The verdict is in the Victoria Osteen case. A jury of her peers (I assume all wives of wavy-haired televangelists) deliberated two hours before finding her not guilty. So, the Osteens’ three-year legal nightmare has come to an end. However, if they had asked me how extremely rich, incredibly photogenic mega-church pastors could avoid being sued, I’d have given them this advice:
1. Never fly first class. This has not been a problem for me, even when I was flying to China on a fairly regular basis. I did earn enough miles to fly business one time, but mostly I was in the cheap seats with the cages of chickens and other cargo. We seldom saw a flight attendant, much less got close enough to one to engage in a little dust-up.
2. Wipe up your own spills. Apparently the entire lawsuit was over a spill on the arm of The Rev. Victoria’s seat. Again, never fly first class, because in coach the armrests are not big enough to spill anything on. But, if you do, remember what your mother told you–“Clean up your mess.” Good advice for 3-year-olds and televangelists.
3. Don’t say, “God will get you for this!” Of course, I’m basing this on complete hearsay. Not that we all haven’t thought, or wished, that God would get folks who make us really mad, but let’s keep things in perspective. God may be busy getting other people for other things we don’t even know about.
4. Have a net worth of $13.47. The flight attendant was suing for 10 percent of the Rev. Mrs. Osteen’s net worth, which is larger than the gross national product of Bolivia. Now, this is not a problem for most of us small-church pastors. My net worth is about $1.97, so I’m not exactly a hot target for a lawyer if money is what they’re after. But wait ’til my book comes out.
5. Stay in your seat. The pilot is just kidding when he says, “It’s safe to move about the cabin now.” Your lawyer would advise you otherwise. Maybe there’s a lot more room in first class than coach, but where are you gonna move to anyway? Those photographs of everyone standing around the grand piano on a 747 are fakes. Why would you put a grand piano on a plane? But, I digress. Stay put. Don’t spill you orange juice. Keep your hands to yourself. Do not shake your sunglasses at the flight attendant. That, according to the FAA, constitutes interfering with a crew member, for which Victoria was fined $3,000. Expensive spill.
Oh, and the best part: The Osteens say they’ll fly Continental again. It must be the peanuts.
Chuck Warnock is pastor of Chatham Baptist Church in Chatham, Va. He blogs at Confessions of a Small Church Pastor.