About this time every year, the soul of my leadership longs for Lent.
More than just a “spring cleaning for the soul”, the 40 day Lenten season invites me to not only repent and renew, but to re-focus on the One who is at the center of the Easter celebration; and hopefully the center of my life and leadership. I love Henri Nouwen’s description:
“Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want. So we must be reconciled with God … The season of Lent, helps us in a special way to cry out for God’s mercy.”
I’m reminded today, on Ash Wednesday, of my first experiences with Lent. Growing up in a Baptist church, I was always curious about my Methodist friends who would come to school on Thursday with ashed crosses on their foreheads and the sudden willpower to give up chocolate for Jesus. I never really understood the why behind the “giving up” or “taking on” aspects of the season and what it had to do with real life.
Awhile back, the Bible church where I was on staff introduced this beautiful tradition to the congregation. I chose to try it out by giving up my habitual Starbucks visits. As I was driving to work one morning after a long, sleepless night, I pulled into my usual Starbucks rationalizing that I really needed that double tall skinny vanilla latte to get through the day. I felt my Father gently reminding me this was why I needed Lent; to return to the One who was the true source of all I needed to not just survive my day, but thrive in my leadership.
Whether you are familiar with Lent or brand new to this season, I challenge you to join countless other Christian leaders around the world during these 40 days. As Ruth Haley Barton says, “the best thing you can bring to your leadership is your own transforming self.” My prayer for this season is that God would mold, shape, and transform us that we may lead out of the strength of our soul.
The following are 4 Recommended Resources for your Lenten Journey:
- Lent Challenge with Margaret Feinberg: this year the loved author and Bible teacher is encouraging us to read through the Gospels.
- The Transforming Center: Author and leader Ruth Haley Barton and her team have pulled together a variety of resources for leaders.
- Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross: a reading plan developed by the thoughtful team at She Reads Truth.
- Lent Guide from Irving Bible Church: a free download with readings journal space from the pastoral and creative teams at Irving Bible Church.