“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
(Numbers 6:24-26, NIV) 

This morning, I had one of the most powerful small group experiences I have ever had. I wanted to share it with you and encourage you to try an exercise in your small group or with family and friends that may facilitate a similar powerful experience. This blog is a little deeper than I usually get and a window into some of my heart so thanks for reading.   

I’m meeting with a small group of leaders to study the book The Other Half of Church by Jim Wilder and Michel Hendricks. The book is a fantastic study of Christian community, brain science, and overcoming spiritual stagnation. It teaches Christians how to be full brained—integrating our right and left brains. We often ignore the relational and character-building right brain in our circles, and this book seeks to recover that for the glory of God. I highly recommend this book to you.   

Our study this week was on Joy: The Face of Jesus That Transforms from chapter 3. In the “Try it Out” section at the end of the chapter there were several exercises to try out including this one:   

“In your group, select a volunteer, and have the others share something they are grateful for in that person. Go around the circle repeating this for each person. This exercise builds joy in your group.” 

After prayer, I decided to start the group with this exercise. After all, you can’t get too much joy! We started with my friend to the left and went clockwise around the circle with everyone sharing something they were grateful for about him. We repeated the process for all 8 of us in the group that day. There were many tears, laughs, and joyful interactions during the time. It seemed like God was speaking to each of our hearts through the words of others. 

I was the last one in the circle to have the other 7 share about me, and I had to fight back tears. I could type three pages on what I heard as I’m sure everyone in the group could about what they heard about themselves. 

I tell you these phrases below not to build myself up but to give you specific examples of the way Christians can build each other up and help heal each other. We often don’t know the struggles of others, but Jesus does, and he can use others to help heal those. That was my powerful experience this morning and I feel compelled to share it. 

Some things that others said about me that stood out and ministered to my heart were, in my paraphrase: 

“Your whole life is worship” (Wow, tears!)  

“You are a great leader (family and ministry)”   

“You are the real deal”  

“You are a shepherd who really cares about others and us,”  

“We see your passion”  

“You are wild at heart”  

and finally, from the love of my life Danielle, “you are my best friend!” 

I literally had tingles running down my spine when it was done. I have tears in my eyes now as I type this. Why don’t we do this type of thing more in Christian community? I know I will start after today. 

You see, as Paul David Tripp says, in a fantastic book called Lead, “ministry is spiritual warfare.” And I have experienced some of that over the years including, and perhaps more poignantly, last month. I suffered lack of sleep and stress as I prepared to preach a sermon. I preached three times the weekend of February 10 and 11th, each time having terrible stomach pain until minutes before taking the stage. In the same book, Mr. Tripp also says we are called and honored to suffer with our Savior although, I’ll confess, I need some work on handling that. 

I also faced an untrue criticism of me to my face the week before my sermon by someone I love dearly. Constructive criticism builds up, but unfounded criticism tears down. It brought back memories of all the criticisms they have made of me over the years, usually to others when I’m not around. It has been hurtful. My spiritual adversary has used those criticisms over the years and last month to accuse me and lie to me. To essentially use these person’s words to put thoughts in my head like “you are a failure” and “you will never measure up.” Because my identity is in Christ, I know these aren’t true, but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle against them. 

To hear counter arguments to the criticisms directly on point from fellow followers of Christ helped heal my heart. To hear “you are the real deal” when I’ve been made to feel like a failure and fraud was transforming. To hear that others appreciate my leadership and hard work when I’ve been made to think that I don’t do enough and can never measure up sang the sweetest song to my soul. The wonderful counselor has been healing me for the last several weeks, allowing me to forgive, and this morning helped heal even more. 

First, if you are in a small group that you have known for a while (in other words, don’t do this the first few months before you get to know each other) try this exercise out. You could also try it out with your family or friends. If led by the Holy Spirit, it will be so healing and transformational. 

Second, I want to encourage all readers to encourage others around you. Tell them something kind that you are grateful for in them. Let’s build others up in the way of Christ instead of the tearing down like we see all around us. Pick a person a day and begin to build with bricks from the house of God. Let’s be the counterculture to the critical spirit of our day. If you have a critical spirit, turn from it and ask God to give you a spirit of encouragement. Scripture tells us that coldness and criticalness is only going to get worse, but we can push back.  

Finally, and with a present fullness of heart, I want to thank my small group for your ministry to me this morning! You didn’t know it, but you helped me fight a spiritual battle I have been facing in recent weeks. I hope you were built up and encouraged as well. I also hope you read this and feel something of what I do. It is hard to express in words although I am trying here to do in language what is easy to feel in my heart. Trying to express with my left brain what only my right can feel. I pray the groups’ words to you this morning felt like sweet whispers from Jesus to your heart like they did to mine. Because that is just what they were. He smiles at you and is happy to be with you!  

Joyfully yours, 

Eric Krajewski
Director of Adult Ministries  

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