The Devine Customer

by | Jun 4, 1999 | Church, Reverance, Worship

One of the best examples I’ve found to describe this situation comes from one of my less pleasant memories as a customer in a diner. I shared some of the story in my book The God Catchers, but I want to revisit the story one more time and add some important details related to the God’s-eye view of life.

The need for a change of perspective became apparent almost immediately after the members of my party gave the waitress their late-night breakfast orders. I had decided to order simple items such as bacon and eggs. My thinking was guided by decades of road experience. How badly can you botch an egg order? I thought.


At the time we ordered, I should have known the problem wasn’t with the cook or with the kitchen—it was with the quality of waiting. It was the absence of genuine service on our side of the counter.

Our waitress finally brought out our food, but I am still convinced enough time had passed for a hen to have laid the eggs while the cook waited. Even then, our wait wasn’t over. The waitress hadn’t bothered to bring us any silverware, but she disappeared so quickly after dropping the plates on the table that we didn’t notice until she was gone. A quick survey of the room confirmed my suspicions: she was back at the coffeepot and deeply engrossed in the conversation we had, no doubt, rudely interrupted with our food order.

I have to admit that it was frustrating. It took everything I had to maintain a modicum of restraint. Our waitress finally returned to our table after she had finished the previous coffeepot conversation to her satisfaction (and our food had cooled to our dissatisfaction). My guess is that she came back to see if we were ready to pay the bill and give her a tip.

This was my chance to address the situation, and I took it. “Ma’am, do you know who pays your salary?”


With a practiced snarl perfected over years of purposeful one-upmanship, this queen of the surly waitresses informed me with absolute confidence that it surely wasn’t me. She told me her boss paid her salary. I was glad she had taken the bait. I cheerfully corrected her, saying, “No, your paycheck comes from customers like me who frequent this restaurant and pay hard-earned money for the food they order and leave tips for the service they receive.”

Despite my eloquence, I knew my efforts didn’t do any good because our waitress still hadn’t made any move toward a stock of silverware. (Trust me—don’t try that with the next waitress who gives you trouble. It didn’t work, but it did make me feel a little better about the whole thing.)

Now let me tell you what did work. Things improved—at least a little—after I said, “Ma’am, let me tell you something. I have been known to tip more than the entire bill when the service warrants it.”

Silverware seemed to appear instantly. Mysteriously I began to receive more attention than the other waitresses in the gossip club gathered around the coffeepot.

My goal in that extended exercise of futility was simple: I wanted that waitress to understand that the purpose of the restaurant was not to please her or serve her wishes; it was to host customers like me.

In an odd reversal of the consumer mentality, we seem to have determined that church is all about us when God—the Divine Customer—has this incredible idea that church is all about Him.

God’s Eyeview p. 9-11, Tommy Tenney, From, The Ministry of Tommy Tenney

Contact information for this ministry:
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Pineville, LA 71361 USA


The Devine Customer