Is a Laborer Deserving of His Wages: Why Poor Restaurant Tipping Compromises the Gospel of Jesus Christ

“So that was a friendly Christian person?”

After making that statement, one of my coworkers—a divorced, unbelieving, agnostic man working two jobs to pay child support—tossed a credit card receipt with a circle around the subpar tip he had received from a Christian individual sitting at his table.  In fact, the tip was less than subpar—barely 10% on a $90 bill.  I might have let his comments go in one ear and out the other if it was an isolated incident, but sadly it was not.  I thought about ignoring him, but I have been attempting to share the gospel with this coworker for quite some time.  “Not all Christian people treat others that way,” I said softly.

I have been serving tables at a restaurant for several years in order to support my wife and children and to pay my way through graduate school.  Over and over again I have observed Christian people (or people who identify themselves as Christian people) come into the restaurant at which I work, pray for their food after acting rudely toward their server, leave a 10% tip (give or take a few percent) and a gospel tract with the check, and then leave.

Whether Christians are aware of it or not, a subpar tip left for a server (especially an unbelieving server) is a stumbling block in communicating the gospel.  It causes unbelieving servers to think that we, as Christians, value money over everything and everyone else (1 Tim 6:10).  So, my coworker, like many other servers around the country, interprets such actions (poor tips from alleged Christian people) as stingy-greed.  Tragically, the result—though it may be unfair to some degree on their part—is that many servers have identified the majority of Christians as a contingent of people who care little for others.  Why?  Primarily because they hear Christians promise them that God is just and fair and that he is a generous King who is lavish with his mercy and kind toward others.  Christians promise them that the gospel they preach is for all people right before they metaphorically clinch their money in their fist and tip poorly; refusing money to laborers who are worthy of their wages (1 Tim 5:18; Matt 10:10).

Now, to be sure, believers and unbelievers can leave poor tips; believers and unbelievers can leave fair tips.  But, the Scripture teaches that Christians, more than all people, should be a people characterized by generosity and love, not simply “fairness”, because they were first loved even though they were most underserving (1 John 4:19).  It seems that the deeper issue is not a knowledge of what is culturally fair or economically acceptable when it comes to tipping restaurant servers.  Rather, the issue is a lack of recognition by Christian people that they have received out of God’s fullness (John 1:16); that they have received because God generously provided his Son for us and for our salvation (Rom 5:8; 1 John 4:9).

Poor tipping by Christians endangers the Great Commission

What Christians may not realize is that they are in danger of living inconsistently with the gospel they preach by tipping restaurant servers poorly.  Indeed, poor tips are the equivalent of what Moses teaches in Deuteronomy 25—muzzling an ox when it is treading out grain (Deut 25:4 – later, the Apostle Paul would say the same thing in 1 Tim 5:18).  It is relinquishing responsibility to the Great Commission because the gospel is about grace.  Of all the people in the world, Christians should be a people who understand that they are unworthy to be recipients of the great mercy, grace and generosity shown them in Christ.  Even an unbelieving person can tip fairly, but Christians should be more than “fair” tippers, they should be generously-fair because God has generously provided redemption for them through his Son, Jesus Christ (see the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Matt 18:21-35; Lk 7:47).

On another occasion, a local pastor came in with his wife to eat and left a 13% tip, which made his bill an even number.  The question we should ask ourselves is, “Did his less than generously-fair tip compel this women to visit his church or believe the gospel he preaches when the laborer, whose wages he has kept back for himself, cries out against him (James 5:4)?”  The woman I work with who served his table has been separated from her husband for over two years.  She desperately needs the gospel, but she has identified the gospel that Christians preach with their stingy restaurant tipping.

