Generous Tipping

By Steve Sjogren:

Nonbelievers' Perceptions of Christians

We pride ourselves on getting good deals, but when it comes to compensating people for their hardearned, one-to-one personalized labor – that is not the time to get a good deal. This is the time to be generous! Most people who work as waiters and waitresses are barely making it financially. Many are students or single parents. I worked as a waiter for several years at a number of restaurants while I was newly married and in college. I earned a lot of money as a waiter, but very little from Christians that I served. It’s sad to say, but I learned that the best tippers are those who drink alcohol. I also learned that by far the worst tippers – and the most frequent complainers, those with the worst attitudes, those who sent their food back to the kitchen – were often Christians. How did I know? Sometimes they brought their Bibles with them. Often, they would pray before they ate. But the dead giveaway was their stinginess. “The longer they pray, the less they pay.” That was sad, but almost universally true. Here’s a news flash. The going rate for a generous person who eats out is now 25-30percent. As Christ-followers, we need to be known for our generosity. We need to be the kinds of customers who are so popular that when we walk into a restaurant we frequent, the waitstaff squabble to wait on us. They know from experience that we won’t be rude, demanding, sour – all the things Christians have traditionally been in the past, before we had an awakening. As Christians, the reality is you can’t disrespect people over and over again in public situations and then expect them to treat you with credibility. We’ve blown our credibility. The good news is that those outside the Church see some bright spots on the radar screen – Mother Teresa, Billy Graham. Here’s the challenge: ALL OF US are called to live like that in front of the watching world. We ALL need to live lives of great generosity. Here’s a good place to start: The next time you go out to eat, factor a 30 percent tip into your spending. Address the waiter/waitress by name and smile. Tell them you are Christfollowers (Christian doesn’t mean anything to most people any longer) and that you are on a movement to change the perception of what Christians are about at public places. You tip well because you believe in generosity. Then when the bill comes, ask if you could talk with the manager. Tell them the same thing – that you are Christians from XY&Z Church in town and you believe in generosity. Tell him you had a fantastic time that meal. Your waiting person was excellent – congrats on hiring such a skilled worker! You intend to spread the good word on his restaurant. Shake his hand, and leave your card if you think it’s appropriate. I can assure you, you will make a lasting impression. Maybe – just maybe – this will be the beginning of new conclusions about the way Christians behave at restaurants … and in public in general. God knows we need to gain some credibility points in the worst way.

I announced to Janine that from now on, when we go out to eat, we're gonna tip 30%. So when we think of going out, we've got to factor that in! I also want to buy the food or drink for the people behind me in line when I'm at a fast food place, but this is a stretch for me. I might try it first with an extrovert friend!

Last night, Janine went out with Johnathan to a sandwich place and she handed the girl a 30% tip and her eyes got real big and she lit up and said, "thanks".


  1. Anonymous12:20 AM

    Very kewl. You and Janine will be glad to know this: During Thanksgiving, we were at the market, and this little old lady came to visit her daughter. It was her job to take care of the cat. So since she just had catfood (gourmet), I let her ahead of me. Then I asked if she was a "cat fan"; that led to more conversation. I felt I needed buy her the cat food. So I insisted because it was Thanksgiving, and I asked her to be thankful to God this season. She was very gracious and a bit thrown. The cashier was thrown as well.

    30%...boy you're generous. I thought the Christian rule was about 20%; maybe it has gone up?


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