“It wasn’t until I heard the Phi Beta Kappa speech about self-doubt that it struck me: the real issue was not that I felt like a fraud, but that I could feel something deeply and profoundly and be completely wrong.” Sheryl Sandberg
I had just started reading Lean In when this line in Chapter 2 stopped me in my tracks. Sheryl Sandberg had just expressed what I was preparing to talk about in Bible study that week. Here was an incredibly successful businesswoman saying that she realized that she believed a lie.
When I was a junior in college, I read Search for Significance by Robert McGee. It was helpful in many ways, but the most eye-opening part for me as a young Christian was finding out that I believed lies and that they came from Satan, the father of lies. (John 8:44) This was life-changing for me. Satan’s best lie for me – one that he used often whenever I failed at something (which, being the perfectionist that I am, could be often) – was, “You can’t do anything right. Everything you do is wrong.” Crazy I know, but I think many of us have crazy lies that we think like that. Understanding that it was a lie and where it came from started a journey for me of no longer listening to it which in turn led to reducing its frequency.
Sheryl Sandberg’s lie was that she was a fraud. It came from great insecurity that started when she was in high school. She shares this story and what she learned from it out of concern that what she calls “the imposter syndrome” holds women back from taking and making opportunities for themselves to succeed in their careers.
The Bible study I was planning for that week also addressed lies we believe as women, but not from concern for career advancement (although I share Sandberg’s concerns there, too). The concern instead was that the lies we believe as Christian women also hold us back from living out the purpose for which God created us. When we think that we aren’t good enough, we won’t step out in faith to share the gospel with a co-worker or neighbor. When we think we can’t do anything right, we won’t step out in faith to serve in our community. When we think we don’t know enough about the Bible, we won’t seek to disciple other women and help them walk with God.
We can’t let listening to lies keep us from following where God calls us by faith. Missing out on the joy of living with purpose is part of Satan’s goal in whispering these things in our ear. Don’t let him win!
Paul gives us the solution to this challenge that all of us face when he tells us in Romans 12:2 to renew our minds. Here are some thoughts about how to do that:
- Identify the lies that Satan is telling you. What are the thoughts that go through your mind that bring you down, that cause doubt, that bring guilt, that keep you from trusting God? Those are lies.
- Stop listening to the lies. Some of this may involve staying away from people or situations or media that feed the lies. I like what I heard Andy Stanley say once about how to renew your mind. His third step was to “begin plugging the holes in your life through which the world pours in.” I would adapt that in this situation to say, “Start plugging the holes in your life through which the lies pour in.”
In addition to trying to stop them from coming in, you need to also take the lies, the thoughts, captive. Paul mentions in the context of spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10:5b to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. For me, this means that when I become aware of the lie going through my head, I choose to stop it, to not listen it. It’s saying to myself, “No, not going to listen to that. Stop!” (Side note – I also find this to be helpful with worry.)
I have to make a choice of my will to not think it anymore, to not listen to it. This is where it helps me to remember where the lies are coming from – the enemy who is trying to keep me from enjoying all Christ offers to me. I like to say that then my “holy stubbornness” kicks in. Just like a little kid, I grit my teeth, dig in my heels, and say to Satan, “No! I will not listen to that! You will not win this one!”
- Replace the lies with truth. I can’t encourage you enough to study Scripture about your position in Christ, about what God says about you and the purpose for which He created you. This is our “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) that we use to fight Satan. We counter his lies with God’s truth. Paul expressed it this way in Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
But it’s not enough to just know truth – you have to unite it with faith. There are times when you know the truth but your faith and feelings are struggling to believe it. Keep hanging onto it, though, repeating it to yourself everyday and eventually the faith and feelings will come. I promise.
Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Don’t let the enemy win through his lies. Don’t miss out on all the Jesus offers. Don’t fail to experience the purpose for which He created you. Don’t lose the opportunity to be part of God’s work in your community and in the world. Instead identify the lies, take them captive, and replace them with truth and faith. Abundant life in Christ is worth the fight!