South Atlantic District

Leaders Need Lent

Posted on Monday, March 14, 2016

Leaders Need Lent

Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance,  repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.

As I write, Lent 2016 is well underway. While some in our movement have moved away from rigid adherence to the liturgical calendar in planning the local congregation’s schedule, I have found that observance of the historical rhythms of the Christian church is beneficial for my personal spiritual formation.

The demands of leadership tend to encourage activism. As in. . . go. . .assess situations and people. . .teach. . encourage. . .exhort. . .give directions. . .provide accountability. . .plan. . . report. . .repeat! All necessary to the leadership role, but woe to those being led, if that is the sum total of the leader’s life.

Ministry is, at its core, an exercise of flawed sinful human beings influencing other human beings to repent and seek redemption through Christ.  Then to walk humbly and obediently with God throughout life.  A significant qualification for a leader, to equip them to do this, is to have come to grips with one’s own sinful nature. To be in the process of cultivating one’s own spiritual life. Cultivating the Christian life includes such spiritual habits as “prayer, penance, repentance of sins, alms giving, atonement and self-denial,“ the stuff of Lent.

I benefit greatly from having a season in my yearly calendar in which I am especially aware of my sin nature and need for redemption. Such self-awareness is a safeguard against becoming Pharisaical in my evaluation of the (mis)behavior of others.

As I engage in times of reflection, I ask the Spirit to make me sensitive to my own sinful thoughts, attitudes, and values.  This invitation forces me to drill down beneath behavior which can look on the surface to be “righteous” yet below the surface is hardly Christ-honoring.

When I intentionally forego indulgence in certain privileges and pleasures, I am made more aware that some others do not share the benefits and privileges I take for granted. This makes me more aware of others and their needs, not just mine. 

Now admittedly these habits should be woven into the rhythms of one’s life year around. But a wise man has said that we “schedule what is important to us.” Becoming more Christ-like in my leadership is important to me. So I observe Lent and alter my normal routines as I prepare for Resurrection Sunday.

Yes, this leader needs Lent!

He is Risen!