Jul 26 2011
A Few Tipping Points

It's not a secret, and it's not a small deal.  We talked about it on the show, yesterday:  Church folk are rotten tippers.

It's not "church-bashing", it's reality, and it's confirmed by listeners to the show who are churchgoers, themselves, and waiters, and who wind up apologizing to their coworkers for their fellow Christians.  "Oh no...here come the Jesus people..." -- they actually hear this.

It's mind-boggling, and here's why:

1) We're being served, people. 

Jesus, whom we presumably worship and seek to emulate, is s Servant to servants.  And make no mistake, when you go take yourself out to a restaurant, you are hiring servants for yourself.  Previously, in human history, this was something only royalty could dream of, actually HIRING people to find and prepare your food, and bring it to you, responding to your wishes.

If you suspect you are owed this, that this is a right and normal order of things, having other humans wait on you, you haven't quite "gotten" this Kingdom thing yet. 

2) We're supposed to be the generous ones.

And, in fact, church-folk, particularly conservative, Bible-belt people, ARE more generous than others, and not to just to church-related causes.  (See the book Who Really Cares, by Arthur Brooks)  But that generosity, for whatever reason, hasn't extended to the very people in front of them, working for a living.

We're the ones who believe, presumably, our security doesn't come from money, and that we're given money to bless others with it.  So here's a golden opportunity.

3) People somehow still think it's "better" to give wait staff a tract, because "giving them Jesus is so much more valuable than giving money."

Fine, give them a tract, if you feel compelled... next to a hundred-dollar bill.  I'm serious.  A "Jesus" that doesn't demand sacrifice, isn't radically and joyfully loving, and rewards service with propaganda isn't a Jesus many will be attracted to.  Sorry.  Plus, he doesn't actually exist.

4)  It's great practice.

Being radically generous in everyday situations merely breeds more generosity.  I love what Dallas Willard says:  "What you believe isn't what you SAY you believe, it's what you actually do."

5)  A generous heart isn't all about "tithing"

I actually heard this, more than once:  "Why would I give a waitress 15% when I give God 10%?"  Seriously.

Nevermind that you give yourself, apparently, 90%, by this calculation, and that you just took yourself out to dinner, to be served hand-and-foot by, perhaps, a single mom trying to put food on her own table. 

(Funny/sad:  A mom and waitress calls in yesterday, saying she gets the occasional tract-instead-of-a-tip.  "I'm a Christian -- I'm actually hoping for some money for my labor.")

Tithing, in the OT, takes various forms, and adds up to more than 30% of agricultural crops.  In the New Testament, church-folks should know, it's quite clear:  God owns 100% of your money.  Enjoy being radically, freely, cheerfully generous with it. 

See if God lets you go bankrupt.

6)  Wouldn't it be kinda awesome if Jesus-lovers were the crazy-generous tippers, the ones who most rewarded hard work, the ones who were the servants of servants...?

I say we do it.  Perhaps, someday, the servants near the kitchen actually say "Sweet...here come the Jesus people..."


Comments (26) -

7/26/2011 11:25:13 AM
Brian Doyle United States
Brian Doyle
Amen. I have never been a server, but since I heard KJ52 say how bad Christians were at tipping when he was waiting tables, I made it a point, since that day, to take the overtip approach. Even if service was horrible, if I didn't like my food, there was a problem...I do more opening my tight fists than closing them tighter. Thanks for this blog!
7/26/2011 11:26:38 AM
brant United States
Thank YOU, Brian.

I kinda feel the same way.  So if they do a bad job, and I over-tip anyway?  There's a word for that... starts with "g", rhymes with "race"...
7/26/2011 11:34:20 AM
kim United States
I worked a charity pancake breakfast in college and the people I served were so horrible!  I mean, it was for a cause!  Ever since then I'm a BIG tipper (never less than $5--no matter the bill, if I share; I add in what another meal would cost, if I'm in a group I make sure we leave minimum 20% for ok service and more for good service. I think their job is one of the hardest! I'm a single person and a teacher so it's not like I have money to throw around.
7/26/2011 11:36:44 AM
Rob United States
Thank you so much for distilling this into a print piece, Brant!

