Many leaders have mixed feelings about Lent. Perhaps you’ve noticed that some of your congregants use Lent as a way to gain God’s favor rather than repenting of sin and consecrating themselves to God. Such misguided theology can make Lent a burden rather than a tool to make us more Christ-like. What about you? Have you lost sight of what Lent is all about?
For years, I practiced Lent the way most people do. I thought of something I really liked or was dependent on and gave it up. I didn’t spend much time deciding what that sacrifice was going to be. Instead, I often chose something that seemed obvious, such as chocolate or TV.
However, I’m a pretty disciplined eater and not terribly dependent on entertainment. So while giving up chocolate or TV may be hugely important for someone else, it didn’t impact me much. That all changed, though, one Lenten season when I felt compelled to take time to pray about what I should give up. The thing that came through loud and clear was that I needed to give up fear and worry.
I have to admit this goes against the idea of giving up something you love, because I certainly have no affection for my sins of fear and worry. But if Lent is truly a time to repent of sin and walk closer with God, then it makes perfect sense.
I didn’t talk much about my decision to give up fear and worry because I wasn’t at all sure how it was going to go or if I was truly going to be able to give it up. So, I kept it mostly between God and me and asked him to give me the Holy Spirit’s power to recognize and conquer my fear and worry.
The results were truly life-changing. During the 40 days of Lent, I conquered a lifetime of fear that had plagued and harassed me for decades. I feel utterly and completely delivered.
As we head into Lent this year, I urge you to do three things to make the most of the season:
Take time to ask yourself hard questions.
Many leaders, especially women, are so wrapped up in others’ needs, we don’t recognize our own until we hit the point of exhaustion. Lent provides a perfect time to evaluate your relationship with God and to discover what you truly need.
Perhaps, you’re battling an addiction of some kind that you haven’t admitted, even to yourself. Or maybe you have deep-seated anger toward others or yourself. Maybe you want to please others so much that you can never say no to anything.
To help you figure out any weak areas in your life, ask yourself the following series of questions: