A St. Louis pastor is regretting her recent trip to Applebees, but not because of a bad meal. She is regretting her bad judgment. Pastor Bell was offended when her server automatically added an 18% gratuity to her bill. The pastor felt that the tip should have been her choice, rather than listed as a required payment. I think a lot of us would agree with the idea that the amount of a gratuity is supposed to be a choice. I also think most of us would disagree with the way the Pastor chose to respond to her bill. Pastor Bell picked up her pen and wrote these words on the receipt: “i give God 10%, why do you get 18?” (I’m hearing a collective “gasp” as each of you read those words!) But before any of us make room for our righteous indignation and cast a stone . . . answer this. How many of you would want your worst restaurant moment photographed, posted on the Internet and seen by millions of people the next week? (And BLOGGED about!) But the purpose of this blog post is to make something good out of something that wasn’t good. So I want to offer you all a tip, so that you can offer a tip to someone else.
The Huffington Post ran the Applebees story in their religion section and has received almost 3000 comments to date. Suffice it to say, the St. Louis Pastor truly and completely regrets her choice not to just pay the 18% and leave quietly! In addition, the Applebees waitress was fired because, when she photographed the receipt and posted it to Reddit, her actions were considered a “breach of privacy.” To say that this story has stirred up emotions would be an enormous understatement. Huffington Post ran a follow-up article in their comedy section about another Applebees receipt that was posted on the internet by Christian Nightmares, a page devoted to degrading the Church. That receipt read, “I give God 0% so you get 28%!” So which receipt is the average person going to appreciate more?
This isn’t a question of who is right and who is wrong because both are both. A gratuity is supposed to be a choice, and Christians are supposed to be grateful. The St. Louis pastor probably wishes she had gone to the Olive Garden. The Applebees waitress probably wishes she had not added her gratuity to the bill, and posted that response on the Internet. And each of us can probably think of a time we made a foolish choice and suffered the consequences. The greatest sadness for a Christian results from those times when our human weaknesses damage our witness, hurts the name of Jesus – and grants a victory to Satan himself. I know I hate the times I have made Satan “smile.”
So how can we bring a Romans 8:28 moment from our moment of weakness? Learn from that pastor’s mistake, offer her – and the server – the grace we would want someone to offer us, and see what we can do to advance the Kingdom of God in a new way. I have thought for awhile that we should leave more than money to the people in this world who serve us at a restaurant. If you treat your server with respect and gratitude, they will probably notice your kindness. MOST people treat them as a means to an end. The fact that you saw the person serving you as a human being with a life and a life story, will mean that you have an opportunity to speak a word about the Lord to them. It isn’t always easy to do that in a rushed and crowded situation, so I want to offer a way for you to leave a tip AND a small moment of blessing. If you click on the tip tract located in this post, you will be able to download and print a page with a verse of encouragement for those who serve you. Print as many as you want, and leave one whenever you leave a tip.
But I have been told to remind my readers NOT to leave a tract INSTEAD of a tip! Earn the right to share God’s word by showing God’s presence in your life first. Be kind. Be generous. Be godly. I hope I am sitting in a restaurant one day and notice one of these tracts sitting on a table – with a generous and thoughtful tip. Someone once said, “The test of generosity is not how much you give, but how much you have left.” Give money, and leave them a moment with God.
Now…download and print those tracts. Then decide which restaurant you want to eat at tonight! (See…reading this post got you out of the kitchen today too!)