Full disclosure. I hate tipping. I understand that the way things are set up in some industries, if the staff is going to make a decent wage, they need to be tipped. Wait staff make their living via the support of their customers.
I get it. That doesn’t mean I like it. I’d prefer to pay more for meals, and have the restaurant pay their employees a decent wage. I am sure it’s more complicated than that, but that’s my feeling.
And—lest you’ve already jumped to the conclusion that I am a heartless dweeb—let me disclose that I have two daughters, both of whom worked for a time as waiters. Daughter No. 1, was a college freshman, and she lasted one week. She said to me on the phone: “Dad I don’t take orders from no one.” She’s never waited tables since. Daughter No. 2 has excellent people skills and has used that to her advantage. She waited tables, was hostess for an upscale restaurant, and did pretty well for herself. She left the industry some time ago. But I digress…where was I? Oh yes.
I was going to say something about the size of the tip: Used to be that 10% was standard. Perhaps there was a day when the percentage of the total bill was lower, but I remember the days when a 10% tip was a good tip. Then, it was 15% for a while. Then 18%. Now, 20% of your dining bill is the expected amount of the tip. My question is: Where does it stop? At 30%, 35%? I don’t know. Maybe someone in the industry has an answer to that.
Anyway, we pastors are human. We can get irritated with stuff, and now, thanks to the Internet, YouTube and ubiquitous camera and recording devices, news spreads fast. So I feel sorry for this pastor whose name has been plastered all over the media because she objected to the automatic 18% tip assessed to her, and I think it was because she was part of a group, or the wait staff thought she was.
So she writes a note in which she says something to the effect that God only asks for 10%, how come she has to pay 18% to her server? It was a silly comment, and it has embarrassed the pastor no end. The wait person took a photo of her note and plastered all over online, and then she herself got fired for doing so. (This story is easy to find online by searching with “pastor + tipping.” You can read one account here.)
Last Sunday in church, before asked for the ushers to come forward to collect the offering, I shared this little anecdote, and then announced that the 10% tithe had just been raised to 18% and that God loves happy givers. Haha! (I don’t know how that affected the collection take that morning.)
Here’s the thing, my fellow preachers: This caused a sensation for two reasons. A) The note writer was a pastor, and B) she brought God into the conversation about tipping. If either A or B is not true, this probably does not even get noticed.
A. She is a pastor. We are judge by a higher standard. Pastors do not begrudge the wait staff a living wage. Pastors should be the best tippers in the world. Pastors should not leave evangelistic tracts in lieu of a tip, thinking to save a soul rather than to feed the body. Pastors should not appear to be parsimonious cheapskate whiners. God loves happy givers, whether we’re giving to the church, to Save the Children, or to Save the Waiter. Let’s do it cheerfully, please! If we can’t do that, then my advice is to stay home and open a box of Mac n’ Cheese, dice up some SPAM and call it good.
B. She brought God into the conversation when she wrote: “I give God 10%...why do you get 18%.” Well, it was such a silly, silly statement to make, that reasonable Christians around the world are gritting their teeth and rolling their eyes. One of their own has done something stupid—AGAIN—as if we don’t already live in a culture that is hostile to Christianity above all other religions of the world. The thing is, when we’re talking about God and what is God’s and what is ours, my friends, GOD REQUIRES IT ALL, NOT JUST 10%. The question is: how much of what God has blessed me with, should I keep for myself?
Pastors need to remember that we live quite public lives. That’s never been as true as it is these days. We’ve got to behave like we’re the second coming of Mother Teresa at all times.
Better, the second coming of Jesus himself.
And remember that Jesus once said: “Render unto your server what is your server’s and unto God what is God’s.”