I don’t do this very often, but today I am unabashedly stepping onto a soap box. Bear with me.
Tonight I went out to dinner with my fiancé and we got into a conversation with our waiter about tips. In the course of our conversation we discovered that he’s been keeping a record of the tips he’s received and the people who tipped him. All for the sake of research, he’s recorded age, race, nationality, family status, and even the type of credit card (apparently people with Master Cards tip considerably more than other credit card users. Go figure!)
In addition to these fun facts, our waiter also said that he always asks off on Sunday, not because he’s observing the Sabbath but because the church crowd tips so poorly. Apparently it’s quite remarkable–even though there’s a significant surge of patrons around lunch time on Sunday, the rise in customers hardly benefits the waiters at all.
But what’s even worse are the Christians who don’t leave any tip at all, and instead leave Gospel tracts. Our waiter told us about receiving little cards that look like they’re from the game Monopoly and read “Get Out of Hell Free Card.”
Now I won’t go so far as to say that God can’t or won’t use this method of evangelism, but on behalf of all the waiters who are working hard to earn money for school, their family, or simply to make ends meet, don’t be cheap and then stamp Jesus’ name on it.
As disciples of Christ, we have been given abundant grace and immeasurable riches, but we are also walking, talking reflections of that same generosity. I know a lot of you don’t have extra money to tip extravagantly (I’m one of them!), but if you can afford to eat out then you might consider ordering less so that you can tip more generously. Otherwise, you are literally taking money out of the pockets of people who are serving you, since their income depends upon their tips. As Christians, we should be engaged in the reverse of that scenario–even when we are being served, we should still be seeking to serve.
And regarding the Gospel tracts, you might consider engaging the waiter or waitress in conversation before you hit them with drive-by evangelism. Ask them how their day is going, how they like working there, or whatever comes to mind. You will be surprised by how many waiters and waitresses will open up to you–after all, most people don’t care about their personal lives. As far as the average customer is concerned, a waiter is their personal servant for a meal–nothing more, nothing less.
But your waiter is not just your personal servant–he or she is a child of God, intentionally created and dearly loved by their Heavenly Father. Treat them accordingly.
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, your actions must reflect the divine image of those around you, and the divine character of the God you serve. God has been generous to you, even at a cost to Himself, so go and do the same.