Clothes Dryer Lint TrapIt must be a sign of our times – I put Lent into one of my typical search engines for photos and got a picture of lint!  Laughing out loud, I realized the metaphor isn’t so bad after all.

Lint is the common name for the visible accumulation of textile fibers usually found on clothing that gets bundled together while in the clothes dryer.  It is the reason that heavily used articles like shirts and towels become thin over time. It is recommended to remove lint after every wash. Hmmm…

Leading through the season of Lent can create more lint in our own lives than we realize as we lead others through this time of growing closer to God.  There is just more to do.  More worship services, more preparation, more everything in exactly the season of the church year when we need space to reflect on living out of our own baptism.  Deep inside we know we can’t give what we don’t have, we need to practice what we preach and we need to be authentic leaders.  Somehow those phrases can make us feel worse about our own lives as Christian leaders rather than inspired to serve.  The expectations can be oppressive and most of them come from ourselves.  Even if you love Lent, like I do, we can get caught up in creating the experience for others without making space for our own reflection.

Reframing Lent for ourselves is an act of courageous leadership. What if we, as Christian leaders, gave up even one thing from the list of what we think others expect us to do during Lent?  What if we really lead the way by making space each day for the shadow of the cross to penetrate the lint in our own lives? It would be okay to say out loud, “I gave up X for Lent” even if X is worrying about the budget, the building project or meetings that go longer than one hour so I have time for my personal Lenten practices.

There are ancient and new practices we can live out of for 40 days but we will have to shift our own mindset to give us the space to do more than talk about spiritual practices. I’m praying you find a way that works for you this season. Bishop Mike Rinehart’s new book, Learning to Pray Again: Peace and Joy Through an Ancient Practice, offers one way to start.

May your faith pilgrimage this Lenten season allow you to remove or ignore the lint in your life for Christ’s sake.

Shadow cross