How not to demonstrate the Gospel…

4 Feb

If you missed it, last week a photo went viral that showed a receipt from Applebee’s and a note from an unsatisfied customer. The customer had crossed out the 18% gratuity (replacing it with 0!) and added a note: “I give God 10% why do you get 18?” and then had the audacity to preface her signature with the title Pastor. Ugh.*

How to infuriate someone AND give Christians a bad name in one inane step.

How to infuriate someone AND give Christians a bad name in one inane step.

Enough (virtual) ink has been spilled (Here’s the link to the full story with updates) but I can’t resist weighing in on just a few things that apply to more than just this ridiculous situation:

1)      The idea that we are off the hook so to speak after giving God his cut. This is the type of entitlement that suggests we think our money is our own – when really a true theology of provision acknowledges that EVERYTHING we have not only comes from but, belongs to God. All of our resources should be on the line for the Kingdom – not just 10%. This doesn’t mean we can’t spend money on ourselves etc. but that we shouldn’t get into the habit of thinking that we can do whatever we want with it once we’ve paid the piper.

2)      All of our actions impact how people perceive God. Granted, this is not something God told us to do (be stingy) but the waitress involved can’t know that. My friends in the service industry consistently lament working lunch shifts on Sunday because Christians are notoriously bad tippers. Generosity should be one of our hallmarks, not something we avoid at all costs. In general, we should act as if everyone knows that we are followers of Jesus and assume that all of our actions will reflect that. At least in the area of tipping I would feel confident signing my receipts “Christian, Steve Wimmer.” Although the overwhelming weirdness of this would certainly have a negative effect.

3)      Thinking that Christians get a free pass on certain things because of our faith. Jesus instructs his followers to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, which in that instance meant paying taxes. Similarly, we should tip when it’s expected and go ahead and buy some good candy for the kids in your neighborhood on Halloween!

4)      Tip your servers! I can remember dining out with a student once after an InterVarsity event who proudly stated that she almost never tipped, unless the service was exceptional. In principle, maybe this makes sense but the reality is that servers are paid an extremely low hourly wage and depend on gratuity. (When I explained that most servers make under $3/hour she exclaimed “But that’s below minimum wage!” She had no idea how the industry works.) Throwing an extra dollar or two onto your bill (above the normal gratuity) won’t break the bank for you but it will make your server a little happier, even if only momentarily.

5)      You can shop/dine intentionally for evangelistic effect. If you decide to be generous and also go to the same place at the same time, you can cultivate relationships with the folks who work at these establishments. If you’ve established a pattern of generosity, the opportunity may come up in the future to explain why this is the case!

This was obviously a momentary lapse in judgment for the Pastor involved, and the point is not to skewer her but to look into attitudes and behaviors that we are all guilty of at various times and remember that we must do everything to the Glory of God.

*Update: The pastor made a public apology after things started blowing up (and also claims to have left a cash tip equating to about 18%), and the waitress was fired. Things got way out of hand.


4 Responses to “How not to demonstrate the Gospel…”

  1. Ethan February 4, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Pretty ridiculous all around. So much was wrong with this story, but yours is a good take on it. How can a “pastor” not understand the concept of giving more than one deserves, given that she supposedly preaches a gospel that is about us receiving more than we deserve? And I won’t even get into the 10% fallacy!

    • stevewimmer February 4, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Yeah – I always cringe when stuff like this shows up in my news feeds. The ‘more than we deserve’ angle is another huge one that I left out, great point.

  2. Daniel Montague February 4, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Nice job Steven. I agree 100%

  3. Wash February 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Great comments and perspective Steve.
    See u around man, much love to you and your family.

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