In a recent sermon, I told a story to illustrate the notorious stinginess of those who follow Jesus. People gasped as I shared, but I couldn't tell if the gasps were in agreement or shock. Nonetheless, I think people were jarred.
I told of how when I used to work in the service industry, waiting tables, no one ever wanted to work the Sunday brunch. I could never figure it out. Even the hardiest partiers could drag themselves out of bed by 10 a.m. and paste on a "server smile." Right?
"What gives?" I asked.
"It's the Christians," was the reply from some of my non-Christian co-workers. "The Christians always come in for brunch on Sunday mornings after their church service, and they don't tip. At all. Christians are the worst tippers ever."
When I heard that, it was like a kick in the gut.
But it's true. Christians don't tip very well. As a matter of fact, we're pretty cheap. What makes this worse is that we paint "cheap" with a religious-sounding veneer and call it "being a good steward." Nothing like hiding behind the Bible to camouflage your stinginess.
And yet God is so generous. We are most like God when we are being generous--generous in all things, but especially with our dough!
There was enough reaction that night to warrant further discussion. I wrote about "lousy Christian tippers" on my blog, and the response was, shall we say, overwhelming. It seemed everyone had a "war story" to share about how they'd been stiffed by Christians.
Courtney, a server, said, "It was almost 100 percent true that the worst tips were on a check with a Bible verse or fish symbol."
Jeremy agreed, "It makes me sad that Christians are the worst tippers, but I absolutely believe it."
Another commenter, someone who calls himself "Former Server, Former Christian," said, "I think that Christians might just naturally be the lousiest tipping population." That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for people who follow Jesus. Kyle (another server) summed it up well when he said, "[Even if you get bad service] it's a chance for you to actually offer real grace to someone. You say you're kind and generous, so prove it."
In the sermon and on my blog, I laid down the "Fat Tip Challenge," where I challenge people to tip more than they normally would the next time they go out to eat. Usually put 10 percent down? Try 30 percent. Are you a 20 percent tipper? Bump it up to 50 percent. If you're feeling really crazy, try an 80 percent, 90 percent or 100 percent tip next time you dine out! Make up for all those lousy tips from other Christians throughout the years.
As children of this great and generous God, can't we afford to part with a few more of those tightly pinched pennies? God can afford your generosity. So go on, be generous.
Check out this week's articles:
Investing with purpose: (right) ELCA leaders take corporate social responsibility seriously.
Scriptural biography: Certain Bible passages reveal God's hand in our lives.
The texts of your life: Reflect on the Bible verses that make up your own scriptural biography.
Sounds like a plan?: Scripture reveals God's call isn't to 'success' but danger.
Also: Worship 101.Also: A call to everyone in the ELCA.
Discuss investing with purpose
Jan. 6-13: Join Patricia Zerega (right), the ELCA's director for corporate social responsibility, to discuss investing with purpose.
Consider reading "Investing with purpose" before joining in.
Tell us: How do you pray?
The Lutheran’s April 2009 cover story is on prayer. How does prayer sustain you? Have you tried new prayer methods (prayer journals, centering prayer, etc.)? What forms of prayer do you use now? What’s most helpful? Do you have a special place to pray? Do you have a story of the power of prayer in your life? Or how have your prayers on behalf of someone else contributed to healing or transformation in his or her life? What would you like to know about prayer?
Send your 200-300 word stories and comments by Jan. 16, 2009, by e-mail or to Sonia C. Solomonson, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631.
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