Again, it seems that the deeper heart issue in a moment like this is that many Christians have deceived themselves into believing that this action is trivial and does not matter in the grand scheme of God’s providence.  They believe that no one will ever see or know about how they defrauded another person.  But that is not the picture that the Scripture paints—indeed, the Scripture teaches that Someone does see and hear and is paying very careful attention to all of the actions that we think do not matter in this life (Josh 7; 2Cor 5:10), whether one is a Christian or not.  In an attempt to communicate that there is something far more cosmically significant at stake (i.e. the salvation of the server) Christians should tip their servers generously-fair.

For the Christian, generously-fair tipping shouldn’t be contingent upon the dining experience

When a Christian determines the tip percentage of their bill based on quality of service or uniqueness of the dining experience, they contradict grace and flirt dangerously with greed.  They flirt with greed because they forget, at least momentarily, that underserved grace is shown to them everyday.

Recently, I have dialogued with a variety of Christian people whose argument on why it is acceptable to tip poorly—or less than generously-fair—goes something like this, “Servers understand that their job is to sell themselves to me so that I tip them well.  So, if they fail to meet my dining expectations then I am not obligated to reciprocate with a fair tip after paying for the meal.”  Though this may seem reasonable, it is precisely this desire to prefer the self (in this case, by preferring the dining experience) that must be crucified when it comes to tipping generously-fair, especially by a professed Christian person.  When the patron, especially the Christian patron, prefers himself by preferring their dining experience he fails to communicate that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of grace, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for people unworthy of its blessing (Jesus came to heal those in need of a physician, Mark 2:17), that because of the gospel of Jesus Christ there are things that are far more significant than a pleasurable dining experience.  The real heart issue when it comes to poor tipping by a Christian is a lack of awareness of how great and vast the debt was that God generously and graciously forgave because he loves us.

Now, the reader needs to understand that I am not saying that patrons do not have the right to communicate that their dining experience was poor.  I am saying, however, that leaving a subpar tip does not communicate that the dining experience was poor (unfortunately, it often happens, as in the two accounts mentioned above, when service was superb and when the patron had no complaint).  Rather, the Christian patron should tip generously-fair and then notify a manager or supervisor of the lack of service.  The Christian tips generously-fair for two reasons: firstly, they recognize that the importance of their dining experience is irrelevant when it comes to communicating the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and, secondly, they recognize that they too have received grace upon grace though they were unworthy to be recipients of it.  Regardless of the dining experience, all persons created in the likeness of God deserve a fair wage (Gen 1:27).  For the server, tips are wages, not donations.

Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly: generously-fair tipping

So, what is a generously-fair tip at a restaurant?

Before I give a percentage on what seems to be the minimum tip that I think should be left for a server at a restaurant, the reader should consider at least two things: firstly, there are two types of people working as servers: Christians and non-Christians.  Both deserve fair wages, just like any other person deserves a fair wage, simply because they are humans created in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and, secondly, when Christians sit at a restaurant table they assume the role of a master or boss; the Scripture commands that they treat their slave/server justly and fairly because they too have a Master in heaven (Col 4:1).

For the sake of the success of the Great Commission among employees in the service industry, Christian patrons should understand that 18% gratuity is the new 15% in 2012.  This is the reason that restaurants ask, for a big party, if the check should reflect an 18% or 20% gratuity (formerly, restaurants asked if you wanted 15% added to the check).  Due to the economy and cost of living, 18% is considered a fair wage for a server now.  Just as minimum wage increases every once in a while to accommodate for rising costs of living, so it is for servers and the percentage that is considered a fair tip.  But again, fairness is a standard that anyone can provide—even the Gentiles do this (Matt 5:46-48)—the Scripture calls Christians to be a people who are generously-fair in hopes that through their generously-fair tipping, especially in circumstance when it is underserved, that they might declare the excellence of him who calls sinners out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9; Col 1:13-14).

