Perfectionism Can Lead to Imposter Syndrome – Session Three
Perfectionism Can Lead to Imposter Syndrome – Session Three
Session three exploring the idea of perfectionism and how it can lead to imposter syndrome
Fran Hill Book

This 6 week course will help small groups explore why, despite the Bible’s clear message that we’re accepted by God through faith and not through effort, many find difficulty taking that message to heart. We can be conditioned, perhaps from childhood and other life experiences, to feel we ‘ought’ to perform better – at work, at home, with our families, at school or college, at church and at friendship. We strive for perfection. Consequently, when we don’t or can’t perform as we wish, and – horrors! – seem to get worse, we feel like failures. This is compounded when we believe that we can’t share those disappointments honestly, especially if everyone else seems to cope wonderfully. This is session three of six, exploring the idea that perfectionism can lead to imposter syndrome.

Kick-off activity

Play ‘Odd One Out Debate’. One group member takes 3 things out of their bag/off their desk/from the kitchen. Now, debate which one should be the odd one out. For example, from a lipstick, a pen and a mobile phone, both the lipstick and pen are used to make physical marks, but the phone isn’t. However, both the mobile and the pen are used to communicate with others, and the lipstick isn’t. Or is it?!


Watch the below video.

Readings from the book

Extract from Monday 13 November (p52) about God-lady

Extract from Wednesday 29 November (p65) about Mucksted panic.

Reading from The Book

Luke 8:43-48 especially v47 – Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.

Discussion, reflection and action

1. Here’s the definition again: Imposter syndrome is an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. Discuss what this ‘internal experience’ means in reality?

2. What can we learn from the ‘Odd One Out Debate’ activity about our own inherent value as people?

3. The woman in Luke 8 felt enormous shame because of her bleeding and would have been a social outcast: very much the ‘odd one out’. But she had done nothing wrong. Shame is different from guilt. Guilt is when we feel bad about something we’ve done. Shame is feeling bad about who we are and this often contributes to imposter syndrome. Talk about the difference between guilt and shame, bearing in mind that this is a sensitive and painful topic. 

4. Can you think of other characters in the Bible who hesitated to ‘take up their space’ in the world because they under-valued themselves or didn’t feel they belonged?

5. Do you have people in your church like ‘God-lady’ in Fran’s book: people beside whom you feel an imposter? What’s the most likely truth of the situation?

6. Imposter syndrome flourishes when it’s not talked about and people don’t admit to it. Is there something you can do about this in your church, friendship circles or workplace? Ask God for the courage and wisdom.