’t there is now clearly visible in our “nakedness”.

    Today we walk around with things that cover our “nakedness” that, if exposed, would cause tremendous shame.

    I am now clothed in Christ, so I shouldn’t be ashamed, because when people see me, they should see Christ, even in my imperfect being.

    Good stuff here Dustin. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      >>Today we walk around with things that cover our “nakedness” that, if exposed, would cause tremendous shame.

      Some people, myself included at times, stop at that. No hope.. say to themselves, “I’m always going to live fearful of being exposed.”

      I’m grateful that is not the end. Like you said, we are clothed in Christ. That is a fact. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Moe!

      Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr.

      February 10, 2011

      Moe,

      Interestingly enough, after the apple indiscretion and all that, the first recorded death in The Scriptures was God having to kill some animals to make clothing for Adam and Eve. Sin only brings death, even from its beginnings.

      Jesus was our perfect sacrifice, and it is appropriate we are now clothed in Him, seeing how we are merely spiritual (and biological) descendants of Adam and Eve and our sin is just like theirs. Our Father sent His Son to make sure our nakedness would be covered completely, once and for all. Love. It.

      I thought of this after reading your post and wanted to share.

      Reply
  • Jason Vana

    February 9, 2011

    Definitely resonates with me – maybe not so much the father/husband part, but definitely being “found out” as a failure and a fake. That I was unable to see the dreams and desires and purposes God has put in my heart come to pass.

    I think the best way to fight that fear is to constantly remind ourselves who we are in Christ.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Jason, thanks for sharing. Holding firm to our identity is so key.. thanks for sharing that.

      Reply
  • Jamie @ See Jamie blog

    February 9, 2011

    Great post. I think what we fear varies from person to person, but way too many of us, especially Christians it seems, keep those masks on because we are afraid of being found out. That we’re not as perfect as we pretend to be.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Jamie, thanks for your comment (and stopping by)! I think you’ve nailed it – “we’re not as perfect as we pretend to be”. That is exactly why we wear masks.

      Reply
  • Sean Sabourin

    February 9, 2011

    Spot on. I remember when I was younger and my dad had a job as a janitor at a local school in my hometown, I was embarrassed by what he did for a living. I remember getting teased by other kids that my dad was a janitor. Today, I don’t have that same view of him. I remember almost exactly the day God spoke to my heart about my embarrassment and reminded me my dad was a servant. My life was altered that day! I don’t want the same thing to happen to my kids. I don’t want my son or my daughter to be embarrassed of me or by what I do. I want my kids to be proud of their dad. The above Eldridge statement is a game-changer for me. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Sean, thanks for opening up with part of your story. I really appreciate you sharing that. That is awesome that you have a marker (like you said) of when God spoke to your heart–something for you always to remember and cherish. Again, thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  • ThatGuyKC

    February 9, 2011

    Dude, did you read my mind?
    I’ve read through Wild At Heart a few times, most recently in with a couple other men. It is powerful stuff and should be required reading for every man.

    Having recently gone through Dave Ramsey’s financial program a lot of my fear revolves around providing for my family and leaving a legacy behind. The decisions we made in college and during the first few years of our marriage weren’t wise and we’re paying for it now (literally).

    The education system seems to be a sick cycle.
    You need a degree to get a job,
    But you need a better job to pay for the degree,
    But you can’t get the better job without a better degree,
    But you cant pay for the better degree without the best job.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      Our church started doing Financial Peace a few months back-we may look into that. We did a similar study/program (called Crown) years back after we had been married a couple years. I know what you mean-debt is such a huge thing, and one that can weigh very heavily on marriages. Thanks for sharing that!

      Reply
      • Donald Borsch Jr.

        February 9, 2011

        Money and sex make up about 10% of every marriage, but cause 90% of all problems/arguments.

        Just a thought.

        Reply
  • Justin

    February 9, 2011

    Love Wild at Heart.

    At this point in my life, my greatest fear is not coming through for my family. As intentional as I am at being a legit husband and dad – it still sits like a huge rock on my shoulder – that I won’t be enough.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 9, 2011

      My thoughts/feelings exactly. In many ways I’m a “doer” and try to do all the “right things”, but like you mentioned… it’s a huge rock, that only God can lift. I’m grateful that He doesn’t expect us to lift those rocks (burdens) on our own.

      Reply
  • Kevin

    February 9, 2011

    Fear, by its very nature, is frightening and leaves me paralyzed at times. It freezes my actions and makes me look out the window and offer excuses. Instead, I should be looking in the mirror at myself. When I do this, when I take the time to identify the fear and its source, I am able to embrace that fear. That fear is usually an indicator that I am on to something big. Something meaningful. Something that is going to cause me to rely upon someone or something else.
    It is at that very moment that fear becomes my ally, and I lower my head, dig my heels and plow through to find that I have overcome yet another obstacle…
    until fear arises again.
    And it will.
    But at least I will be ready for it.
    Or not.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 10, 2011

      Kevin, thanks for sharing. You said two things in particular that stuck out to me:

      >>”embrace that fear”
      Now that is interesting. Instead of running from, why don’t we run towards it? (After all, we DO have someone covering our backs).

