For years, on and off I have worked in food service jobs. Jobs ranging anywhere from local pizza parlors, nightclubs, small cafes, big family style restaurants, to bars. I’ve seen all types of customers walk in and out of these places. All types of customers ranging from people who don’t tip at all, to ones who tip really generously. Customers who are loud, obnoxious and boisterous, to customers who are gracious, and quiet.
One of the worst days to work is Sunday. Not Friday. Not Saturday. Sunday. More specifically Sunday afternoons. Why? I ‘m sure many of you already know this answer. Church people make it one of the worst days to work on. I’ve had so many co-workers even swap shifts with each other because they didn’t want to get stuck with the Sunday shift.
A 2010 Cornell study, found that while Christians on average tipped 17.3% for good service, which is well inside the 15% to 20% norm, 13% of Christian diners left less than a 15% tip.
You wake up running late, maybe after hitting snooze on the alarm a couple of times. Run about the house in a frantic state, trying to get yourself and the kids ready. Maybe if you’re lucky you make it in time to catch up with friends, or even grab a cup of coffee from the local church cafe. You then enter the room for worship service, finding your usual seat and when it comes time to “greet your neighbor” you give a polite handshake, or very excitedly engage one of your friends in conversation.
You share a time of worshipping your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ with your church family. In some churches, the praise band experience has almost become similar to going to a weekly concert. You take part in the offering. You listen to your Pastor preach a sermon that is supposed to inspire you and draw you closer to God.
Then you leave.
More often than not, Christians leave church service and descend upon restaurants in order to satisfy their hungry bellies.
I remember working one Sunday morning at a local cafe. We opened at 7 am on Sunday mornings. Even before we opened the doors, there would be lines of people starting to form about 15 minutes prior to opening. People wanting to grab their pre-church coffee and bagel.
Around 11 am the rush of church goers leaving the first service at church would start to arrive – almost like a ravenous pack of wolves.
For some reason, it seems like between leaving church service and showing up at restaurants people forget that they are called to be witnesses and examples of Christ to others. They forget to apply what they are learning as Christians, and to apply it in their lives.
While attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA I had several friends who worked in the restaurant and food service industry while putting themselves through school. They would often come home from work with horror stories about their Sunday shifts.
One of my friends, Elena, shared her own story. She had waited on a 20 person table after church, and their bill ended up coming to $400. They had been lovely, and sweet people. They paid their check and left. However, when she went back to the table she found a note on the back of the receipt which said, “I don’t believe in tipping on Sunday’s. I hope you find God. God bless!”
Imagine that for a second. You’re a server and probably dealing with five other tables all with different requests and. You’re trying your hardest to be there for each table, and answer all questions as politely and professionally as possible, while getting the other tables their drinks and food in a timely manner. At the end of the meal the tables pay and then tip. Or in Elena’s case they don’t. That’s heartbreaking and defeating knowing that as their server you did your absolute best only to find out that they didn’t even leave a tip.
As Christians we should strive to be better than this. To act better than this.
There are all sorts of people working in restaurants, ranging from people who want to end up going to culinary school and making a career out of it, to people trying to put themselves through school, and people trying to provide for their families. There are Christians who work in the restaurant and food service industry and then there are non-Christians. There are people who are dealing with situations out of their control, and burdens that are weighing them down.
This doesn’t change the fact that each of these people is made by God, in the image of God.
As Christians, we should invest into the people around us. We should strive to be more like Christ, that others may see Christ in us.
I remember going out to eat with my friend, Tyler, while at Liberty. We had just finished studying and decided to go out to eat at Applebee’s. After sitting down, before the waitress could even ask us what we wanted to drink, he introduced ourselves to the waitress and asked if we could pray for her. She looked a little skeptical at first. I don’t think anyone had ever asked her that. After about a minute or so, she pulled up a chair and sat down in tears. She explained that she had been working two jobs to pay medical bills for her sons treatment that they couldn’t afford, that her husband had recently died and she was left to raise her three kids on her own. She then wiped her tears away, and thanked us. Sat up, and put the chair back and walked back into the kitchen.
Imagine that. Imagine if we remembered to take the time and energy to care for the people around us. Imagine if we were known for being generous, and graceful instead of stingy, and obnoxious.
Let’s be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.