How To Tip Like John 10 Is True: A Christian Tipping Manifesto

Jesus said, I and my Father are one.

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

And behold, Jesus referred to Psalm 82 and Isaiah 41, making the point that all to whom the word of God has come are gods. Then he upped the ante and again said that he himself was the one true God, and he escaped, because he was definitely about to be killed for blasphemy.

But he left that point hanging there. When Psalm 82 says that you are a god, it's not just saying you're a lord, as some have argued. The lords of men are gods. No qualification needed. There are good lords and wicked lords. And Christians are, by virtue of being the new humanity, lords on the earth. "I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." Lords are not just nobility, or gentry. They are the rulers of men, they are powers and principalities.

We should live our entire lives as if we were lords. And what do ideal lords do? They protect, they provide work, they seek justice. In fact, they are obligated to do so. As the elohim of the world we war on its baalim. If we refuse to be generous we are lords of the flies, withholding life when we could give it. We have life, so we must give it. We must be good lords.

We should give a generous reward for work performed. And what is more, we should be gracious about it, not counting too closely how much work was done and by whom. That is, after all, what Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like. Let us do with our denarii as we wish. And we wish to be kind to our vassals, tenants, and servants.

That is, by the way, exactly what waiters and bartenders are. Your employees.

You had forgotten we were talking about tipping, hadn't you?

Did you know that in other countries waiters are employed by the restaurants they work for and are paid a living wage? Not in these here United States. There is a veneer of employment, but they are essentially free agents whom you contract when you sit at a table. That is because they are payed just over $2 an hour by their establishment. This is legal because the establishment is obligated to bring that up to minimum wage if tips don't get them to at least minimum wage. And let me assure you that grown ups with lives can't live on minimum wage. A forty hour work week on minimum wage yields less than $300 dollars per week. That's less than $15K a year. At full overtime it would take sixty hours a week all year to get into the high twenty-thousands. And that doesn't become a question of willingness to work. It's a lot easier to find 40 hours of work than it is to find 60. By the way, most people who make a living as waiters actually get paid nothing by their restaurant once Uncle Sam is done with them.

So when you sit down to eat at a restaurant, you are making a covenant to be that person's employer. You pay them, not the restaurant. They make no money except what you pay them. You should ask as you sit down, what would Arthur Guinness do? How to tip like the gods we are?

1. Act like you're rich. Know that you're going to be hiring a temp for an hour or two, and if that seems too expensive, then you're not rich enough to go out. Or you could go to Five Guys. Basically, don't go out without budgeting for a tip. And don't cut into the tip if you're on a budget. Order less.

2. Pay your waiter like he or she is supporting their family on their own. And I don't mean as a single parent, although that might be the case. I mean pay him as if he's the sole provider for his family. Even if he's not, he's probably working this job because his first job doesn't pay quite enough in this radically individualistic economy in which individuals get paid as if they had only themselves to look after. Waiting tables is one of the most common second jobs.

And if you know for a fact that he isn't the only income in his family, or that he doesn't have a family, it doesn't matter. As the Christian employer of this waiter, you want his spouse at home with the kids, or you want him to one day have a family, and you will totally finance that because you're a rich lord.

3. Honor your contract. Remember, this is a contract! And you've contracted to tip 15-20% of the bill. Since this is not the European system of tipping as a bonus, you can't look at the money as if your waiter has to go through a checklist or do all sort of extra things to earn it. "Okay, friendly greeting, check, that's a buck." "Okay, brought me my drinks quickly, there's another buck." "Oops, just showed a little impatience, lose a buck!" And don't tip by how much work your were, unless you're adding a bonus because he was overworked and you were impressed. Just because you sat by yourself and ordered simply doesn't mean you don't have to fulfill your end. Take up a seat, take up the contract.

If you want to leave feedback, that's fine, but you have to pay the man. You can't stiff him because you didn't like him. Now, I say that as someone who philosophically maintains the right to stiff someone, which I've only done two or three times in my life, and only after talking to a manager. Because the waiter had been so bad, and so rude, that he had broken his contract with me. But unless it reaches that point, tip that 15-20% every time. If you really didn't like him, ask for someone else next time you're at the restaurant. If you had hired a man to landscape your lawn for $100, and you hadn't really liked the job he'd done, you'd have paid your $100 and not hired him again (I hope). Pay your debt. Honor your contract.

4. Represent Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of the Universe, Word of God Eternal. Did you know that the servants of the Most High God tip badly? It's true. Everyone in the service industry knows it. No one wants to work the churchgoer shifts. And it's not just the ones you see at cheap diners and eateries after Sunday worship or Wednesday prayer, drinking so much free-refill sweet tea. It's not a class thing. I've been stiffed by pastors and seminary professors. It's a pervasive problem, and it's a sin problem.

You who like to talk about representing Jesus, represent him, please, in his generosity and kindness. Be the lord who gives a denarius for an hour's work. Stop acting like not tipping is a sign of stewardship. Being a good steward of your money means that you can tip! 

If you can't afford to eat like a king, don't hire like a king. But the fact is, if you're reading this on the internets, God has been kind to you. You can afford to play the king occasionally. So when you go out, be generous. Buy a drink for someone. Pick up someone's tab. Tip well. Give and accept grace with a good conscious. And treat your (contracted) employees well.


  1. Thanks for that. No one takes more abuse than a waiter or waitress. Hardest job ever and crap pay.


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