Why Are Christians Terrible Tippers?

It’s no secret that Christians (and the after church crowd) have a reputation for poor tipping and rude behavior while dining out. It’s a pervasive attitude inside the hospitality industry that Sunday afternoons are the worst days to work. If you haven’t heard this, doing a simple google search will bring up a mountain of complaints from servers:

– “My experience with Christians (even slow, non-rush periods) left me with the same impression – rude and low tippers. It was really embarrassing to me when I would say “hi” to someone from my own church and then their waiter would complain about the bad tip and rude behavior.”

– “I despised the Sunday morning crowd…I especially despised the $1 tip with the little prayer card.”

– One Christian waiter had a heart wrenching interaction (and not an uncommon one, unfortunately) with a co-worker after a couple on their way to a worship concert left a .30 cent tip on a $35 dinner bill: “As someone whom I’ve had many conversations about the gospel with, and a genuinely open person ordinarily, he could only rant, and ask me, ‘Do unto others, huh? Turn the other cheek, huh? What about forgiveness?! Or patience??? And these are the people that dress up every Sunday and give their ten percent, and think that earns them the right to go to heaven?'”

– Another guy said “his worst experience ever wasn’t Metallica or the rock shows but an Amy Grant concert.”

– “When I delivered pizza in college, I had a rotten feeling every time I went to a door that had a fish outside or one of those ‘as for me and my house’ plaques outside the front door – and I’m a Christian.”

The anecdotes are endless. But how did Christians get this reputation? Are we bad tippers or are we just held to a higher standard?

A Pew Research Center study that analyzed the correlation between religion and tipping found that Atheists (or those with no religion) gave the most, followed by Jewish people, followed by other religions and, finally, Christians. Another study showed that Christians gave 17.3% when the service was good, a number that falls within the acceptable 15-20% range, but is not better than folks who have no salvation.

Statistics aside, the real question is do we want our servers to roll their eyes and scoff when they see us bow our heads in prayer before a meal? Let’s change our perception by overflowing God’s abundance. Instead of thinking that the hotel employees, waitresses, cashiers, etc. are there to serve us, let’s take the true Christian perspective that we are here to serve them. The next time you are out to eat, remember these things:

1. You are there to represent Christ. Remember our purpose here is to bless others and bring them to Christ, not to enjoy a good steak (not that there’s anything wrong with that). If this is your server’s only encounter with a Christian, would they want to become one?

2. Don’t leave tracts! Tracts may have a place in evangelism, but leaving a tract and a lousy tip (or no tip) will do more harm than good. If you insist on leaving a tract, make sure your tip is outrageously generous.

3. Tip well, even with bad service. If you get bad service, consider it an opportunity to be a blessing to someone who may be having a bad day, instead of leaving a vengeful tip and piling on to someone who may need grace.

4. Be Nice. This should be an obvious one, but we have a reputation as difficult and demanding customers, so at least some of us are propagating this stereotype. Let’s do the opposite and show God’s grace through an overly forgiving and patient attitude.

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2 thoughts on “Why Are Christians Terrible Tippers?

  1. Thanks for bringing this issue into discussion. As a former waitress I can confirm the stereotype. As a Christian I know we can, and need to do better. It really is a matter of testimony where our actions speak so much louder than our words.

  2. Pingback: Sermon November 4th, 2012 - Boulder City United Methodist Church : Boulder City United Methodist Church

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