Responding Appropriately

Sadly, a large portion of the people that I work with have received less than generously-fair tips from many customers who have identified themselves with the gospel.  As a result a significant portion of non-Christians working as servers have distanced themselves from the gospel preached to them by Christians.  It seems that the only way to rectify this is if Christians recognize their position in Christ—they are the recipients of unmerited grace by a generous God—repent of their greed, refuse to cling to their money, store up their treasure in heaven and give generously-fair so that others may know that their treasure is indeed found in Someone else—Jesus Christ (Matt 6:19-21).

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40 thoughts on “Is a Laborer Deserving of His Wages: Why Poor Restaurant Tipping Compromises the Gospel of Jesus Christ

  1. Pingback: Shepherds’ Pie » Blog Archive » Adorning the Gospel when you eat out

  2. It really hits home when you compare it to a non-tipped job. And how many times is late/cold/incorrect food the fault of the kitchen and not the wait staff? Either way, I totally agree. We try to tip really well most of the time and this will make me think about my actions next time I’m tempted to skimp on a tip.

  3. Wow…this just changed my view on tipping. Thanks for the thought provoking blog. Grace changes EVERYTHING…even tipping!

  4. I agree with this post. I’m currently working as a pizza delivery driver. I get paid a little more than my counterparts in restaurants, but I also have to pay for gasoline, oil, tires, various other upkeep on my car, plus I have to pay for my own uniform, I have to buy a jacket from my company if I want to stay reasonably warm in the winter while I’m out of my car, etc, etc. I deliver to churches fairly regularly, and let me tell you, there’s too many churches that don’t tip. There’s one church here in town(one of the oldest in town), that has an account with us, where only the Youth Pastor tips, but he only accounts for a third or so of their pizza orders(we absolutely dread delivering there). Of course, there’s another church here in town that also has an account with us, that typically gives good tips. I’ve discovered a few things to be true about delivering to churches. The Youth Pastor always tips, the Senior Pastor rarely does, and the rest of the staff lies somewhere in the middle. The more established a church is in the community, the less likely they are to tip. The newer the church, the more likely they are to tip. The more “Purpose Driven” a church becomes, the less likely they are to tip.

    What people don’t understand, is that the pizza guy isn’t really making big bucks unless they tip well. I know that when pizza companies try to hire workers, they advertise “$10-$15/hr”. That typically doesn’t happen. And yes, the store does give me a dollar per delivery. That doesn’t help with the upkeep/regular expenses of my vehicle. It costs me, at present, $30 to fill up my car with gasoline. I sometimes don’t make that. I have regular monthly expenses of an additional $30-$40 to keep my vehicle in good running condition. Plus, I sometimes have tires blow out, so I have to get those replaced. Or like last week, when I had to replace a power steering line and a battery. I haven’t been able to find another job since the economy took a major downturn. So I’m stuck with the pizza company. And some weeks, I barely make the money to pay for my gasoline. I have sat down and figured out how much money I have to make per delivery in order to make money during the day(making money is “more than enough to pay for gas to get through the next day and oil for the week, and money for the miscellaneous car expenses”). For a three mile or less delivery, I need to make $2, for a five mile or less delivery I need $4, and for a seven-ten mile delivery I need $5, and for anything over ten miles I need an additional $1 per mile. That doesn’t factor in large orders like churches/schools/businesses make, where I usually have to haul the pizzas to a certain room(many times multiple trips to my car to get bags of pizza), and then put out the pizzas-arranging them by toppings, and making sure to bring plates and napkins. I’m almost never late for a delivery, and even if I am, it’s almost always the fault of the kitchen not getting it in the oven on time. And not much is worse than getting a 20 pizza delivery to a place, setting it all up for the customer, and getting a $5 or less tip. Especially when we give the churches a special discount that the businesses don’t get and that I personally as an employee don’t get.

  5. I agree that Christians give a shameful witness when they give poor tips. But should concern also be voiced in the direction of the system that makes waiters dependent on tips?

