February 2, 2013

Generosity After Church

Everybody's heard about the squawk over the "pastor" that left the snotty note on a receipt at Applebee's, then called to get the entire staff fired after she was outed on the intertrons. There's some good discussion, lots of hate and mudslinging, and some things that should be very saddening to Christians.

First off, to the "10 percent tithers"; if you use that to justify giving only 10% at a restaurant, then just go to a fast-food joint where you don't even have to tip at all. And don't even let people in the restaurant know you claim to be Christian; the rest of us don't need or deserve the bad name you give us, and Christ certainly deserves a better example. Think I'm wrong about this perception? Here's what a Reddit user, who is in the restaurant industry, has to say about it:

...I've worked in the service industry for 10 years now and Christians are in the top tier of terrible diners and tippers. 90%, maybe a little more, of them hold to the maxim of "10% is good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for you". It's gotten to the point where I will not knowingly take a party or table of Christians if I know they are Christian before hand. It's really that bad. They are overtly demanding. They complain about the most inconsequential of things. And what's worse is they leave you a 10% tip with a Christian tract of some kind which tells you that they are giving you the best tip of all... eternal salvation. I'm a great server. I've gotten my restaurant numerous accolades from food critics both local and national, but I will not serve Christians. Sadly I have bills to pay and my landlord won't accept checks, nor their promise of eternal salvation as adequate payment.
There is a saying in the restaurant industry: If you see your table pray, run away. 
...Sadly Christians are not held in high esteem in the service industry from hotel workers to servers in restaurants. To be fair it really has nothing to do with their religion per se. Only that they have garnered the reputation of tipping 10% through the notion of tithing, and use this as their basis for not tipping well. I'm sure you and those Christians you know tip well, but the fact of the matter is I've served in the North East, the South, and the Midwest--and while things may be more enlightened on the West Coast--in all the places the religious have a reputation for their poor tipping. It just comes with the territory. To rectify this the only thing I can think of is Christians telling other Christians that Jesus's message of generosity doesn't stop once you pass through the church doors.
I'm not trying to bemoan my station in life. I like the service industry and have garnered many accolades and 5 Star reviews for the restaurant where I work. I'm a good server, but when I see a table bow their heads to pray in a restaurant... I cannot help but be disappointed. For a long time I still gave such tables my all and the best service possible, but after being stiffed time and time again I just don't try anymore. Now when I see a bowed head... Let's just say I offer the bare minimum and focus on the tables that are actually going to tip fair.

That's sad that there is such a widely-held opinion of Christians in the service industry. Besides, if you think you're obliged to uphold the tithing law of the OT, then you've missed the boat entirely on grace and generosity.
 6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9 as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR,  HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.” 2Cor9:6-9
This may come as a surprise to some people, but these verses can and should be applied to all areas of our lives, not just what we give to the church.

Here in Texas, waitstaff minimum wage is $2.35/hour, and it ranges from $2-3 around the country, except in a couple of states that don't allow a separate minimum wage for waitstaff. At that level of wage, these people qualify as poor, aside from their income in gratuities.

I know that there are some instances where the service is so bad it doesn't deserve a gratuity. And there are also situations where a bad dining experience is caused by the kitchen and not the waitstaff. It's hard to do sometimes, but shouldn't we be thinking about and practicing grace when we eat out at restaurants, and not just 'saying grace' before the meal? The service you got doesn't deserve a tip of any size? Well, sure, maybe it didn't. But then, none of us deserve the forgiveness and redemption that Christ freely offered to us.

Generosity doesn't always have to be about money, either. If you get a great server at a restaurant, don't just stop at giving a good tip and a compliment to waitstaff, make sure the management knows as well. Same for constructive criticism. If the waitstaff was bad or inattentive, we can still be graceful enough to offer them a tip, and then follow it with a comment to the manager. Done gracefully and lovingly, this can be a benefit to the staff and the restaurant as a whole. And the response from the management just might surprise us.

All of that said, I think this so-called "pastor", Alois Bell, should be ashamed of her snide comment (and she claims to be), and try to be a better ambassador of Christ, especially if she's going to make a practice of throwing her churchianity in people's faces.

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