What's in this session?

  • Brady's recent experience (0:23)
  • #1: You can't control what happens to you; you can choose how you respond (2:00)
  • #2: What's the narrative? (2:47)
  • #3: It's not always your job to protect your reputation (4:58)
  • How does this apply to your church? (7:53)
  • On Earth as it is in Heaven (9:28)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’ll get a daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while we navigate the biggest communications shift that we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer. And today, we’re talking about how to deal with church conflict.

Brady Shearer: The other day, not too long ago, Alex, I noticed that a colleague of mine, someone who I’d been friends with, was making a number of let’s say publicly-critical statements of me and I thought this behavior was a little bit unusual, so I reached out to this individual through a DM and in the course of our conversation, essentially, a number of very hurtful things were said in my direction.

I’m not gonna like, say exactly what was said, but essentially, this individual was being very critical of my integrity.

Alex Mills: Which is different than being critical of your work. And we’ve talked about that before.

Brady Shearer: Right. And it’s also different than someone online being like, “Wolf in sheep’s clothing!”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You’re just like, “Hey, man, sorry you didn’t like this video about Facebook.” This is a friend of mine. This is a colleague. This was someone who I still respect greatly, and it was very hurtful. I was very upset and so I did everything I could, the best that I could to not respond in the moment. And I really don’t want this episode to look like, “And then I did this honorable thing.”

Alex Mills: “Look at how well I handled this issue.”

Brady Shearer: I’m essentially just a toddler, one tantrum away from doing something destructive and I was in the backyard with my daughter, I like, almost threw my phone over the fence. I was like, “Okay, I am in a bad place.” Put the phone down. I went to the front room. Closed the door. Gave my daughter to my wife and I just sat and I meditated and I prayed and I think there were three things that God really impressed to me that I think are gonna be helpful, I want to share with everyone, Pro Church Nation, watching or listening to this episode of Pro Church Daily, because I think they’re also directly applicable to church conflict.

Alex Mills: Oh, yeah, for sure.

Brady Shearer: Both within your church and inter-church conflict between you and another church or you and another pastor or church leader. There are three things.

The first was that you can’t control what happens, you can only choose how you respond. I felt that the statements that were being made were tremendously unfair and uninformed. They didn’t seem like they were properly reflective of who I believe to be and who I think I am. And yet, I also recognize that … and God was kind of saying this to me, “Look, you can’t change people’s minds.” It seems that this person had their mind made up, whether I had hurt them, whether I had said something, maybe whether someone else had said something to them about me, they had made up their mind and I wasn’t gonna convince them otherwise.

And so, I just kind of had to come to the point where not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is gonna even think that you’re a good person, and there’s not really anything you can do about that. Their mind is made up. You can only choose how you respond.

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: And that kinda leads into the second point and the second takeaway and that is every one of us is constructing narratives to make our way through the chaos of life. And we know this through psychology. Psychology tells us that the world around us is so chaotic that we use storytelling to communicate.

And we use stories to communicate with each other, but we also use stories to communicate to ourselves, we tell ourselves stories, where we make ourselves the protagonist, and if a story has a protagonist, what does it also require?

Alex Mills: It has to have an antagonist.

Brady Shearer: An antagonist. And if we’re in the church world, it’s very likely that the antagonists that we’re creating are either the Democrats or the people in our lives. And that means other church leaders, other churches.

Alex Mills: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brady Shearer: And we’re creating this narrative because we need to know that there’s a better purpose for us. We need to know that there’s a greater plan. We need to know that this is not indicative of everything around us, that there’s something in the future, you know? Otherwise, we’re just living in chaos and things are too upsetting.

And so, I had to realize that perhaps this person has a narrative of me, that they believe that this person … Brady lacks integrity. Brady doesn’t care about X, Y, or Z. Brady is inauthentic. And I felt, to myself, “But that’s not a fair narrative! That’s untrue,” at least I believe it to be.

One of the things that God has really been teaching me this year is that any time someone does something that is hurtful to you, or you think is wrong, instead of in your own narrative, thinking, “Well, that person is bad. That person is stupid. That person doesn’t really love Jesus.” What I try to instead do is look internally, because again, going back to point number one, I can’t control what others do. But I can control what I do.

And we’re all dysfunctional. You’ve ever been in a church? There’s probably been conflict, because there are people in the church, people that are dysfunctional, thus making the church dysfunctional.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So I’d ask myself, I said, “How are you doing this?” The thing that’s happening to you right now, that you really don’t like and you think is really unfair, when are you doing that to others? What narratives have you constructed that are unfair to other people? And it really brought me to the point where I was like, “You know what? This isn’t about me.”

