Grow Your Capacity Starting Today

Do you feel stuck?  Does it seem like you have hit a limit to what you are able to accomplish?  Does it feel like you have done your best and yet there’s still so much more that you’d like to do?

These questions, and others like them, can apply to our lives in lots of different areas — relationships, business, spirituality, personal achievement, education, etc., etc.  There are certainly times in each of our lives when we don’t imagine that there aren’t many more ways we can grow.

We’ve exhausted all our known paths and options and we’ve advanced as far as our current situation would seem to allow.

And that’s when we stop.  That’s when it seems like our capacity for growth has totally dried up.

But is this true?  Is it generally true that folks have an upper capacity above which they can’t grow?  And what about for followers of Jesus…what is our capacity like?


How full is your glass? To the top? Or have you set a limit for yourself that is below your full capacity?
By: Claire Cessford


Capacity Without Measure

As I’ve mentioned before, the Gospel of John is full of “sent” language.  It’s all over the place!  The implication is that those who follow Jesus are sent; we’re not to be lazy or passive!

And one of the places where this sent language shows up prominently is in John 3.34.  Here’s what it says:

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

Now, to be clear, the “one whom God has sent” in this passage is referring to Jesus.  Jesus’ testimony about himself is legitimate because he speaks God’s words in a completely unadulterated fashion.  And, furthermore, Jesus was given the Spirit without limit or measure, meaning that while others in human history prior to Jesus experienced the Spirit of God, it was only for a time.  Jesus, however, had total and complete access to the Spirit when he was on earth.  All that God sent Jesus to do could be accomplished because Jesus had total access to the Spirit.  His capacity was only limited by his human-ness (he could get sleepy and hungry and the like, he could only be in one place at a time, he experienced time sequentially the way all humans do, etc.).

You may be thinking at this point something like this: Matt, I thought you were going to talk about how we could have a growing capacity, not that Jesus did!

Well, there are several things to think about.  In John 14.17 Jesus promises to send the Spirit to his followers and he says that the Spirit will be with them and live in them.  Later in the same chapter, Jesus says that the Spirit will teach them “all things” (14.26).  Two chapters later Jesus tells his followers that the Spirit whom he will send will guide them into all truth (16.13).  Then in John 16.14-15 Jesus says that what the Spirit says he got from Jesus and what Jesus says he got from God.  Lastly, in John 20.21 Jesus says that he is sending his followers in the same way he as sent, which, among many things, implies that they too will be sent with the Spirit.

In other words, the Spirit that Jesus had access to without limit is the same Spirit that indwells his followers!

Friends, this is great news indeed!  We have been granted the greatest gift that we could possibly receive on this side of eternity: the Spirit of God will live in us!  He will inspire us, move us, teach us, guide us, convict us, and empower us.

He will allow our capacity to only be limited by our human-ness as well.  Like Jesus when he was on earth, we get tired and hungry, we are only able to be in one place at a time, etc., etc.  But in the same way, just as Jesus was filled to capacity with the Spirit as he walked and talked on earth, we too are filled to the brim!  The Spirit of God is with us!


Grow Your Capacity!

So our capacity is much higher than we probably imagined.  How do we tap this uncharted capacity?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Pray.  Ask God to help you submit more and more to the Spirit.  Why?  Well, if it is the Spirit who can grant us all that we need (thus growing our capacity), then we must learn to trust him and lean on him more than we currently do.  So we need to ask God to show us how to trust the Spirit!
  2. Seek community.  There’s little that will help you increase your capacity more than being in a Christ-centered, Spirit-filled community of folks who long to live out God’s mission in this world.  You will be encouraged, pushed, and guided.  You will learn that growing your capacity isn’t something to accomplished alone; you need others!
  3. Change your inputs.  Be honest, what are your daily inputs?  Mine look like this: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, podcasts, television programs, Youtube videos, conversations with friends, and, if I feel especially compelled, the Bible.  What if I flipped my input priorities, placing more importance on hearing from God within the Bible and from my community?  Would my life change?  I’m totally convinced that it would!


