(Fair warning: This is more of a soapbox day than something humorous. So bare with me…)

I’m notorious for tipping well. They say that you can’t quantify love through money. Respectfully, I must disagree (Dave Ramsey fans all over the country just gasped in unison). I generally prefer my food to be spit-free, and the one way that I can ensure that (other than my chiseled flabs of steel and cheerful personality) is through tipping well. I’m not implying that all servers spit in food, but I’ve heard horror stories, and believe me, that Dateline special called my bluff.

But are we required by God to tip for great service, or even bad service? Unfortunately, there’s no verse in the Bible that tells me if 15% is an appropriate amount to reward the person that brings me my chicken fried steak meal. So I’m forced to be creative, and come up with a set etiquette for restaurant behavior. Take a look at the list I’ve prepared, and let me know if I’ve missed anything. Here we go:

  1. If you aren’t paying for the meal, then who cares – Let’s be honest, if your grandmother took you to Red Lobster, all you really care about is eating your popcorn shrimp and cheese biscuits… And all your server really cares about is courting the person with the platinum Mastercard… So you should be in the clear. If you’re in the presence of a cheapskate, then make sure to have a little extra cash on hand… Just in case.
  2. Don’t be the jerk that sets the tip on the table before you’re even served – Seriously, you’re going to threaten the person who’s preparing your food? I think I already made a Dateline joke, so I’ll keep it brief. But if Stone Phillips (Or Chris Hansen, for you 2000′s kids) says not to do it, don’t do it. Put the Washington’s in your back pocket, and leave the attitude at home.
  3. Don’t ask to pray for your server, then cheap out on the tip – It’s annoying when people offer up prayer, and then take a blessing away. All I know, is that if you’re the person who does this, and you’re reading this article… Then who really needs the prayer?
  4. If you’re with your friends or family and you’ve decided to go out to eat after church, don’t be a cheapskate – I’ve never worked food service, but I have close friends who have… And they hate you. I’m not talking about the Christian version of dislike that we reserve for people that annoy us at times. I’m referring to the type of hate that you would have to repent for. The constant complaint I hear from servers who claim to not go to church, is that “the Christians” are lousy tippers.

In all actuality, money isn’t the true issue in this situation. The true problem is that if you are a believer (in Christ), you know how you’ve been blessed. We know that we have been given grace and mercy that we cannot even comprehend. With that said, when someone is paid to talk to and serve you for an hour or so, it’s an amazing opportunity to witness that we often throw away.

I’m not sure what the right amount to tip is, but that isn’t my point. Next time you go out to eat, take the time and talk to your server. Be nice to them. They have a story to tell, just like you do. Maybe, you can be the Bible that they read today… And what an honor that would be.