I Thought You Were A Church

Through our church we run a thrift store. Our thrift store handles our benevolence as well. It’s curious to me when people try to point fingers at us for their perceived offenses at what we do. Recently a customer came in to purchase $12.00 worth of items. She tried to pay with her debit card but it was declined. She rummaged through her purse to come up some of the money but she was still short. Our cashier explained that she didn’t have the authority to override the purchase for a lesser amount. The customer became livid.

“I can’t believe you won’t let me have the rest of my purchase. You are supposed to be the church. I am going to tell all of my friends not to come here.”

Our cashier was upset because she was following policy and asked me later how it should have been handled. Our cashier said that because the items weren’t essentials, she felt confident in maintaining the policy. I backed up our cashier’s judgment.

We often get these rants. What is amazing is that people often throw the “you’re supposed to be the church” comment to us. In other words, what they are saying is that since we are the church they should be allowed to take advantage of us. We should bow to their whims. We should give them what they want.

I understand that we live in an entitled society but I wonder if they yell in the same fashion at their local Walmart or Target? When they are short on cash they do begin to yell and make a scene that their things should be free? I have had to put things back before, or leave a store without something I wanted. Trust me, it isn’t the end of the world.

I often find the people who come in using their vouchers are so much more respectful, often humbled by their life experience, they try to stay under their voucher amount. They come to the register and ask the cashier to ring up their purchases because they don’t want to go over their voucher amount.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if the economy is down because we are a society who must have what they want when they want it regardless of what the price someone else has to pay for them to have it?

It is because we are the church that we must be fair and even-handed. Not allowing others to take advantage of the generosity of many.

3 thoughts on “I Thought You Were A Church

  1. I love reading. In the book I’m reading now (a scifi/fantasy) one of the scenarios had a bunch of young talented boys being handed money without consequences. They could do anything they wished with it and not feel badly about it. The author made the point towards the end of the book that such “kindness” created a false sense of entitlement and produced laziness, lack of ambition and a host of other traits which lulled them into complacency.

    I’ve learned this in business as well. The other day a pastor’s wife called me to check out her windows that she said were leaking. After I got finished, she asked how much she owed. When I told her the price, she said in an almost offended tone, “Oh, I thought you were only going to charge me for materials, since you put the windows in and this should be warranty work.” It took me a second to absorb her words to which I replied, “I put these windows in 12 years ago and they haven’t leaked until now. We’re way past warranty here.” What bugs me is I charge them less per hour than I do other people because they are friends and her husband is in the work. She’s a nurse and earns good money, he works part time in a bank, so I know they’re not hurting, but it seems every time I go to work for them she think I owe them.

    There is something decidedly broken about our attitudes. Like the lady you spoke of above, my client tried to guilt me into giving her the work. This false sense of “kindness” isn’t kindness but creating a world where those who do work for it are made to feel bad because they don’t give it away to those who refuse to do so.

    1. Wow! I need to learn from that pastor’s wife! We have people offer to do work in our home when things come up. I always ask what the price will be before we start because I want to make sure we can afford it. I don’t want to take advantage of people so I don’t use my position for discounts. Sometimes people say, “I just want to be a blessing”, and that’s really nice but I don’t want to be a burden.

      I think the author of the book is right on. This is why I think every able bodied person in the world should work towards something. We must have value.

  2. Paul told the Thessalonians (2nd book, 3:10) “For even when we were with yo, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ ”

    The church has either been run by people with OCD who think organization equals gospel or sincere charity workers who think giving things to those in need is really what they need. The truth is somewhere between the two. We need to be generous but it means we also must know the people we are giving to enough in order to assess whether or not they are simply pushing for a handout or actually in need. I can honestly say I have no problem giving to anyone as long as I know what I give will help, but I won’t support someone’s drug habit or abuse. I learned in Berkeley years ago some people on the streets have the ability and opportunity to work but choose to panhandle instead. These professional beggars leave me cold.

    The other types are those who feel they are entitled to a free ride. That person will usually get either a sharp rebuke from me or avoidance. I hate being manipulated and guilt trips are the ultimate insult to free will.

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