God, Applebee’s, Tips, and Misguided Christians

Once again under the category of Stupid Things Christians Do, we have the story of a pastor complained about a tip for an Applebee’s waitress. And of course the story went viral which is what prompted this post. When the bill arrived it included an automatic tip for 18% due to the size of the party. The pastor wrote a note on the receipt saying, “I give God 10% why should you get 18”, then wrote zero in the additional tip line. Originally I thought she scratched out the 18% and gave nothing. Thanks to a reader who pointed out the error I was corrected. But that still left me thinking that the pastors response was just not the kind of story and behavior we want to connect with followers of Jesus.

Sadly, when you have a few billion people on the planet who call themselves Christians, there are going to be regular examples of people who embarrass the rest of us and give fuel to anyone who wants to attack, God, religion, or religious people. I am guilty of this myself on occasion. When I first heard this story I thought, no, can’t be. No pastor would be that short-sighted. Surely this is an atheist posing as a pastor in order to create a story, please let it be so. No such luck. It turns out an actual pastor of an actual church is the guilty party. We know this because she complained to the restaurant manager that the waitress violated her privacy by posting a picture of the offending note on the web. Now the pastor and her church are getting their fifteen minutes of infamy.

It was bad enough that the pastor in question complained to the waitress in writing and pulled God into the fiasco. Then she compounds it by protesting that the waitress is the one behaving badly. Because of her complaint the waitress was fired! She  lost her job because a pastor who acted badly in the first place complained that she was caught. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? (sorry, I had to scream at that point before my head exploded)

Here’s the deal. I understand that you may find the automatic tip of 18% to be a bit cheeky. But that is no reason to bring God into it. He is happy with the 10% He asks for and seems to have no problem with people being blessed with a bigger percentage. When the standard tip in the USA was 15% I never heard God complain about that. In fact as I read Scripture I am fairly certain you can make the case that God would love it if we gave all we have to people who are poor, or in need.

Second, we are told to love others as we want to be loved. Seems obvious to me that no one wants to be loved by receiving a note like that about how much someone loves God instead of you. Jesus gives us the Great Commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then adds that loving our neighbor as ourselves is just as important. He makes the two go hand in hand. It’s like what Sinatra said about love and marriage going together like a horse and carriage, “you can’t have one without the other”. So waitress stiffing pastor who claims such a love for God that you tithe, God is not impressed. You didn’t love your neighbor and tried to justify it by your love for God. That just doesn’t fly with The Almighty.

Jesus dealt with some religious leaders who claimed they couldn’t help their needy parents because they dedicated the money to God. He rebuked them soundly. I think He wanted to smite them as well but thought better of it. The point being, people have been using God as an excuse for sometime in order to not give to the needs of fellow human beings. God wasn’t buying it then and He isn’t now.

If anything, Christians, especially pastors, should be known as big tippers, givers to all in need, people who hold their resources in open hands for others to share. After all, those resources come from God for the purpose of meeting our needs AND blessing others. At Northland Church, one of the seven responses we think we need to make to God, based on who He is and what He has done for us, is to Live Generously. That means to give freely of our time, talent, and treasure to anyone in need, for the glory of God. After all, God so loved us that He generously gave His only son to die on a cross, be risen again, and ascended into Heaven, so we might have eternal life. Surely we can give a little bigger tip to someone who has served us in this life. Love your neighbor as yourself. It is that simple and clear.

15 thoughts on “God, Applebee’s, Tips, and Misguided Christians

  1. Shawn

    I don’t know who’s more stupid: the pastor or the writer of this article who is clearly misinformed. The waitress didn’t get stiffed. She got the 18%

  2. Dan Lacich

    Read the news article from the link provided in the post and you will see that the pastor scratched out the 18% tip, put zero in the additional tip line and paid only the actual amount of the bill. What the picture makes it look like is that the pastor refused the 18% and gave zero. It may be that the 18% was in the 34.93 of the bill and that the server did not get stiffed. If that is the case your right, I’m stupid too. But the point of the article still stands that the attitude and actions of the pastor involved were not what followers of Christ should exhibit. If she had simply left the issue alone and not said anything about her tithing habits and displeasure over the tip, this story would never have happened.

