image courtesy of ethisphere.com
[I recently came across this infographicfrom Conde Nast Traveler. It highlights tipping customs all over the world, and even explains in detail what is expected here in the United States. Then I remembered a blog post I’d written about how Christians are often poor tippers — and, therefore, poor witnesses for Christ. Here is that essay.]
At a restaurant during Sunday lunch:
- “Do you have any idea how expensive it is to feed a family of five AND leave a 20% tip?!”
- “If I wanted to clean up after my kids, we’d have eaten at home.”
- “We paid to eat here, and we’ll sit at this table until we’ve fully enjoyed our time of Christian fellowship.”
- “Although I’m a Christian, I’m a stingy, selfish, inconsiderate person and don’t mind showing it in public — especially to someone as lowly as a waitress at Chili’s. Now where were we? Oh, yeah, I was critiquing today’s sermon…”
One of my favorite bloggers is Randy Morgan, over at Your Best Life Later. I just read his latest post titled “The Sunday Lunch Crowd,” and wanted to send you his way. It’s worth a read, especially if you ever go out to dinner on Sunday afternoons. I’m going to add to his thoughts just a few of my own below.
I Was a Waiter Once…
Waiting tables paid for the last year of my undergraduate degree. I never liked working the Sunday lunch crowd, despite the fact that they were all “like me” and Christian. Randy addressed, in his essay, both the horrible tips and the large groups who sit forever, preventing their servers from making any cash above the miserly gratuities, which they’ve so begrudgingly given.
But one thing Randy didn’t mention was the way these “good Christian” families generally make no attempt to clean up after their kids. I’ve even heard some Christian mothers say, “If I wanted to clean up after my kids, we’d have eaten at home.” I’m not saying these parents need to bus tables or wash dishes. But they could at least pick up a few of the messy fragments of crayons that were smashed with salt shakers after being dipped in honey mustard sauce. They could transfer some of the half-eaten french fries and chicken fingers from their tables to their plates. Or they could utilize a few of the extra napkins they asked for in an attempt to at least begin the process of cleaning their second bottle of ketchup off the wall — or was that the first bottle… and the reason for the second?
Waiting tables was the catalyst for me to reevaluate my Christian witness through tipping. If you are a Christian, you represent Christ everywhere you go and in everything you do — but ESPECIALLY on Sunday afternoon when you’re dressed in your Sunday best, church bulletin in hand (to get 10% off your total meal purchase).* And just in case anyone is still wondering, leaving a gospel tract is not an acceptable substitute for tipping.
And the Best Tippers Are…
Some of the best tippers I had were big groups of drinkers and college girls with their dad’s credit cards. Next were my regulars, who were also those whom I enjoyed serving the most — real conversation and real appreciation… and sometimes leftover portions of dessert (illegal for me to eat?).
But the best tippers (far and away) are always other waiters. I would double my tips on a Friday or Saturday night with one 8-top if the waitstaff from the restaurant next door came in for drinks after work. There’s a lot to be said for empathy. When you understand someone else’s situation, you’re much more likely to respond appropriately and in love.
Mandatory Service for All Christians?
Maybe the church should ask its members to fulfill a mandatory service requirement, waiting tables in the restaurant industry. Funny, isn’t it (or sad), that it’s almost impossible to imagine many of our church members humbly fulfilling that position of service?
And you know what I think… if we’re not willing to wait tables, we’re for sure not willing to wash feet.
- Randy Morgan is the man.
- The Sunday lunch crowd DOES NOT represent Christ well.
- As a matter of fact, large groups of alcoholics are more generous, kind, and thoughtful than are Sunday lunch Christians.
- Gospel tracts are not suitable for tipping. [Nor, in my opinion, are they suitable for evangelism.]
- Servers should not eat their customers’ leftovers.
- If I’m ever in charge of a church, there will be a mandatory requirement that all members wait tables for a period of at least one month.
- If you can’t leave a generous tip, don’t go out to eat. [This one wasn’t covered in the post, but should’ve been.]
- Please think about how you act in public, and how it reflects on my God.