Lessons from pastor Alois Bell (AKA: The stiff tip scandal.)

(Note: I love hearing peoples thoughts. I encourage commenting. Please read my rules on commenting first though. I will not allow pointless bashing, and comments that go out of the way to be disrespectful. This post is not an opportunty to talk about how evil someone is, but rsther to learn from this clearly wrong action.)

You’ve likely seen the receipt with the pastor’s note floating around the internet by now. A pastor wrote a note on a receipt where she scratched out the added up 18% tip, and wrote a giant zero with the message, “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?” It was beyond distasteful. It was simply wrong. Now some people say the waitress should not have posted the receipt. I will admit, if it was me I would have kept myself from showing it to the world, but the issue has been shown to the world. It is pointing to a real issue.

Before I get into this let me say I am not trying to condemn this pastor. I’m not saying a pastor sinning makes them unfit for ministry. We all screw up. We all say thing we shouldn’t say. James tells us that in his famous chapter on taming the tongue. He tells us that we all stumble. I think there are some crucial lessons we can learn from this mistake though. It would be foolish to not acknowledge them.

1. Giving your tithe doesn’t mean you have the say in what happens to the rest. This is an incredibly foolish mistake we run into. We assume that giving God 10% fulfills our requirements. We assume that giving out anything extra is just in the goodness of our hearts, but is certainly not required of us. We miss the point of tithing completely. We are not giving God 10% of our money. We are simply giving back something that He has already given us. Tithing does not allow us to hoard what is left. Certainly not when we are expected to tip a certain percentage.

2. People are important too. I can’t help you out with this, because I am doing something more important for God. That is basically what that note on the receipt said. A clear message was being given to that waitress, and that message said “You don’t matter”. Yet Christ himself said that feeding the hungry and clothing the naked is as if we were doing the same to him. Showing love and compassion to others is showing love and compassion to Christ. The opposite is also true. Treating people as worthless, cruelly, self-righteously, and even sarcastically is treating Christ the exact same way.

3. It’s actually biblically to tip. You are paying for part of the service provided to you. Refraining from paying a tip is essentially refusing to pay for a service that was provided for you. The Bible has a name for that. It is called stealing. Some people think tipping a percentage that is higher than your tithe is ridiculous for two reasons. One is that you are not actually paying more money in tips than you are tithing. If so then you probably need to stop eating out so much. The second is that there is a simple solution to the problem if it genuinely bothers you that much. Tithe 18%. Remember, none of this money really belongs to you anyway.

4. There is no Biblical argument for stiffing someone on a tip. Now if my waiter is doing poorly, talking to their friends the whole time, being rude to me, etc. then I will only pay the minimum of a tip. I went to a restaurant prepared to pay in full though. If I cannot afford to pay for the tip then I cannot afford to go out to eat.

5. It’s not worth the damage to your testimony. Seriously. This is incredibly embarrassing for this pastor. They leave this note, and sign their name with the “pastor” title in the signature. Please tell me in what universe this is supposed to express the love of God to someone? Please tell me how this waitress would ever see a reason to go to church after something like this? Please tell me what kind of benefit at all this action had. There is none. It was damaging.

6. We need to take ownership of our sin. Now you may be thinking, “was this really a sin?” I don’t like making judgment calls on these sorts of things, but it was damaging to the pastors testimony, sent a message to an individual that they had no value, and treated a creation of God poorly thus treating God himself poorly. In the end I have to say this is a sin issue. The pastor refers to it is a lapse in judgment though. “I wasn’t thinking”. They were, but they were just thinking the wrong thoughts and chose to to act on them. We don’t like pointing out our sin by calling it sin. It is never easy. We all struggle with it though. My post yesterday even talked about my personal sinful nature this week. We don’t like acknowledging our sin. We will come as close as we can to saying we made a mistake, and sinned without actually saying it. Writing down a note that will clearly be harmful, and making a point to mention you are a pastor is more than just a lapse in judgment. It requires thought. The result of realizing your sin also requires ownership. Only then can you grow and move on from it.