    • So how much more would you like to pay at Applebee’s? Because if restaurants have to raise pay rates for their servers to “minimum wage”, then the 2 for $20 is gone. You’re not paying $6 for your appetizers any more. Or, if you order pizza, you’re paying closer to $20 to have a large 1 topping pizza delivered.

      • Assuming on an average day each server sees an AVERAGE of 2 tables an hour, and each table has an AVERAGE of 2 people (the latter of which is probably a low estimate), then adding $2/entree would raise $8/hour. Add that to the $2.13/wage and the server is making a little over $10/hour. That’s more than my wife makes. The “2 for 20” includes an appetizer, drop it and you can still go 2 for 20, but even if you went “2 for $24”, I’d STILL prefer that over the tip obligation. As someone who earns tips, would you prefer $10/hr base, or current plus tips?

        (personally I usually tip 15 – 20% out of obligation, and service must usually be BAD to get the 15, considering I usually see a bill of at LEAST $30-35 at places like Olive Garden, I’d GLADLY tack on $4 ($2/entree for the wife and I) to lose the $6+ tip)

  6. The problem I have with tipping is that there are no rules? What’s right: 15% or 20 % or more?
    Who should get tipped and who shouldn’t get tipped?

  7. Its called a “tip” because it is a reward for doing a good job. You chose the profession of waitor knowing that you have to work hard for tips. I think the real problem here is that waitors don’t get paid enough an hour.. Not that they don’t get enough tips. Customers @ my job don’t tip me because of good customer service.. My boss pays me enough an hour so that I will want to be friendly @ work. I will never tip a waitor 18% if they haven’t done a good job (although that rarely happens).
    I once had a waitress who didn’t check on us for 45 mins.. Upon returning she informed us that she spilt something on her shirt and ran home real quick to change. And you’re telling me its a sin not to give her 18%??
    This blog could have been much better written if you were using certain circumstances that you feel its wrong.. But you’re saying every situation is wrong.
    It should be your bosses responsibility to pay you a fair wage. Tips should not be expected when service is poor. And.. Its also a law that after tips your boss has to pay you additional wages to make you reach minimum wage. So we all know that you are making at least that.. Usually way more.

  8. I agree with Rob on why do we do this as a system? I always see servers argue “would you rather see prices rise so waiters can be paid a fair wage?” To which I would reply “YES”. I don’t understand why if (for example) I only get a bowl of soup, your “pay” should be cheaper than if I get a steak. Or, to put that in raw dollars, I’m “generous” if I leave a $5 tip on two $5 bowls of soup (50% tip on a $10 meal), but “stingy” if I leave the same $5 tip on two $25 steaks (10% tip on a $50 meal)?

    Since most online postings of this type that I see imply that waiters think customers would NOT take a $1-2 hike in entree prices to see waiters get paid “a fair wage”, I’ll ask you take your pick:
    -Would you prefer to make minimum wage, and lose tipping altogether?
    -What is a “fair wage” for a waiter (if not minimum wage)?

    I agree that people SHOULD be paid fairly for their labors, so the question would be, what is “fair”?

    • In 1991 I went to work for Wendys. They had just started their $.99 menu. Those items up to about a tear ago were still on the $.99 menu. Most reasonable people will say that given the opportunity they would pay more so that some can receive a fair wage. However, Those same reasonable people when talking with everyone about where to eat out think in terms of how much it is going to cost. that is the reality that the restauranteur faces. My thinking then would be that if you really think that you would pay a $1 per item on the menu do it. But then you still need to add a tip. That 2 for $20 deal has 3 items you would be giving the server $3 where $4 is the standard.
      Overall i think you all most miss the point. It is not just a discusion about a fair wage for servers. It is more about how we as Christians present ourselves and therefore present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. In reading many of these posts you make his point, your concern is that you receive value for what you are paying to someone, your concern is not that they see Jesus. It goes beyond just the tip and its amount.
      I have stood in many a dining room and cringed to hear guests at their tables look at their watches and state “it is time to leave before the church crowd gets here.”

