Friday, February 21, 2020

What Should I Give Up For Lent? Fast, Pray, Give: Lenten Sacrifices & Goals for All Levels of Motivation

I work with high school students, many of whom are new to faith and church traditions. I grew up with Lent, so I was surprised when my students were appalled by the idea of meatless Fridays and making an intentional something up on purpose?!?! What!!!

Each year, I've started pre-teaching earlier and earlier so students have a chance to wrap their minds around the purpose and the benefit of fasting. I also made a list of suggestions, using 3 levels of difficulty, so students can move beyond giving up chocolate and really challenge themselves at the right level. How do you motivate your students to sacrifice during Lent?

Hot Sauce (Fasting)
1. Give up hot sauce at family dinners, except when you have mac & cheese or wings.
2. Give up hot sauce at all meals.
3. Give up hot sauce & Ranch dressing for all of Lent!

Sweet Snacks (Fasting)
1. Give up chocolate snacks.
2. Give up all sweet snacks and eat healthy snacks.
3. Give up all snacks and eat only 3 meals a day. Offer your candy/sweets to your younger siblings as an Easter Gift (Fasting & Almsgiving).

Desserts (Fasting)
1. Give up dessert at school lunch.
2. Give up all desserts (except for Birthday cake)
3. Give up all desserts/cake/sweets.

Technology (Fasting or Prayer)
1. Only use technology for 1 hour/night (not counting school work).
2. Only watch TV with others, and let them choose.
3. No TV or Movies.
**This could count as prayer if you use that extra time for bible study and Prayer

Kindness (Fasting or Prayer)
1. Only say positive things about others.
2. Every time you say something mean about someone, pray the Our Father.
3. Every time you say or THINK something mean about someone, pray the Our Father.

Accepting (Fasting or Almsgiving)
1. Accept decisions and feedback by looking and saying ok.
2. Do #1, PLUS don’t complain or talk about the decision later.
3. Do #1 and #2, PLUS use thought stopping so you don’t THINK complaining/arguing thoughts.

Extra Church Services (Prayer)
1. Attend an extra Mass before school once a week.
2. #1 PLUS attend Stations of the Cross.
3. #1 & #2 PLUS attend bible study.

Chores (Almsgiving)
1. Do a chore cheerfully when anyone asks.
2. Volunteer to do the bathroom chores every night.
3. Volunteer to clean the whole house 1 night a week.

Rice Bowl (Almsgiving)
1. Give a 1$ to the Rice Bowl every week.
2. Give half of your allowance/paycheck to Rice Bowl.
3. Don’t spend any money during Lent and give it to the Rice Bowl instead.

Cheerfulness (Almsgiving & Fasting)
1. Smile and say ‘Hello’ to people in the Hallway.
2. #1 and meet someone new each day.
3. #1 and #2 and give positive and appropriate compliments to 2 people every day.

Pens (Fasting & Almsgiving)
1. Don’t use any G2s (or favorite pen) during Lent.
2. Use only pencils and regular black pens during Lent.
3. #1 and #2 and give away your G2s (Fasting & Almsgiving).

Hair (Fasting & Prayer)
1. Pray while you do your hair and make-up in the morning.
2. Don’t straighten your hair and use that time for prayer.
3. Don’t straighten your hair or use make-up and use that time for prayer and bible study.

Before Lent begins, I have students write down their goals. The main thing that derails my personal goals is a lack of accountability. If I don't tell someone AND write it down, I won't follow through. So, these are a helpful tool for me as well. The Lent Countdown and Goals resource includes some great reflection pages--so students can summarize bible verses that focus on praying, fasting, and almsgiving. Then, they can set goals, and follow up throughout Lent by monitoring their progress.

If that feels like too much writing for your students (or kids), the Lent Bulletin Board includes a small goal sheet so students can write their goals and include it on the bulletin board. I usually ask students to write these anonymously, but if they add their names, it will add an aspect of accountability that would help students with their goals.

If you need ideas for Lent, you can check out these old posts here and here.


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