The Battle Between Capability and Capacity
I have been doing some studying on a personality test called the Enneagram. Finding I am a 2 on the Enneagram was somewhat liberating, but also a bit like getting splashed with cold water. Called "The Helper" I learned that while I am healthy I am positive and people oriented and a great asset for building community, I am motivated by pride and have an unconscious motivation of being needed. People Pleaser? Yeah... that's me.
Over the past several weeks, stress in my life has caused me to do some reflecting and I have seen more clearly the connection and disconnect between a person's capabilities and their capacity to leverage them in a healthy way.
Capabilities are all those amazing talents that you have been blessed with and skills that you have developed over the years. Capabilities tend to increase over time.
Capacity has to do with what you can realistically get done in the 24 hours of time that you've been given. It has to do with the ability to leverage those capabilities to an effective end. Capacity tends to diminish over time.
Healthy, my definition, is being able to leverage capabilities and capacity in the order of God pleasing responsibility that you have. Intimacy with God first. Present with Family second. Work third. and down the line etc...
I'm seeing that I have been given these incredible abilities to serve other people in many different ways. Some are very public, some are private. I'm a little older so there is a little bit of money that we are capable of investing in others. I have more experience, which makes me more capable of doing more things, better things with more people and more connections. IT'S EXCITING!!! And it's dangerous.
Whenever you and I say yes to something, we by default say no to something else. It appears that I am more capable and I have more capacity than I ever did before. But I'm still just one person. It appears that I can help so many more people, do things with greater quality. I KNOW I can DO xyz. I am CAPABLE of creating great things. And, in my quest to leverage my capabilities, I too often fail to see that I don't actually have the CAPACITY to do all of it. Not without making some serious modifications to my HEALTHY priorities.
Jude 1:8 floored me as I was doing research for this little blog. It says "8 In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings."
Yep, before I know it, I can be so far out of my lane trying to accomplish something great... even something great for God, that I will have actually caused considerable damage to myself and to others, but most importantly to God's relationship with me. In trying to use my capabilities outside of healthy, God pleasing Capacity, I can actually do the opposite. It's a desperate battle that we need God's help to fight.
Outside of my own increasing awareness of this issue, Biblical Christianity suffered a substantial loss in the past several months as it was uncovered that Ravi Zacharias had misused his ministry to abuse women. The man celebrated for his Christian witness, integrity and defense of the Gospel, turned from Biblical truth in grievous ways in parts of his private life. While he died in May of 2020, his reputation and that of the the ministry he founded is suffering irretrievable damage, not to mention damage to the very message of God's grace to many around the world.
Does God forgive sin? Yes he does. Thank God, because in God's eyes every sin is as grievous to God as the worst sin from our perspective. Did Ravi actually have the capacity to be as "successful" as he appeared to be? It would appear that he did not. While his sin does not necessarily negate or cancel the contributions that God made through his life and ministry, for many it has caused great hurt and has opened up potential for great spiritual harm.
What would he have had to say no to in order to stay in a healthy balance between his immense capabilities and his healthy capacity? I cannot say, but clearly he needed help in that battle. And so do we.
In my desire to be a helper, one of my favorite things to hear is when people say to me "I don't know how you get it all done!". I have long prided myself on my ability to juggle many tasks and somehow make them all fit. Over the past year that statement makes me nervous and in the past two weeks that statement has become a warning. It aligns well with the warning from Galatians written above.
"7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life...." - Galatians 6:7-8
Are you like me? Have you and I tasted some of the destruction of this imbalance brought on by our selfishness? Then let's take heart with the passage from Jeremiah and so many others in the Bible that remind us of God's saving Grace:
"13 Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.
14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
This Lenten season, may we go to the Cross and see where Capability and Capacity met. Jesus endured the cross, paid for our sin debt to restore broken creatures like you and me to a healthy relationship with God found in and through Jesus Christ. May his ascension promise to be with us always and his sending of the Holy Spirit to strengthen faith, be the comfort and healing to repentant hearts. That we might get up yet again and walk in a healthy combination of capability and capacity TODAY to God's glory alone!