If you're going to live a life of service under the auspices of serving God, you're not supposed to be an a-hole about it. Trained pastors are taught in seminary and under mentoring that they are in "representative ministry." What that means, and many pastors have trouble getting this at first, is that in their ministry they represent God's presence. The pastor walks into a hospital room, the person they are visiting is suddenly thinking about God, i.e., the pastor has just represented God's presence. The pastor stands up in front of the congregation to provide leadership and guidance in their worship of God, i.e., the pastor has represented God's presence.
If a pastor sits down with a group in a restaurant, they are once again representing God's presence. Pastors aren't supposed to leave snarky notes on receipts that say that they give God 10% and ask why the waitress should receive 18%. The pastor in question that has inspired this article, Alois Bell, left this note. According to a Yahoo! News article published Thu, Jan 31, 2013 She was in a party of more than 8. As most restaurant-goers know, this means an automatic gratuity of some sort because large parties are not only hard to take care of, they are notorious for being chintzy on the tip. To compensate for not being able to wait more tables, most restaurant take care of the employee by ensuring their time is compensated. Their server did not expect to receive such a rude note and showed it to her coworkers, one of which was waitress Chelsea Welch. Welch took a photo of the note on the receipt and posted it to her Reddit page. She has been gracious in her comments that she thought the note was funny as well as interesting. She did not realize there would be such a backlash from her actions. Pastors who understand representative ministry, however, will see this note as rude and exhibiting a sense of entitlement simply because one is a minister.
While Bell is said to be on staff at Truth in the Word Ministries in St. Louis, MO, (World according to some web sources, but neither appears in the "phone book") this church is not found in a search on yahoo.local.com, nor does it seem to have a website. The following search string on Google ("truth in the word deliverance" St. Louis -waitress -tipping -Applebee's) came up with about 7,000 hits, but when clicking to page 3 of the results Google says that it has displayed 30 of the relevant hits and omitted others that are similar to those already displayed. While Bell's church is referenced in most of these results, none of them actually has a link to a church website. One of these results is a sermon on Youtube by Pastor Bell. At least it seems to be a sermon. It seems that most of her messages posted on Youtube have been removed for some reason. It doesn't seem that much can be found about this church and it doesn't seem to have a web or social network presence. What church doesn't these days if it is a legitimate ministry?
It would be very interesting to see Pastor Bell's income tax return to see if she actually reports giving 10% to the church. However, one should realize that simply giving 10% to a church does not constitute giving 10% to God. A sizable portion of that goes to utilities, salaries, building maintenance, office supplies, etc. Where is the point that a person can say the money actually went to the Supreme Deity? Also, since the church does not seem to have much of a public presence, one might, and might is stressed here, assume that the church is not very large and has one pastor. The national average pastor's salary as reported by www.glassdoor.com is $40,000. Few churches with attendance less than 1,000 on the weekend have a budget of over $400,000, which if her church is average and her salary is average, would give her more than a 10% salary. Chances are extremely high that her salary is more than not only the 10% she wrote on her receipt, but more than the 18% she complained about giving to Chelsea Welch. According to Prism Leadership's Church Budget's and Pastor's Salary Packages guide, senior pastors with churches whose budget is more than $500,000 receive on average more than twice the compensation that pastors receive in churches with less than $100,000 for a budget. It is difficult to quote what an average church budget is since church finances seem to be as unique to each church as fingerprints are to people. This writer's last pastorate had a budget of around $130,000 and dedicated to moi about $54,000 if health insurance and pension are included. That comes to over 30% of what was given to the church and it is doubtful that Pastor Bell's salary compares to her church's budget with a vast difference from this example.
Before being critical of the common practice among restaurants to ensure their employees are properly compensated by large parties, Pastor Bell should have considered first what it means to always be representing God's presence regardless of whether she is "on the clock." Second, she should have considered that her own salary constitutes far more than the 18% she begrudged her dedicated waitress.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:4-6, "How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. From www.biblegateway.com)