Christians and tipping has long been a subject which really gets under my and my wife's skin. She's been a server several times, and she's consistently noticed that the worst tippers are Christians. To see so many who claim the name of Christ but who are so unwilling to even try to show His #1 attribute, LOVE, to others was and is deeply disturbing. We're supposed to be different. But what's implied there is not that we're to be "disgustingly different" but rather that we're to be "radically, delightfully different". When our attitudes towards simple things like tipping finally mesh with our attitudes on so many other aspects of grace-full living, then I believe we begin to radiate Christ's love as the amazingly refreshingly uniquely irresistably force that it truly is.
7/26/2011 11:51:47 AM
Rob United States
(insert "powerful" between "irresistably" and "force" at the end of my post above)
7/26/2011 11:54:54 AM
Kerry United States
Thank you, Brant!  I waited tables for years until I had my son.  Struggling first through school and then taking care of a child as a single parent, every dollar I made was a needed.  I had a couple of regulars who were very nice but shocked to hear that Christians were the worst tippers out there.  Ironically, 10 years later, one of those guys is now the head pastor at my church and he still remembers our conversation when we all go out as a group.  
7/26/2011 11:58:34 AM
Hilary United States
Thanks for this Brant. I was a waitress in high school and my mom was also before she went back to school. She was single mother of 3 and one on the way. We were lucky enough to live in a small town that knew our family and knew the tough times we were going through and I was tipped generously. Even if my usual afternoon cookie and coffee guys came in...they would get their own coffee and cookie and sit down and serve each other and I would check on them and they would tell me they got it and to sit down for a few minutes. After they left and I cleaned the table and there would be like $4-5 on the table from the group.

Please tip these people. This could be their second job to make ends meet. I know that my mom lived off the tips. If weren't for the tips there were times I am sure we would have gone with out. Keep in mind if it is bad service that day could be the waitress has already long day and bad customers already. It is not easy being on your feet for 8 plus hours. I put this way if you can afford to go out to eat you can afford a tip.

7/26/2011 11:59:34 AM
Claudia United States
Dear Brant,

I heard your show yesterday about tipping and I was absolutely appalled. (I wanted to call in but I was working). As a Christian, I too believe that we are to treat people who wait on us, who take care of us, with the utmost respect, and that extends to tipping well. Those that do not believe in being generous do not believe our Father's words... they do not believe the Bible. They CAN'T... if you say you believe and then do the opposite... you are either not a TRUE believer or are something that... well... it's not a good thing.

I'm not sure if it's this entitlement society that has warped people's minds or what... people claim they are POOR, but they have a television, they have a cell phone, they have a computer, they have food for their table... they are not poor... they just choose to look at their money differently than how it was intended.

I believe in sowing seed wherever I can... while we don't have a lot of money (by society's standards, I'd be considered "poor")... so we don't go out nearly as often as we would love to... however even when I've had CRAPPY service I've never given less than 15%. My normal tip ranges between 20-35%... and I know this prior to ordering... so if I need to watch money, I'll order less expensive items so I can give a better tip. On ocassion, I've even tipped MORE than the bill itself, if the server was wonderful! I generally add a "God Bless You" on the receipt I sign, because I want the server to know that a Christian is blessing them.... after all... ALL of MY BLESSING comes from Jesus!  
7/26/2011 12:07:13 PM
Jose B. Dominican Republic
Jose B.
This is why I love Brant!  Been listened to him for a while.... He takes the world and turns it upside down--just like Jesus does every day
7/26/2011 12:22:55 PM
Noeiza United States
That makes me not wanna go back to that job field anymore
and there's another reason i don't want to work as a waitress,but that's another story!
I wouldnt mind working for starbux back again though! Free delisious coffee!
Have a fabulous day Brant!  Smile
7/26/2011 1:43:17 PM
Chance United States
Okay, first I'm tipping people at restaurants.  What next?  I give my butler a raise?  WHEN WILL IT END!!!
7/26/2011 2:00:10 PM
Danielle United States
My parents taught me that tipping a server is not a time to be frugal. I grew up in the Air Force [overseas for 7 years] and we also tipped our baggers at the commissary [grocery store]. I absolutely love someone's above comment about tipping even if they don't do a great job [and calling it grace]. In those situations, I have a habit of being stingy and unforgiving.
7/26/2011 2:37:05 PM
Cass United States
BRANT!!! I am SO EXCITED that you are still in Christian radio and that you are on one of my favorite stations at that! I will still miss listening to your show on the way to work but I definitely plan to tune in when I get home from work!  And no doubt you are enjoying the different hours!  Welcome to Air1!  And yay for being able to listen to radio online!!!!  Have a happy day. Smile
7/26/2011 4:14:05 PM
Hannah United States
Brant, you are so down to Earth and I love it! <3