    Dan (the author of the article)

  3. Dan Lacich

    I did the math on the bill and you are correct. The waitress got the tip. I will correct the post

  4. Shawn

    Dan, the original article says ‘tried to stiff’. It was a party of 20 so gratuity was automatic. Crossing it out changes nothing. The ‘0’ was for ‘additional tip’. As a waiter for years myself, I’m telling you the waitress didn’t get stiffed. The pastor was still incredibly insensitive and should be embarrassed. I was embarrassed. Though I also think of the many stupid things I have said and done in the moment. Only by His grace they haven’t gone viral.

  5. Dan Lacich

    I am curious. As a waiter for years, how often did you have some well meaning Christian leave you a pamphlet on your need for Jesus and not leave a tip? Another pet peeve of mine. Leave the pamphlet AND a big tip.

  6. Outside of whether she got her tip or not, the message left by the pastor was clearly out of line. And, I agree with Shawn, praise God my own stupidity hasn’t gone viral. Surely, this pastor is remorseful and regrets what she’s done. Nevertheless, when we do things like this, as representatives of Christ, our actions do have serious consequences and do hurt others in the Body. This has me more mindful of the way I behave, and I hope my life brings glory to God and shines light on His goodness.

  7. Shawn

    Sadly, too many times Dan. Even sadder is in most cases no automatic tip’s involved, but just a flat-out stiff. It made it even more difficult as a Christ-following waiter. The other wait staff knew I was a Christian so who do you think they came to after the church crowd left the restaurant? Imagine if Christians wouldn’t hold on to their money with such clenched fists but viewed their money as a tool for the gospel instead of being ‘tools’ themselves. The really good days were the ‘stiff w/ tract’ days when the tract was the one that looked like real money. Cue damage control.

  8. Bruce

    Having been around for many years I have learned that others are drawn to Christianity by our actions and not so much by our words. I don’t personally know of anyone who has been converted by our words alone if they don’t see evidence through our conduct. They see how we conduct ourselves, live our lives, witness our lifestyle and see our relationship with the Lord and would like that for themselves. This pastor you mention set a pagan witness not a Christian witness. No one would be drawn to Jesus through that conduct. I expect she may convert her money to travelers checks just prior to her death so she can take it with her. This pastor did not reflect those attributes we as Christians should be exercising. If she is remorseful she needs to make her conduct right and get the waitress restored to her job or another. It is a long established rule that when groups are served that the tip is automatically added into the bill. To dispute that or make a scene in front of witnesses is improper. The pastor’s action gives all Christians a bad name in my estimation and I would not make excuses for her. We Christians need to be mindful of our conduct and that is especially so for pastors.

  9. Boyd

    Just keep explaining bible verses or rather your take on them and love your brothers and sisters.

    We all can learn to put down our stones and remove our logs.

  10. Fran

    Those of you “doing the math” to determine that $34.93 includes the tip need to check your math and try again: The bill was $34.93. 18 percent of $34.93 is $6.29. $34.93 represents the total bill BEFORE 18% of it, or $6.29, was added on. So yes, the pastor did indeed intend to stiff her waitress.

  11. I went out to eat with my pastor once and was shocked at the 40% tip he left. He may be too far in the other direction, but if you’re going to err, err on the side of generosity, I guess.

  12. Stevie

    I saw another article that quoted the pastor as saying, “My heart is really broken. I’ve brought embarrassment to my Church and and ministry.” I’d like to ask her this: When did your heart break? Before you after you tried to stiff a waitress in the name of God? Before or after you got caught? Before or after you got all this bad publicity and backlash? When did you actually realize that what you did was wrong?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s