Lent is a perfect time to maximize spiritual growth. Throughout church history God’s people have dedicated the 40 days of Lent to self-examination, penitence, and self-denial in order to grow closer to Christ.
Of course, spiritual growth doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a plan. Former University of Alabama football coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant once said, “Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”
You can maximize lent for spiritual growth by implementing a few simple ideas.
A Daily Growth Habit
Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “You cannot change your life until you change something you do every day.” That makes sense. People who grow spiritually learned long ago that daily effort has a compounding effect.
A macro goal might be to maximize spiritual growth during the 40 days of Lent. A micro goal is a daily one accomplished by breaking the macro goal into small daily goals.
Dr. B.J. Fogg calls them Tiny Habits. They are the small behaviors that can defeat resistance to change and promote growth.
Fogg suggests that there are three things that change behavior. One is to have an epiphany. But, epiphanies are rare and are dependent on an external event outside of one’s control. He suggests the leveraging of the other two things: a change of environment and taking baby steps.
Fogg suggests four steps to developing tiny habits:
- Get Specific. Make your goal clear.
- Make it easy. Start small and the new behavior can grow over time.
- Identify a trigger behavior. The trigger should be an already firmly established event that you already do consistently.
- Celebrate. Build a small celebration into your routine. It might be as simple as saying “Woo! Hoo!” after completing your new habit.
Here is the tiny habit recipe and examples:
The recipe: After I [existing habit], I will [new behavior].
Example: After I eat lunch, I will read a Bible verse.
When the new habit is anchored into a routine it can be expanded. Reading a verse becomes a paragraph, a paragraph becomes a chapter, and so on. The expansion of the tiny habit will produce the momentum for the behavior change a person wants to establish.
The second idea to maximize spiritual growth during Lent is to be intentional about it. The first practice of intention is to start. Following the strategy of tiny habits, one simple macro goal can get you started on your plan to maximize your spiritual growth.
John Maxwell, in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential, shares this helpful chart.
From Accidental Growth to Intentional Growth
|Accidental Growth||Intentional Growth|
|Plans to Start Tomorrow||Insists on Starting Today|
|Waits for Growth to Come||Takes Complete Responsibility to Grow|
|Learns Only from Mistakes||Often Learns Before Mistakes|
|Depends on Good Luck||Relies on Hard Work|
|Quits Early and Often||Perseveres Long and Hard|
|Falls into Bad Habits||Fights for Good Habits|
|Talks Big||Follows Through|
|Plays It Safe||Takes Risks|
|Thinks Like a Victim||Thinks Like a Learner|
|Relies on Talent||Relies on Character|
|Stops Learning After Graduation||Never Stops Growing|
Use a Good Resource
The third idea to maximize spiritual growth during the upcoming 40 days of Lent is to use one or two good resources. Here are some of my favorites.
Rethinking Easter will help you develop a plan to help the whole church grow. It’s free for the next few weeks. I encourage you to use it.
Holiness: A Lenten Devotional is a new resource written from the perspective of the Church of God (Anderson), but it will be helpful to anyone who wants to focus on the virtue of holiness as their growth goal.
40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond is a daily devotional that I have enjoyed using. It available in paperback and Kindle editions.
My friend Dr. John Davey provided this plan for his congregation last year. It will give you some good ideas for you and your church.
What will you do to maximize spiritual growth during the 40 days of Lent?