And that brings me to the third point. Like, it’s not my job to protect my reputation. This isn’t about protecting the name of Brady Shearer, and if someone’s being publicly critical of me, sometimes I can jump and say, “Hey, you know, I think there’s a misunderstanding,” but if someone has their mind set and is like, “Look, I’m gonna publicly critique you.” You know what? Go for it. That’s your call.

And this isn’t really about me. We’re all in church space and this is about the name of Jesus being lifted higher, not the name of Brady being lifted higher. And I am dysfunctional. And I am messed up.

Maybe I did play a role in this. I wasn’t given any details. But maybe I did do something wrong. And if that’s the case, then I gotta own up to that, because I need to be better. It reminds me of that verse … John the Baptist, John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” I don’t need to protect the Brady Shearer brand, I don’t need to defend the Brady Shearer brand around every single turn because it’s not a brand worth defending.

Alex Mills: And that’s not easy. We can say this-

Brady Shearer: Again, I threw my phone, almost.

Alex Mills: We can say this now, because you’ve come out on the other side of this, as your pastor talking, I’d like to say that you actually did handle yourself very, very well. We kind of walked through this, like immediately after it happened.

Brady Shearer: I called you. I was like, “People are being mean to me!”

Alex Mills: But like, in the moment, that’s so hard to do, to kinda relinquish that compulsion to defend yourself and just almost … I’m hesitating from saying it because I don’t want it to sound too cliché, but just like, let God be your defender.

Brady Shearer: Let go. And let God.

Alex Mills: Something like that. And it’s not easy, but it is the right way. It is the narrow path, if you will, and it feels … it feels really difficult and almost like something’s being taken from you in the moment, but if you walk through it, you’ll feel so much liberation on the other side, knowing that you didn’t have to defend yourself and you were just responsible for you and taking responsibility and ownership of who you are and what you say and what you’ve done and moving along, but even in that moment, saying, “I’m not going to react to this, the way I’m feeling right now. I’m gonna choose not to be offendable. I’m going to be un-offendable in this moment.”

I’m reminded of that scripture that says, you know, as much as depends on you, be at peace with all men. Right? And so, it puts all the ownership on you, that in whatever situation you face and think of the person who wrote that, the apostle Paul. There were a lot of people that were not at peace with that man.

Brady Shearer: Facts only.

Alex Mills: And were out for his life and putting him in jail and he realized that in those moments of adversity, as much as depends on me here, I can’t be responsible for what other people are saying, what other people are doing. I’m only responsible for what’s going in inside of here and what’s gonna come out of my mouth, which is a reflection of what’s going on in my heart.

And that’s your responsibility in any situation, whether it’s good, or it’s bad, and it’s hard when it’s bad, but it is the right way.

Brady Shearer: So how can you apply this to your church? Every church I’ve been a part of has had dysfunction in it, because people were in it. People are dysfunctional.

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: Whether you’re thinking this about another pastor or another church, we’ve all done this. We’ve all created these narratives to make sense of what’s happening. Here’s a great example.

Think of the big church in your area. If you are the big church, think about how this has been said to you. If you’re not the big church? Think about how this has been said about you. The big church. Well, somebody told me that they don’t really preach really hard on sin. They’ve prioritized numbers over preaching the Gospel. Well, their reward is here. And not in Heaven.

Alex Mills: I heard they open the service with a secular song.

Brady Shearer: Well, have fun sending your people to Hell. We have to make them the antagonist, because their church is larger than ours, they must be doing something wrong.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: These are the narratives that we create. It’s inherent to human nature, but I think if we can be self-aware enough to recognize them, we can create a more healthy body of Christ. Because just like it’s not about the Brady Shearer, it’s not about the Life Abundant brand. It’s not about the Central Church brand.

Alex Mills: Of course yeah.

Brady Shearer: It’s about Jesus.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And I think we’ve done a pretty poor job in the past of giving the brand of Jesus, not the best name, because we’ve been elevating our own brands and fighting internally, and so when it comes to church conflict, whether it’s the church down the road in the example we gave, or the pastor that was mean to you once and you think that the way they run their student ministry isn’t the way that you’d run yours. They sing better, but it’s only because they signed it over the Devil.

Whatever it might be. Be self-aware enough to say, “What narratives am I creating about others that are not only wrong but are just unhelpful?”

