A Night on the Town
Janet and I were at a local restaurant recently. The waiter wasn’t complaining, but it’d been a really lousy Sunday. He was struggling with some things in his personal life, his customers had been grouchy, and he really needed the money he didn’t get it in tips that day. It was his worst shift ever.
It’s well-known in the restaurant business that the Sunday after-church crowd is the stingiest and most demanding crowd of the week. Ask any waiter or waitress you know. These are largely Christians going out after church, still dressed in their Sunday best. We are the most demanding customers and the worst tippers.
This breaks my heart. We give a false testimony of the Kingdom of God when we act like this. We should be the most generous people on the planet, not the stingiest. We should be the most easy-going customers, not the most demanding. Servers should be fighting for the Sunday afternoon shift instead of dreading it.
After the waiter took our order and left the table, Janet and I decided we wanted to make his day. We wanted to bless him. We wanted to turn his day around and make it his best shift ever. So after our $30 meal, we left him a $100 tip. And it hurt financially. I can’t afford to be doing that all the time. But it felt really good because we obeyed the Holy Spirit.
The next time we went in that restaurant, he ran over to our table. He shared his life with us and we had his ear. We told him about the hope Jesus wants to bring to his life. That was $100 well spent.
We’ve actually done this twice. The other time the waiter chased us out into the parking lot to let us know we made a mistake. When we told him it wasn’t a mistake, he was blown away. That was really fun. That waiter also had had a really depressing shift, and we were his last patrons of the evening, and we really made his day.
Learning to Be Generous
I’m not patting ourselves on the back here. But I am consciously trying to be more generous with my tipping as a general rule. As royalty, as sons and daughters of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who has infinite resources, shouldn’t we be the most generous people on the planet?
A standard tip is 18%. I’ve typically tipped 20%, not because I’m being generous, but because 20% is easier to calculate. I can calculate 10% in my head, just shift the decimal point, and then double it for 20%. Easy. And I feel good about myself because it’s more than 18%. The Holy Spirit has shown me recently that it’s all been about my convenience and feeling good about myself, not about blessing the server. So I’m upping my standard tip to 30% to overtly bless the server. Honestly, it hurts. But being more like Jesus is worth it.
But What About…?
What about when you get lousy service and they don’t deserve it? Tip them more. You’ve got the awesome opportunity to demonstrate the unconditional love of God. Think about it. Which is more likely to portray Jesus in a good light:
Option A: When our service is really lousy, make a point and a political statement by leaving a 1 penny tip. (Confession time: I’m not proud of it, but I’ve actually done this. I justified it by thinking if they don’t know something’s wrong, they can’t correct it. So I was really serving them by holding them accountable. Boy, they were sure lucky to have me as a patron that night! Not! Who did I think I was fooling? It may have been myself, but it sure wasn’t the Holy Spirit.)
Option B: Saying to them, “I can tell you’ve had a rough night tonight, so we left you a little extra, because God is for you and wants to bless you.” And then leaving them a lot extra.
Flip it around. Think of the equivalent situation on your job. You screw up. How do you want your employer and co-workers to respond to you? Which one of us doesn’t want something similar to Option B? Then we need to be Option B to the rest of the world. That’s being salt and light.
It’s All about Our Mindset: Scarcity vs Abundance
Generosity is the trademark of the Kingdom of God. It’s the easiest form of evangelism. You don’t have to knock on doors, just leave big tips. If we can bless people into the Kingdom of God, can you think of a better use for money? I can’t.
Bringing someone into the Kingdom is giving Jesus the reward for his suffering. Whoa! That’s a mind blow. So we’re using a temporal resource and reaping an eternal reward. Talk about return on investment!
The opposite of generosity is hoarding. Hoarding comes from a scarcity mindset. “There’s not enough to go around, so I need to protect what I have!” But the Kingdom mindset is one of abundance. We have plenty to share, even if we can’t see it all yet. We know our God will make more. Look what Jesus did with the loaves and fishes, feeding thousands with a small boy’s lunch. This is such an important concept all 4 gospels cover it (Matthew 14, Mark 16, Luke 9, and John 6).
We problem is, when we get saved, we bring our worldly scarcity mindset with us into the Kingdom. Actually, it’s not a problem, it’s natural. We all do it. It’s so ingrained in us we take it for granted and don’t even realize there’s another way to live. The problem is when we hang on to that mindset and refuse to be teachable. That’s a problem. The trick is to replace the scarcity mindset with an abundance mindset.
The best way is just start giving. As both spiritual and physical beings, what we do with our body affects our spirit. So it’s ok to start being generous even if our heart’s not in it yet. One of two things will happen:
- Our heart will follow along shortly once we get the hang of it and start to experience the abundance of God’s provision when we’re generous. It’s fun to try and out-give God. It’s a game that’s really awesome to lose!
- God will reveal our wounding. Maybe that scarcity mindset is rooted in something deeper. Maybe we have foundational lies God wants to deal with. Maybe we internally believe lies we don’t even know are there but are blocking the abundance of the Kingdom of God in our lives. God wants to heal those areas by replacing the lies with his truth.
The cool thing is, generosity is a way we can overtly practice and show our Christianity without offending anyone! Believe me, even the most hardened atheist won’t be offended if you give him money. When we’re generous, it gets people’s attention, because we’re doing something they can’t. And we’re joyful about it! Radical giving is actually really fun. We’re showing people something outside their normal paradigm and it rocks their world.
What are some practical ways we can be generous? Here’s some ideas I’ve experienced.
- Leave big tips. However much you normally tip, up it by 10% for 30 days and see what happens. Who’s up for the 30-Day Tip Challenge?
- The car ahead of me paid my toll once on the interstate (before EZ Pass). It was only 75 cents, but it felt really good! After that, I often paid the tollfor several cars behind me.
- A local Christian radio station in our area frequently has a campaign where they encourage people in the drive-through lane at fast-food places to pay the bill of the car behind them. Brilliant!
- A church I was at did free car washes. People were blown away. “Why are you doing this?” they would ask. “Just to bless you.” That’s it. No tract, no hype, no hard-sell. A lot of people came to our church through that, and we weren’t even trying. It hurt giving up a Saturday, but it was fun because the Holy Spirit loved it.
I’m sure you can think of many other practical ways to be generous. Post them in the comments! And please share this post on social media if you think it would help someone else.