Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Should Christians Always Tip?

I feel like the "Why Christians don't tip" topic warrants a response.

A little google research came up with some unsettling finds.

Debra Fieguth wrote a good article entitled "Are You A Cheap Christian?" This witty joke bares with it a cold reminder that our Christian testimony is very important:
"What's the difference between Christians and canoes? Canoes tip. Ouch. That hurts, but unfortunately it reflects a widely believed notion that Christians are miserly when it comes to leaving a gratuity for waiters, hairdressers, taxi drivers and others in the service industry."

Her article isn't concrete and full of statistics, but it shows a stunning trend that I think most of us can admit is true. How many people, excluding Biggz because we already heard his story about the Crowder concert crowd... but how many people do you know that have complained about Christians being the worst tippers? Every person I've known to work in the food industry has told me this in one way or another. "Sunday is the worst crowd." "Christians always leave small tips or just stupid tracts." I've heard these staple statements in over abundance.

Well what should our response be?

I think some basic principles should be applied:

1. Only eat out if you can afford to tip well
This is pretty simple folks. If you go out to eat and claim you "don't really have the cash" to tip well, then you have no business eating out to begin with. (Proverbs 21:20)

2. Don't leave a tract as your means of a testimony, let your candor and tip speak for you
Shoddy evangelism happens enough without small tips or the lack thereof combined with a tract adding to the long list of "don't you hate it when Christians" list. If you want to share your faith, by all means, share it. But don't go leaving a tract as your smarmy way of "spreading the good news" when all you are going to do is ruin the receiving server's night and give them a false representation of what a Christian should be. (1 John 3:17-19)

3. If you do leave a tract, hand it to them personally, and be sure your tip and candor aren't sending a mixed signal
Really think it through before you decide to give a tract to someone if you aren't going to sit down and actually take the time to have a conversation with them. If God gives you a peace about it and you feel it is something you should do, then do it. But don't treat your server in a rude manner and leave a tract under your plate instead of a tip while scooting quickly out the door. Match your tract witness with your personal witness as a means of protecting the name of Christ. (James 2:15-17)

4. Don't use poor service as an excuse to not tip
Since when do we, as Christians, respond to people only in love when we see fit? How many times does Jesus reprimand this type of mindset? Eye for an eye? Isn't that essentially what we are saying when we use a server's poor service as an excuse to be unkind and unloving? We are to be different! (Matthew 5:38-49)

5. Think of tipping as a cultural custom with the mindset of a missionary in a foreign land
How much time and study is dedicated to not offending foreign cultures by being sensitive to their customs? We take such a tender approach to missions, but treat our homeland like backyard baseball in the sense that we think we write the rules. It would be quite offensive for a missionary to know of a custom and to ardently ignore and refuse to follow it. Not only would it be offensive, but it would ruin his witness and limit his effectiveness as a minister of the gospel (Proverbs 18:19). Such a parallel should humble any Christian who refuses to tip graciously.

6. If you are in a situation where you aren't sure what to tip, asking isn't impolite
If it is your first time in a cab or a hotel where tipping is customary, just ask what normal tip size is. Most people won't hesitate to give an honest and humble answer. I was getting my hair cut at a local salon and I just asked "what do people normally tip?" She said five dollars and I politely gave her seven. Now, don't think I'm proudfully bragging on myself, because I'm not. I'm giving an example of how easy it is to avoid offending someone when you are ignorant to the customary tipping total. She saw I was making sure I didn't offend her by not tipping, but she also saw I was willing to give more than the average. (Matthew 5:38-42)

The love of Christ far exceeds just telling people that God loves them. We should love them with kindness and generosity that is against the grain of every day society. Jesus didn't hand out tracts, He loved on people and served them. What a glorious testimony of Christ's love to generously give over and above what's expected in instances like tipping.

If you have anything to add or Scripture passages that touch on this subject, please contribute!

2 Corinthians 9:11
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This site was really helpful for Scriptures on everything from Debt, to Saving, to Budgeting... enjoy.

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