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  • Jill Jarrell Newsome

Tipping Our Server

When I was in college I waited tables. I loved waiting tables because it was an active job and we were too busy to have time to think about things. The time went by fast and I always enjoyed meeting people and had my "regulars" who always sat in my section. We learned a lot about working with the public and the customer always being right. One thing all of us agreed on was we did not like to work Sunday lunch - the "church crowd". They barely tipped! 35 years later, my girls said the same. Just this week a server was telling Mike and I that while Easter is their busiest day, they do not make as much.....because of the church crowd. I told her, "as a 'church people' I am sorry because I remember feeling the same way when I waited tables." She was not being negative, just having an honest conversation.

Servers only get paid $2.13 an hour! When we go to a restaurant, we know automatically, that we are going to give at least a 20% tip. Thankfully, Mike has always been on the same page as me with this. Actually, he is usually more generous reminding me, "Jill, it's Easter; Jill, it's Christmas; Jill, she doesn't have many tables or Jill, she needs this. We won't miss that." That little bit of difference in tip can make a huge difference for that person.

And besides the money - it can brighten their day. They can see unusual kindness.

I have thought about writing this before and chickened out but I decided we are the church and this gives us a bad rap! We have had this "reputation" far too long! In 2013, it was reported that a pastor left no monetary tip to a waitress in an AppleBees. Instead, she left this note as a tip: "I give God 10 percent. Why do you get 18 (percent)?" This became really "bad press" for Christian restaurant patrons. I remember this!

Let's face it - if we could not afford the restaurant we would not be there. While reading that news story I saw this, "Unfortunately, however, stories like the first two are caricatures of a widespread reality: the Sunday lunch shift has become the most dreaded for most restaurant workers." A bad tip becomes a barrier between that server and the gospel. There is a group who has a mission statement presented on the Instagram account: "Doing the Lord's work, one tip at a time." There are several scriptures that can explain to us why we should tip our servers well. Paul talked about the importance of credibility in ministry in 2 Corinthians 6: 3, "We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited." These were simply instructions protecting the credibility of the Church through above-board actions.

Acts 28: 1-2, "Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold." Notice it does not just say, "kindness"? It says, "unusual kindness." It was unusual because it was uncommon. It was considered godly behavior. This was above-and-beyond behavior! Most times we do not know anything about our servers. We do not know their beliefs or their backgrounds. We may be the only Bible they read.

Kindness is leaving 20%. Unusual kindness is leaving extra. Kindness is holding the door open for someone leaving the grocery store with their arms full. Unusual kindness is willingly carrying their groceries all the way to their car. Kindness is not getting aggravated and having a stone face at the person in front of you when they slow the line down because they do not have enough money. Unusual kindness is paying for that person's items with a smile. Kindness is speaking to strangers at fast food restaurants. Unusual kindness is paying for the persons order behind you in the drive thru. Kindness is taking food to your new neighbors. Unusual kindness is inviting them to your house for dinner to get to know them better.

When Timothy wrote to people in the church, he quoted these two Scriptures. They are general instructions to God's people about properly compensating someone for a service. 1 Timothy 5: 18 and Deuteronomy 25: 4 say, "For Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.'" Moses seems compassionately concerned about the oxen getting enough to eat, getting their fair share when working hard. Luke 10: 7, "Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages..."

God has shown me that when we show unusual kindness when tipping our servers, we are tipping our Server! In other words, we are giving Him a little extra when we are extra generous to others! What if God compensated us according to the way we serve Him? Let's show unusual kindness and make someone's day - and ours! Let's be generous church people!


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