No Winners: Applebee’s, Pastor Bell, and Jesus

This is really a lesson on life in a social media world.

A Pastor eats at a well known American restaurant chain. Her table of six rang up a bill of $34.93, on top of which an 18%¬†gratuity¬†(tip) was automatically added, which amounted to $6.29. Pastor Bell then scratches out the tip, writes ‘0’ in it’s place, and then adds ‘I give God 10%, why do you get 18’ before signing off ‘Pastor Alois Bell’. Another waitress, who didn’t serve this table, takes a photo and posts it in all it’s glory and traceable detail on Reddit. The photo goes somewhat viral, landing 4000 comments in a few hours. People track down the pastor, who then complains to Applebee’s. Applebee’s fires the waitress who posted the photo.

And then all hell breaks loose. You can read about it here.

So let’s sum it all up:

Applebee’s loses because by all accounts this turns into a PR nightmare. Did they do the right thing? Yes. Even though the waitress claims she did nothing wrong according to the guidelines, common sense dictates that you don’t take any client information (like receipts) and publish them. Have they handled it well? Probably not. A brief glance at their Facebook profile suggests that Applebee’s has been swamped by the response – and that their own response puts blame back on their guest. Threats of boycotts if the waitress is not reinstated litter the comments.

Pastor Bell loses because not only was she tracked down, but her initial response inflamed the situation further. If she had let it slide, it may have blown over. If she had talked to Applebee’s and sought to reconcile with the waitress, that might have made for an interesting follow up post. But her actual response set the ball rolling and has brought unwelcome attention to her and her apparently 15 “strong” flock, which apparently has dwindled since (point 8 here).

But the biggest loser: Jesus. It’s not hard to see that in all of this the name of Christ has been raked through the muck.

Life in a social media world – where a rash decision to scrawl something like this ends up with everybody losing.

Fellow shepherds, may our personal and public lives reflect a standard becoming of our great Shepherd.

Published bySteven

Steven grew up in a nominal Buddhist home, was introduced to Jesus in early university and after lengthy debate and reading came to realise that Jesus made more sense of life, meaning, morality and our ultimate destiny. Graduating from Queensland Theological College in 2011, Steven is a Pastor at his home church, SLE Church, in Brisbane, Queensland. Steven is also husband to Steph, father to Jayden, Janessa, and Eliza, and part time blogger. He also loves a good New Zealand Pinot Noir, Australian craft beer, and coffee. Though preferably not mixed together.