When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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But Grace said …

October 12, 2019

My friend and I sat across from one another eating pizza when the subject of tips came up. We both said we always give a 20 percent tip. We discussed how unfortunate it was to have a waiter or waitress work so hard for a table of fifteen or more and then just receive a two dollar tip. That’s their pay. Tips are not just some extra bonus for a hard-working waiter. That’s his pay.

“Most people simply don’t realize that these waiters and waitresses count on the tip for their salary,” I said. “They hardly make anything.”

I mentioned how nice it had been when, a few nights before, a restaurant placed a suggestion for tips on the bill. There was a 10 percent tip, a 15, and then a 20 percent.

We agreed that we wished all restaurants did that.

She said, “If I get really good service, I might even give more than 20 percent.”

I liked the way our conversation was going. We were together in this “tip thing.” But, suddenly my friend threw in a thought that grabbed my heart and started squeezing. The squeeze was too hard. Uncomfortable.

“If the waiter or waitress has an attitude, I also give 20 percent.”

“A waitress with an attitude?” I asked.

“Yes. I usually hand them the 20 percent tip, thank them for their service, and tell them I am sorry for whatever they are going through that makes them seem so unhappy.”

Wow! Tipping even an attitude?

Grace began to stir inside as I listened to my friend. To be honest, I had never thought of tipping a waitress with an attitude. I sat there with my mouth open, a new idea swimming through my head. No one wants to tip a waitress who has been hard to deal with, difficult, ornery, and lazy. I would probably give a small tip, if indeed I tipped her at all.

But Grace softly said, “You just described yourself, BJ. You, too, have been hard to deal with, difficult, ornery, and lazy. But even on your worst days, I always make sure you get good tips anyway, through love, kindness and understanding.”

I felt limp.

Completely convicted, my heart began listening to God’s thoughts. It was pretty clear. As God gives so much to me, even on my worst days, I should go and do likewise to a world filled with hurting people. I don’t have to lecture them on being a better waitress or waiter. It is the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto us” command in real life. I am called to give grace, even if someone is not nice to me, just as grace has been given to me even on my worst days.

Grace is the work of the kingdom of God. I am a child of God’s kingdom. Therefore, I am to go and do likewise, especially if the other person has done nothing to deserve it.

I could hardly wait to get an attitude waiter at the next restaurant so that I could show him or her grace.

The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email Rev. Funk at bjfunk@bellsouth.net.

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