This story about the pastor in St. Louis who had a “lapse in character” and stiffed a server at an Applebee’s is really intriguing to me. I started thinking along the lines of WWJD and how as Jesus followers we are to interact with others. AS Christians, we are called to be salt and light – and in context, these are chemicals of preservation and purity – not to be confused with elevated condescension and piety.
I mean what if we had the mindset that when we go out to eat, we aren’t there to be served? We are there because we are creating an opportunity? What if we treated “the least” of these as if they were the greatest – and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that servers are the least because I give a lot of mad props to ALL servers cuz it’s a crazy job and they deserve every penny they get. But how does the “lapse in character” (and it’s debatable that your character can even lapse in the first place) that makes you become a self righteous jerkface and stiff your server because you are unhappy with what is a clearly established restaurant policy (which surely you have to know if you go there every week) line up with the subsequent action you take to call and complain to the restaurant? Would Jesus call the restaurant? I mean, let’s say that he wrote that insulting note (which I think we can safely say he wouldn’t have, but for argument sake) and let’s say that he was alerted to the fact that the note was plastered all over the internet. And nevermind the fact that he went to Applebees in the first place… I mean, I know people who go to Applebees… under duress…
The whole thing just makes me remember what we are doing here in this world at all. How our actions truly do have a ripple effect, affecting lives far far beyond our own little sphere of influence, especially when you are in leadership. Don’t think for a moment that this story would have been as widely spread if it wasn’t a pastor who left that note and if that pastor hadn’t invoked the tithe, which is not part of a joke or a rebuke for that matter. Remember when a similar incident happened with a single mom who indicated she couldn’t afford the tip and the public outcry that followed? It became a debate about single moms, when the issue really wasn’t about single moms – it was about how people spend money and if you can’t afford to eat out plus a tip, you shouldn’t be eating out, which I wholeheartedly agree with.
But this story feels different. It feels heavy. It feels like a disturbance in the force. I feel like I have to apologize to people everywhere for this week’s episode of Dumb Things Christians Do. And while I know, and hope, that most reasonable people know better than to throw all people who profess certain beliefs in one box and hold everything one of them does against all of them, it still grieves me to hear stories like this and then the fallout and prejudices that get propagated as a result. It just needs to serve as a reminder to us all that every action we take has consequences, as well as every action we decide not to take – and I’m thinking about the others at that table who sat there and either agreed with what the pastor did or just sat back and allowed it to happen.
We all have such a huge responsibility in this life – to take care of each other, to get off our high horses and bear each other’s burdens. We’re all in this together, or we will surely fail alone.