A Tip from Mysterious Ways

Want to spread God’s love? Give your server an unexpected smile.

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A $5,000 tip from @tipsforjesus

“I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?” You might recognize that quote from an image that went viral online–a lunch receipt from Applebee’s signed by a pastor. The pastor who left the note (she claims she did pay a smaller tip in cash) has apologized, but the photo opened the floodgates: a slew of “tip shaming” receipts have since been posted all over the Internet.

This growing trend hit a low point a few weeks ago, when a New Jersey waitress posted a photo of a receipt she said had been left by an elderly, conservative couple. She claimed the couple took issue with her homosexuality, as evidenced by a nasty note refusing to tip her. She was later discovered to have made the whole thing up. Nevertheless, it was enough to inspire comedian Bill Maher to take religious folk to task: "Some things are better than money... like your eternal salvation that was bought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross. Yeah, well, Jesus didn't have to put gas in the donkey.” Maher was more than a little bit harsh.

The truth is, religious people aren’t bad tippers. Christians and Jews both tip well above the 15% suggested rate, according to a study earlier this year. In fact, at least one faithful foodie went above and beyond to reward his waiters and waitresses for good service.

Over the past month or so, restaurant receipts all around the country have suddenly appeared with eye-popping gratuities–$1,000 and up. Stamped next to the exorbitant tips was an Instagram handle: @tipsforjesus. The Instagram account’s motto? “Doing the Lord’s work, one tip at a time.”

The generous tipper has been identified as former PayPal vice president Jack Selby, a man with a lot of money to spread around–and one who is apparently tired of all the shameful receipts that cast a bad light on his religion.

I’m tired of all the negative receipts too (I’m definitely not alone). My sister was once a waitress at Applebee’s, and when my friend and I went there for lunch, we left her a tip the same amount as the bill–a 100% gratuity. Now, I’m not suggesting you do the same–we don’t all have the money that Jack Selby has–but if you’re going to use a restaurant check to make a statement, the least you can do is make a statement that will leave your server smiling.

After all, waiters and waitresses give us unexpected smiles all the time.

Here’s my suggestion. Next time you dine out, leave your usual 15% to 20% tip (remember, servers make below minimum wage). But then leave something else. “Thank the Lord we got such a wonderful waitress!” “Have a Merry Christmas!” “We’ll tell everybody at church this is the place to go!” “My God bless you for your kindness!” Or draw a happy face or a doodle that will make them laugh. Save any judgments and critiques for the privacy of your ride home–leave your waiter or waitress with something that will make them feel good... not just you. Sometimes, the result may be greater than you ever imagined.

Take a picture of your inspired tip and send it to us. Or share it with us on Instagram or Pinterest. How did you make the wait staff smile?

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