  9. First of all, let me say that I agree for the most part, and I tip well for precisely the main reasons you have given. But I also like Rob’s question above. There are a few holes in the logical argument here that we need to be careful with, such as, what is the standard of “fair wages”? Is the state minimum wage the ultimate authority? You begin flirting with a scary legalistic line when you start assigning numerical values to generosity, just as with tithing. I think there is collective wisdom that can give us a starting point with doing the math, but when you condemn an unnamed pastor for his 13% tip, you’ve crossed the line. Respectfully, at that point it just comes off as a disgruntled waiter with an entitlement issue.

    Not to mention that the context of 1 Timothy 5:18 is in regard to pastors/elders. Can we have a conversation about greedy churches who refuse to compensate pastors well?

  10. I’m sorry but I find the whole post hopelessly one sided and naive.

    To take the position in this post one would have to assume that the Christian position requires the laborer to set the wage without consideration of cost to employer. If tippers are beholden to the expectations of those who receive tips one cannot help but expect that the suffering party becomes the one tipping rather than the one receiving, which is equally as wicked as the current system as outlined in this post. What have we gained if we trade one for the other?

    Two, the idea of 15% or 18% being the standard is arbitrary and thus hopelessly unmoored from any objective evaluation of the real value of the service being offered. Again, why should someone who prefers 18% gratuity be allowed to dictate to anyone else how much service at a restaurant is worth to the paying party? This again is reversing the tyranny. It appears to me that the current system is a fairly efficient way of balancing the interests of the server and the served. The threat of a low tip guards against poor service in the same way that the need for good service guards against treating the server poorly.

    Three, the idea that the old standard of 15% (if one takes it for granted) needs to be adjusted for cost-of-living fails to consider that inflation causes the amount that 15% represents to rise as well (the very thing that cost-of-living wages seeks to address). When I tip 15% of a meal that once cost $10 but now requires $20 due to inflation my tip amount has risen accordingly.

    Finally, the plight of the waiter’s wage scale is compromised by the fact that the waiter chose the profession they are in. I understand the unique nature of table waiting as it pertains to income fluctuation. However, I would argue that anyone who finds that type of payment arrangement unworkable find a job with a fixed pay scale. Any responsibility to those who chose to dine at locations which require table service (speaking as a consumer; I’m sure plenty of people would be happy to fill their own drinks from a fountain and pick their food up if it allowed for not having to pay a surcharge on their food i.e. tipping) to tip well is at least balanced by the responsibility of those working in the food service industry to take responsibility for their career choices. If one can’t make life work with a job that pays the way waiting does then that person should consider finding an employment situation they can. While there might be those who for some reason feel they have to work as a waiter I would note that (a) the few cannot control the course of the many and (b) there are lots of people who are making it on the waiters pay structure and scale. All these issues must be kept in balance.

    • Just a quick follow-up: I think the position is naive in that it doesn’t properly consider all perspectives. I don’t want to state or imply that the author is naive. I don’t think I was clear on that.

  11. I’m another former restaurant server who says a big “Amen” to this. Not only does it compromise the gospel, it displays an utterly false one. Jesus responded to our “bad food and bad service” with cross and the gift of the Kingdom. Wait staff know better than customers when things aren’t going well and they “deserve” a poor tip. Generosity and a word of grace in those situations do far more for the gospel than a quarter and a Chic tract…..

  12. Thanks for this, Raymond. Great Post!

    Re: Rob Faircloth

    I do think the restaurant industry should be forced to pay servers more. I used to be a manager at a restaurant, and part of the reason I left the job was conviction over James 5:4–even though it was the corporation that set the wages and not me. Nonetheless, even in places where the system is fixed to ensure that servers get a more fair wage (e.g. the unionized places that Raymond mentioned), Christians still tip poorly. And though I do agree that servers’ wages deserve attention as an important social justice issue, I think poor tipping is a SIGNIFICANTLY larger issue. Especially since it is 1) a direct sin committed by too many of us, and 2) it more directly impacts a person’s hearing of the Gospel. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that Raymond did not mention this in his post.

