Is it okay for a pastor to feel these feelings?

By Scott Linscott

Life has thrown a number of curveballs of uncertainty at me of late. Added to that, internals and externals have overwhelmed my calendar with dates and deadlines and people needing something from me at every turn. Added together, they have me feeling like the proverbial camel dreading that one last straw that will break my back.

Has a song ever stopped you in your tracks while the lyrics hit you and made you wonder, “did they write this song about me? Is someone watching me?” That describes my morning here in Georgia, alone in this big, empty, silent house, where I have come as a literal escape from all the things pressing in on me. I’ve played it and replayed it at least 10 times, a few times with tears streaking my cheeks.

“When your weary heart is hurting or you’re feeling so alone
When you think that you’re a burden or nowhere feels like home
When everything feels like it’s changing and you don’t understand why
Trying so hard to be strong and brave but so tired you wanna cry
Don’t forget as you fall asleep to lay it all at the Father’s feet”

My mental health is not so healthy right now. I’m being triggered by new health challenges in addition to too many people depending on me and hoping that I will be able to help them with whatever challenges they face. I think I know at least part of what I am battling. It’s called “Imposter Syndrome” or “perceived fraudulence.

“Imposter syndrome is believing you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. You develop a fear of being found out, and may believe you have only got to where you are by luck. This commonly leads to feelings of self-doubt and anxiety.”

Tessa Armstrong, Voices for Life

I know its name. I know what it does. I know that it’s irrational and ignores my training, my experience, my degrees, my history, my resume, and my qualifications. And, even though much of the evangelical world does not recognize mental struggles or illness as valid, my symptoms are as real and evident to me as the scratchy throat and sinus pressure of a cold.

“You can rest, you can rest
In the one who never breaks His promises
Close your eyes, talk to Him
When you’re scared and feel the darkness rolling in
In your worry and your pain, just breathe in and out His name
Jesus, oh, Jesus
And you can rest

When you’re looking in the mirror and you’re struggling to believe
Am I really who He says I am, or will God give up on me?
When anxiety is yelling and it’s drowning out today
When it’s hard to see tomorrow and you don’t know how to pray”

Is what I am feeling biblical? Did others feel it too? Am I a faith fraud too? I read of Moses initially wearing a veil over his face to temper the radiance that came every time he met with God. But, then 2 Corinthians 3:13 talks about how he later kept wearing it so people would not see that radiance fading. Was Moses suffering from imposter syndrome, feeling like he didn’t have it anymore, even though his resume and experience were undeniable? Maybe?

Jesus consistently addresses our feelings of inadequacy as the result of our inability to grasp the total paradigm shift he brought where our value is not the result of our performance or excellence. Our value is in our very existence as the focus of the creator of the universe. I know it, I preach it, and yet here I am with my mind rejecting it and needing some reprogramming. In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus reminds us three times that we need not be anxious (vv. 25, 31, 34) and gives us eight reasons we can rest. (Coming soon to a message I will teach.)

“You can rest, you can rest
In the one who never breaks His promises
Close your eyes, talk to Him
When you’re scared and feel the darkness rolling in
In your worry and your pain, just breathe in and out His name
Jesus, oh, Jesus
And you can rest
You can rest

Don’t forget as you fall asleep
You are safe at the Father’s feet”

We all know that hearing “don’t be anxious” or “you shouldn’t feel like that,” apart from practical steps to help us retrain our thinking and establish new patterns, is not helpful. I’m recognizing that I need to restart the process of “renewing my mind,” as it says in Romans 12:2, trusting God, and being realistic in evaluating every external influence over my life. I’ve started putting together some steps, a punch list of sorts, to move back onto the path of mental and physical health and peace:

  1. Stop working for God and start working with God again.
  2. Set an appointment to talk to someone who has the tools to help me find clarity and direction to sort all this stuff out. (Dempsey Cancer Center?)
  3. List things, responsibilities, and projects that see me as “the solution” or “the answer,” and release some, no matter how worthy.
  4. Deal with this irrational fear that my “luck” is going to run out, revealing me as a fraud and a failure. Any successes I have had are the result of God’s providential love and support, not luck. His providential care DOES NOT and WILL NOT expire!
  5. Process this irrational fear of again being a burden to my wife, family, church, and friends. (Related to upcoming surgery and my past transplant surgery. They are NOT the same.)
  6. Get free from this belief that overworking is the only way to meet expectations and gain acceptance.
  7. Process these feelings of being unworthy of attention or affection.
  8. Stop allowing criticism and conflict consume me and nullify accomplishments.
  9. Delegate or delay rather than take on more.
  10. Do something entirely different? Learn something I know absolutely nothing about? (Edit: not instead of being pastor. I mean learn a new hobby, take a course, volunteer somewhere I have no leadership responsibility, etc)

It’s year ten of me leading a church of people I love. While I resisted becoming “Pastor Man,” I fear it has happened anyway, somewhat naturally. Imposter syndrome has me questioning if I should even be in this role. Am I truly qualified? Why am I in this position? What if I let these people down? Pastors shouldn’t feel like this, right? I shouldn’t feel like this. I should be stronger than this.

Even as I typed that paragraph of negative self-talk, I see the problem. It’s even tattooed on my right leg as a reminder. John 3:30, “He must increase; I must decrease. He must become greater; I must become less.”
Yet, somehow, here I am. Me, me, me. I, I, I.

“You can rest, you can rest
In the one who never breaks His promises
Just close your eyes and talk to Him
When you’re scared and feel the darkness rolling in
In your worry and your pain, just breathe in and out His name
Jesus, Jesus
Oh, Jesus
And you can rest
You can rest”

Songwriters: Hillary Scott, David Wesley Haywood, Katy Boatman. For non-commercial use only.

If I change nothing, nothing will change. That final straw will eventually be added, breaking this camel’s back.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30, The Message


Scott Linscott is blessed to be one of a team leading a body of Jesus-followers in a 135-year-old church building, smack dab in the middle of one of Maine’s fastest-growing, quickly-changing, high-needs cities. FBC Westbrook is known as a body that lives an active faith meeting needs, serving, and loving its community.

About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.
This entry was posted in burnout, depression, discouragement, leadership, ministry, pastor, time management and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Is it okay for a pastor to feel these feelings?

  1. Steve Koelker says:

    Hi Scott,


    div dir=”ltr”>I’m sorry to hear of the continuing health issues. Not helpful to note th

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts and encouraging counter measures. ❤️. Praying

  3. Mary McGaw says:

    I am thinking that I appreciate your honesty so much. If you were not doing what the Lord wants you to the enemy would not be bothering you so much. Personally I have thought for some time that you were over doing and wondered when it would take it’s toll on you. You are to be commended for your honesty and plans for seeking help and a solution. The words come to me of a song ” My Savior cares I know he cares”. I will be praying for you and I care deeply for you. Love you my brother in Christ.

What are you thinking? Tell me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s