“How Much is Enough?”
2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10
In my experience, mentoring has a great influence on the one being mentored. It can go really well if you have a good mentor. But things can come off the rail quickly if you don’t have a good one.
I worked in Ottawa for five years. However, I was really close to being laid off before my first year was over. I was really struggling in my job. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t have a sense of direction as to where I should be going. My mentor was a man who had worked alone for some time. He handled all the stuff as it came in. I was hired to help him.
The problem was, he didn’t take time to show me anything. All I got was a heap of manuals to look over. Problem is, I don’t learn that way. I learn best by hands on experience. My productivity was terrible. Looking back, I probably should have been laid off. I also realize that I wasn’t completely innocent in the situation. I should have been asking more questions, letting people know I didn’t feel properly mentored, that I needed more instruction and direction.
Instead I was transferred to another department. What a difference! Here I had a good mentor. Someone I felt I could go to with questions. Someone who made sure I had a list of things to work on. Someone who trusted me and developed my skills in the workplace.
Two years later I was transferred to a new department. But this time, it wasn’t the disposal of a unproductive employee, I was transferred so that I could be the new team leader of an unproductive department.
Good mentoring and leadership makes all the difference in a person’s life. If you get good instruction, if you are a good student, you will grow. You will unleash your potential.
I’m not sure we could all handle a mentor like St. Paul. He had a rather direct, and often not very flattering way of offering direction. Just look at what he wrote in his second letter to Timothy. “Don’t be ashamed of our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.”
Timothy has been a young apprentice to Paul. Paul taught him about Jesus Christ, helped him to grow in his faith and to understand what God had called him to do. To preach the gospel to the Gentiles.
Paul is now in prison, and he writes instructions to his young apprentice, encouraging him to continue the good work to which he has been called. But Paul is also direct about the consequences of such activities. People will work against you and try to silence you. But all is not in vain.
Paul encourages Timothy to continue his role as a new leader in the church, the new evangelist to continue the work God is doing in the region amongst the Gentiles.
And it’s a good thing he, and many others, did. If they didn’t feel compelled, or capable, of continuing the work of the first apostles, the first generation of the church after Jesus Christ died and rose again, then the church may not have survived those first tumultuous years.
Yet the Holy Spirit moved them, the love of God empowered them, and the truth of Jesus Christ strengthened them to do this work. And here we are today. They suffered greatly for the gospel message so that we could have it easier here today.
Yet how we ask ourselves the same question of Jesus the disciples asked in our reading from Luke this morning. “Lord, increase our faith!”
The response that Jesus gives is is the story of the mustard seed. “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
In other words, they already have what it takes. What are they looking for? What more do they want? What will more faith get them?
Jesus tells them they already have the faith they need. It’s not about how much, it’s about how you use it.
So maybe the request should not have been “increase our faith,” but rather they should have said, “Lord, release our faith!”
Release our faith.
Let it go. Let our faith do the work to which we are called. Don’t be shy about it. Don’t want more of it. Just release it to do what God wants it to do.
This morning, in just a few minutes we are going to share at the Lord’s table. We will be celebrating the gift he has given us. The gift of His own life so that we may share in His eternal presence.
We are joining with millions of Christians all over the world in this meal, because this is World Communion Sunday. From great cathedrals to tiny huts, Christians will be united in one meal as we take, in the bread, the body of Christ, and we drink, in the wine, the blood of Christ, the gifts given to us so that we remember what He has done for us.
Imagine, if in these simple acts we are moved to not seek more faith, but to simply release whatever faith we have. To use that which God has given us. Imagine the impact we could have in our community.
Now imagine if the millions and millions of other Christians in the world would do the same.
It’s not about how much faith we have, it’s how we use what we’ve got.
If we aren’t sure where to start, then maybe we need some mentoring. Maybe we need someone to help us understand what it is we have to offer, even if we feel like we have very little to work with. Someone who will encourage us, teach us and help us to release our faith. Unleashing it from the grip we have on it which keeps it so close and safe.
The first disciples, their students like Timothy, they unleashed the faith they had and shared with everyone they met, even in the face of great danger.
Here we are safe from such persecution. Here we don’t fear imprisonment of death if we preach the good news of Jesus Christ with our neighbours.
Here we don’t need to keep our faith inside, because we are free to let it go and have it find new homes in the lives of those who need it just as badly as we do.
How much faith is enough? Not very much at all. We just need to be willing to share the little bit we have.