Make more of Lent

Are you one in five?

Cast your mind back a month or so and remember what you did for New Year.  Did you see it in with friends, go out and watch a firework display, or just get an early night? Maybe you made a New Year Resolution. Congratulations if you’re sticking to it, but if you’ve now given up on it, you’re in very good company. Around one in five people in the UK who make New Year Resolutions, have abandoned them by the beginning of February. Maybe we should we should just leave resolutions to the UN.

Lent - a chance to re-visit your resolutions

If you have abandoned your resolution, or wish you had made on after all, here’s some good news. It seems that more people manage to make positive lifestyle changes in Lent than at New Year. There are some very good reasons for this. Have a think about these.

Lent is part of your life rhythm for the year

I was having a recent conversation with a couple of colleagues in the coaching profession where we got onto the subject of “life rhythms.” Too many people we know overwork to the point of over-tiredness and use holidays more as an escape from the pressure of work,  than to use them to revitalise themselves and rediscover the joy of life. I was telling my friends how the church calendar naturally builds in a healthy life rhythm, with its holiday celebrations, times for reflection, and times to re-set priorities that are otherwise driven by what we consume and what we give ourselves to. That built-in rhythm includes the long fast of Lent and the less demanding fast of Advent. We can develop life rhythms of our own, elicit the help of coaches to design them, or just join a church that follows a liturgical calendar or which has a conscious rhythm of rest and work. Whereas a New Year Resolution can have discordant effect on our lives - a sudden interruption to a season of celebration - Lent has a natural place in our annual cycle of life.

Community values

Making a lifestyle choice for Lent is also helped if you are part of a community where a lot of other people are also doing the same. At the heart of this is both a physical community and a set of common values. If you make a lifestyle choice based on your values - your deepest guiding principles - you are far more likely to stick to it. And by doing this as part of a community you have the knowledge that your individual decision is contributing to a wider commitment, and wider expression of those values. 

A powerful role model

When we get back to the very heart of Lent we find ourselves face to face with Jesus. The 40 days of Lent remind us of the 40 days in which Jesus fasted in a desert after his baptism. If you don’t normally go to a church, and decide to visit one over Lent, you could do worse than to ask what the people in the congregation find significant about what Jesus did during his fast, and how that inspires and motivates them today. For many, it’s a reminder that following the life of a Christian isn’t an easy ride, but one that throws up many challenges. At the start of his ministry Jesus made a statement - that he would follow his destiny, and follow the will of God his heavenly father, whatever the cost. Lent is one of those times where Christians nail their colours to the mast and identify with believers across the worldwide family of Christian churches and traditions, declaring  that we are up for the cost, as well as experiencing the benefits, of following Jesus.

What’s the value of Lent if you don’t normally go to church?

The idea of having a healthy rhythm to life is one anyone can embrace. As Christians we would say that God has built that need into all of us, so anyone who responds to it will enjoy its benefits. But if you wouldn’t see yourself as a person of faith, yet as someone who gives something up for Lent, why not go a little deeper this year? What are the core values that motivate you, and how are you expressing these during the run up to Easter? Perhaps this is a good moment to review your values and how true you are being to them. This doesn’t need to be an uncomfortable exercise in deep personal reflection, just a natural and healthy moment to take stock and re-focus. If you visit a church you will find plenty of people doing just that already.

Make more of Lent

So this year, why not “make more of Lent.” Make it even more than a healthy exercise in giving something up, and use it to revisit your values, rediscover the rich Christian heritage behind the season, and make space to see what new opportunities you are being drawn to. 

 

4 Spaces Coaching is a charitable project run under the umbrella of the Leeds Christian Community Trust. There are a number of Christian projects that want to draw on our support. If you like the sound of what we do, why not support us and the projects we work with?

four personal spaces

We'd like to tell you a bit more about what our "4Spaces" are all about. As you can see from the website, we talk about four spaces for individuals and four spaces for teams. What's it like being in one of our four spaces as an individual?

When reflecting with clients on the value they get from coaching, one common theme is that of "space." Coaching creates a space in people's lives to stand back, reflect, review, re-energise and recommit. In particular, there are four kinds of "spaces" that regularly appear through coaching conversations.

A safe space

Coaching provides, first and foremost, a safe space. Every conversation someone has in a work or business setting has an agenda attached to it. There's either something you can give to the person you are speaking with, or something they want from you. Every piece of information you give, or piece of yourself that you reveal, carries with it some level of risk as to how that information may be used. In coaching, the one item on the agenda is you. Coaches take confidentiality very seriously, impressed at the level of trust clients invest in them. This is what, for many people, makes the coaching conversation so unique and precious.

Space for moments of insight

Second, coaching is often described as an insight space. Whilst "insight" is much over-used phrase, it has a natural home in coaching. Clients get to "see inside" themselves and their motivations, their deep-seated passions and hopes, the uncertainties that hold them back, and their foundational beliefs as to how the world works. They also get a clearer and deeper perspective on what's happening "outside" themselves - the wider context in which they live and work and how these often less-visible factors influence their motivations, choices, and success.

A creative space

Third, coaching provides a brilliant creative space. In coaching you have the freedom to express and explore ideas that you may be reluctant to articulate elsewhere, to assess alternatives and to track the progress of various avenues towards your objectives. One of our clients described our conversations as less about thinking outside the box, and more like taking the box away completely. To be involved in conversations like that is, for us as coaches, both humbling and exciting in equal measure.

An open or prophetic space

Finally, coaching provides an open space or what some have described as a prophetic space. Whilst coaching usually starts with where we are now and explores possible directions, there are dimensions of coaching which explore possible futures. This goes far deeper than vague wishing thinking about where you might want to be in a number of years time. These are explorations which emerge out of a profound and realistic sense of who you are as a person, what you have to offer the world, and with and for whom you are living life. As well as realising your potential, you may well begin to see potential you never realised existed.

Experience it for yourself

None of this happens by accident. Whilst many good coaches have a natural aptitude for their work, to walk with people through these various spaces takes considerable expertise and practice. A great way to begin to put coaching into practice is to take up our offer of a taster conversation to discover how you might find the spaces you need to explore.