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Bad tips are a bad testimony

A couple years ago, I read an article called "The Dreaded Christian Table" that has been forever etched into my mind. It testified to the careless, stingy manners of many Christians in restaurants, and that Christians, in general, have a bad reputation as being terrible tippers. Here's an excerpt:
When other servers got word that I had the "Church table" they all immediately patted me on the back and told me everything would be all right. My “non-Christian” co-workers automatically volunteered to help me out because they knew what was coming. They told me that I might as well not waste my time by trying hard at this table, because they were going to be rude and leave me next to nothing. The entire staff at the restaurant, including the manager on duty, had nothing but contempt for this group of people—the Church people—because time and again they come in and treat the staff like second-class citizens.
In a separate blog, a young man writes,
When I delivered pizza in college, I had a rotten feeling everytime I went to a door that had a fish outside or one of those ‘as for me and my house …’ plaques outside the front door.

Another guy I went to school with worked parking at what was then Starwood Ampitheatre in Nashville. He said his worst experience ever wasn’t Metallica or the rock shows but an Amy Grant concert.
What a tragedy! The Bible says "whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). Surely, behaving rudely or leaving a lousy tip is not honoring to God. In 1 Timothy 6:16-18, Paul exhorts, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share..."

If I leave a shabby tip, I might rationalize it is good stewardship, but in all reality, I'm missing an opportunity to give generously and reward a laborer who is worthy of his wages. Worse yet, I'm damaging my Christian witness. Our actions speak louder than words. I can smile, be friendly, pray in public, and leave a tract at the end of the meal. But if I don't accompany all of those little gospel seeds with a reasonable tip, then I've probably just driven that person further from the gospel. Not sure who deserves a tip, or how much is "reasonable?" Check out this "Tipping Etiquette" article. I have bookmarked it and refer to it often.

Generosity is important for all Christians, but especially for us pastors. We must model good tipping. God is watching. Our church members are watching. And that waiter is watching. Why not surprise him by tipping a little extra? Let's tip to the glory of God, and for the spread of the gospel!

Fridays are often dedicated to practical church ministry issues. If you have a question or suggested topic for the future, please email me.


  1. Thanks for this post! We generally tip well, but it was good to be reminded that even things like this have an effect on those unsaved around us. I pray more Christians will start acting Christ-like in public so we're not all perceived as hypocrites.


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