Editorial: With your tip, leave your testimony

You’ve just finished a delicious dinner at a restaurant downtown. You casually pick up the bill your waiter left on the table, and then you gape in disbelief. That can’t be right. There’s no way you spent that much on food!

But then you begin to calculate in your head: appetizer, beverage, entrée, dessert. Sure enough, you really did spend that much!

Then you notice the section on the bottom of the receipt that reads: “Suggested tip.”

“But I’m a poor college student,” you say to yourself. “I can’t afford all this and a tip, too.”

You hurriedly replace the mints in the bill folder with exact change for your meal (you don’t want to spend a penny more than you have to!) and exit the building before he comes back and realizes you didn’t care to tip.

We Christians play out such scenarios more often than we like to admit when we go out to eat, and we fail to realize the poor testimony it leaves behind us.

Many restaurant servers dread the Sunday afternoon shift, not necessarily because of the crowds, but because of the Christians. In fact, an entire website, sundaysaretheworst.com, is devoted to posts written by disgruntled servers who have become fed up with the after-church crowd.

“All of us dreaded Sunday lunches and Wednesday evenings, because they were hands down the worst,” one former waitress wrote.  “The church crowd was brutal —very demanding, lousy with tips, condescending and rude.”

Is this the kind of testimony we want to leave for our servers?

The practice of leaving a tract instead of a tip is another thing that mars the Christian’s testimony to restaurant servers. Though leaving a tract is by no means a bad thing, “tracting” without tipping leads servers to view Christians as cheap, stingy and desirous merely of forcing their beliefs onto others.

Tips are important income for restaurant servers, and they should be considered part of the payment for the services you receive every time you go out to eat.

Next time you eat out, keep your server in mind. If funds are tight for you, count the cost before eating out and make sure you have enough money for your meal, plus a 15- to 20-percent tip. If not, don’t go.

Also, take the time to get to know your waiter or waitress. Many restaurant servers are college students, so that fact alone provides plenty of common ground to get a conversation started. Take interest in what your server has to say, and take advantage of any opportunity to humbly share the Gospel.

It has been said that Christians are the only Bible some people will ever read. So when you eat out, take the time (and extra cash) to show your server you care. Then with your tip, you’ll also leave a testimony.