I waited tables to stay afloat when I left home for college. When I became pregnant I had to get a second job, not to feed a reckless lifestyle where I'm buying booze and drugs every night and partying hardcore (like most people my age were at the time.) No, I had a life more important than my own to think of and I just wasn't making the money needed (thank the Lord for WIC).
And it's kinda sad because unlike a lot of people that wait tables and hate it but put up with it just to get through school or whatever, I actually enjoyed being a server and wouldn't mind doing it as a career, I loved my job and did my very best everyday, even when customers didn't notice and tipped me awful.
I hated to stereotype people based on their tip rate like other servers did, but it was extremely obvious that certain types of people just didn't tip as well as others. I remember not liking the Sunday crowd as well, we got slammed right away and every customer acted like they were the only ones in the restaurant and treated you awful if you stepped even a little off their beat. But another pet peeve I had was, when people were extremely nice to me and tipped nothing. Like being courteous to me was going to feed me and my unborn child, gee thanks people. =/

I'm ranting, but basically I agree that people need to HONOR each other better in every aspect of life.
Thanks for the terrific topic, Grant! Continue being awesome, ok? =)
7/26/2011 6:03:54 PM
Jennifer United States
This should be a practical application that pastors teach on Sunday morning when talking about pleasing Jesus with out lives...seriously.  Our money belongs to Him and comes from Him anyway, and we can use it to bless others and give glory to God...what we SAY we're all about. It should be so simple, and yet it's sadly not, I guess. I sometimes wonder how many of these "Christian" are not true possessors of faith. Maybe they've never really experienced God's grace in their lives.  Great discussion, Brant, and welcome to Air1!!!!!
7/26/2011 6:04:46 PM
Jennifer United States
*our* lives  Tong
7/26/2011 6:30:05 PM
Jamie Naughton United States
Jamie Naughton
Hi Brant i wanted to just shoot you a quick message. I was a faithful listener to you in Chattanooga in the mornings and was so happy to hear your voice in the afternoons on the way home. I was bummed when you left the South but am so glad you are at Air1. I didnt expect that! I used to live in Cali and it was my favorite station and i still get it here. So glad your real, so glad God is using that great quality! and so glad i can listen on the way home from work and Katie Rose in the mornings =-). I will always love and miss Pablo.

i have nothing on tipping for you. I tip and i dont pay any attention to what other people are doing but yea you should always tip well. its just good manners.
7/26/2011 6:38:34 PM
Amy United States
This is a point of dissagreement between my husband and I. I was a server before so I believe that no matter how bad the service was they should be tipped at least 10% if it was good or even great service they should get at least 15-20%.

Once I convinced my hubby to tip the server at Chili's 50% of the bill becuse it was super busy, but she still found time to stop by our table ever 5-10min to check on us and give us chips and salsa while we were waiting for our food and then a couple more times after we got our food to refill our drinks before we asked. She was so attentive to us and all her customers I felt she earned the larger tip.

FYI: Not a lot of people realize that waitstaff are exempt from being paid state minimum wage because they are supposed to be able to make up the rest in tips. For example AZ min wage when I was a server was $5.72 and I made $3.50/hr plus tips. Stop being so stingy people, tips are how these people make their living. Not to mention that most are working to serving jobs to support their families and/or make it though college.
7/28/2011 4:38:08 PM
Jacque United States
Our church challenges us to pray with our servers at a restaruant.  My husband keeps telling us that next time we go to a sit-down meal (hardly ever), we will ask the waiter/ress if we can pray for him/her.  Then leave a generous tip to prove who Christians should be, meaning loving and caring, no matter the cost.
7/28/2011 7:34:01 PM
Susan United States
"...and the greatest of these is LOVE."

