Working in ministry, it’s hard not to develop a sense of humor about Lenten disciplines. I need tangible reminders of the sacrifice and suffering of Christ as much as the next guy, probably more – but let’s face it, some of the practices people adopt are so transparently self-serving that you can’t help but chuckle (on the inside).

We all know that things like giving up dessert for forty days or abstaining from the internet often double as self-improvement projects – the potential benefit to the person doing them is just too blatant. Not that I would ever want to discourage someone from trying them – after all, these are objectively good ideas. But from a spiritual perspective, they could also be seen as perpetuating the self-absorption that Lent is intended to challenge.

Perhaps I’m overdoing, and we can chalk the cynicism up to five years spent in youth ministry. But in the spirit of self-deprecation, a few of us here at Mbird have developed a list of alternative Lenten disciplines that we think might be more in keeping with the season. They are all guaranteed not to have any positive consequences whatsoever, other than engendering some humility/making you feel the sting. Here goes:

1. Stop brushing your teeth.
2. Overdraw your bank account.
3. Get into a fender-bender.
4. Don’t take out the trash.
5. Wet your bed.
6. Stain your clothes.

Perhaps you can think of your own…