“I give God 10 percent. Why do you get 18”
These were the words written on a receipt at a St. Louis area Applebee’s by pastor, Alois Bell. A server at the restaurant posted a picture of the receipt online and was fired after the photo went viral and the pastor complaied.
Bell has expressed regret. “I’ve embarrassed my church and ministry.”
To be fair, I don’t think that what the server did was appropriate. She should not have posted that photo online and she was putting her job at risk. Big companies take their image very seriously.
That being said, I really have no sympathy for the pastor. She’s apologized for her snide remark. But what about for her selfishness and greed? Or the apology for having the audacity to hide behind religion as an excuse to be selfish? Tips are a server’s livelihood and I’m troubled at how cavalier some people are when it comes to being bad tippers. ESPECIALLY Christians. In some parts of he country, there are stereotypes about Christians being cheap.
This is absolutely unacceptable. We should strive to have a reputation for our generosity. Not to be stereotyped for stinginess. When people flaunt their Christianity and then tip poorly, for a server who isn’t a Christian, it reflects poorly on all Christians.
As a graduate student, I work at a restaurant to pay my bills. I too have had incidents over the years where people of faith have splurged on a meal before suddenly becoming frugal when it came to the tip. One very nice party of four had racked up almost $100 on their check. They had all made a point to say grace before the meal. But when the check came and they thanked me for my great service, they left less than 10 percent. Maybe they didn’t have the money to tip better? Then why were they eating at a restaurant?
We need food and sustenance to live. Eating at restaurants is not a necessity. It’s something that the vast mnajority of people in the histor of humanity would not have had access to. Think about a restaurant with servers. You tell a person what you want and they get it for you. It’s like you’re a king! And the reason why that entire industry is able to function in this country is because people tip.
As a test for morality, what would be the result if everyone did something? For example, if one person litters, that’s not necessarily such a bad thing. But if everyone littered, it would be. If one person is a bad tipper, that’s not the end of the world. But if everyone were a bad tipper, people wouldn’t work as servers in restaurants (or restaurants would have to pay more meaning they would have to charge more).
But for Christians, the point is never to ask “Well what is everyone else dong?” We’re supposed to rise above the world’s sin and immorality. All day, every day we have opportunities to share the love of Christ with people. When someone is working hard to serve you and you don’t tip well (when the average athiest and agnostic tips just fine), you’re sending a message.
Many Christians donate 10 percent of their income to the churches they attend. Contrary to what some people might think, that is not a strict Biblical rule. In fact, the ten percent tithe is not mentioned anywhere in the New Testament. Instead the commands are for generosity and to be cheerful givers. Christians should be generous as they feel compelled. To apply an Old Testament notion of what should be given in church and to argue that that number should not be exceded in terms of what we give to people who serve us not only makes Bell a cheapskate, but a bad theologian!
Furthermore, arguing that you give God 10 percent and that servers shouldn’t get more is incoherent. You’re tithing money to your church based on income. You’re tipping your server relative to the cost of your bill.
Pastors are supposed to be models of Christ to the world. Alois Bell might be a really nice lady. But she looks bad. If she wanted to be Christ-like (and to also save face), she should use her 15 minutes of fame and lobby for Applebee’s to hire the server back. She should forgive the young woman who did this.
But what is it that she’s embarrased about? Ms. Bell is a bad tippre and now other people know it. Her comment made her look cheap and petty. But. She IS cheap and petty! It’s just that people know the truth about her and the type of person she is. Again, I have no sympathy.
For Applebee’s, they’re in a difficult situation. I feel that they really had no choice but to fire the server. She did violate Bell’s privacy. But Bell has the opportunity to do the righteous and moral thing and offer forgiveness. Does she have to? Of course not. Shoudl she forgive? I would say yes, but others would disagree. But what no one can disagree with is the fact that her showing grace in this situation would be truly above reproach. Bell has a way to live out the gospel in how she continues to respond. Instead of making excuses or getting bitter, she can rise above that.