Christians and Tipping Part 2

This post is a continuation from Part 1 of this conversation.  Click here to read Part 1

Even though many of my Christian friends are generous in tipping when they go out most of the times, no matter how generous you just were in church to the family whose house burned down, the typical Christian still seen as downright stingy. Don’t believe me? Ask any server’s honest opinion (when they’re not waiting on you of course). 

I can vividly remember one night; a Christian couple had a problem with their food taking much longer than it should have (remember, they were on their way to the concert). Management was diligent to attempt to rectify the problem by giving the couple half off their meal. Guess what they left the server? $0.30 and then they rushed out the door to go worship God!  Of course they let us know about that!

As someone whom I’ve had many conversations about the gospel with, and a genuinely open person ordinarily, he could only rant, and ask me, “Do unto others, huh? Turn the other cheek, huh? What about forgiveness?! Or patience??? And these are the people that dress up every Sunday and give their ten percent, and think that earns them the right to go to heaven?” (I’m not exaggerating – that is exactly what he said, except for the parts not suitable for this forum). If only that were an isolated incident!  We fail to realize that because we [Christians] tend to appear all at once, in large groups, and giving good service becomes extremely difficult. Servers frequently wind up penalized rather than blessed by our presence, and then we “judge” them under extreme conditions. The server mentioned earlier?  He was upset because his customers not only left her a poor tip; to make matters immeasurably worse, they also left her a gospel tract. Seriously, This is too common an occurrence and it has to stop.  As if you think that’s going to make up for not paying someone for services rendered, much less show her God’s “abundant” love? Believe me, your 10-cent tract – AND Christ’s reputation – is going to wind up shredded in the trashcan. I know; I was once a non-Christian server.

Most of us take great pains to study the cultural norms of a foreign land before taking a missions trip, to ensure that we do not unknowingly offend someone, but I’m afraid that we have dropped the ball on the home front. We are told to be wise in the way we treat “outsiders” (Col 4:5) and to be generous on every occasion (1 Corinthians 9:8). Tipping well only for top performance implies a “works based” mentality and not a grace based mentality like the gospel. The sad fact is, Christians are known for being 10% tippers even for good service, which hurts your server to the heart.  So please, especially if your server will know you’re a Christian, consider your tip a missions offering, and try representing your Father’s lavishly giving nature. Tip 20% (take the total tab, double it, and move the decimal – $42 tab = $8.40 tip). Got a social outing as a group? Why not conspire to leave $20 beyond what you would have? I know a (very) few people who regularly drop an extra $5-$20 when no one is looking, just to make up for how badly they know the rest of their group tipped. God uses that act too!  However, if you finally decide that you cannot practice the simple cultural norm of tipping adequately (if not extravagantly) – in the future, when you’re going to a Christian event that fills up our local restaurants, for the sake of the gospel… could you at least practice the discipline of fasting?

What do you think?

Could you practice fasting?


About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on April 20, 2010, in ...from Jon, Missional. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. My vote is for fasting! Not because I fail to tip but because I like fasting.

  2. I agree we should purchase peoples salvation! Surely they want find some other reason to hate us.

    I know we beat this to death, but seriously, when did it jump from 15 to 20%?

    • Tipping standards vary greatly from country to country. To complicate matters, tipping standards change over time and what services require a tip also change.

      When figuring your tip, [everyone] should consider the following circumstances that may or may not apply to the server depending on where you are.

      * Hourly wages are typically significantly less in the service industry, because tips are considered part of the servers income. ($2.13/ hour)

      * Your server does pay income taxes. In absence of proper documentation of tips, the government will look at the servers food and beverage sales and base their taxable tip income on a percent of it. So if you do not tip the server, it has actually cost the server money to serve you. See the IRS tipping tax laws.

      * Believe it or not, servers

        do not

      always get a paycheck. Sometimes, because of the taxes they pay and/or deductions, servers must pay in additional money to cover the taxes rather than get a check.

      * Your server is required to tip too. It is very common for a server to have to tip out their supporting staff, ie; the bartender, buss person, food runners and others. Bartenders may have to tip out their bar backs. These tips are based often on the sales of the server, so if you don’t tip them, in addition to the 8% the government gets they often have to shell out money to the support staff putting them further in the hole. Sometimes the support staff is tipped a percent of the servers tips or a percentage of the total sales . So not tipping the server is the same as not tipping any of the hard working support staff in the restaurant.

      * Servers do a lot of work that they are not tipped on also. It is called side work and it is work that is done for no more than their hourly rate. Side work usually involves cleaning the restaurant, stocking supplies and getting the store ready for the next shifts business. Side work can be time consuming and at times physically straining.

      *Most of the standards for tipping (15%) were set by Emily Post who died in 1960, during a time when that would have been much more than sufficient and even exorbitant by most standards. Unfortunately, times have changed significantly. Food cost have risen immensely and restaurants have chosen to keep prices low for the consumer while requiring the server to spread the tips across more and more coworkers and not raising (or freezing) the wages of those who get tipped in any way. In order for a sever to make a living wage the patron must tip more, which goes to the original question. 15% with more going to others means = less for the server to actually live on or 20% which is much closer to a livable wage even with tip outs.
      If you don’t agree with what owners have done then please practice what I asked above…fasting and call others to do the same.

  3. Oh I agree with the rate. 20, 25% whatever. Doesn’t matter to me. Just saying the world hates us for more than my tipping. Which is actually so high my wife doesn’t like it.

    Ah, the postmodern world.

    I got in trouble earlier for saying heathen. I guess I should have said damned.

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