One mantra I live my life by is “On earth as it is in Heaven.” That’s a prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, but we’re active agents in that prayer. It’s not just, “Lord, bring heaven to Earth,” it’s, “Lord, enable me. Allow me to bring Heaven to Earth in every decision I make.”

So I can get mad at this person. Back to my situation, and lash out at them, but that’s just bringing more death and hell into my own life and into their life, where as much as it relies on me, I want to bring heaven into earth, be an active agent in redemption.

And a final thing that I want to mention, and this I think ties together so much of what we do in Pro Church Daily together, and we’re gonna go a tiny bit long with this episode.

Alex Mills: That’s fine.

Brady Shearer: As I was meditating and praying, there was this single thing that kept popping up into my mind. And fascinatingly enough, it was Steven Furdick, a thing that I had seen on social media, inconsequentially, just by chance. And truthfully? The style of Steven Furdick’s preaching isn’t really my style.

I think that Elevation Church does amazing thing. I probably wouldn’t attend. Not really my vibe.

Alex Mills: You’re not listening to his podcast on the daily.

Brady Shearer: No, and that’s not being critical of them, it’s just saying different churches for different people. I follow Elevation on social because they do social so well and I want to learn from them. But there was this certain clip. And it was of Steven Furdick talking to his interns.

And it was this behind the scenes clip. He wasn’t preaching from stage, and I think this speaks to just sharing raw moments, so someone was in the back with a handheld camera recording what Steven was saying to his interns, and he basically said, “It’s not your job to defend and protect your name.” And it reminded me of this old video that many of us have seen, from Steven Furdick, it was this classic video of the haters.

And it was him standing in front of this green screen, saying, “Hey, to the haters out there. This one’s for you.” And he pretty much got roasted for the video and came out later and was like, “Man, I was really immature. I don’t know why I made that video.”

And if I think of anyone who gets criticism and hate that is unwarranted, you can disagree with some things that he does, but people … “He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing!” I don’t think so.

Just because he does ministry maybe differently than you doesn’t mean he’s an agent of Satan, but that’s the narrative that we create. And for him to say to his interns, “It’s not your job to jump in at every turn and be like, ‘No actually, I love God,’ and try to defend yourself.” I kept thinking, “This is an example of a church leader who probably faces more scrutiny than almost any other human on earth in the Christian world and this is his biggest takeaway? I think it can be my takeaway too.”

And this is also a sidebar for stopping the scroll on social. I only saw that because he put it in a really unusual thing on social media. It was a shaky cam, behind the scenes, him talking to his interns. It made me stop the scroll. And I heard him say, “Yeah, don’t defend yourself.” And I was like, “Okay.” I didn’t even think anything of it.

But in my time of need, because I saw it on social, it was there when I needed it.

Alex Mills: Yeah. Something that’s really helped me in creating these narratives, especially, like you said, when we create these narratives in our own lives, we’re always the protagonist. We’re always the good guy, you know?

Brady Shearer: Yep.

Alex Mills: But if we’re the good guy, that means that somebody else has to be the bad guy. And I was really frustrated with that in my own heart, my own mind, my tendency to do that. And something that’s really helped center me in those moments is to remember that if I believe that God is my Father and that I am his adopted son, then that also must mean that he’s the Father of whoever’s on the other side of this fence-

Brady Shearer: Truth.

Alex Mills: That I’m painting as the antagonist, and he loves them just as much as he loves me.

Brady Shearer: Amalgo Dei. We’re all carrying that image.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and so, even if I am right in this situation, God’s not on my side. He’s on both of our sides, because we’re both his kids and he’s our father and when I chose to acknowledge that, God probably doesn’t take allegiance to sides and situations when I think I’m right and the other person is wrong, that liberated me to see the other person the way that He sees them.

Like I said, especially in the times when I am right. But to see them in that moment as yeah, okay, we’re disagreeing, maybe you’ve done something hurtful to me, but I see you. And I’m gonna be able … because I see you, I can now respond to you from a different place. I’m not trying to defend myself. I’m not trying to prove myself, but I can respond in this moment in love, because I can see you.

That’s really helped me and maybe that will help somebody who is listening.

Brady Shearer: When this inevitably happens to you-

Alex Mills: Yeah, it’s going to happen.

Brady Shearer: You’re going to get happen, and similarly to Brady, you’re gonna want to throw a toddler tantrum just like your daughter and throw your phone over the fence. Just take a moment. Take a deep breath in. A deep breath out. Ask yourself, “What narrative here is untrue that I’m painting?” And let God take it from there.

Alex Mills: There you go.

Brady Shearer: That’ll do it for today’s episode. Extra long episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.

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