Posted: 09 March 2015

BenevoLent: When temptation gets to be too much

Fantastic resources to engage your church in praying, giving and acting for vulnerable young people this Lent are now available.

BenevoLent has ended this year but you can still support our work - find out how today.


Today, Lorna talks about the challenges she has faced during Lent and what she has done to keep herself on track.

If you haven't yet used our BenevoLent calculator, give it a try.

When you start to give something up, the novelty and your enthusiasm can carry you a long way. But inevitably there will be a bad day. There comes a time when circumstances stack against you, or you fail to find the mental toughness you’ve previously relied on and it’s all too easy to crack. I gave in to temptation this past week and ate a chocolate bar.

If you slip up you have two choices. The first: You can tell yourself that you’ve failed and that it no longer matter's, that if you can’t reach perfection there’s no point trying at all. This is the choice I took that day. I also did not monitor anything else I ate that day to check if it had sugar in it so that chocolate bar may not have been my only slip up that day.

Responding to mistakes the right way

But the next day, I took the second choice: I forgave myself for my mistake and started again. Sometimes we think that perfection means not making mistakes, but what if instead, it’s about responding to mistakes the right way?

I love watching sports like gymnastics and ice skating. The athletes train for months on one routine. They practice it all day every day. Yet on the competition floor or rink they never execute them to perfection – there are always mistakes that creep in. The winners aren’t just the people with the fewest mistakes; they’re the ones who don’t let the errors impact on the rest of the performance.

If you’ve caved on your Benevolent challenge, it’s not the end of the challenge.

Here are my top tips to salvage your Lent challenge:

  1. Forgive yourself and remind yourself that you can recover
  2. Analyse why you caved – in my case it was lack of preparation
  3. If you haven’t already, find some appropriate substitutes for the thing that you’re giving up and have them ready for when the urge strikes
  4. Use our BenevoLent tool and sign up for weekly emails - these messages will ask how you’ve done and promise yourself that next week you’ll be responding with a smile not a frown

As I approach the halfway stage of the BenevoLent challenge I realise that I’m gaining so much more than I’m giving up. I’m learning to forgive myself for my mistakes, and that has made me realise that I need to be more forgiving of others too. 

By Lorna Barton-Nicol - Guest bloggers

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