  13. I worked for tips for a # of years, the last being about 20 years ago. I would make $15 to $ 25. per hour. And this was working at a Shoney’s were most of the people I waited on were “Christian people “. I have a friend who works at a fine dinning place here in town and he is making $35 to 40 on the weekends. And meanwhile then and now the busboys annd cooks are workin just as hard and making less. To say it does not matter how someone does his job, That they should get a great tip anyway. Does not show grace, it just someone wanting a handout.

  14. I have always tried to be extremely generous in my tipping … not extravagant, but if I can’t afford a 20% tip for the wait staff then I don’t go out to eat. A number of my children have worked jobs where tips were expected, and I know that some people are stingy tippers or just ignore tipping altogether, so I try to make up for that just a tiny bit with my tips. Another point: how do you, as a Christian, treat the wait staff (not just in your tips)? I have gone out to lunch with groups of Christian ladies and been appalled and embarrassed at the way some of my companions have talked to (DOWN at?) the waitresses. Rule of thumb: “Always treat people that you don’t know to be believers in a manner that will make it easy for you to share the Gospel if you get the opportunity.”

  15. I agree with the premise of the article. It is scandalous that professed believers are ungrateful when tipping. Though I have never been a server both of my daughters were and it was very offensive when she would wait on deacons from our church on Sunday lunch rush, have nearly a $80 bill and toss out 3 or 4 dollars.
    My wife an I have always used 15% a the standard odor “ok service” and upwards of 20% or more when it is excellent. I am not sure however that an flat condemnation of those who don’t give 18% as “cheap, stingy or ungrateful” is called for.
    Also if the system of compensating wait staff is changed, which it should be, then the level of tips will come down as the change would necessarily mean a rise in retail prices.
    Why 18% by the way? Why not say 25% or 30? What I am saying is that this number is totally arbitrary. Maybe the benchmark should be first, what percentage of customers bills are reported to IRS as a tip even when one is not receives? That should be the starting point for tips, beyond that it is based on the previously stated principle of the worker is withy of his hire – in other words those who do well earn more those who don’t earn less.

    • I don’t think anybody really knows the IRS system of determining tips. However, my understanding of IRS law is this: The IRS totals the tips that they can see on credit card/debit card statements. Then, they figure about 2% less on cash tips.

  16. I love tipping when in a full service restaurant. Not so much at a buffet where I do most of the work. Some servers on fill your drinks. If they would put those out, I would get my own. Also why is tipping only at full service restaurants and not quick serve restaurants. Many require the cashier to take your order, prepare your meal, give it to you and then clean the dining room when you are done.

  17. While I agree Christians can be bad tippers I don’t think it’s fair to completely put the blame on them. I too worked as a server and saw the hardships that came. However bad tipping goes far beyond religious boundaries. The real issue is revenue sharing within companies. Meal prices have grown over the years and companies expect the customer to foot the bill to pay their employees telling us that standard tipping has been raised from 10% to 18%.

    This certainly is an ethical issue however the battlefront is revenue sharing and not customer giving.

  18. Not sure that bad service deserves a good tip, regardless of your salvation status. Waiters and waitresses know their tips depend on the service they provide. Leaving a small tip can be a message, not a punishment.

    For you to say the everyone that leaves a small tip is somehow compromising the gospel compromises the gospel. How do you know what is in everyone’s heart?

    That being said, I agree that tipping generously (being generous in general) “can be” a fruit of the Spirit. But not in EVERY case.

  19. Pingback: Christians and Tipping « Ad Fontes

  20. I generally agree with you on this and have always been a reasonably generous with my tips.

    Still, there are a couple of fundamental flaws with your logic.

