7 Concerns About Christians and Tipping

The following is a true story. Granted, it happened several years ago. But I wonder how often such scenarios unfold.

Two pastors were at lunch together. The older pastor paid for their previous meal, so the younger pastor picked up the tab for this meal. The younger pastor paid cash for the meal, so his older friend asked if he had included a tip. He said he forgot the tip, so he put some cash on the table.

As they were departing, the younger pastor said he forgot something, and returned to the restaurant. The other pastor saw him through the window. The younger man went back to the table, picked up the cash and put it in his pocket.

Hopefully, such stories are rare. But we do have reasons to be concerned when church members and Christian leaders treat restaurant servers and other service employees so poorly. Allow me to outline seven key concerns.

  1. Tipping is an opportunity we may not otherwise have. We have social contact with people with whom we may not interact on a regular basis. This is our opportunity to represent the name of Christ well. God has put these people in our paths for a reason.
  2. Our generosity is one way we point people toward Christ. We demonstrate our priorities with the ways we spend money. We have seen in numerous studies that churches with a passion and heart for their communities are the churches making a difference. We can’t have a positive witness with a greedy attitude.
  3. We can help counter some of the negative impact of other church members. A server in a restaurant told me she hated working the Sunday lunch shift. She said church members were the rudest and stingiest customers she encountered. Our positive witness with a generous tip can counter some of the negativity caused by others.
  4. Generous tipping reflects a compassionate and grateful heart. Many servers work long hours and endure verbal abuse on a regular basis. Often their pay is very low. They may depend on tips to make ends meet. When we tip generously, we are demonstrating compassion for these servers, and we are expressing our gratitude for their service.
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Thom Rainer
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.