I just got back from AnachroCon, an Atlanta-area alternate-history and steampunk convention, and one of the topics discussed at the panel this morning really stuck to me.
It was a panel about cyberpunk, but at some point, Allan Gilbreath started talking about how servers hate it when certain Christian conventions are in town because they complain about everything and don't tip well, in contrast to the genre fans (people who go to conventions like AnachroCon I guess) who do tip well and tend to be more easygoing. A later conversation with him and another panelist included the claim that many people from these conventions try to game the system by complaining about the air conditioning at hotels in hopes of getting discounts and that they feel they're owed something because of their "long-suffering." The other fellow even made the claim that only 1 percent of the people in those groups are humble, kind, generous, etc.
The first thing that came to mind was Romans 2:24 in which the Apostle Paul said the words, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Although the passage is referencing Jews (who had God's law revealed to them) who did not follow the Law and those brought their faith into disrepute with outsiders, the principle expressed in this passage just as easily applies to Christians today.
For the record, I do not deny having done things that have given people cause to mock our faith. I will not go into detail here, but those who know me will know. That being said, that does not affect the wisdom of my point one iota. Hitler and Stalin, two of the most evil men who ever lived, both thought the other a monster and both were right. And the purpose of this post is not to brag about how good a tipper I am.
For starters, the Bible says that Christians are to be ambassadors of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). One role of an ambassador is to make the country who sent them look good. If an ambassador acts like a fool, it rightly or wrong reflects poorly on their whole country, not just them. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 5:16 that Christians should let their light shine before men so that people would see our good deeds and praise God.
Secondly, the Bible exhorts believers to be generous. There are many, many Bible verses exhorting us to be generous with our money. There are so many that rather than posting them individually, I will simply post this article here that references a whole bunch.
Thirdly, the Bible exhorts Christians to remember the poor. One account of the coming Judgement Day states that the nations will be judged by how they have treated "the least of these my brethren." Here is a list of dozens of verses exhorting the good treatment of the poor. Servers are not paid minimum wage; instead, they're paid a significantly-lower figure (in Utah, for example, it's $2.13 per hour) and expected to make the rest of the money in tips. If people tip poorly, wait staff do without. In fact, servers rely on food stamps much more than the rest of the population.
Fourthly, if you're trying to get discounts in a dishonest way (like complaining about problems that don't exist or are really quite minor), that's lying and stealing. There are lots of verses condemning such things--here's a selection. Remember, it is written that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.
I am not suggesting tipping waiters/waitresses more if they do a poor job. I once tipped a particularly bad waiter $0.10 on a $3.00 Steak and Shake milkshake to make a point. That being said, most restaurant staff who've served me have done a decent job and should be tipped at a proper rate (I was always taught to tip 15 percent).
One objection to my argument I can think of right off the bat is that times are tough and one might not be able to afford to tip as much. Well, if you need to cut expenses, why are you eating out in the first place? If you're already going out to eat at a restaurant where there's a wait staff attending to your needs, you can afford to tip decently. Doubly so if you're going to a religious convention in another city.
And lest anyone think I'm making too big a generalization from the claims one or two people are making, here's an article on why servers hate Sundays. Here's another one with more links.
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