As followers of Christ, we’re to be characterized by generosity, humility and gratitude. That extends to how well we tip those who serve us at restaurants and other places. Scripture says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). I have heard many stories from restaurant servers, both believers and unbelievers, who say that they get the smallest tips from people who come to eat after leaving church on Sunday mornings. This should not be.
Many people, including myself, regularly leave a small book or booklet with a waiter or waitress who serves them (I use my If God Is Good Why Do We Hurt? and Heaven and God’s Promise of Happiness booklets). However, when I do, I always leave a tip that’s a minimum of 20 percent, usually more like 25 percent. This is partly because I genuinely appreciate them serving us, and partly because they likely saw us pray before the meal, and when they see a gospel booklet I don’t ever want them to associate the Christian life with a lack of generosity, but with greater generosity. Grace is giving, and when the gospel of God’s grace touches your heart, it will always demonstrate itself in cheerful giving.
I think it’s vital that Christ-followers not invalidate the message of the gospel by leaving a stingy, ungenerous tip, and worst of all, no tip at all. (If you feel like you can’t afford it, you can reduce your bill by just having water, choosing less expensive items, or skipping dessert and include that savings in your tip.)
Thom Rainer shares some helpful thoughts on this subject and why it’s so important: Seven Concerns About Christians and Tipping.