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Me, My Bartender, and an Unexpected Gift

Me, My Bartender, and an Unexpected Gift

by Elijah Schiarelli

“That’s not what I was expecting.”

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In 2013, I started working at Passion Community Church (PCC) part-time as the Worship Coordinator at our Riverside Campus. I had always known I wanted to work there. To finally be able to do it was an amazing honor—but also sort of expected. I had been serving at PCC for several years prior and had many conversations about the possibility of getting a job there after I graduated college. 

What wasn’t expected is that I didn’t come back alone. 

Through what can only be described as divine intervention, I came back with my future wife, Megan. She understood that I had a calling at PCC and she was just as excited about it as I was. We’d go on to lead worship at our Riverside Campus for a couple of years straight—every Sunday.

When we first moved back to the area in the summer of 2013, Megan was just another girl from Pennsylvania to everyone else.  As they got to know her, people began to wonder why she ever settled for me. (Okay, just kidding. But seriously.) And as more and more people heard that I was in a serious relationship, they began asking all of the obligatory questions: “How’d you meet? Where’s she from?” etc.

My answers to their questions were usually met with some version of, “Oh that’s so cool! I’m so happy for y’all!”. Usually. 

That was until they asked, “So what does she do for a living?”

“She’s a bartender.”

“Oh okay, well…that’s cool!” 

Their words would come out after a brief pause, almost as if they had to be forced out because they didn’t agree with the thought running through their minds, “A pastor dating a bartender? That’s not what I was expecting…”

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Sometime around Halloween of 2017, Megan and I got the news: 

Our first child was on the way! 

Truth is, we hadn’t been trying for very long. We intentionally waited a few years into our marriage to have children so we could enjoy our husband and wife time. But at this point, we were ready. Well…ready to have a kid, anyway. We’d soon discover just how un-ready we were to be parents. That’s a different story though. 

But there was a problem. 

Megan’s job didn’t offer maternity leave. It was work or don’t get paid, despite being a full-time employee. My 30 hr./week ministry job wasn’t really enough to keep us afloat during that time either. Add that to the fact that we’d just moved into our new house just over a year prior and our anxiety about it all began to mount. 

Months went by. In April of 2018, we were three months away from the big day…and we still didn’t have a plan. We trusted God to provide for us, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard to wait for it. 

And that’s when it happened. 

Megan was working one of her usual evening shifts when John walked in. John was (and still is!) a regular at Megan’s restaurant, which simply means he frequents the place. Megan and John had spent many shifts on opposite sides of the bar from one another, chatting about life, their work, their hobbies, their families, and more. Over time, they had grown a legitimate friendship because they’re both naturally personable and kind. John is in his 50’s and happens to be an OB-GYN—so he was very excited about our baby. 

So much so, in fact, that on this particular visit, he left Megan a $1500 tip.

You see, John knew that Megan wasn’t going to be offered maternity leave. 

So he decided to make it happen himself.  

Megan couldn’t do anything but stand there in disbelief. Did he really just do that? Is there an extra zero on here by accident? To say she was surprised would be a ridiculous understatement. More like shocked. Humbled. In awe. Grateful. 

It would be fair to say, in the middle of all those emotions, she thought, 

“That’s not what I was expecting…”

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So how did we get here? One word: 

Generosity. 

And I’m not only referring to John’s incredible gift to my family—more on that in a moment. But his generosity towards us only happened because Megan was first generous towards him.

Now let me be clear—John was already a generous person. Megan didn’t make him that way, but her investment in him made him comfortable investing in my family, and God, in the case of Megan’s maternity leave, used it as provision for us. 

For years, Megan has been doing her job and doing it exceedingly well. She gets paid to work, so simply doing a great job isn’t “generosity”. 

However, Megan continually pours herself into her work: her gift of hospitality, her genuine care for people, her empathetic attitude that meets people where they are—she doesn’t have to interject any of this in her line of work. But she does because she’s generous with who she is. And she’s been doing this for years, investing in John and everyone else who comes. Over time, their relationship has been built, and what John gave us was just the start of a generous relationship between us. In fact, John has done something for our family in just the past month that has been an amazing, God-sized blessing for us. Maybe if I write another article, I’ll tell you about that one, too. 🙂

So what can we take from this story? Well, I think it’s just as Pastor Brian said in his message on January 23

God is generous with us so we can be generous with others. 

Everything we have is given to us so we can be generous with it in the future. Every moment, every word, every thing we have; all so we can use it to help those around us. 

Oaklyn is 3 ½ as I am writing this article. With our second child on the way (a boy!), we’re reminded of John’s amazing generosity and how God used Him to meet us where we were. We’re about to move into a different house and in a strange way, history is repeating itself for us. Last time, we were anxious, worried, and uncertain about how we’d make it, even though we believed we could.

This time, we’re certain of God’s provision. 

God has given us so much—way more than we deserve. Now we have the chance to use all of it to give to others, just as God gave to us through John.

God calls all of us to do this. You, me, and everyone else. Remember, God is generous with us so we can be generous with others. And if we’ll be faithful to do that, then it’s likely the next person we’re generous with might just think to themselves,

That’s not what I was expecting.”

Categories: Faith  Friendship  Money  Relationships  

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Written by

Elijah Schiarelli

Doesn’t deserve anything, but is blessed beyond measure to follow Jesus, love his family, lead others towards Jesus, and have everything he needs.

Published January 27, 2022


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