By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
My best friend, a carhop at a local root beer stand, told a story last week that disturbed me.
He said he waited on a handful of cars parked in his lot. Two cars in particular caught his eye as he worked back and forth between the two (and many others) during that hour of his shift. One was a Christian couple, the other, very clearly atheist.
Now my friend earns $2.50 an hour—not uncommon in jobs in service, where companies pay them far below the minimum wage, and they have to earn their living via tips. As a struggling college student trying to keep his eyeballs above debt, he works twice as hard as any other server I’ve seen to provide excellent service in hopes of earning some money to offset those education costs. This undoes the often-said stereotype about people in his generation being lazy and entitled.
Plus, he’s a believer and believes giving 100 percent into every job (Colossians 3:17).
At the end of the meals of the two couples (they finished around the same time) the Christian couple told him, “God Bless You.” But when he looked at their receipt, they left him no tip.
The atheist couple, on the other hand, gave him a $10-tip for a less-than-$20 bill, way beyond the minimum 15 or 20 percent suggested.
Although my best friend is a Christian, he shook his head as he glanced at his wallet. “That’s a terrible testimony for Christians. If anything, they should be tipping more than the non-Christians.”
Let’s consider 5 reasons why Christians should be active in changing our reputation and become great tippers.
Reason One: Excellent Witness
If we proclaim kindness and gratitude, we should be able to show it in our actions, especially after hearing sermons about it on Sunday morning.
The world is looking for any excuse to disparage Christians, and if we refuse to give tips, we give the world another excuse to grumble against Christians.
Imagine the impact a Gospel-tract or a church pamphlet could have when accompanied by a tip that matches the same price as the bill?
I absolutely love one event my church does around Christmas time, which used to go under the title “You’ve Been Gifted.”
In the You’ve Been Gifted program, members of our church would do a kind act such as paying for the Starbucks drink of the person behind us in line or helping pay for groceries for a mother who was counting every quarter in an Aldi to see if she could feed her family that week. After you did the kind act, you would leave a person with a card that explained something about Jesus, the Gospel, or our church.
Emails flooded my pastor’s inbox about the lives impacted by these cards. Because of the kind act, Christians left an indelible witness on the community.
We can do the same with giving generous tips to our servers.
Reason Two: Scripture Commands Generous Giving
God calls us to give many things:
One way we can place our trust in God’s provision is by providing for those who may be living from paycheck to paycheck. Not every server does so, but many do. Many of us make more than a server does each year, and we can trust God and show our love for others by providing for that financial need.
We can be ambassadors for Christ, as mentioned in 2 Cor 5:20, in all areas of our lives.
Reason Three: Undoing Previous Notions
Even my friends who are believers who work in food service complain about Sunday crowds. They say the Sunday crowds tend to complain the most, cause the most hassle for the servers, and tip the least.
Not to say everyone who comes in on a Sunday went to church, but servers can often put two and two together and assume that church people might be some of the most difficult to serve.
This, of course, saddens me because Christians are called to serve, not to be served.
But if we give generously, treat our servers with kindness, and exercise trust in God through our tips, we might undo some of these wrongful notions. Maybe someone closed off to Christianity will see our bills and wonder what makes us different.
Reason Four: We Learn to Be Excellent Stewards of Our Resources
If we can’t afford to go to a restaurant and tip, we should probably not go out to eat in general.
Your family may look a lot like mine; we eat out way too much. Perhaps saving enough money for a tip and choosing to eat at home for the time being can help us appreciate the amount of work cooks and servers go through at restaurants.
Not to mention, eating out takes a toll on finances. If we eat out less, we can also save money and use our finances well. So when we go out to a restaurant on occasion, we make sure to use that unique opportunity as a way to witness to the servers through our generous giving.
Although many of us worked (or are currently working) those jobs which customers treated us, at times, as a little less than human—retail, food service, etc.—we may have been removed from such experiences for a long enough time to forget what it’s liked to be screamed at by a customer. Or what it’s like to be understaffed, and for customers to take out their anger on this by withholding a tip. I have a feeling if we experienced a week in that job once again, we’d give the servers much larger tips in general.
When we empathize with servers and save enough to tip them, we can help turn a horrible day into a wonderful one. We can point their eyes from the bottom of that bill to heaven through our example.
Reason Five: Combatting Unfair Pay
Most states pay servers in the $2-$3/hour range. Although one could argue servers can make a great deal in tips, not everyone pays gratuity on their bill. During slower shifts with fewer customers, this can be a detriment to a server’s weekly pay.
I have known some workers in food service to receive Bibles, Gospel tracts, and church-related pamphlets instead of an actual tip. Although, yes, man does not live on bread alone (Matthew 4:4) man still has to live on bread.
Sometimes people will argue against tipping servers because they say it’s mostly so-called “lazy” teenagers trying to earn pocket change, but the average age of a server is actually 29. Far older than most college graduates, those near-30 make their living off of serving food to customers every day. Most servers I know don’t do it for fun. It takes a grueling amount of work, can take a physical toll on the body, and most restaurants understaff shifts, leaving workers stressed, agitated, and exhausted.
They also earn an average salary of $17,000 per year. The national poverty level for a family of 3 is $21,330.
Although one can argue some may be working part-time, undoubtedly most have bills to pay, and several, families to feed. By paying a tip, we can help meet real needs of real people. Once we meet those needs, we can then usher discussions about deeper matters, but not before, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Hope Bolingeris a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 350 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) just released, and they contracted the sequel for 2020. Find out more about her here.
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