Tactics and Tools

A Tip for Serving Your Waiter

Author Greg Koukl Published on 06/01/2022

Sometimes, being a good representative of the kingdom hinges on the simplest things, almost trivial. Let me give you an example from my own life.

I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations about spiritual matters with ordinary people who serve my table in restaurants. Since any contact with others is an opportunity to be an ambassador, I try to keep an eye open for what might turn out to be a “divine appointment.”

This is something you can do, too. Here are some ways to set the stage to engage them in a friendly way.

First, find out the server’s name.

This is simple if they’re wearing a name tag. If not, simply ask. If it’s a unique name or suggests some ethnic history, ask about it. It’s a friendly thing to do—even flattering—and will help you remember their name better.

Begin to use their name immediately. If you’re like me, it’s difficult to keep track of names, especially of people I encounter for the short duration of a quick meal. But there are a few things that help.

Just the conscious effort itself may be enough to help you remember. Another way is to associate something new with something old. When you tie the new thing to something you already know, the job is much easier. In my case, if the waiter’s name is Mike, I immediately think of Mike, my good friend and former tennis partner. That alone will temporarily fix the waiter’s name in my mind.

The second thing to do is leave a decent tip.

My own standard is between 15% on the low end to 20% for really good service. Sure, sometimes the wait staff may not deserve 15%. But if they get shorted by me on the tip, I think they’re less likely to attribute it to their poor service than they are to associate bad tipping with stingy Christian patrons (the after-church crowd is notorious for stiffing the restaurant help).

There’s one last thing I do, and it may be the most important. As I’m walking out, I make a point to find the waiter or waitress and simply say, “Thank you.” It’s a small gesture, but I want their last impression of me to be as pleasant as their first.

What’s the real goal behind this modest effort? Simply this: People are important to the Lord, and if they are important to him, they should be important to you and me.

Addressing people by their name and showing genuine appreciation for their service are simple ways to show they’re valued. This speaks volumes about the One you represent. Never underestimate the power of simply being warm, pleasant, and polite.

How do they know I’m a Christian? Maybe they don’t. I don’t always have a Bible with me, and I don’t personally wear religious jewelry or shirts with Christian slogans.

However, since we always bow our heads to give thanks at our table, and the server may overhear snatches of conversation about spiritual things, it’s certainly possible they’ll make the connection. The last thing I want anyone to do is associate my prayer or my Bible or my Christian conversation with rudeness, stinginess, or a demanding, high-maintenance customer.

It may be that we never get around to spiritual matters—in point of fact, we usually don’t. Even so, I still want to leave behind a “fragrant aroma” for the sake of Christ. That’s one of the reasons Paul says in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”—that is, as his representative and consistent with his wishes.

If you practice simple things like these—spending a few extra minutes valuing someone you’ve come in contact with—you’ll be on your way to becoming a warm, attractive ambassador for Christ. It’s often really that simple.