      >>That fear is usually an indicator that I am on to something big.
      I keep coming back to what Brandon said in one of the first comments, “strength perfected in weakness”. You know, the very fears that cripple us can be the ones that propel us to something Bigger. Thanks for your thoughts, Kevin.

      Reply
  • Bryan Thompson

    February 10, 2011

    I have experienced this fear and its focus. I’ve found myself on the other end of a “firing squad” and without a job. And as humiliating as that was, over the next several months became a time of “exposure” – at least to me and my family. I learned how insecure I really was, and the job loss took a real toll on my self-esteem. It was really scary. But it was good for me. I was able to see myself from the inside and ask God for some real help in these areas. Great post, man.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 10, 2011

      Bryan, thanks for that. You know I think all men/fathers/husbands at some people have to have these types of fears. Thanks for sharing what you did–you have, first hand, experienced the ‘exposure’ of being without a job. Thanks for sharing your experience, and how you felt God came through in the end.

      Reply
  • Ken G

    February 10, 2011

    Awesome post, I think all men experience this fear, at least I know I do. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that GOD is in control and that it is all good

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 10, 2011

      Thanks, Ken for the comment. You’re definitely right. It’s not just a “one and done” thing for a lot of folks (myself included) – continued reminders and choosing to believe the truth is so important.

      Reply
    • Moe

      February 10, 2011

      Wow, Ken looks just like Dustin. Are you twins? :D

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    February 10, 2011

    I was always worried about that in grad school, that I would be found out for the intellectual imposter I was. Truthfully? I have no clue how to deal with the compliments I get on my blog, because I am practically convinced that someone is baiting me by pretending to like what I say or how I say it… like those people who told the early American Idol contestants they could sing…
    In Him I live and move and have my being and I don’t need to find my identity through others. I have to keep that in the forefront of my thoughts.

    Reply
    • Bryan Thompson

      February 10, 2011

      Kristin, it’s true, you only need God’s acceptance, and the good news is that you had that before you were born. And I wouldn’t say people are baiting for you, though you can probably spot someone who is spamming a mile away – usually it’s a one-liner post and you never hear from them again.

      And for the record, I doubt most of those awful American Idol tryouts ever heard anyone say they were good. Maybe it was more of a “Well,..that was…interesting.” from friends and neighbors..

      Reply
      • kristinherdy

        February 10, 2011

        I don’t mean the spam comments – those aren’t difficult to disregard. I just have this weird complex. :D

        I bet you’re right about the AI singers. I don’t like to show disapprobal of someone who obviously loves what they’re doing.

        Reply
      • Dustin

        February 10, 2011

        Bryan, LOL about the spam comments. To be truthful, I was like that at one point. “Great post!” (haha)

        Reply
    • Randy Kinnick

      February 10, 2011

      “In Him I live and move and have my being and I don’t need to find my identity through others. I have to keep that in the forefront of my thoughts.”

      Yes!! Great truth to be reminded of. Thanks!!

      Reply
    • Dustin

      February 10, 2011

      You know Kristin, I feel that all the time at work. “Okay, someone is going to discover one day that I really don’t know what I’m talking about… I’m not as smart as people think I am.” That’s a tough lie, and definitely one from the enemy.

      Re: the compliments, consider them a blessing. Really. I think your post today (When a blogger loves words…) will speak truth into an area that many ‘bloggers’ struggle with. I’m reading through the comments right now, and the responses have been truly sincere.

      Reply
      • kristinherdy

        February 10, 2011

        I didn’t mean they weren’t sincere. Let me see, how to say this… I guess it’s that I am so worried about the imposter syndrome, that in my messed up mind, I think that compliments are not well-deserved. Does that make sense? It’s all in my head, not an actual thing in practice.

        But I’m going to keep reminding myself that God is the final word on my worth.

        Reply
        • Dustin

          February 10, 2011

          Oh…I see what you mean. I feel the same way sometimes even when someone says something positive about me in real life (not just on the blog). “Dustin, you’re doing a great job.” in my head turns into “They’re just saying that to be nice.” Kristin, thanks for coming back back by to comment! :)

          Reply
  • Ken

    February 10, 2011

    Being a Husband, Father and Friend can be the most frighting thing as a Christian. I fear that I have failed to be a spiritual leader to the ones that I love the most on a daily basis. It’s nice to know the God is there to take us by the hand and help us.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 10, 2011

      Ken, failure as a spiritual leader is high on my list as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Also, noticed on your site that you do photography – you take some great pictures. Also, that you go to JFBC. I’ve only been twice (I think), but I’ve enjoyed it both times!

      Reply

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