So friends, when you get down and think there’s no way out — that’s okay.  Feeling depressed, sad, and stuck are real emotions and you feeling them is not a bad thing.  But in just the way you need him to, the Spirit of God can provide you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Don’t you need those things?  I know I do!


What do you think?  As a follower of Jesus, why do we sometimes buy the lie that our capacity is very limited?  And what would change in your life if you really lived like the Spirit of God lived inside of you?  Let me know in the comments below!


Acceptance: A Missional Must-Have

We hear a lot about acceptance and tolerance today.  In fact, in certain Christian circles acceptance and tolerance are at the top of bad word list!

At some other time I want to tackle the idea of toleration — so let’s turn our attention instead toward acceptance.

What We Want Acceptance to Mean

All of us want to be loved for who we are.  We want people to validate us and our feelings and we want them to make us feel good about the choices we’ve made.  We want to be accepted.

And we want this acceptance to be conditional: the one accepting us can’t ask us to change, expect us to change, or hope that we’ll change.  Nope.  Instead we want them to simply take us as we are, warts and all.

And to be honest, if there’s something about us that we know needs to change, we still don’t really want people to call us out on it.

It’s almost as if we want people to accept us and then to ignore everything about us that is preventing us from living up to our God-given potentials.

We want love without risk, grace without truth, and acceptance without change.

The Kind of Acceptance We Need

If we stopped to think about it, we would gather that this kind of cheap, no-strings-attached acceptance is shallow at best.  We would figure out that it’s more or less meaningless because no one is asking us to be better, to be stronger, or to be more clued in.

But when we find someone who can accept us for who we are and then love us enough not to let us stay there, we will latch onto them for dear life!

I’m sure that as you read the last sentence you thought of a person or two in your life that simply makes you a better person.  Sure, they offer you unadulterated acceptance.  But they also have high expectations of you.  When you fail them, they don’t dismiss you; instead they help you grow.  When you hurt them, they don’t run; instead they teach you how not to be selfish.

It’s people like this that are worth holding onto!  In fact, if we’re lucky enough to have one or two people in our lives like this, we’re super blessed!

Jesus’ Acceptance

I can’t think of a better example of someone who demonstrates healthy acceptance than Jesus.  We can catch a glimpse or two of his acceptance style in John 3.1-15.

In those verses Jesus has an interaction with a religious leader named Nicodemus.  Since Nicodemus was an important person and since Jesus was a bit controversial, Nicodemus came to Jesus at night (John 3.2).

He desperately wanted to engage in conversation and dialogue with Jesus, but he was a bit scared to be seen with him.

I don’t know about you, but if someone treated me this way, I might be tempted to say something like this: “Come back during the light of day.  I can’t work with you if you’re ashamed to be seen with me!”

But this is not how Jesus responds.  Instead Jesus enters in to a discussion with Nicodemus.  He’s patient with him.  But he teaches him.

Jesus doesn’t just accept Nicodemus and let him stay there.  Jesus allows Nicodemus to come to him as is and he makes sure that he leaves a different man.

Now the transition from spiritual lostness to foundness was slow for Nicodemus.  Nicodemus and his pal Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus but in secret, helped ensure that Jesus’ body was taken care of after he died (John 19.39-42).  This was a big deal because doing so would be at least semi-public and because the spices and tomb for Jesus were not cheap.  Nicodemus and his friend had to make sacrifices because of Jesus.

Jesus accepted him, and then a long time later Nicodemus demonstrated his love for Jesus.

Tradition has it that Nicodemus continued to follow Jesus and was killed for his faith sometime during the first century.  This isn’t verifiable but it has a nice ring to it.

Maybe Nicodemus’ faith started slow and grew incrementally.  And maybe it continued to grow and to grow and to grow.

And it all started for Nicodemus because Jesus offered him the gift of acceptance.


Why do we find it so hard to offer acceptance to folks who are far from God?  If we want to follow Jesus and lead others toward his love too, then we must offer them acceptance.  What can we do to be more accepting?  Let me know in the comments below!


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