The story has "gone viral" as they say now. A waitress posted a ticket online she received from a customer who was being charged an 18% gratuity automatically because she was with a group of people at a restaurant. The customer who was a minister wrote on her ticket, "I give God 10%. Why should I give you the 18%?
The posted ticket made the headlines. The waitress who posted the ticket was fired.
The minister who wrote the message on the ticket is embarrassed. She has said this in response: "My heart is really broken. I've brought shame on my church and my ministry." (She also claims that she left the tip on the table.)
This story has started a lot of discussions about Christians who dine out and don't leave a tip. People are saying things like: "People who make a big deal about being Christians and praying before their meal are the worst tippers." Some waitresses are agreeing and some preachers are beating up their congregations from the pulpit while television and radio stations are gleefully carrying the story. I read a Christian blogger's article today and it was full of recrimination against people who claimed to be Christian but didn't leave an appropriate tip.
Where do I stand in all of this? I believe if I do not agree with something management has done, I should take it up with management in a respectful manner (before eating my meal if I knew it before hand.) If I did not agree with the restaurant's group gratuity charges (which it's been my experience that they are usually posted on the menu) I certainly would not take it out on the waitress. The minister was wrong to do so. I believe it was mean-spirited for her to leave the note.
However, the minister has expressed her regret. Is it regret only because she got "outed" for her behavior? I don't know. I know she said her heart is broken and she admitted that she had brought shame on her church and her ministry. It sounds as though she regrets what she did and even appears to me as though she might have learned a lesson.
Either way, I'm not going to join in on the Christian-bashing bandwagon that the media and many others are so tickled to ride. This is a story about one woman minister and a snide comment and the results of it. It's not a story about all Christians and how they tip though some want to take it in that direction.
I'll tell you how Christians tip. They tip like other people tip. They tip embarrassingly small sometimes because some Christians are going through things everybody else is going through that leave too small of a tip and sometimes Christians can be miserly. Sometimes Christians stiff waitresses altogether just like some people stiff waitresses altogether because they forgot, had a bad waitress or were outright refusing to obey God. Some Christians tip okay just like people who are not Christians tip okay and some Christians tip generously just like some people tip generously. Are you getting my drift?
Being a Christian does not mean you are going to be generous and gracious and perfectly at the top of your game all the time. But the world expects that from us. The world holds Christians up to the light, examines them and then says self-righteously: "Look! See what she did? And she's supposed to be a Christian!"
We're easy targets, us Christians. Tie us to a stake and we burn up and die. Make fun of us on television and in your books while you portray us to be hypocrites and we hurt. We hear talk show hosts declare: "Don't judge!" and "he who is without sin, cast the first stone," as we watch sadly while God's message to the world is twisted by people who worry more about their sin being exposed than they do about the fact God knows it anyway.
And some ministers who get fired up blast their congregations with all their wrong-doings every Sunday because they are afraid the message of Jesus and His love is not getting through to them.
Sometimes it's hard being a Christian.
But the Christians keep coming. Some who have tipped poorly have already changed because of the prompting of the Holy Spirit and it didn't take a condemning newspaper article or accusatory preacher to get them to examine their hearts. Some baby Christians just shake it off and continue on their way because they are so busy learning about God, that the little things just seem little to them and they haven't come to the knowledge yet that the little things predict how they will behave in "bigger" situations. But down the road a while later, some of them learn to listen to voice of the Holy Spirit guiding them and they start to do better in the small things. Some Christians who have been generous tippers keep on being generous whether they get credit for it or not because God, over years and time, has been able to shape them into generous people.
Christians are at different stages in their Christian walk just like other people are in different stages of growth in being what they have chosen to be. Just like a biology student who wants to discover the cure for cancer but still makes mistakes on his lab tests, true Christians are still in there working and trying as they are being guided by the Holy Spirit and one day, they will do better.
And some people who claim to be Christian don't ever change but they keep using the word "Christian" just to squeeze any goodness out of it onto themselves that they can. They don't care if they're making other Christians look bad to the world or that people see through their words. They're users and they'll use any title that will benefit them or make them feel better about themselves even if it's not true. (Many people use these Christian-in-name-only people as their excuse for not serving God and even for not going to church. They tell us things like: "I knew a man who was a deacon in the church and he went out on his wife all the time and beat his kids and I'm just as good as he is.")
My perspective about this matter comes from a woman who has been a waitress (I was not a good one.) and who has daughters who have been waitresses too. My heart goes out to the waitress who was tipped poorly and fired for putting the ticket online. However, as a Christian, I've been caught in a fault before too and my heart also goes out to the woman minister who wrote the comment that has been blasted at super-sonic speed around the world.
And If I could speak to her now, I would say this: Ask God's forgiveness if you haven't already. Humble yourself. Get back up. Dust yourself off and go on.
And I say this to all Christians: People are going to continue to point out your wrong doings. Sometimes you will be unfairly judged also by a world who claims you are not supposed to judge. People are going to hold you to a higher standard mostly because they don't make an effort to live for Jesus and it bugs them that you have. People will put your words under a microscope. They will throw your past up in front of you as though you have no right to say something is wrong because you did it once yourself. You will definitely be called a hypocrite and other religions will be treated with more respect than you for having Jesus living in you because the fake stuff tends to be "cooler" to the world.
So, if you have done wrong, ask God's forgiveness. Humble yourself. Get back up. Dust yourself off and go on. This is not Iran or China or North Korea so we're not being killed for being Christians here yet but brothers and sisters, it's not going to get better. It's just going to get harder and meaner just like the world is getting harder and meaner. You better know what you believe and live it the best you can because every time you don't, there's someone waiting and watching to blame you for it and when you mess up...it just might go viral.
And that's the way I see it from this catbird seat...