    1. The percentage minimum tip is determined by the server. It is the customer who should determine what an appropriate tip is based upon their ability to pay and their determination of the service level given by the server.

    2. Tips are wages. They are not. It an expression of thanks for a job well done which allowed for a pleasant meal.

    • i agree with number 2 but i think unfortunatly your problem with your first debate is flawed. it is more society rthat has determained that 18% – 20% is “fair” as christians we are not supposed to look like the world but in that industry you are only compaired to other custumers whether this is right or wrong it is how it is. as a christian it is for you to deside how to be a witness to a non-Christian server or and encouragment to a christian one. they are there to make money and that is what speaks to them at the time. and currently Christians as a group are screming with their tips “we dont care about you” or “you are worth 18-20% but not a penny more.” man i am glad God was not willing to split hairs on percentages

  21. First of all, I would like to say that I am thankful for all of the respectful feedback (especially by those who hold divergent view points).

    Second, I would like to communicate that this post is not so much about percentages, rather it is primarily about grace and generosity (sadly, two godly characteristics that I think are lacking in a significant majority of Christians when it comes to tipping their waiter). Though it seems that 18% is the new minimum expected for a fair tip (this is not a number arbitrarily set by waiters or a disgruntled server), thus, restaurants (not servers) ask patrons making reservations, “Would you like 18% or 20% gratuity added to your check?” Grace is manifested when a server receives a fair tip, even when they don’t deserve it (Matt 7:12). Indeed, when it comes to tipping a server, there are definitely times when he may be unworthy of his wage. However, Christians should recognize that they too were unworthy of the grace shown to them in Christ; in an attempt to communicate that there is something far more cosmically significant (the salvation of the waiter) than their dining experience they should tip fair and generously-fair. Generosity is communicated when a patron recognizes that the server deserves a fair wage, so they tip above 18%.

    Third, I am not saying that patrons do not have the right to communicate that dining service was poor. However, I am saying that leaving a subpar tip does not communicate dining service was poor (unfortunately, it often happens when service was superb and when the patron has no complaint). Rather, the Christian patron should tip generously-fair and then notify a manager of the lack of service. Regardless of the dining experience, all persons created in the likeness of God deserve a fair wage. Contrary to what someone posted above, tips are wages.

    Fourth, though the system may be flawed, it is the system. Additionally, the reason that there are no set standards (a flat tipping percentage added to every bill regardless of the dining party’s size) is because the “system” is not a system. So, every man or woman does what is right in his or her own eyes.

    Finally, and most importantly, a subpar tip from a Christian patron, while it doesn’t communicate that service was poor, most certainly communicates (especially to unbelieving waiters) that those Christians do not believe the gospel they claim to believe or preach to the waiter when they pray for their food or leave a gospel tract, etc. This post is meant to address the sinful disposition of the heart that clings to money as if money is far more important than the communication of gospel truth. Christians should tip fairly and generously-fair because they have received the gospel from a God who has been generously-fair in the redemption of mankind through the sending of his Son. And whether you like it or not, a subpar tip to a waiter (especially an unbelieving waiter) is a stumbling block in communicating the gospel and causes them to think that you, as a Christian, value money over anything else.

    • ABSOLUTELY!!! You all are trying to determine how much will make me generous without impoverishing myself. The point here is that these people for good or ill have made a point of their Christian faith in front of the server. When we take a stand on anything and identify ourselves as Christians we bring honor or dishonor to the Name by our actions. Is it so hard to show love that we can not be a little generous with one who serves us?
      Perhaps that is more the problem for us here in America, we are not comfortable with being served even less with serving.
      Forgive me if I misrepresented your message.

