Saturday, March 23, 2013

Are You a Generous Tipper?

Recently I read another in an endless stream of articles on tithing. It is a subject that fills Christians with dread and guilt. When the subject of “stewardship” comes around in the annual cycle of sermons, the congregation reacts like the sensors on the starship Enterprise when they detect a potential danger. The deflector shields are raised. Warning claxons sound. Red lights flash on and off and the phaser banks automatically power up.

Tithing is the wrong question. The real question is, “What is in your heart?” Are you a generous person? Do you want to give gifts of love from an open heart to a hurting world? Do you want to give justice to those who are in no position to help you? Do you want to give generously to those in need?

I want to propose a simple test to help determine how far up the ladder you have progressed. Don’t worry about where you are standing. Just determine in your heart you want to climb higher.

Are you a generous tipper?

I have seen the burden of giving, particularly the tithe, result in hardened self righteous hearts. Do you know there are Christians who leave a Bible tract as a tip for a waiter or waitress rather than any money? Really! It happened to a friend. I heard one story from the father of a waitress. Someone left his daughter a Bible tract disguised as a $20.00 bill—no money—just a stupid Bible tract. Disgusting! If you can’t afford to leave the traditional 15% for a waitress who is doing her job, you have no business eating in that restaurant. Nationwide, severs earn about $10.00 an hour. Come on folks, do you want to live on $20,000 a year?

Don’t stop there. Leave a tip for housecleaning when you stay at a hotel. It isn’t required, but how would like to earn a living cleaning up other people’s messes? The median salary for hotel housekeepers is $19,261. Leave her a couple of bucks and a thank you note. It won’t kill you. By the way, after recently spending Saint Patrick’s Day weekend in a hotel located in a major metropolitan area, let me add something else. If you or one of your three drunken buddies sharing your room happens to throw up in the bed, leave your housekeeper forty or fifty bucks.

You can even do more. I have done things like this maybe a half a dozen times (or less) in my entire life. Folks, I am still climbing that ladder. Once, I burned some photographs from Hawaii onto a CD and carried them over to the Walmart photographic department to have some enlargements printed. A young Indian woman was running the department. It was the first time I ever loaded electronic images into their machine. She spent considerable time and effort teaching me how to load the images and how to crop them for best effect given the size of the print. When I finished, I left for a little less than the required hour. Upon my return the enlargements were ready. She went over the prints with me, one at time, to be certain I was satisfied. Obviously she had been playing games with the color settings on the machine because the colors in the enlargements were better than the colors in the original prints. On impulse, I gave her a $3.00 tip when I paid the bill. I had never done such a thing in a retail store before. I also told her, “You’re much better than the kind of people who generally work in a place like this. You should think about opening your own business.” She burst into tears. It turned out she was studying accounting in night school and wanted to hang out her shingle as a CPA. I never expected such a response to such a simple communication.

This day ask God, “Teach me how I can become a blessing to others.” He might just answer your prayer.

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