As the giver of every good gift, God sometimes acts fast! Like the Holy Spirit suddenly descending on Jesus’ first disciples and inspiring them to speak in other tongues (Acts 2). Or the risen Christ confronting Saul as he travelled on the road to Damascus and radically changing his life (Acts 9).
And yet for Timothy, God’s gifting seemed to come more gradually–initially confirmed by the laying on of hands, then needing to be mentored, rekindled, and nurtured over time (2 Timothy 1:1-14). Whatever creativity and spiritual gifts Timothy had received, whatever power, love, and self-discipline God had given, they did not seem to come to him ready-made. Instead, they came to him in the form of four important elements that can impact our creativity and spiritual gifts today as well.
At the retreat, I told a personal story to go with each, and asked the women in turn to reflect on their own experiences. Of course, personal stories add interest, but since these are simply my notes from the weekend, the stories aren`t included here. You just had to be there! Or wait for my memoir if I ever write one 🙂
In the meantime, here are my notes on 2 Timothy, a few questions for reflection, and a prayer to spark your spiritual gifts.
I am reminded of your sincere faith. – 2 Timothy 1:5
There are many different ways of having faith–today some people may have faith in humanity or faith in progress, but for 2 Timothy, it was faith in Jesus Christ who is described throughout the letter as:
- Christ Jesus.
- The one who will judge the living and the dead.
- The righteous judge.
- The Lord who stood at my side and gave me strength.
- The Lord who rescues me and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.
What role does faith play in your creativity and spiritual gifts? Do you have faith in your own talent and ability, or faith in God who is the source of your creativity and all that you do? Is it a sincere faith in Jesus, or is it time to make a commitment or re-commitment?
I am reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice. – 2 Timothy 1:5
As Timothy’s experience illustrates, mothers and grandmothers can play an important role in passing on faith to the next generation.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
your name endures to all generations. – Psalm 102:12
But that can only happen if one generation tells the next and the next and the next. In Timothy’s case it’s significant that faith reached across three generations from his grandmother to his mother to Timothy.
What role has your family played in shaping your faith, values, and gifts today? What are you passing on to your children and grandchildren?
I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. – 2 Timothy 1:3
Even as Timothy was already exercising his gifts, he was still growing in them and benefited from Paul’s encouragement, mentoring, and prayers. As his mentor, Paul was someone outside of his immediate family, who had more experience and could teach him; who served as an example; who cared for him and prayed regularly for him.
At the same time, Paul encouraged Timothy to mentor and train others:
and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. – 2 Timothy 2:2
Who has mentored you, and who are you mentoring? This is similar to the question about family, only goes beyond that. If we take the family of Christ seriously, we need to reach beyond our immediate family to include the mentoring of others as well.
For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands – 2 Timothy 1:6
As an apostle and representative of the church, Paul placed his hands on Timothy and prayed over him as an affirmation of Timothy’s gifts and ministry. Ministry can be lonely–especially in Timothy’s case with Paul in prison and not able to support Timothy in person, and with some in the church looking down on Timothy for being too young. The affirmation bestowed on Timothy told him that he was not alone. He was part of a long tradition of faith passed down through the generations, and part of a living faith community.
As you seek to release your creativity and spiritual gifts, perhaps you’ve also faced discouragement from other people. Some people may question, who do you think you are? You’re too loud, or too quiet–or too poor, or not gifted enough. You’re not from the right family or the right race. You’re single. You have a mental illness. You don’t have any children. You have too many children. You don’t have enough education, or too much education. You’re too young, or you’re too old.
But don’t let any of that stop you! After all, from Scripture it’s clear that God has a history of choosing the most unlikely people. David was the youngest in his family and not even in the lineup when the time came to choose a new king. He was still out looking after the family sheep, yet God chose him to reign over Israel. Esther was a young Jewish woman–the wrong race and religion for the royal court, but she became a queen and saved her people from mass execution. Moses was a poor speaker, yet chosen to lead his people. Deborah was a women who became a judge in a man’s world. Jesus chose fishermen, tax collectors, and prostitutes.
Over and over again, God chooses some of the most unlikely people, and enables and empowers them. God chose Timothy, and God chooses us, empowering us with faith, at work in our family background, through mentors and Christian community.
These things aren’t necessarily problem free. Faith comes with questions, disappointments, and struggles. Some of us have difficult family backgrounds. Or we have trouble finding a mentor. Or our community is unsupportive. And yet we have this great assurance, that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
A Prayer to Spark Your Spiritual Gifts
Our powerful and loving God,
you know us even better than we know ourselves–
the good gifts you have given us,
and the burdens that we carry.
Calm our fears and let us rest in you.
For you have not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and love and self-discipline.
May your power empower us.
May your love flow through us.
May your wisdom be evident in our self-discipline.
Renew our faith in Jesus Christ.
Heal any pain from our family backgrounds.
Raise up mentors for those who need them.
Make us a community of affirmation for one another
to release the creativity and spiritual gifts that you have given.
For we pray in the powerful name and presence of Jesus,
whose Spirit fills us and goes before us. Amen.