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Thursday, June 15, 2006 

Tipping at the SBC

A few months back, during the holiday season and after hearing a program on The Dave Ramsey Show about tipping etiquette, I wrote a short piece called, "At Christmas, Remember to Tip." I outlined 10 rules for tipping the Pizza Guy (or Girl). One of them was:
If you have any Christian symbols prevalent in your home (or on your car), you should definitely tip well. Non-Christian PGs notice those things and will make reference to it later.
This week I was keeping up with the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Greensboro, NC via the internet, but mainly through the many bloggers who were providing up-to-the-minute details or commentary on the events taking place in and around the Convention. One of the blogs that was most helpful to me was Thoughts and Adventures, a website run by Scott Lamb of the Wisdom of the Pages blog and Don Hinkle, editor of The Pathway, the biweekly news publication of the Missouri Baptist Convention. The two men basically provided on-the-spot commentary regarding the events taking place at the convention, as well as writing some related articles on John Piper, Expository Preaching, and tipping. The latter of those caught my eye and raised my blood pressure. Here is what Scott Lamb said:
We ate at a restaurant for lunch today after the rush was over. The waitress was either about to cry or about to punch a wall. She asked if we were with "that convention". We said yes and asked her if she had experienced a good day with "us". She said that in fact she had not. She had worked about 3 shifts in the last 30 hours, and she said that her tips were measley.
He goes on to explain:
What is worse is that she said that everybody was leaving her these little papers with Bible verses on them. You guys have any idea what she is talking about? She even had low-tippers leave her one of those phony dollar-bill tracts. She asked us if we knew what it felt like to pick up what you thought was a great tip, only to find out that it was not real, and that the patron had actually been a cheapskate after she served them well?
This is enough to push my blood pressure back into the hypertension range. And not because I can, in a Clintonian sense, "Feel her pain" in regards to this waitress, who was continually being stiffed while working her fingers to the bone that day, but because it is simply a terrible witness to the grace and love of Jesus Christ. By leaving tracts and not tips, that person is saying to their waiter or waitress "you are not a person, but rather just a notch on my belt of evangelistic pride." And that is unacceptable. These people serve, something which pastors and ministers in the SBC should be doing more of. Regarding attitudetute we should exemplify, Scott Lamb says this:
Brothers, let's not leave the Greensboro churches to pick up the pieces from our bad testimony this week. Here is the attitude we should have - servanthood. Rather than thinking that the hotel employees, waitresses, cashiers, etc. are there to serve us, instead take the true Christian perspective that you have traveled to G'boro to serve them.
Good words, Scott. And he closes by offering an exhortation, a gentle rebuke, and a vision:

Genuinely smile - a lot. Tip big (and don't pull out that mess about being a "good steward" of your church's conference money - that didn't keep you from ordering a $6 cup of super-duper double mocha coffee this morning).

Filled with the Spirit of God, let's show the love of Christ to Greensboro, so that when they think back on us being here they consider it one of the highlights of their summer.

Plan early for next year to be ready with a generous hand and loving smile for all those who serve you. And remember your calling to serve them.

We can be pretty thoughtless people sometimes, eh?

So sad.

Man, this kind of stuff kills me. Absolutely kills me. I remember when I first started working at the hilton here in town i had to "overcome" the fact that I was a Baptist. In the eyes of every last one of my coworkers, the first, and sometimes only, thing that meant was that i was a cheapskate. How sad. D.R., I love your quote on the "notch" in the evangelistic belt. That really paints a picture of exactly how it feels to get one of those (I know fom experience).

I wonder why they were poor tippers?
I could make a lot of wild speculations, but won't. I appreciate the fact that you're pointing it out.

For the record, I'm a huge tipper. I know what it's like to work on commission.

Howie Luvzus

I don't mean to repeat, but the line about a notch on my evangelistic belt had me in stitches.

I also work for tips and although I've learned to accept, for the most part that some people just don't tip, it still gets on your nerves every once in a while.

I have also come to appreciate all tips, but I will admit that a waitress serving a crowded restaurant filled to capacity with conference goers and probably another crowd waiting to be seated does deserve a huge tip.

In the future I will hope people will learn from a customer I had a few weeks back. Who handed me the money, explained to me that there was a tip included for me and then asked if she could give me something she hoped I would read. I thought this was very appropriate and well done.

If rather than just leaving a tip so small it would hide under a tract on the table, the customers would have given her the money, said, "here this is for you" and I would hope you would read this when you get a chance, they would have made a bigger impact.

Excellent words Jay -- I hoped you would contribute to the discussion. And as usual, you didn't disappoint. Maybe they should get you to speak at the SBC next year. Wouldn't that be a hoot!

Howie, I will never forget your story about working at the hotel in NO and telling that guy that even though you would never be in his church, he still owed you respect. I hope I have the guts to say that if I am ever in a similar situation.

You know DR that gay men tip the best. I guess Baptists are trying not to get confused with them. I am about to butcher this quote but i heard this once. True character is how we treat the people who can not help us or better our position. well something like that. what does it say about our view of people when we do not tip?


I've not been part of the SoBaps for years but we were marginally involved in the process before they fell to the Dark Side. In those days, some of our friends made trips to the conventions and apparently SoBaps are famous for being bad tippers at these conventions.

