24 November 2011

Cheap tippers

Here's a report (at the end of the blog) from the USA ...on Thanksgiving no less.

Seems that some folks are being cheap and leaving Gospel information for restaurant servers instead of a gratuity (tip). Read the end first, if you must.

End of the day we should all be generous, happy to share with others, and especially with those who share with us.

Look I've been guilty of trying to get away with giving less, and admit it, but I don't think I ever left a Gospel tract IN PLACE OF a tip, only along with it. In fact, I would feel bad being known as a believer if I was not being generous.

Why is that? God loved the world so much that he gave his only son. That's generosity. And that's the spirit of heaven, and not the spirit of this age.

I'm writing today from Singapore, and one thing I find is that Singaporeans are very generous to those of us who are preachers and especially those who are preaching to the Jewish people. That generosity makes me want to be even more generous in response. So I find myself giving to others happily.

Last night I watched a TV episode on Channel NewsAsia in my flat. The host and the panel of 4 were unpacking the issue of graciousness and kindness. I was surprised that this was a topic of concern and of a tv special during prime time. Each panelist was asked at the end, 'What is one thing people watching can do to demonstrate graciousness right away?' The man had already talked about giving up one's seat on the MRT (subway system) for older and handicapped people, but gave another tip. The woman next to him mentioned asking her colleagues if 'they have had their lunch already." (that sounded like she was saying to invite them to lunch, but could be taken wrongly). The next woman, a school official, mentioned smiling. The final woman, a young government official, talked about having a good attitude and forgiving people who fall short of expectations.

All that said, I thought, come on, people, talk about giving money. Talk about giving clothing like people do daily at the Salvation Army where I am staying in town. Talk about giving food to hungry people. Graciousness is about visible kindness. And it's a function of Grace.

Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
Grace is getting what you do not deserve.

Mercy keeps you from hell.
Grace gives you heaven.

So in light of what God has done for you, in loving you, in sending Jesus His son to die for you and to give you the opportunity to know him personally, what kind of person ought you to be?

Let's be generous.
Gratuity, by the way, comes from 'grace' and that makes me more gracious to others, don't you reckon?
______________

Here's the story that prompted this blog:

Waiter's Phony $10 Tip Includes Religious Lesson
By Claire Gordon Posted 12:35PM 11/23/11 Personal Finance

A $10 bill is a joyful sight for a server. But when one waiter went to retrieve such a note out from under a diner's plate recently, he reportedly noticed something curious. The tip it provided wasn't monetary, but took the form of advice. "SOME THINGS ARE BETTER THAN MONEY," it said on the back, "like your eternal salvation, that was brought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross."

The waiter, who makes $2.65 base pay an hour, didn't take well to getting so self-righteously stiffed. He posted photographs of the scene to the social newspaper Reddit, and wrote: "P.S. I have never been more atheist." "That's not very christian like behavior..." wrote one commentator.

But while that behavior certainly isn't the rule among Christians, it also isn't necessarily an exception. One waiter complained about the proffering of fake scripture-laden bills as tips on the "Friendly Atheist" blog in January 2009.

These phony bills appeared at least as far back as the summer of 2006, at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Greensboro, N.C. One blogger tells of going to a restaurant then and speaking to a waitress who was on the verge of tears. The convention attendees had been atrocious with their tipping, she said, but very generous with Bible verses and phony money.

"She asked us if we knew what it felt like to pick up what you thought was a great tip, only to find out that it was not real, and that the patron had actually been a cheapskate, after she served them well?"

Study: Christians More Likely to Stiff Their Server

The idea that Christians are poor tippers apparently has been whispered in service circles for a long time. Many waiters try not work Sunday brunch, so as to avoid notoriously stingy churchgoers, claims Justin Wise, the director of a Lutheran ministry in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Christians don't tip very well," he wrote for The Lutheran magazine in January 2009. "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."

One woman wrote back: "It was almost 100 percent true that the worst tips were on a check with a Bible verse or fish symbol."

This is a particularly uncomfortable phenomenon to face for a community that values generosity, justice and service.
"By leaving tracts and not tips, that person is saying to their waiter or waitress, 'You are not a person, but rather just a notch on my belt of evangelistic pride,' " explains Daniel Readle, a pastor at a Baptist church in Cleveland, on his blog "Christ and Culture."

An empirical study on this topic was conducted recently by Michael Lynn of Cornell University. He found that Christians are not in fact bad tippers; they gave an average of 17.3% for good service, well inside the 15% to 20% norm.

Only 13% of Christians left less than 15% for good service. That's a small minority of Christians, but still almost double the percentage of unaffiliated diners who left that amount, and more than six times the percentage of Jewish diners who under-tipped.

So while it is statistically false to say that Christians are bad tippers, it is true that Christians are more likely to stiff their servers than people of other religious (or non-religious) bents.

Because of these penny-pinchers, waiters are more likely to give bad service to anyone who appears outwardly Christian, Lynn suggests, or to call in sick for the Sunday shift.

Some things may be better than money, like trust, fairness, and tolerance. But a decent tip to your server can go a long way toward those goals.

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