  22. Thank you for sharing. I worked at a restaurant for 4 years, 2 years as a hostess and 2 years as a server. I encountered very rude people especially when I was a hostess on Sundays. This was usually our busiest day so when I requested off Sundays so I could go to church, my request was denied until I received seniority. Anyway, many of the people who would flood into the restaurant with the obvious marker of them being church-goers (in the south, anyway): sports coats, ties, heels, and nice dresses ..would be obnoxious at best and impatient, continually “checking in” with me to see how much longer the wait would be. Rarely did I encounter the kind individual who would thank me and not comment on the long wait and act as if it was my fault. When I seated many of these people, I did not receive a thank you but usually, the cold shoulder–because of course I was responsible (in their eyes) for the long wait to receive seating. In turn, many of these individuals would treat the servers harshly and rudely. I received dirty looks on numerous days. I one time thought to tell a rude individual: “Could you please be a better example of Jesus, since no one working here had tthe opportunity to attend church today?” But I decided not to. I didn’t want to seem rude myself. Oh well…

    I also would like to note that I have given “horrible” servers generous tips. God practices grace with us every day, and I believe as Christians, we should as well.

  23. I find it humiliating to dine with others who under-tip. I’m afraid I have even been known to run back to the ladies’ room so I could stop by our table and add to someone else’s tip. It is one of the simplest and most comfortable ways in which we can shine His light. We don’t even have to step out of our comfort zone – not even financially if you think about it. On a $20 check, the difference between a 10% (bad) and a 20% (decent) tip is only $2. How much is that really going to break our bank? But for the server it can really add up – monetarily, mentally and hopefully, spiritually.

    Now let’s say that burst of generosity at a recollection of God’s mercy and grace kicks in. Go wild for God! Step up from that $2 (10%) tip, fly past that $4 (20%) tip and just get downright crazy! Leave $5!!!! Whoa – with that mentality, we really MIGHT change the world!!

    It seems the best way to accomplish this is to budget properly. See this not as a “$20 meal +tip” but rather, just go ahead and budget it as a $25 meal and a super-easy way to spread the Good News to someone who not only might not hear it otherwise, but also may have heard something contrary from the heart of the $2 tipper who sat there before you.

    We’re not supposed to look for rewards this side of heaven, and certainly I don’t, but I must say that this has a built-in blessing you won’t be able to deny: Servers remember good tippers. When you return, not only will they vie for your table, they will give you the best possible service – and you will then have a deeper witnessing opportunity, because once you have fed the mouth of the hungry, your odds of feeding his or her soul multiply greatly. How beautiful to plant a seed and find out that they asked for the opportunity to have you water it.

    You’re so right, Raymond – We cannot accomplish this with a tight-fisted tip. We can’t technically “buy” the attention of the lost, but we never know whose life will be changed if we give just a little more than expected. This is always true, especially when tipping.

  24. I concur. I waited in college and it working Sunday lunch was a least enjoyed time because the church crowd would treat waiters rudely and tip poorly as they discussed the Sermon. I don’t think all were aware of their affect. I can only imagine how often my patience or lack of graciousness uses the Lords name in vain. but my lack of wrong intentions doesn’t negate the negative effect of my actions. please realize how much impact our daily lives may have on people who equate our every action as “Christian”

  25. it all comes down to the heart! i have worked in the food and beverage industry for 10 years in a semenary town putting myself through school. on a whole Christians are bad tippers. so you may not be and you may not be and you may not be but no server wants to work sundays because on a whole the Christian community looks after themselves. i delievered pizzas to seminary houses where they said “God bless you man” and handed me a dollar (sometimes not even) not even realizing at that moment that our all powerful God could have used them to bless me. i would get embarassed when my co-workers would tell me they hated delievring to the dorms b/c the people were never happy and it wasn’t worth their time or gas for a buck. tipping should not be viewed by Christians as a mandatory “thithe” to service workers. it is the heart that decides today i can be a witness and a blessing to this person. most non-christians (service workers or not) are not looking for Christ therefore as a christian we should meet their needs (in this case finacially) so they respect us enough to hear the good news we have to tell. leaving a tract with a bad tip is more detrimental to you witness then if you would have just ate at home.

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