This story has been posted on several popular internet news sites:
The receipt originally became viral on Reddit, but now the article and both sides of the story have been on my news feed all week, posted and reposted from several sites.
Response to “Pastor Giving a Sanctimonious Tip While the Waitress was Fired”
By: Tracy Winkler
What is the role of a person(s) who leads a church or leader(s) in a Para-church ministry? The Bible gives examples throughout its pages of good and bad leadership, and holds the standard of those who are overseers in the church to a higher standard of conduct in their teachings and practice of what they teach (James 3:1). With this in view, let’s stop a moment and consider what happened in the case of the “Pastor Who Left Sanctimonious Tip Gets Waitress Fired from Applebee’s, Claims Her Reputation Was Ruined”. The pastor in this case, considers that she had a “lapse in my character and judgment” that it “has been blown out of proportion.” And on the other side the waitress claims through the article, ““I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke,” Chelsea Welch told Consumerist. “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to “Reddit” because I thought other users would find it entertaining””. The question boils down to who should have taken responsibility in this case before things got out of hand? I think it is very clear that we have a case of a lack of love for God and for others for sure (Matthew 22:37-40). But I ask, “Who should be leading by example and who is expected to lead?” Should it not be the pastor? The pastor said herself, I had a “lapse in my character and judgment” this to me is an understatement by what proceed afterward, but where do we go from here? So if I had a rewind button to do this over, what should have happened instead of this fiasco that has caused such controversy and caused a waitress to lose her job? There could have been a response in forgiveness, reconciliation and a leader leading by example rather than the latter.
First, it is not a law in the U.S. to have to give set amount for a tip for services rendered but it courteous to show respect for those who serve us when we eat out at a restaurant with waiter/waitress staff attending to us. Take for example when Peter was approached by those who collected temple taxes and ask Peter if his master (Jesus) pays tribute? Jesus wanted not to give any offense thought it was not require by the Law of God for the taxes that were asked of Him. So Jesus had Peter go fishing for their tax money by Peter reeling in the money from the fishes’ mouth (Matthew 17:24-27).
Second, the pastor being a regular attender to the restaurant, she should have known that most eating establishments have a policy for auto tipping for 6 -8 persons. These policies are clearly posted on a sign or in the menu most of the time. And it is common courteous to tip your server as it is a part of their salary as an employee for most restaurant establishments.
Third, the pastor who attends regularly to this restaurant establishment with her parishioners must consider that if she is a leader in her church she needs to live like she is through example. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” With much privilege comes much responsibility to conduct ourselves in a godly matter as a leader. Also the qualification for leaders remains the same regardless of our interpretation of scriptures concerning leadership (1Timothy 3:1-7). Leaders don’t get a special bye when it comes to how they conduct themselves in public. They are expected biblically to have character even though we are all sinful and make mistakes (James 3:2). The leader with character and sound judgment realizes his/her sin and repents by actions that are fitting to sin. And we as parishioners must hold our leaders responsible for their conduct and teaching as they lead us.
Fourth, the pastor’s response should have been as an option if she disagrees with the bill, to talk with the waitress about her bill privately over the tip. Or talk to the manager for her reasons for not thinking this tip is correct in a productive manner rather than compare her giving to God to how much she will tip. The restaurant doesn’t care how much we give to God only what we owe the establishment for services rendered. And the pastor could have inquired about the restaurant’s policies concerning auto tip in a polite manner without make a written gesture of dislike. Or publically if there was a bill split agreement between the parishioners in a peaceful and non-confrontational manner. Also if there was not a truce or an agreement upon tip between them, then the pastor should have agreed to pay the tip and not returned again to eat at the restaurant in a peaceful protest. These are in my opinion, are good biblical responses for how to deal with each other in the church (Matthew 18:15, Galatians 6:1) and this is also the best way to deal with those who don’t believe in Christ as we do in a biblical manner as well. If we are serving as a leader we must response in the biblical conduct of love in relationships to resolve conflicts and lead those who follow our example. What an example she could have given her parishioners and even the waitress/staff at the restaurant for responding in a biblical manner. This would have been the end of story if we had a rewind button. However, there was no happy ending but an open ended issue now, and makes the church get a bad rap as well.
Now going back to the waitress, how did the waitress view the pastor’s response to her? She thought, “The note was insulting, but it was also comical”. What should have the waitress done? Her response was to use social media. Instead if she was a believer in Christ, certainly she should have called the pastor out privately (Matthew 18:15, Galatians 6:1) and pointed out any policies that the restaurant had concerning number of guests seated for dining in at the restaurant. If the pastor didn’t response to this approach the waitress should then talk to her manager about the conflict that arose from the pastor’s response to resolve the issue. Responding to social media is a very public thing that remains forever in public domain. And when you poke fun at someone of social media, especially a customer, you take a big risk of it backfiring in their favor since most restaurants are customer driven businesses.
Now what if the pastor had first responded biblically and the waitress didn’t? There is nothing left but to love. Love God and Love others (Matthew 22:37-40). If we are going to be a leader in the church there is no timeouts or King X’s from public life. A leader’s life is a fish bowl of sorts. Reflecting on the pastor again, she set herself up for this type of embarrassment by a wrong response and application of practice that could have been avoided. But also I have a suspicion though not stated that the pastor’s regular practice is to not tip at all. If this is true, how can we give a godly example to those from within and for that matter those from without if we as leaders show disrespect to those who earn a living by serving us at restaurant establishments’ by not tipping them as expected in our American cuisine culture? What if one of her parishioners was a waitress/waiter elsewhere? This was not a bad service issue from the waitress that we can tell but a bad service issue from the pastor’s lack of love responsibility as a leader to lead in esteeming others better than ourselves ( Philippians 2:3). Even after the pastor made the mistake in the beginning and the waitress posted the receipt on social media. There could have been reconciliation and forgiveness if the pastor would have own up to the fault immediately and sought restoration and even now while there is still conflict. What an example that would have been or can be to her parishioners if she would do today. But instead the “lapse in my character and judgment” increases as it gets uglier by the moment.
Consider this, since the fault became public, even media public, and the response from the pastor should have been and still should be a public apology to the waitress rather than pay back or retribution for her reputation being marred. The pastor says her lack of character and judgment in retrospect “got out of hand” and it still is up to this point. Again, there is still time to amend the fault, even after the pastor has gotten the waitress fired. The waitress probably will not forgive her now after the conflict got the waitress fired though both had a part fueling the feud. If at least the pastor would have tried to do what is biblical to amend the broken relationship there would be peace with God for the pastor for making amends (James 5:16, John1:9). Only God knows if this ex-waitress will become a believer in Christ now because of the actions of the pastor. The pastor should consider responding to the social media source with an apology at this very moment for her behavior if she really thinks her “lack character and judgment” from her response “got out of hand”. But instead the pastor demands her reputation be restored by the restaurant’s staff. Who will want to wait on the pastor next time she comes in the restaurant? No one for sure will want to wait on their table. And who will stop the possible retaliation from the staff for getting their colleague fired by contaminating the pastor’s food entrée in some form or fashion? These kinds of things unfortunately happen. The waitress is without a job so she is going after the pastor. The pastor should make a point even after all this has happened to forgive and ask for forgiveness from the ex-waitress. (James 5:16). Otherwise the pastors’ reputation will be marred even further and her relationship to God estranged. This should remind us that we are sinners but for the Grace of God we are forgiven and should forgive others as well (Ephesians 2:8-9, Matthew 6:12). And if we have a chance make peace with those we are in conflict with, while we still can let us do so quickly. (Matthew 18:21-35)