The Rushmore Report: Fixer Upper Stars Under Fire

I’ll admit it – I’m a big fan! Chip and Joanna Gaines host the huge cable hit, Fixer Upper. Beth and I plan our Tuesday nights around the show. It is an amazing blend of faith, family values, laughter, and home remodeling. But something happened a few weeks ago that has challenged the utopian life of the Gaines family and their legions of fans. They are under fire for not condemning the words of their pastor.

The Gaines’ pastor, Jimmy Seibert, spoke against the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage. The media has attacked Chip and Joanna for not publicly condemning their pastor for these views, expressed in a recent sermon at their church in Waco, Texas.

Chip Gaines has responded via Twitter. He wrote, “In times of trouble . . . you’ll find the Gaines family at church.”

That’s it . . . that’s all he said. As the controversy continues to heat up, I offer three responses.

1. Expect criticism.

The only people who are never criticized are the ones who are doing nothing. John Maxwell says, “If you need people, you can’t lead people.” He means that if we want to be loved by all the people all the time, we must avoid criticism. But that means doing nothing. And doing nothing is not an option. Paul told young Timothy that all who live godly lives will face criticism (2 Timothy 3:12). If Chip and Joanna had never launched their TV show, if they had never stood for Christian principles, if they had never stood for anything – and only then – they could have avoided the critics. But that’s not living. Expect criticism. It is one of the hazards of living free and full.

2. Not all criticism is worthy of a response.

My favorite book of the Old Testament is Nehemiah. It tells of a man building a wall. That man was Nehemiah. In the midst of his work, a couple of whiners named Sanballat and Tobiah came along to criticize Nehemiah for doing the work they lacked the courage to do themselves – build a wall around Jerusalem. They wanted Nehemiah to listen to their complaints and to come off the wall he was building so they could criticize him. His response was brilliant. Clearly not a people-pleaser, Nehemiah said, “Why should I quit the work the Lord has given me in order to talk to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). You will face critics. That doesn’t mean you need to respond every time.

3. Social media is toxic.

Facebook comes from the Latin word meaning, “Without a life.” Just kidding. But when you face criticism (or are having a bad day), remember, social media is not your friend. To watch Chip Gaines on TV is to see a goofy, innocent, naïve young man. To read his Twitter is find a mature follower of Jesus Christ. Chip gets it. Any substantive response or public defense would have landed him in hot water with one group or another. So what did he do? He went to church. Better yet, he said he went to church – and left it there.

I’m sure this story has more chapters to follow and that the final edition has yet to be published. I am impressed with the way Chip and Joanna have responded to date. If you are a Christ-follower, you should do two things: pray for the Gaines family and watch their show. By praying, you will bless them; by watching, they will bless you.

If your aren’t a Christ-follower, watch the show anyway. It will make you laugh. And if there is anything we need more of today, it is laughter.


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