Monday, November 18, 2013

Acting Like a Christian

by Jennifer AlLee 

A story hit the news recently about a waitress in Bridgewater, New Jersey, who received a lesson in morality rather than a tip. After serving a family of four, the waitress picked up the $93.55 check to see this written on it: "I'm sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life."

In January of this year, a server at a St. Louis Applebee's had a similar experience. This time, a pastor wrote on the check, "I Give God 10 percent. Why do you Get 18?"

Waitress given lifestyle tip, not money tip
From USA Today article
The judgment and blatant lack of respect in these acts is shocking, but I'd be willing to bet that most of us have witnessed similar events. Consider this scenario: You go out to lunch after church with a large group of people. Not only is there a request for seven separate checks, but the guy at the end of the table is paying for his buddy who's sitting way over there, and this woman here needs to make sure that her check includes her husband and two kids, all of whom are sitting in different quadrants of the table. When the server takes the orders, there are multiple additions and subtractions required... no pickles, veggies instead of potatoes, extra ice in the tea, no ice in the root beer... When the food arrives, a few mistakes have been made. Most of the people politely ask for corrections, but a few are downright rude as they point out how they did NOT get what they ordered and send it back. At the end of the meal, (during which the waitress has been moving like her shoes were on fire, refilling drinks, bringing extra napkins and sides of dipping sauce) it's time to pay the bills. Some pay cash, some use a credit card. When it comes to the tips, one woman takes a tract from her purse and tucks it into the bill sleeve. A man who's paying cash leaves exact change, figuring that all the other tippers at the table will make up for him. And the family with the toddler who's been throwing dry cereal on the floor from his highchair the entire time, well, they leave a curt note on the bill about the rainbow tattoo on the server's wrist, and how they can't support someone who mutilates her body.

That may seem overly dramatic, but I've been in group situations that came pretty darn close to it. You know the song that goes, "they'll know we are Christians by our love"? It's true. But what does it tell people when we say we are Christians but our actions are far from loving? Saying "I can't tip you because I don't agree with your lifestyle" is the equivalent of throwing the first stone. What if that waitress had walked up to the family's table, looked them over, then said, "I'm sorry, I can't serve you because I find your nuclear family unit offensive."

It's so easy to forget that we represent Christ to the world. Have you ever been driving and had a car cut you off, and then you see the My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter sticker on the back bumper? Of course, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. But it takes more energy to be judgmental or rude than it does to act with love and compassion. Not only that, but when we shine the love of Christ on others, it not only fills them, but reflects off them and shines back on us. The more love we give, the more we get. Isn't that a much better way to live?

JENNIFER ALLEE was born in Hollywood, California, and spent her first ten years living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever happens to be playing on the car radio. Although she’s thrilled to be living out her lifelong dream of being a novelist, she considers raising her son to be her greatest creative accomplishment. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Her novels include The Pastor’s WifeThe Mother Road and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas from Abingdon Press; Diamond in the Rough and Vanishing Act, the first two books in the Charm and Deceit series, from Whitaker House and co-written with Lisa Karon Richardson; and the novella Comfort and Joy in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories from Barbour.


  1. Oh wow, Jen. That's a powerful post today. On occasion, I've been guilty of judging on looks alone, but I don't understand what that has to do with services rendered. If the waitress was that offensive, why didn't the patrons leave?

    I drove some kids to a youth retreat last weekend and my, how things have changed. Kids and youth leaders with piercings and tattoos - not gross, but enough for me to take notice. And that's the point if they're trying to reach the lost and forgotten youth of the streets.

    1. Exactly right about service rendered. The waitress wasn't offensive at all. From what I've read (and this story is all over the place) one of the parents made a comment about the waitress's short hair style and look as soon as she approached the table. Also, this waitress is a former Marine. She served her country, she served this family... and she basically received a finger-shaking for her troubles.

  2. I'm learning to not judge by looks. I am learning to see someone God loves and who may be dealing with things I've never considered. But of course, I'm not perfect. These kinds of incidents are painful.They are used to jump on all one 'segment' of society. Christians have become synonymous with judgmental. Of course, those who most loudly proclaim tolerance are also first to jump on the bandwagon to denigrate 'Christians'.

    I have said it before, but I learned a lot about love from my friend Linda Marie who I lost a few years ago. She looked at everyone equally, each deserving of her compassion. She wasn't perfect either and maybe that's what we need to remember.

    I came out of that Jesus Freaks movement of the 70s. maybe we weren't so wrong. "They will know we are Christians by our Love" was big back then. Great reminder today, Jen.
    How can any of us who face the truth of all our failings and the blackness of our hearts really think we have the right to judge people on sight?

    1. Very well said, Deb. And yes, there are those who paint all Christians with the same broad brush, which is just as wrong. In the end, all I can do is change myself and change the way I treat others.

  3. I'm so glad you did an article on this, Jen. It is such an important subject. I waited tables in college, and everyone dreaded the Sunday after church crowd. Even I got stiffed a few times. Christians are often their own worst enemies. I'm not sure if people realized this, but waiters and waitresses only make $2 an hour. Your tip is their salary.

    1. Dina, I didn't know their hourly wage was so low! I always tip (with real money!) but now I'm going to look at it differently.

  4. I hadn't heard about this--it's awful! My sister was a server, so I always knew about their low wages. And I also know from her that notes can be great--so if you want to leave one, how about one that will make their day and make them hope you come back? (With the real tip, that is, LOL.)

  5. Glad you posted about this, Jen. Seems like this comes up every few years... Christians behaving badly, and it hurts the whole body of Christ. Sometimes I have to stop in the middle of Walmart (my personal testing ground), close my eyes, and force myself to look at the people around me through Jesus' eyes. It usually makes me cry to realize just how harsh and judgmental I've been.

  6. Great reminder, Jennifer! We are the only Bible most people will ever "read." Praying our lives will point to Jesus!

  7. Jen, this reminds me of what we talked about in Sunday school. Teacher asked how do we changed the perception people have of the church, of Christians. I said what if we spent the rest of the year loving people regardless of their sin ( what we perceive as sin) and let the holy spirit do the convicting. That stunned them. And I understand. Christians have a general belief that if we dont point out others sin them we will be guilty of condoning it. Imagine if Christians actually live what God asks of us: to be just, to be kind and merciful, and to walk humbly.
    Thanks, Jen, for your post.

  8. I put myself througb college as a server and dreaded the church groups for the very reasons you listed in you'd post. It hurt more when my coworkers, who knew i was a christian got stiffed. I relly got an earful then. A group of people i played volleyball with was a church organized thing and we always when out to eat afterwards. The leader was well aware of the church group stigma so he made sure we had only one bill and made it a point for everyone to put in a tip. Sure, it was more wlrk for us to figure our tabs,but those servers got at least 25% tip on our tabs. We wanted to be a blessing, not a curse when our groul entered thr restaurant.

    I'm glad the leader did that, because he taught us all how to think of those who served us. Tbe people whose lifestyles we don't agree with are the very ones we should be extra generous to.

    Thanks for the teaching post today.

  9. Forgive bad spelling. Typing on phone with fat fingers.


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