Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Grinch

The issue at hand was pews. The order was wrong. Was it the buyer or the builder? I'll never know for sure. What I do know is that somebody at church accepted the delivery. Because a leader's daughter was getting married. In the brand new building.

And it was too late to change. So the delivery was accepted.

That's when the builder/buyer feud started. It was polite. At first. Feeling wronged, the church refused to pay the remainder of their bill.

I arrived as pastor many years later. It took a few years for me to hear the full story. Then I was shown the file of correspondence...

...which concluded with a formal notice that the church had been written off as a bad debt. What to do?

Wise words (from The Word) were like a spiritual sextant making our direction sure...
He who walks in integrity walks securely. (Proverbs 10:9 NASB)
Choose a good reputation over great riches. (Proverbs 22:1 NLT)

We contacted the pew manufacturer, offering to settle our debt plus interest for the years that had passed between. They charged us -- all of it. We paid it -- joyfully. It's the only choice when you have decided to "DWELL in the land AND CULTIVATE faithfulness."

We all face the occasional temptation to be a Grinch. The Christmas we help steal may belong to a laborer in a cabinet shop building pews. Or it might be the one which should go to the cashier at Target.

The one who gave you too much change. During Christmas rush. And has to balance the cash drawer at the end of the shift.

The extra money you noticed when you got home from the store.

Whose fault is it? What will you do?

What's your story? I would love your comments.


C. Beth said...

I'd never heard that story, Dad. It's a good one. Although with the awful orange of those pews, I'm really not sure you should have paid. Just kidding.

Recently I was at Target and they had something mislabeled. I brought it up, and the manager's solution was to give me half off the item (a large package of Goldfish crackers.) I happily accepted it. Then yesterday I was reading a blog (don't remember which one) and the writer said she'd tried to get an advertised deal at Target, and found out it was mispriced in the ad. The manager offered her $15 (as it was a large item), and she refused it. I thought, "Well, I would have taken it!" This post makes me think, though. With the difficulty retailers are having, should I give them some grace when they make a mistake? If enough of us did that, would it eventually save one person's job?

Of course, it wasn't stealing for me to take that $3 or so for the Goldfish. But your post and the one I read yesterday are giving me a different perspective, and I might do it differently next time.

Tony E. said...

Yesterday I was at a Chinese food place and ordered a combo #2 plate. When I got to the register, I noticed that they charged me for the Combo #1, a difference of about $1. I asked her when she gave me the order if she charged me for a Combo #2 since that is what I had. She looked, opened up my order, and changed the amount due. She then thanked me for pointing it out, which was nice.
Occasionally, I'll find something like this when I go out and when I notice it, I'll point it out. Usually never crosses my mind to do otherwise.
I guess that is one thing I haven't struggled with. There are other things, of course, but paying at the register isn't one of them.

Chris Bowers said...

I've always been a bit of a wuss about returning things or complaining because there is not enough dressing on my salad. I just cringe at the thought of having something to do with someone getting in trouble or worse, fired. However, my wife reminds me that a lot of times the store needs to be held accountable so that the same overpricing or underdressing does not keep reoccurring. As usual Sam's practical Wordly (made that word up) wisdom is right on. Gotta do the right thing without exception.

Scriptor Senex said...

I always return the money if I am given too much change. It's nothing 'goody, goody' it just comes naturally. What amuses me is the total shock on the face of the salesperson. Note the word shock, not surprise. It's obviously something that rarely, if ever, happens to them...

Sam said...

You mean, Beth, that I still had a story left that I hadn't told you a thousand times?

Tony and Chris, thanks for you candid input.

Scriptor, I've seen you at What does It Mean and my wife saw you at C.Beth. Thanks for a great comment.

beckiwithani said...

I've heard you tell that story ... a few times ... obviously Beth just wasn't listening. ;)

Sandra said...

I think there is a really fine line between being a good steward of what He's given us, and "spreading the wealth." And, no I'm not talking about the GOVERNMENT spreading the wealth. I'm talking about individuals, like us, who have been blessed. We have arrived at the point where, if we get a good deal, fine. If we don't and pay full price, fine too. Because I do feel like God wants us to share whatever He's given us, and I don't think he just means to charities. I'm always amazed at otherwise very nice people, who are stingy tippers. If you can afford to eat out, really, what is another dollar or two to you -- the difference between a minimum tip and a very nice tip. But the waitress may be struggling and a couple extra dollars might be a real lift for her day.

Sam said...

Right on, Sandra. I hadn't thought of the "tipping" side of it. I'm glad you brought it up.