If Jesus could humble himself to wash the feet of his disciples, we can at least share what we have been given in abundance.

Everywhere I go I see people so turned off by "Christians".  I mean really, if this is what a Christian is, why would ANYONE want to be one?  My husband always says that simply going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a Cadillac.  It is our ACTIONS that define who we are.

If you can afford to eat out, you can afford to tip, period.  Save your paper for the recycling and use what Jesus has given you for free ~ a spirit of generosity and love.

In the words of Mother Teresa, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."  
7/28/2011 8:01:45 PM
Carrie United States
Hi Brant. Praying that this transition is going well for you and your family. When I was a child our  family business was a restaurant. It was attached to our home. My brothers and I could be having a normal evening (pretending to do homework while watching TV and playing Atari) and someone would come down to the basement and tell us to clean up quickly because the restaurant had customers willing to eat in our rec room. I was a busing tables at 8 years old. I still stack plates and practically clear the table when we eat out. I also try to take extra cash to make sure the wait staff gets a decent tip....even if they're new or having an off night. It's a tough occupation.
7/29/2011 6:26:12 AM
Elizabeth Petreman United States
Elizabeth Petreman
I have always made it a practice that if I don't have enough money to tip good service, I didn't go out to eat. I have been a waitress and even before that experience I had tipped good service. 'Christians' aren't the only ones to not tip. There are certain cultures that don't believe in it either. People need to wake up to the fact that waiters/waitresses earn a lot less than minimum wage and at the end of the shift or week, whatever, the tickets are added up and the owners are required by the IRS to take 15% of the total away from the waiter/waitress to claim for gross amount earned.  That means if only 10% of the customers paid, the waiter/waitress OWES the balance of what is expected! PLEASE, IF YOU RECEIVE GOOD SERVICE LEAVE 20%! That way, at least they will be able to keep some of the tip. If you still are led to leave a tract, do what Brent suggested: do so WITH A TIP!!!!
7/29/2011 10:23:26 AM
Jon United States
I once had a lady say, "Why should I tip you 15% when I give the Lord 10%?"

I was so glad I was a believer because comments like that can ensure lost people will never go to church. Wouldn't be awful to know your pocket change is partly responsible that someone didn't choose Jesus?

7/29/2011 2:39:49 PM
Glynda United States
Yes, so true! I waited tables for 7 years. I HATED working Sundays because of "the church crowd". Not only were they typically bad tippers, they looked like they were dipped in vinegar and were grumpy!

One time I saw a $50 bill on the table when a church group left! My excitement quickly turned to irritation as I picked up the $50 bill and saw that there was a tract on the other side. No real money. I still had to pay taxes on their bill as if I had gotten a tip! What a bad witness.

Years later, I did come to know and love the Lord Jesus in spite of Satan's attempts to keep me from Him and me using other people as an excuse for not following Him. The Joy of the Lord is my Strength! Tip well and be a blessing! Be gracious and forgiving!
9/27/2011 12:18:05 AM
As a college kid serving tables, I thank you. And I'd like to add to Amy's comment that where I come from, server salary is closer to $2/ hr. We also have "tip pool," where a certain percentage of a server's total sales for the shift are used to pay the hostesses and bus boys; these people also rely on your generosity.

My job can be extremely stressful and difficult at times, yet I find it very rewarding as well. Waiting tables really is a slice of life, everyone coming in as they are, whomever they are. If they are stressed about the second mortgage or an obnoxious supervisor at work, they sit down with that stress too. That's why it makes my day when I can make someone laugh for five minutes, provide a sympathetic ear to someone having a bad day, or be genuinely thanked for an awesome dinner.

That being said, I think our bartender summed it up best when she gave her bible tract tip a good look, nibbled on the corner, and said, "Yummm!"
10/15/2011 5:24:07 AM
Cass_09 United States
Whenever I leave a tip I try to leave the 15% plus a little more(especially when my meal is only like $5, and I ordered water).  A lot of wait staff don't even get minimum wage, so they pretty much rely on those tips.

And one of these days I want to leave a huge tip, like more than 50%, just because! Smile)
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