Those anecdotal stories added to these are pretty damning.

What a shame.

I did my best going in, and thankfully all the servers I talked with in Greensboro said they had been treated very well. I'm sorry for the situation related in this post.

It didn't take a lot of guts. It was 2am and I'm naturally cranky then!

Howie Luvzus

I'm a Christian, who has served tables to get through college and into seminary. Sundays are notorious for servers not wanting to work them. Servers, for the most part, don't want to work not because of some religious conviction. They don't want to work on Sundays because the "Christians" that come in on those days are rude, impatient, critical, judgmental, and cheap. It never ceases to astound me when a couple continually snaps at me throughout the meal, and then bow their heads asking God to bless them and their meal. In High School (before I was saved), I had one pastor come in every week. His version of evangelism was "Cut your hair and get in church." That's what he would tell me in this harsh, mean tone. Thankfully, the Jesus Christ that I met in the Scriptures was neither like this pastor nor the people I serve.

Don't these people realize that it's getting pretty close to blasphemy to give people the message, "Jesus is a cheapskate"?

Granny, I think it would be close to blasphemous if indeed it could be shown that those who don't tip do so contrary to what absolutely know is most Christlike. The problem here is that most who don't tip either don't know they should or they don't understand the symbolism of doing so. They are generally clueless to how it looks and the message they are sending. And that is part of the reason why I highlighted what Scott Lamb experienced, because I want to inform those who might read this blog of the consequences of not tipping and representing Christ in doing so.

But on a personal note, you have a great blog -- or couple of them. I appreciate you highlighting the little reported results of a procedure that the pro-abortion world wants us to believe is harmless. See my latest blog for those Christians who just don't get it.

If you can't afford to tip, and to tip generously, you cannot afford to eat out. Interestingly enough, cab drivers, service personnel, and above all, waitstaff personnel in cities that have hosted both party's national political conventions say that Democrats are much better tippers than Republicans. It is probably the reason that Repubs have more money and a lot less sympathy for the working poor.

I fully agree, One thing that I think these "poor tippers" need to realize is that they never asked their server what their stance is on God. They never found out if the person was a believer or not, so why would you punish them by taking away their paycheck. That is how they pay their bills, put food on the table and maybe even the money they put in the offering plate.... How do they expect for people to give back if they are not giving themselves.... I really hope God opens their eyes on that note.....

you are a piece of work!. let me just say You serve God and the waitress served you. How dare you? There is no, excuse for pushing your your beliefs on someone that might be of a different religon. If that is what you teach-you are a sad human bring and should be ashamed ofyourself. You cost that young lady her job with your rantings, I hope you can sleep at night knowingthat you have left someone unemployed bercause of your personal beliefs! Honestly if you don't think your fellow man that you walk the earth with is worthy,you should rethink your own beliefs. I am appalled!

Anonymous at 9:03 on 2/1/13:

Perhaps you should take the time to re-read both my article and the article you linked from. I think you missed something. I'm not the pastor who didn't tip and got the woman fired. I'm the pastor that Claire Gordon quoted in regard to a Christian leader who outspokenly opposed that sort of garbage some 6 years ago when I wrote this article that she linked to. Thanks. D.R.


I recognize how powerful anecdotal evidence can be, but it's often very biased as well - as we often look for the patterns that we want to occur without considering the counterfactuals. This of course is why scientists often employ double-blind studies in their research - so that their own biases don't interfere. As to actual statistical studies, the evidence is lacking. Only surveys of service workers where speculation is necessary on the part of the worker have been conducted (as far as I can find) and the results are widely varied based on the location and age of the participants.

In the end, we don't know who tips better, but we do know who is more generous to charities. That study has been done pretty consistently with the results being the same:


if ya can't tip 15%, minimum for good service when dining out, then go to a self service place. this day and age, it is just uncalled for. what's it gonna take for you cheap people to get it? we don't want to serve u! and when we c u again, we will remember who u were!(giving u the 10% or less service u deserve~!

Not leaving a tip is not an effective way to spread the word of God. It is self-absorbed and inconsiderate and insensitive. Appleby's stance in firing the server will backfire. The company says they don't want to lose a single customer (i.i., the pastor); well, they just lost three in my household, and probably many more people who will boycott their chains as long as that server remains unemployed.

I am a waitress for Waffle House, I work with many who complain about their tips! I am grateful for every penny I receive. I look at it this way, if you are a waitress no matter what we are there to do a job! and just maybe some of those who do not tip may not have it. I have seen where people come in and were down on their luck and still tried to leave me a tip. If I know they are having it rough...... I alway's give it back to them and it stuns them. I do however; ask they if they someone in need to help them. I am blessed with many wonderful customers. Yes, I am there to make money but, it is more important for me to let my light shine.

I have been a pastor for 40 years and I usually leave a fake million dollar bill with a Bible reference around the outside rim and I write on it: "Thank you for your million dollar service." I leave it with a 20% tip.

Now, I do not approve of tipping as supplimental salary, I think the employer should be paying at least minimum wages; the tip should be a compliment to the service and it should never be more than 10% ... but this is the world we live in, therefore, if I'm going to throw the name of Jesus into the mix, it will be with a tip that welcomes me back.

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About me

Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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