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FAITH: Being A Christian In The Restaurant

By Michael J. Brooks, Siluria Baptist Church

I stood there a bit speechless since it didn’t work out like I’d planned, though I suppose it made me look kind-hearted.

I paid the bill for my hamburger lunch and then gave the cashier a five-dollar bill.

“Can I have some dollars?” I asked.

She responded, “Who was your server?”

Michael Brooks, Siluria Baptist Church

I pointed to the server, also behind the counter, and the cashier gave her the $5. The server quickly smiled and said “Thanks!”

I still don’t know how “Can I have some dollars?” became “Give this to my server,” and I didn’t know how tactfully to regroup and start over. So I left after giving a $5 tip for a $7 meal—something like a 70 percent tip.

Our son managed a restaurant for several years and used to instruct me on appropriate tipping. According to payscale.com, the average salary for a server is $6.87 an hour, though it’s my understanding this is a bit high for our area. I’ve heard that servers earn two or three dollars per hour and rely on tips to make up the rest of what they need. Certainly, we need to remember this when dining out.

I had two students at the Christian college I was affiliated with who gave their final persuasive speeches in public speaking class on proper tipping. Both had been or were currently servers, and both shared their experience that Sunday lunch was the worst meal for tipping. I found this quite an indictment of the faith community. I mentioned this in another class as an example of choosing a speaking topic from an area of personal expertise and had an interesting response from another student.

“Well, Christians give all their money to the church on Sunday morning and probably don’t have enough left to tip much,” she said.

I’m convinced neither assertion is correct.

Another area I’ve observed in restaurants is how badly some people treat their servers. I can’t say these are Christians, of course, but it’s disappointing how picky some diners become and how upset they get over minor issues. My mother always taught us to eat whatever was set before us and be grateful. I often think when observing rude conduct in restaurants that diners ought to remember that this isn’t their final meal before execution at the state penitentiary! They’ll eat again the next day and probably won’t remember whatever irritated them the day before.

Part of Christian discipleship is treating everyone with kindness as good representatives of our graceful savior. I’ve often said how we treat others is the acid test of our faith. We should be kind to those who serve us food, though we may not need to tip 70 percent.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.

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