I suspect some of you were as outraged as I was this week when it was reported that a pastor from the St. Louis area denied a waitress what I can only imagine was a well-earned tip. Because this pastor was with a large group in excess of 8, who’s total tab came to over $200, the SOP of Applebee’s along with most restaurants is to automatically add a suggested 18% tip. They cannot force you to pay it, but they do this because when a waiter or waitress has a large table it can often demand most of his/hers efforts during the short lunch or dinner rush. If they are waiting on 4 or 5 different tables, the potential generosity of patrons gets spread out over several opportunities. But with a large group, if there is little or no tip, the wait staff can often come away with less (and sometimes much less) than minimum wage. In fact when the common practice of tip sharing comes into play, it can even put them into negative territory.
I tend to be especially sensitive to these kinds of situations as 4 of my 6 kids have worked as servers. Their stories of which ethnic, gender or social groups tip the best and worst only confirmed what can be read in so many articles or other rants in the public press and blogosphere. The pastor in the story above came from two of the worst offending groups but I will only deal with the obvious fact that this person was a Christian (being a pastor and all).
First of all, this pastor needs to get on the biblical side of theology. Everything already belongs to God and if anybody is tipping anybody, it is God being abundantly generous with us by “tipping” us the 90% in our service of Him (although I’m quite sure we rarely deserve it). To put the 10% tithe into the category of a tip for God hurts my heart on a level that is hard to describe (there are tears in my eyes as I try and write this through the knowledge that the pain of the cross for Jesus is a constant reminder when Christian do stupid things like this). It is we who are serving Christ, not the other way around. And this pastor has apparently fallen into the rampant entitlement mentality towards God which is so prevalent in our secular society today. However, this pastor was even more blatant in their manner by drawing God into the situation since He is the opposite of stingy. What they penned was arrogant beyond measure in its presentation to be tantamount to saying “here’s your 10% tip God, next time could you be a little more responsive to my water glass or ….(fill in the blank)”. As if God were our waiter – really.
To top that, the pastor in the story above doubled down on their selfish and arrogant attitude by actually calling the Applebee’s demanding that everyone involved from servers to managers be fired. They did this despite the fact the server never identified the pastor in her post on the Reddit thread. Compounding the sadness of this story, Applebee’s did in fact fire the waitress instead of backing her. I do not know the eternal status of this pastor, but what was done in this story was not Christian (Greek – Christ like) when considering the unmatched generosity of Christ and our call to be like Him.
God has been so very generous to us by his commitment to care for us, making a place for us in heaven, healing our hurts and most of all His sacrifice of life on the cross for us. Christians should be the most generous tippers on the planet and yet get with a group of servers and the insults and sarcasm towards goody two shoe Christians will flow freely. How can this be? How can it be that those of us who have been given so much and come to realize how much has be done in sacrificial service for our salvation and eternal security would be stereotyped as some of the most stingy people on the planet. And yet this reputation is unfortunately well deserved as I know Christians who see it as being good stewards to not be generous in their tips? Some, as also mentioned in the article, go so far as to often leave a fake 10 dollar bill that when opened is an invitation to get to know Christ who is “worth more than money”. This is bad form, bad theology, not the heart of God and perhaps most sad is the fact that people who do this are clueless to the fact that it has the opposite effect on the lost and un-churched as any appeal for Christ.
Here’s my tip, since we can never out “tip” God, as Christian let’s do our part to fully appreciate becoming the servant of all and start experiencing the joy that comes from being a hilarious 20%+ tipper. And if you are tempted to leave one of those fake money tracts, here’s another “tip” leave it folded inside a couple of real 10’s, 20’s or whatever amount of monetary tip you could imagine Jesus’ leaving.
Although there are many, many verses encouraging generosity, I will leave just one as properly served “food” for you to “chew” on.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.