The Dumbest Thing I Ever Said... Publicly

Below is a video clip of my most embarrassing public speaking moment… ever. I loath what these three minutes portray. Actually, I have only watched it a couple of times because of how much pain it causes me to sit through it.

So why would I post it here? 

There are some important points that need to be made that are actually more important than the punches I will take for making these awful statements more visible. 

I have recently become aware of the fact that this video clip was being referenced and shared privately among people who were critical of Brian Brodersen and the Calvary Global Network. It was being used as a tool to slander Brian and prop up a false narrative about Brian having a secret agenda. I have not talked to Brian about it. I don't even know if he is aware of these comments. And my addressing it publicly was solely my decision.

For a little context… This was a message I gave at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, California in the Fall of 2014. The rest of the message can be viewed here. As soon as I stepped off the stage I knew I had screwed up. I asked the Bible College to edit those comments out of the video before it was published online. And they did. But someone found the original archive and started sharing it around the internet. As Jesus so wisely said "there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.” 

I was wrong...

First off let me apologize to everyone who watched this video and felt offended. You were right to feel offended. My words were tremendously disrespectful to the spiritual foundation that Chuck Smith laid in your life. I was not honoring the spiritual legacy that you (and I) are so appreciative of. I am truly embarrassed that I was this sloppy in communicating my sentiment about Chuck Smith and the last decade of his life. 

This is a perfect example of what Damian Kyle calls thoughtless unkindness. It was thoughtless unkindness towards the audience I was addressing. I should not have said what I said publicly because it was tremendously disrespectful. It also was a poor articulation of what I really meant.

To say that I spent 14 years waiting for a CCCM leadership change would be accurate and honest. Shortly after I started Bible College and a year before I came on staff at CCBC Pastor Chuck brought Brain Brodersen back from England to start a two year leadership transition. This was an exciting possibility. It was a transition that Chuck seemed excited about. This imminent transition gave birth to anticipation of what would change.

That describes the state of mind I had while working at CCBC from 2002 - 2007 and my early time working at CCCM from 2011- 2013. I had many conversation with coworkers about the future. Most of the conversations would go along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do ‘X’? Well maybe we can once Pastor Chuck has retired or has passed.” We were not plotting to derail Calvary Chapel from its heritage. No, we were talking about making web sites better and updating the furniture. 

I’m not sure how many of you participated in the Simple Minded Preacher web site, but those online conversations paralleled many of the conversation that I had with fellows employees of CCCM. Someone might say that those conversations were sinful and disrespectful towards Pastor Chuck and they might be right. But I do think there is a sinless way to talk about life after a person retires or passes away. And I don’t think it is sinful to be excited about those changes.

So when I said in 2014 “I spent 14 years waiting for a man to die.” What I meant was “Looking back on all those years of anticipation, hoping and envisioning what would change, it ended up being 14 years of waiting for a man to die.” It still is a disrespectful and unhelpful thing to verbalize because the audience did not share my experience and could not empathize with that “insider” perspective. I was casting a stone of stumbling in front of them. But it was an accurate retrospective comment on how I felt.

Don't read between the lines

Second, in this video I appear to be boasting about working with Brian and helping behind the scenes.  And unfortunately it is easy to write a narrative between my lines that suggests Brian was plotting tohijack Calvary Chapel. Again, I was inarticulate and arrogant. But to attach some sinister motives to Brian Brodersen based off my comments is flat out wrong. If you were immature enough to use this video in that way shame on you. 

If Brian had a plan or agenda for after Pastor Chuck died he didn’t share it with me. There was no plan or agenda that I knew of. In fact I distinctly remember how impressed I was by Pastor Brian’s respect for Pastor Chuck while he was alive and after his death. Even though the leadership transition took place 12 years after the originally agreed upon time frame, Pastor Brian appeared patient and content during the time I worked with him. 

I am very sorry that my bad example has contributed to the idea that I might be the product of Brian’s private conversations rather then my own pure carnality. Pastor Brian is a man of integrity and respect behind closed doors as much as he is in public.

Be an adult and make a phone call...

Third, there is a cancer in Calvary Chapel leadership called slander. One of the shocking things that I have observed over the past few years in Calvary Chapel is how freely Senior Pastors will talk smack behind the backs of other pastors but never pick up the phone or meet face to face.

For example there is a contingent of pastors who don’t like Brian Brodersen, but having been one of Brian’s assistants I know how few of them called to get a first hand account of what he really thought. For some reason these leaders thought it was spiritually acceptable to slander another pastor without directly talking to the man. 

One of my pastor friends who grew up on the streets and was a part of the gang culture explained this dynamic to me. He told me how cowardly it would be considered if one gang member bad mouthed a peer to his homies but didn’t directly confront the peer. He said this was one of the fastest ways to lose the respect of your homies. In my friends words “you go deal with it.” And my question is this: If gang thugs get this why can’t we?  

Having pastors secretly share this video is just another example of the cancer. Trying to use this video to prop up a false narrative is shameful. I take full ownership of the stupidity of my statements in 2014. But if you took this video and shared it with others rather then talking to me directly shame on you. You are behaving no better than gossipy grannies on Facebook. 

I was only able to get access to this video through a level headed CC Pastor who was mature enough to challenge me on its contents and share his concerns. I am grateful for his candidness and mercy towards me. 

The Calvary Chapel family of churches is working through some difficult issues. The last thing that is needed is slander and gossip. I know that it can be frustrating to be in the dark over leadership decisions. You may find yourself tempted to read Christian gossip web sites (also known as Online Discernment Ministries), but at the end of the day we are Christians first. Our character matters. And slander is sin. When I said those things in 2014 I sinned. Why uncover my nakedness to your peers rather then rebuke me to my face?