I have a confession to make. When it comes to tipping, I’ve never been especially generous. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s the truth.
It would be easy to blame it on my frugal nature (which is exceedingly frugal by the way). But lately, after awakening from the trance of scarcity, I’m seeing this aspect of myself differently. What I once saw as being financially responsible, I now see as being downright stingy.
Finally, I recognize it for what it is – a fear of not having enough. In the past, I would often tell myself I’d be more generous when I had more money. But guess what? When I did have more money, my increase in generosity was negligible.
Instead, it took me having a whole lot less money, to understand where generosity comes from. What I discovered is it isn’t proportional to the size of your bank account, but to the size of your faith. The bottom line is this: if you don’t think God will be generous toward you, it’s hard to be generous toward others.
Intellectually, I know God is always taking care of me. Yet, spending the last year without an income and watching my savings account decrease every month has been very illuminating. It has shown me how much I was enslaved to fear – especially the fear of not having enough.
I recently read that every person lives either by fear or by faith. Without exception, it is one or the other. What is interesting is although fear and faith are very different, they are both exactly the same in one way. They both anticipate a future event – albeit one with trepidation and the other with celebration.
All I know is as long as I feared running out of money, I found it difficult to be generous. It was only by facing my fears that I learned to live by faith. As I did, it became easier to release the grip I had on money (or money had on me). The more I trusted God would bless me, the easier it was to bless others.
Even so, I didn’t experience a significant change in my tipping habits until two weeks ago, when I learned Sundays after church are typically a server’s worst time for receiving tips. I saw the painful irony of being among those who profess to worship God in word, but not in deed. Thanks to Todd White, I understand for the first time in my life . . . we can’t represent Jesus if we aren’t givers!
Taking the Tipping Challenge
No longer wanting fearful stinginess to be part of my character, I decided a major and immediate shift was in order. Since I was particularly inspired by the challenge of dining out only if you can afford to leave a 100% tip, that’s the first thing I did. In fact, I left a 150% tip!
It was easy, and it didn’t break the bank. I simply ordered two tacos, which were on special for $1 each. With my bill at only $2, leaving a $3 tip just made sense. After all, $5 is a small price to pay for a good lunch and the opportunity to rehabilitate what was lacking in my character.
I left the restaurant with not just a satisfied appetite, but a satisfied heart. Generosity felt so much better than frugality, I wanted to make it a habit. Therefore, I challenged myself to seek out ways to be generous every single day for the next two weeks.
At the Farmer’s Market, I paid each vendor with cash and told them to keep the change. Although I was a regular there, they’d never seen me do that before. It was fun watching them be pleasantly surprised!
I also started tipping the servers who always brought me a glass of water when I showed up to play pool every week. Frankly, I’m embarrassed I hadn’t ever tipped them before. I don’t know how many months went by of letting them bless me, before it dawned on me to bless them.
Being generous was so enjoyable, I even started tipping people who don’t normally get tips – like the cashier at the convenience store and my Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. In fact, on days I wasn’t paying for any goods or services, I made a point to find ways to bless others by my giving.
I’m grateful I finally see tipping for what it is – a wonderful opportunity for communicating value to my fellow human beings. Now, I understand it’s about so much more than rewarding good service. It’s about being generous toward others simply because God is generous toward us!