Again, I do not write all of this to beat up on this pastor. I have my own fair share of issues and stupid actions that extend even into this week, but we can still learn from these moments. We can use them as teachable events to give us a lesson. Scripture doesn’t shy away from the sins of the patriarchs and great men of faith. Why should we start now? Just as we can learn from the wrong actions of those back then, we can also learn from those in the here and now.

As a side note, for those who may be reading this who do not believe what I believe I wish to apologize to all of you. Us Christians still sin, and do thing contrary to the way we are called to live. I am sorry if these actions damaged your view of us even further. Please understand there are those of us who strive to take responsibility for our actions. We are learning and growing just like everyone else. I hope and pray this does not keep you form striving to find the truth even when the actions of Christians and even pastors makes you feel it can;t be found in the Bible.


4 responses to “Lessons from pastor Alois Bell (AKA: The stiff tip scandal.)

  1. you are just as bad as this “pastor” She should and does know better. When you put your title out there you must live up to it. She is just selfish and rude and her apology is is way too little way too late. Now someone has lost their job, and it should be this”pastor”. This is not how a pastor behaves. This is not how you represent a religion. This person is so worng.

    Now you are hiding behind the old “we all make mistakes”. While that is true you are leaving out the point that all actions have consequences.

    This pastor deserves to be stripped of her title because when she wrote on the credit card slip she was a pastor and not going to tip then she was not behaving the way a pastor should behave.

    • I think you need to read my whole post before posting. While I say we all make mistakes I very clearly point out that what this person did was wrog, sinful, and we should strive to learn from it to avoid making the same mistakes. Please read my posts from beginnig to end before commenting. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but I will not shy away from pointing out when it is clear they have only read a couple paragraphs without getting the full context.

      My point in mentionig we all stumble is that we need to be cautious from making the same mistakes. We are most likely to do so when we focus all of are energy on judging others mistakes rather than learning from them. I fail to see how that makes me just as bad as this woman. I do not defend her actions. I simply acknowledge I could easily be just as foolish, and thus need to remind myself to be careful.

      I hope this clarifies things a bit more. Again, I do not defend the woman. I say it is a sin. I say she needs to actually acknowledge that sin, and right her wrong.

  2. I read your whole post and I found it thoughtful and enlightening. Before I read it I was ready to condemn this poor pastor because of her pitiful attitude. I was mostly scornful because she appears to be sorry for embarrassing the ministry, and not for what she truly did that was wrong. Sometimes it seems like we accept as an apology something that is not an apology at all, and that is how I read this one. That is probably unfair of me, though, since I don’t know if I have seen her entire statement.

    Regardless, it doesn’t seem right to punish her by taking away her job or further scorning her because of her lapse of judgement and sinful behavior any more that it was right to punish the waitress who posted the photo so harshly (It’s not as if firing the pastor would help the now unemployed waitress).

    Any talk about such an outcome is an attempt to seek retribution and to call it “justice”. I think your suggestion that we try and learn from this instead is the best one I have heard, and I honor you for it. Every time we have the opportunity we should examine what we are about to do and think about whether it’s really what we want to do. We may not always have that opportunity, but it is possible that we can learn to try.

    • Sorry for my delay in response ptetreau. I thought you had some really good thoughts in your comment. I agree with you about accepting apologies that are not really apologies. So far I do not believe she has really come out to say she was wrong, and asking for forgiveness of those she hurt and affected. I really hope for her own sake she reaches that point so she can move forward from it. She was wrong for what she did, and she needs to admit that.

      I go back and forth on the other waitress being fired. I sort of understand where the restaurant is coming from. it is not exactly proper to post a picture on the niternet of someones credit card receipt. I think it was pretty uncalled for for the pastor to demand it, and showed an attempt to cover her tracks.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. I always try and welcome discussion, and hopefully you felt heard here.

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